According to a survey released Thursday by The Lens — a nonprofit New Orleans news site — it seems state legislators will forego an effort being spearheaded by state Rep. Jerome "Dee" Richard, an independent from Thibodaux, to convene a special session next month so legislation can be passed to restore cuts to the state's health care system.
Before the Nov. 26 special session can be convened, Richard must get signatures from at least 35 House members or 13 senators.
If The Lens' survey is any indicator of how things will unfold, it appears the odds are stacked against Richard.
Those surveyed by The Lens include lawmakers whose districts encompass Orleans, Jefferson and St. Tammany parishes. Of the 38 state senators and representatives surveyed, only seven say they support Dee's push for a special session. They include:
Rep. Austin Badon Jr., D-New Orleans
Rep. Pat Connick, R-Marrero
Rep. Jerry “Truck” Gisclair, D-Larose
Rep. Jeff Arnold, D-New Orleans
Rep. Harold Ritchie, D-Bogalusa
Rep. Cameron Henry, R-Metairie
Sen. Ben Nevers, D-Bogalusa
Sixteen survey recipients did not respond. They are:
Rep. Neil Abramson, D-New Orleans
Rep. Wesley Bishop, D-New Orleans
Rep. George “Greg” Cromer, R-Slidell
Rep. Paul Hollis, R-Covington
Rep. Girod Jackson III, D-Harvey
Rep. Nick Lorusso, R-New Orleans
Rep. J. Kevin Pearson, R-Slidell
Rep. John Schroder Sr., R-Covington
Rep. Scott Simon, R-Abita Springs
Rep. M. “Kirk” Talbot, R-River Ridge
Rep. Tom Willmott, R-Kenner
Sen. Jack Donahue, R-Mandeville
Sen. David Heitmeier, D-New Orleans
Sen. Edwin Murray, D-New Orleans
Sen. Karen Carter Peterson, D-New Orleans
Sen. Gary L. Smith Jr., D-Norco
That leaves six on the fence and nine against Richard's session. The lawmakers saying they won't sign the petition are:
Rep. Bryan Adams, R-Gretna
Rep. Tony Ligi, R-Metairie
Rep. Ray Garofalo Jr., R-Chalmette
Rep. Helena Moreno, D-New Orleans
Rep. Walt Leger III, D-New Orleans
Rep. Robert Billiot, D-Westwego
Sen. Conrad Appel, R-Metairie
Sen. J.P. Morrell, D-New Orleans
Sen. John Alario, R-Westwego
The list of undecideds includes:
Rep. Tim Burns, R-Mandeville
Rep. Jared Brossett, D-New Orleans
Rep. Joe Lopinto III, R-Metairie
Rep. Chris Leopold, R-Belle Chasse
Sen. A.G. Crowe, R-Slidell
Sen. Danny Martiny, R-Kenner
Several of those on the fence, and even some undecideds say their stance on the session does not mean they support Jindal's $475 million in cuts to the state's university medical system. But they do think the 15-day special session would be a waste of time and too costly — about $375,000 for the Senate and about $500,000 for the House.
The Lens also notes that a good bit of the legislators surveyed say even if the governor's cuts were reversed, they know how he will respond:
Even if they agree to call the special session, lawmakers said Jindal would veto any measure to restore the cuts. It would take a two-thirds vote in both chambers to override him.
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