NEW ORLEANS, LA—In advance of the 2014 Louisiana Legislative Session that begins Monday, today, Mayor Mitch Landrieu outlined the City of New Orleans’ legislative agenda.
“I want to thank the entire Orleans delegation for working together to draft legislation that is focused on delivering results for our residents and businesses,” said Mayor Mitch Landrieu. “Working with the delegation, we will support bills that strengthen public safety, improve City services, and protect funding for community health clinics and the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center.”
Below is a summary of key items from the City’s agenda:
FIRE AND POLICE MILLAGE
HB111, Representative Walt Leger, III
Public safety is the Administration’s top priority. The bill would allow the City to put a proposal in front of New Orleans voters that would allow additional investments in the New Orleans Police and Fire Departments. This is one of several options on the table to strengthen the NOPD and to provide additional support to the NOFD as the City continues to review current revenue forecasts.
REORGANIZING NOPD RESOURCES
HB 940, Representative Neil Abramson
Currently, NOPD Quality of Life officers issue summonses for sanitation and public nuisance violations. This bill would change State law to allow the City Council to adopt an ordinance listing what offenses are subject to administrative fines paid to the City and would give Code Enforcement and/or Downtown Development District Sanitation Rangers the authority to issue the citations. This would allow NOPD officers to focus on more serious issues.
“This is a common sense solution to ensuring NOPD officers are focused on important public safety issues,” said Representative Neil Abramson.
FIREFIGHTER PENSION REFORM
In 2013, the State Legislature passed modest reforms to the Firefighter Pension Board. While the reforms are a step in the right direction, there is more work to be done. This year, the City and the Firefighter Pension Board worked in partnership to create a package of legislation as part of an overall strategy for the continued reform of the New Orleans Firefighters Pension Fund. The legislative package includes a bill that would raise the minimum retirement age for new hires and a bill that would require the City to provide a minimum annual contribution to the firefighter’s pension and relief fund.
GO ZONE LOAN FORGIVENESS
HB 463, Representatives Wesley Bishop and Jared Brossett
The City’s debt service on GO Zone loans is approximately $5,000,000 per year. The City has requested forbearance from the Division of Administration, and has been denied. While the City has created efficiency and streamlined its budget, actual and projected budget constraints make this payment burdensome and ultimately contribute to the underfunding of other City priorities.
“These loans were intended to help local governments get their feet back on the ground,” said Representative Wesley Bishop. “It is critical for the State to forgive these loans in order for the City of New Orleans to redirect funding to City priorities.”
STRENGTHENING BLIGHT POLICY
HB 339, Representative Walt Leger, III
Earlier this year, Mayor Landrieu proposed and the City Council approved revisions to the City Code to strengthen the City’s enforcement capabilities on nuisance, overgrown lots and to accelerate the abatement process. Building on these revisions, this bill would align State and City law in order to continue the momentum of Mayor Landrieu’s on-going and aggressive commitment to reducing blight throughout the city.
SB 445, Senator A.G. Crowe
Mayor Landrieu is working to build consensus among legislators and judges on the streamlining of the City’s court systems. The goal of streamlining is to save taxpayer money that can be reinvested in public safety and prevention.
CASINO SUPPORT SERVICES
HB 389, Representative Walt Leger, III
This bill establishes a stable and sustainable method for the City to receive its legally obligated reimbursement from the State for the direct and indirect expenses it incurs to support Harrah’s Casino, including fire, police, EMS, and sanitation. This legislation solves the problem, once and for all, so the City and State do not have to continue to haggle each year and the City would no longer need to seek annual appropriations. Under the bill, the City recommends dedicating this $3.6 million appropriation to public safety. While this bill has passed in previous years, Governor Jindal has vetoed it.
“Under the terms of the Casino Support Services Contract, the State of Louisiana owes the City of New Orleans an obligation of $3.6 million a year and this legislation will ensure fiscal predictability without the need to make this request yearly,” said District 91 Representative Walt Leger, III Speaker Pro Tempore.
CAPITAL OUTLAY PROJECTS
Orleans Parish Civic Complex
Funding for this project would provide for the renovation and restoration of the former Charity Hospital as a Civic Complex. The Administration’s plan is to put the historic, blighted building in the heart of downtown back into commerce, while moving City government from outdated, inefficient buildings into an iconic, functional space.
The Monticello Canal is part of a larger multi-phase improvement program that includes the widening and addition of culverts at Airline Drive at 17th Street Canal. Funding for these projects would provide improved drainage for both Orleans and Jefferson Parish.
New NOFD Station for Consolidated Engines 33 and 40
Funding for this project would provide for a new state-of-the-art fire station that combines Engines 33 and 40 in Algiers. The current facilities for both engines are in need of extensive repair and are an obstacle to responding efficiently to emergencies.
New NOPD Fourth District Police Station
Funding for this project would provide for major upgrades to the current New Orleans Police Department Fourth District Police Station in Algiers, including restoring hot water, replacing the generator, updating the heating and air conditioning system and repairing the outdoor lighting.
Rosenwald Pool and Pool House
Funding for this project would provide for the addition of a pool complex to the gymnasium and sports fields at the Rosenwald Center in Central City. The pool and pool house will include the necessary supportive facilities and amenities.
Richard Lee Playground
Funding for this project would provide for the restoration of Richard Lee Playground in the Lower Ninth Ward. The current playground must be demolished and reconstructed. The project will restore all structures including sidewalks, the playing courts, picnic pavilions, trails and a multi-purpose field. The project also envisions a new baseball field, restroom and concession facilities.