Legislative Roundup: Attempts to tweak Jindal's retirement plan fail to gain traction

BATON ROUGE (AP) — Attempts to tweak Gov. Bobby Jindal's plan to shift future rank-and-file state workers to a 401(k)-style

retirement plan failed to gain traction Thursday in the House Retirement Committee.

Committee Chairman Kevin Pearson, R-Slidell,

proposed a measure (House Bill 68) to adjust provisions of the law

passed last

year, but the attempt was stonewalled in a 6-6 vote by lawmakers

concerned that the law already is tied up in legal uncertainty.

A district court judge has ruled the "cash

balance" retirement plan unconstitutional. That ruling is on appeal.

Meanwhile,

leaders of two state retirement systems have raised concerns about

how the plan would be administered and about its tax implications.

The retirement change, approved by lawmakers last year, created an investment account similar to a 401(k) plan for certain

state employees hired after July 1. That would stand in place of a monthly retirement payment based on salary and years of

employment.

Pearson could try to revive the adjustment bill again this session.

House members pass bills regulating salt mines

Two measures aimed at regulating the operations of salt domes were approved unanimously by the Louisiana

House, in response to a 13-acre sinkhole in Assumption Parish.

The measures by Pierre Part Rep. Karen St.

Germain and Port Allen Sen. Rick Ward would require stricter guidelines

for monitoring

and assessing areas around salt domes.

Among other things, one measure would call for surveying salt dome formations every five years. The other bill would require

legal notification of the location of underground caverns to prospective property owners.

A massive sinkhole in Assumption Parish that opened up in August has forced the evacuation of 150 homes near Bayou Corne.

The proposals, approved Thursday, head next to the Senate for debate.

Automated traffic cameras

A repeated attempt by Rep. Jeff Arnold to rework the laws involving automated traffic cameras has again stalled because of

opposition from local government officials who rely on the penalty dollars for their budgets.

Arnold, D-New Orleans, proposed a measure (House Bill 217) requiring voter approval before drivers could be fined for violations

caught by the cameras. Current fines could be collected until July 1, 2014, without an affirmative vote of residents.

The House Municipal, Parochial and Cultural Affairs Committee voted 10-5 against the idea, likely killing it for the session.

Other legislative action

• The House unanimously agreed that Louisiana

license plates issued for private passenger vehicles from 2014 through

2015 should

commemorate the bicentennial of the Battle of New Orleans. The

measure (House Concurrent Resolution 67) by Rep. Nick Lorusso,

R-New Orleans, heads next to the Senate for debate.