NEW ORLEANS — The City of New Orleans announced its priorities for the current Louisiana State Legislative Session. Specifically, the City is emphasizing protecting and preserving critical state funding for infrastructure and citywide projects, as well as holding negligent and irresponsible property owners accountable by the introduction of stronger criminal penalties for blighted properties.
“The City’s 2023 legislative agenda is another demonstration of my administration’s priorities and commitment to addressing public safety as a matter of public health and quality of life in our city,” said Mayor LaToya Cantrell. “We remain steadfast in our efforts to improve the quality of life of our residents, and I want to thank the members of the Orleans Delegation for working so closely with my administration to move this agenda forward.”
The City and our state legislators will also be advocating for, prioritizing the Sewerage and Water Board Power Plant to ensure that the project can continue to move towards completion. This project will ensure that the residents and businesses of New Orleans have reliable storm drainage, water distribution and sewer systems by transitioning to Entergy-generated electricity directly from the grid and will ultimately result in fewer boil-water advisories and an overall greater degree of reliability.
Other proposed projects for State Capital Outlay Funds include the redevelopment of Lincoln Beach, renovation of the former VA Hospital and improvements to several recreational facilities and playgrounds across the city.
Additionally, the following proposed Senate and House Bills by our local representatives support public safety personnel and boost our blight remediation efforts.
SB127 by Senator Duplessis – Public Safety Personnel Property Tax Exemption
This constitutional amendment would allow parish governing authorities to exempt up to $2,500 in assessed valuation of property taxes for qualified first responders who live and work within the same parish. Police officers, firefighters, emergency medical professionals and 9-1-1 emergency call takers would be eligible.
“I filed Senate Bill 127 in direct response to what we have heard from first responders in New Orleans,” said District 5 Senator Royce Duplessis. “And what we have learned is that property tax incentives can be a critically important tool for recruiting, and just as importantly, retaining highly qualified first responders to live and work in our great city. SB127 provides that relief, and in doing so will make New Orleans an even more attractive destination for police, fire, EMS and 9-1-1 personnel to answer the call to public service.”
HB270 by Representative Willard – Weed cutting in Orleans Parish
This bill will simplify the process and reduce the administrative burden for the City to remove tall grass, weeds, graffiti, trash and debris from the 15,000 vacant lots in the city by extending the required notice period from twelve to twenty-four months.
“I’m excited to partner with Mayor Cantrell on House Bill 270 to streamline the processes for cleaning up and mowing littered and overgrown vacant lots in our city,” said District 97 Representative Matthew Willard. “This is an issue that has persisted since Hurricane Katrina, and I am determined to be a part of the solution to this problem that has impacted the quality of life for residents in every corner of New Orleans.”
HB370 by Representative Landry – Criminal Blighting of Property
This bill comes at the request of the Division of Code Enforcement, and it will strengthen the criminal blight statute, which is currently ineffective in compelling owners of commercial and large residential apartment buildings due to the existing weak penalties. This measure would allow for prosecution concurrent with the review of the administrative judgement. These stronger penalties should compel the most egregious bad actors to improve and maintain their properties.
“There are far too many families in New Orleans, and all across Louisiana, who are forced to live in sub-standard and often hazardous housing conditions, with few options, if any, to force delinquent landlords to make repairs or improve conditions,” said District 91 Representative Mandie Landry. “I am grateful that this productive partnership with Mayor Cantrell and her administration will result in stronger state laws. House Bills 276 and 370 will give the City much needed tools to hold careless property owners accountable for ignoring the needs of their tenants and disregarding real quality of life issues.”