Louisiana Political News Wire
Senators express concern over plans for remaining hurricane grants
The Senate Finance Committee, despite concerns from the Louisiana Recovery Authority and Gov. Bobby Jindal's administration, approved a pair of Speaker Jim Tucker's proposals designed to steer leftover hurricane recovery grants to parish governments, with new legislative oversight. The moves came despite legislators being deluged with telephone calls from scores of Road Home recipients and rental property owners and other beneficiaries of existing grant programs who expressed fears that Tucker's proposals ultimately would take money from them. Tucker said those citizens are mistaken. House Bill 1175 would give the state Office of Community Development, under the control of the governor, power to reallocate to parish governments that leftover money. Local government still would have to comply with any requirements that the federal government imposes on block grants. The Senate panel added an amendment to clarify that the process could not threaten any existing contract: a Road Home settlement or hazard mitigation grant, for example. The companion measure, House Bill 1173, would shift to OCD many of the planning responsibilities now vested with the LRA, which is slated to be dissolved in July. The measure also would require that the Joint Legislative Budget Committee approve any OCD recovery-related contract in excess of $50,000.
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