BATON ROUGE, La. — Governor John Bel Edwards signed nearly four dozen bills into law this week, including benefit increases for school retirees, Medicaid dental coverage and a host of locally targeted measures.
Bills approved Wednesday include House Bill 17, sponsored by Rep. Phillip DeVillier, R-Eunice, to provide a permanent increase in benefits to retirees of the Louisiana School Employees Retirement System.
The measure, now Law 359, provides an increase of up to 1.5% for eligible retirees and surviving beneficiaries, subject to the availability of funds in the system’s experience account, which consists of remains of the excess investment returns after paying the accumulated unfunded liabilities. .
Another bill signed by Edwards, House Bill 21, sponsored by Rep. Tony Bacala, R-Prairieville, creates a funding holding account for the municipal police employee retirement system and authorizes the board of directors to change required employer contributions.
HB 21, now Law 360, provides a mechanism for the system to provide cost of living adjustments from excess contributions collected in the Funding Holding Account under certain circumstances, allowing increases that were previously related to investment income.
Edwards also approved House Bill 55, sponsored by Representative Rhonda Butler, R-Ville Platte, to provide Medicaid dental coverage for certain residents of intermediate care facilities.
The bill, now Law 366, extends dental care to Medicaid enrollees age 21 or older at a state-licensed intermediate care facility for people with developmental disabilities, subject to the approval of Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and an appropriation from the Legislature.
Another bill endorsed by Edwards, House Bill 966, sponsored by Rep. R. Dewith Carrier, R-Oakdale, increases the number of specific coroner’s offices allowed to seek taxes to fund operations. HB 966, now Act 403, authorizes specific parishes to authorize and assist the coroner to place on the ballot a renewable 10-year ad valorem tax from three mills.
If approved by a majority of voters, revenues would be paid for the sole operation of the coroner’s office. The parishes listed in the bill include Allen, Bienville, Bossier, Cameron, Caldwell, Claiborne, Concordia, DeSoto, East Carroll, East Feliciana, Franklin, Grant, Jackson, LaSalle, Lincoln, Madison, Morehouse, Natchitoches, Plaquemines, Point Coupee, Red River, Richland, Sabine, St. Helena, St. James, St. Landry, Tensas, Union, Webster, West Baton Rouge, West Feliciana and Winn.
Other measures Edwards signed on Wednesday include allowing the city of Henderson to levy a resort tax on hotels, creating Freedom Week in public schools, court discretion for certain hearings conducted by audio-visual aids, changes to salary procedures for teachers whose employment is interrupted by military service and exemption from tolls on State Highway 1 between Leeville and Grand Isle for certain school personnel.
Edwards also approved bills requiring heart health classes in high schools, allowing schools to organize and operate certain games of chance, creating a database of adjusters, creating a program delivery of books for students with reading difficulties and others dealing with tax sale property, outdoor advertising and criminal justice reforms.