Hammett: Some pending bills could directly affect Concordia Parish

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, June 20, 2000

Louisiana lawmakers returned from a 13-day break ready to deal with a handful of revenue-related bills — including a few that would affect Concordia, said Rep. Bryant Hammett, D-Ferriday.

&uot;Everyone was frustrated and physically and mentally tired&uot;&160;after a regular session that ended without the Legislature passing a budget for the fiscal year that starts July 1, Hammett said. &uot;I think the break helped everybody. (Lawmakers) are more ready to work together now.&uot;

In working up a budget and finding the additional revenue to cover it, the Legislature will consider a handful of bills, including some that would directly affect Concordia Parish, said Hammett, chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee. Continuation of funding for two rural economic development coordinators — including northeast Louisiana coordinator Teresa Dennis — at a total $110,000 a year is something Concordia officials are lobbying strongly for. &uot;It would cost (other agencies) twice that much to do all she does,&uot;&160;Hammett said. &uot;In my mind, it’s money well spent.&uot;

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Vidalia Mayor Hyram Copeland, who is still recovering from triple bypass surgery, even went down to Baton Rouge Tuesday to lobby for the positions to be funded.

&uot;It’s extremely important to a rural area, especially. (Dennis) is a major contact with industrial prospects,&uot; Copeland said. &uot;(Lawmakers) are doing everything they can to try to keep that money in the budget.&uot;

Copeland also lobbied to keep $250,000 in state funding for the Ferriday-based Macon Ridge Economic Development Region in the budget.

Funding of the DARE program, which Sheriff Randy Maxwell and other law enforcement officials lobbied for strongly this year, is still not included in the budget, Hammett said.

And if hunting and fishing fees are not raised during the special session, the Louisiana Department of Wildlife will have to lay off personnel statewide, including locally, Hammett said.

Those fees are scheduled to be considered by the Natural Resources Committee this morning. &uot;And there will be cutbacks if (fees) don’t pass,&uot;&160;Hammett said.

One measure would create one $16 combination license for hunting and fishing instead of the current $10.50 hunting license and $5.50 fishing license.

&uot;That would affect many people in my district who fish but may not hunt,&uot;&160;he said.