In the second part of the this series, Senator Don Cravins, Jr. talks about his work chairing the Insurance Committee, and Representative Don Trahan talks about working to bring UL tuitions to a par with UNO and Louisiana Tech.

To read Part I of this series, click here.

Senator Donald Cravins, Jr.

Senator Cravins started by explaining that he is Chair of the Senate Insurance Committee, which has worked very hard after the hurricanes. The Committee has tried hard not to over-react, so that insurance companies don't leave Louisiana. Instead, the Committee has tried to incentivize the industry, in order to bring more companies to the state, which will bring competition, and better prices.

One action of the Committee was the Regional Deductible Bill. Prior to this Bill, a customer's named storm deductible could only be raised state-wide; Louisiana was the only state in US who did this. The Committee fixed that, and did three things: they opened Louisiana to more companies; they capped the deductible to 4%; and they said to companies, "We want you to write more business along the Gulf Coast." For those companies not near the coast, this allowed them to write more business.

The Committee and the Legislature are also shutting down Citizens Insurance, and moving policies into the private market, where competition dictates prices & affordability.

He finished by saying that he looks forward to working with the Legislators, and developing this area as one region.

Representative Don Trahan

Don Trahan spoke next. He began by saying that regionalism works. When a Legislator sends a Bill to the floor, if it has one of the regional group's names on it, then everyone talks about how they can help. Not everyone in the group always agrees, but they talk. If it's in the Cajun Zone, "The Red Zone", they talk about it.

He tipped his hat to Senator Mike Michot, the state's most powerful Senator, and noted that he's ours. Then he quipped, "And when he learns how to use it, we'll be all right."

Representative Trahan explained that the state will have about a $1 billion surplus again next year. The priorities will be roads, levees, and maybe a steel mill. He personally supported roads, and levees only up to the Industrial Canal; he is not supporting the Charity hospitals unless we have the funds. He also stated that he would not support a move in the Legislature to raise taxes. He predicted that next session, there will be a move to scrub the budget, and that would need the Governor's involvement, it will take strong leadership.

Trahan's passion is education; he explained that it was a labor of love to be the Chair of the House Education Committee. He introduced one Bill only, the tuition bill, and he was very proud to say that it passed. It wasn't a popular bill, but he did it for UL. There are three levels to Louisiana Higher Education, LSU as the flagship, on the second level is UL, UNO and Louisiana Tech, and everyone else is at the 3rd tier.

UL's tuition was $800 to $1200 behind UNO and LTU. So he was willing to work that Bill. He also said that this is the first time a Bill of that magnitude, a 4-year funding Bill, was passed without the Governor's involvement. In the past, it required the Governor's support, but Jindal said he was neutral. Governor Jindal simply said that the Bill should be moderate, to make sure the students were OK with it, and to make it a 4 year Bill, not 1, he didn't want to have to deal with it again in this term.

Trahan pointed out that the Governor is only 37 years old, he is very astute, but he is going to make some mistakes. He has made some, and he's admitted to that. As Governor, he has to be engaged in the process. Trahan concluded by saying that he thought next session we would see a different Bobby Jindal, and a different Legislature. Trahan's prayer is that they put the pay raise issue behind them, and move on.

Continued reporting of the Legislative Luncheon will continue in the next few days in ultoday.com.