Senate Education Commitee Still Hasn't Learned: HB 780 Halted

Unfortunately, House Bill 780 was deferred by the Senate Education Committee. Thus, the measure has been effectively scuttled, depriving neighborhoods, private property owners, and taxpayers from an obvious safeguard against the real possibility that LSU cannot finance the medical complex project they're proposing.

LSU persists in arguing that only an entirely new campus will attract doctors to the system and not a brand-new medical facility in the majestic facade of historic Charity Hospital. We're starting to think that the beautiful Louisiana State Capital Building, built at the same time and by the same architects as Charity, has become insufficient for attracting the thoughtful and courageous legislators we need to represent us in government. Perhaps we should abandon it and build a new one to do so.

Only Sen. Eric LaFleur (D - Ville Platte) had the fortitude to do the right thing, voting to recommend the bill for consideration by the full Senate. He gets it. You don't take land until there is a viable plan in place to get something built on it.

New Orleans' own Sen. Ann Duplessis, however, chose to vote as though the homes and businesses of this community are so disposable that the state should be able to take them without reasonable proof that a complete project can be delivered.

While this vote was a disappointment, let us recognize the affirming votes on the House Health and Welfare Committee, and in the full House of Representatives. The overwhelming support this bill got within those bodies indicates that some of our leaders are willing to go to bat for fiscal responsibility, planning sanity, and the rights of property owners and communities. HB 780 was always considered a long shot to pass. That it made it as far as it did indicates how much the tide has turned. Rep. Rick Nowlin (R - Natchitoches), who sponsored the bill, did a lot of great work on its behalf and also deserves positive recognition for crafting such a pragmatic proposal.