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A Q&A WITH REP. BERYL AMEDEE

AMEDEE SAYS THIS SESSION WAS PRODUCTIVE IN GOVERNMENT

 

The State Legislative Session is officially over in Baton Rouge.
One of our area’s legal leaders said it was a productive time in government.
Rep. Beryl Amedee spent some time with BBM this month, giving us a rundown of some of the happenings in Baton Rouge.
Check out this conversation below to see some of the work Rep. Amedee did to work for the area.

Q: How would you say this session has gone overall? There were talks – well before the session even started that progress would be tough in an election year, but it seems as though you all got some things done.

A: “The session went better than some of the others we’ve had during this term. I am pleased with a lot of what passed, like the bill that prohibits abortion once a fetal heartbeat is detected. (This won’t become law unless and until there is a positive outcome in the pending court case concerning the same law in Mississippi.) I’m glad we finally opened the door statewide to ride sharing services like Lyft and Uber. It’s disappointing that certain bills get pushed aside in an election year. At the Capitol, I have often gone to committee chairmen and the Speaker of the House and begged them to schedule certain bills especially to give us the opportunity to record our votes. I vote based on what’s best for my constituents and the state and I stand by my voting record.”

Q: There were quite a lot of hot-bed items up this time. Sports betting, Uber coming to Louisiana, abortion bills, teachers getting raises. It seems as though there were a lot of awfully significant votes this go-round.

A: “Yes, as usual, even though this was a “fiscal only” session, we still saw a broad variety of bills that were not directly related to the budget, and many of those attracted plenty of attention. I’m sure those who monitor the Louisiana legislature for entertainment were not disappointed as this session provided plenty of contention and media commentary and a few propaganda wars along the way. One significant bill that I was proud to co-author, finally passed this year after many years of battle. It’s the bill requiring restaurants to let customers know if the shrimp and crawfish they serve is imported or domestic. This will allow the public to make an informed choice since seafood coming from other countries might not be safe because it has usually not been processed under the same stringent health and safety laws that exist here.”

Q: What of your legislation are you most proud of this session?

A: “Every time you get a prescription filled at a pharmacy, you are given an information sheet about the drug. I proposed a bill that would also require an information sheet to be given when you get a vaccine. My hope was to head off some of the hysteria we are seeing in other states concerning vaccines by putting reliable information in the hands of patients and parents. It’s only reasonable to expect that if we, as patients, have a right to be informed about what we are going to swallow or rub on our skin, we should also expect to be informed about what is going to be injected into our body. Unfortunately, reason and common sense did not prevail and the bill was voted down.”

 

At the Capitol, I have often gone to committee chairmen and the Speaker of the House and begged them to schedule certain bills especially to give us the opportunity to record our votes. I vote based on what’s best for my constituents and the state and I stand by my voting record.

Q: What are a few areas you think we could have progressed forward on this time, but missed out on?

A: “There is so much work to do! In no particular order, here is a short list off the top of my head:  We have barely scratched the surface on spending and budget reform. Budget growth should never outpace economic growth. The way we do capital outlay needs an overhaul. The Department of Health is huge and unwieldy. We have got to do away with policies that are the source of inefficiency. Pharmacy benefit managers (PBM’s) have no oversight. They are the middlemen in the pharmacy arena. They are not accountable to anyone and we are losing pharmacies left and right, especially the local independent pharmacies. We need more transparency concerning curriculum content so that teachers know what their options are and parents are aware of what their children are learning. We have barely scratched the surface on spending and budget reform. Senior citizens are the fastest growing demographic on our population. It’s passed time to make “aging in place” a true option. Again, so much work to be done. I know we could have made a lot more progress if we had a supportive administration which would trigger needed majority votes.”

Q: What will you be doing in the coming months to keep working with the session out?

A: “With session over I am happy to be back in the district, back home with the people I represent! Communication is a priority. I have plenty of phone calls and emails to catch up on. I am scheduling Town Hall meetings throughout my district and drafting a newsletter that will be mailed out shortly. I will also visit the Terrebonne, St. Mary, Lafourche and Morgan City Council and Assumption Police Jury meetings to present an after-session report to each. I am already working on legislation for next year, so research and study and meetings are ongoing.” •

BY CASEY GISCLAIR

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