Senator Hewitt speaks with Moon Griffon at Solutions Summit 2020
Louisiana State Senator Sharon Hewitt spoke with Moon Griffon on his radio show while at the Pelican Institute's Solutions Summit 2020. Senator Hewitt, the newly elected State Senate Majority Leader, sat down and discussed her plans for the upcoming legislative session.
Moon asked Senator Hewitt about the need for tort reform, reducing auto insurance rates and getting our business climate back going in the right direction. "I think we have a mandate from our voters to do something for sure," says Hewitt. "It was the number one campaign issue and it was the biggest differentiator in this past election cycle. I was raising money and supporting a lot of candidates, especially in the Senate, to help get them elected. The defining issue was where people stood on tort reform. So now we have a group of people in the legislature, in both the Senate and the House, that are committed to tort reform. High car insurance premiums affects everyone in the state. Trucking companies can’t afford the insurance and fewer companies are writing commercial insurance. The oil and gas industry is losing jobs because of the coastal lawsuits and legacy lawsuits. It is so costly to do business in Louisiana that many companies are choosing to leave Louisiana because they can’t afford to work here.”
As the Senate Majority Leader, she said that they are working together as a Republican Delegation to identify their priorities and present a package of bills with their solutions to many of the challenges facing our state. “This is work that has never been done before,” said the Senator.
Moon also asked about her bill last year that would put the brakes on soaring insurance rates by doing away with the "seat belt gag law," a common sense bill that would allow evidence of seat belt usage to be introduced in court. Although the bill was killed in the Senate committee the last two years, Senator Hewitt said that she has been working with Senate and House members and that this should be one of the first bills that we pass this year.
They also discussed the redistricting process, which Senator Hewitt will lead as chairman of Senate Governmental Affairs, to redraw State Senate and House districts, Congressional districts, BESE (the state School Board) districts, and the Public Service Commission districts so that each elected official represents about the same number of people. “We’ll be setting the table for Louisiana for the next 10 years,” said Hewitt. “I don’t want to lose a Congressional District on my watch,” she said. “Let’s pass some pro-growth policies on the state level, eliminate our litigious environment, and grow the state so that 10 years from now we are talking about adding a Congressional district instead of losing one.”
Finally, Moon asked Senator Hewitt about the $14 Billion backlog of infrastructure projects. “The voters in my parish don’t like taxes until you can convince them that we’ve done a good job with the money they’ve already given DOTD.” Concerning the prioritization of projects, the Senator pointed out that we had a $940 Million budget for roads and bridges last year and none of that was used on capacity projects, which is the public’s biggest frustration. They agreed that the current prioritization process is too political. Concerning how we fund more infrastructure projects, the Senator said “the only answer for increased revenue is not a gas tax. We will have a bill this year to move DOTD salaries and benefits out of the Transportation Trust Fund, allowing us to spend more money on roads and bridges.”
“It’s going to be a busy four years, but I’m really excited about it, said Senator Hewitt.
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