Jones files development district bill for Morgan City
Rep. Sam Jones, D-Franklin
Among the dozen bills state Rep. Sam Jones, D-Franklin, filed for the next legislative session is one to create a Morgan City Development District, which he said would provide a tool to locate grants or levy taxes to develop industrial or residential properties within the district.
Jones said he was approached by Morgan City officials, including Mayor Frank “Boo” Grizzaffi, about crafting legislation to serve as a mechanism for economic development. The legislation, HB582, creates the district, which could be utilized similar to Berwick’s Renwick Development District, Jones said.
The Legislature created the Berwick Development District in 1995.
Grizzaffi said he and Jones have discussed tools the city needs to develop something like the Hellenic property at the end of Brashear Avenue.
“We would prefer a private developer, but in case we have to develop our own subdivision, we would need something like this, Grizzaffi said. “This would allow us to build the first subdivision in our area in a long time.”
The city limits would provide the boundary to the district whose commissioners would be appointed by the mayor with the council’s approval, he said. While the language in the bill allows for the levying of taxes, Grizzaffi emphasized there are no plans or intentions to request a tax or property millage.
Grizzaffi said having the district will also allow the city to apply for business grants.
For months, Jones has been decrying middle-of-the-night rule changes issued by the executive branch when the Legislature is in recess. Those rules and regulations have the effect of law unless they are repealed by the Legislature which could take months, assuming if it is done, Jones says.
Jones hopes to make it more difficult for the governor or agencies to go around the Legislature by filing HB322, and would require rule-making agencies to publish on the Internet information concerning proposed rules and fees before they are instituted.
“A lot of times people will catch wind of these rules and by voicing their opposition the wind gets knocked out of them,” Jones said.
Jones has filed seven bills he said will give retired state workers their first retirement increase in six years. Retirees drawing a pension from state funds will get at least a 1.5 percent cost-of-living-adjustment to their pensions because the funds’ investments have returned to making money, Jones said.
Pensions paid from the Louisiana State Employees’ Retirement System, Teachers’ Retirement System of Louisiana, State Police Retirement System, Louisiana, School Employees’ Retirement System would get a permanent increase in their monthly payments with the passage of separate bills (HB30-33) addressing each fund.
Supplemental benefit increases will be paid with the passage of separate bills (HB34-36) to qualifying retirees and beneficiaries of the State Employees’, School Employees’ and State Police Retirement System.
A retired member of the state Teachers’ Retirement System who does not have a valid teaching certificate will be able to return to work as a substitute instructor and continue to receive retirement benefits, with HB82.
At the request of Berwick officials, Jones has filed a bill (HB361) that provides for the authority to transfer or lease certain state property in St. Mary Parish. He said this bill will clean up language in misconstructed legislation from the 1920s that could otherwise impede the Town of Berwick from properly maintaining some specific sewer lines.
HB26 is a constitutional amendment requiring a portion of nonrecurring revenue be applied toward reducing the balance of the unfunded accrued liability of certain state retirement systems.
Each legislator was able to file an unlimited number of until the prefiling period concluded. After the Legislature convenes on Monday, each legislator can file an additional five bills. Jones said he likes to keep a couple bills unfiled until after the convening of the legislator to give him an opportunity to craft the legislation better as he sees circumstances develop in Baton Rouge.