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|Slow week leading to budget|
State Rep. Noble Ellington said little has happened this week in Baton Rouge as legislators prepare to tackle the budget.
House Bill 1, the state's appropriations bill, is scheduled to be heard on the state House of Representatives floor on Thursday. House Bill 2, which deals with capital outlay, is set for committee hearings this week.
Ellington said legislators are "anxiously awaiting" the arrival of those bills so they can begin making desired changes.
"We're just watching and waiting to see what comes with those two bills," said Ellington, D-Winnsboro.
Meanwhile, Ellington said a number of bills making their way through the house governmental affairs committee could overhaul the state's civil service commission.
Among the proposed changes in store for civil service, seniority would no longer be the deciding factor in promotions.
Instead, Ellington said supervisors could be given more freedom to determine promotions based on merit.
Also, the proposed changes would eliminate "a little bit" of the job protections civil servants enjoy.
"Not all, by any stretch, but it would at least allow them the ability to keep the best people," Ellington said.
For Ellington, the overhaul was overdue.
"This is something that has probably been needed for a long time and hasn't taken place," Ellington said. "It looks like we're going to get somewhere with that."
Meanwhile, the state Senate is set to hear a new set of proposed food safety laws to tighten down food quality in Louisiana.
State Sen. Francis Thompson said the bill he filed would enable the state to better guard food supplies against disease and contamination.
"We've been through two or three scares nationwide on food safety issues," said Thompson, D-Delhi. "We lose 5,000 people a year across the country because of food contamination."
If lawmakers approve Thompson's proposal, food producers would be required to have a food safety plan and a recall plan on file with state regulators.
Thompson said there has been a national move towards better food safety and many producers will have plans in place already.
"If they're following a federal plan that is being imposed, we won't require them to a separate plan," Thompson said. "But if they aren't, we'll require they have one developed and on file."
Also, food suppliers and producers would be required file a recall plan with the state, to demonstrate how they could manage a recall and track food lots or shipping.
Thompson's bill authorizes the state to levy fines from any food manufacturer or producer who fails to comply with the new law.
Thompson called food safety a "silent problem" because it is not typically a major concern for consumers.
"It kind of flies under the radar because it happens in various areas, without much connection," Thompson said. "So we've got to get a grip on food safety issues."
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