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Press Release: Legal Lines with Locke Meredith

Guest: Dan Claitor, Show # 102


Attorney, Locke Meredith, interviews Louisiana State Senator, Dan Claitor.  Senator Claitor will talk about his first stint as a State Legislator, and what the process is like.

Senator Claitor is the Louisiana State Senator for District 16, representing approximately one hundred thousand people.  Senator Claitor serves on five different committees in office.  One of them is the retirement committee, which makes decisions regarding the retirement benefits of state employees.  A huge part of our budget, Senator Claitor says it accounts for billions of dollars.  Besides the retirement committee, Senator Claitor also serves on a committee known as Judiciary A, dealing with civil law.Senator Claitor is also an interim member of the finance committee, meaning he cannot vote, however he often serves as proxy for voting members, allowing him to vote in their place.  Furthermore, Senator Claitor is an interim member on the Governmental Affairs committee, who plays a huge role in drawing district lines and making census decisions.

Senator Claitor explains the breakdown of Louisiana’s State Government.  There are seventeen committees, and thirty-nine senators.  There are one hundred and five representatives.  Within District sixteen, Senator Claitor  has contact with five State Representatives.  State representatives represent smaller groups of people than senators, and they work together to determine the needs of their district.

As far as lawmaking goes, senators and House representative can each bring forth bills, and then submit them for amendments by the opposite side.  Recently, Senator Claitor has been working on a bill regarding student discipline within the classroom.

For people who want to know about upcoming bills, you can check them out and watch via webcam by googling “Louisiana Senate.”

Next, Senator Claitor discusses the role of lobbyists in legislation.  He makes the claim that, despite their reputation, lobbyists are not bad people. Instead, they play an essential role in representing the interests of society to legislators, hoping to pass laws that will benefit the society members they represent.  Some lobbyists are paid, and others are not.  Typically, lobbyists representing both sides of a given issue appear before the committees.

In the past session, lasting forty-five days, twelve hundred bills were filed.  The process of a bill in legislature goes as follows.  First it must pass out of its committee with a favorable vote.  In the Senate, for example, the Senator proposing the bill takes the microphone and presents the bill to committee. If it passes committee, then it goes to the opposite side: to the House if the Senate proposed it, or vice versa.  If the bill passes through this step, it goes to the Governor for signing or vetoing.

Next the conversation turns toward the State Budget, and our lack of money.  Despite the misconception, Senator Claitor tells us that oil is not going to save our budget, only accounting for sixteen to seventeen percent of our budget.

To aid in budgeting, Louisiana has the Streamlining Government Commission.  This commission, headed by Jack Donahue, is trying to identify priorities and cut out unnecessary expenditures in our State Budget.  One further problem with our State Budget, Senator Claitor mentions, is the fact that Hurricane Katrina artificially inflated our incomes.  The show comes to a close.

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