Analysis: Tax debate done, so other battles emerge

Published on NewsOK Modified: April 28, 2013 at 4:02 pm •  Published: April 28, 2013
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—A proposal to drum up new federal cash for private and community hospitals. The idea, pushed by the hospitals and sponsored House Speaker Chuck Kleckley, would let hospitals pool money and use it to draw down federal matching cash through the state Medicaid program. The hospitals say they would use existing dollars in the pool, but critics — including the state GOP — say the legislation would be a vehicle for hospitals to charge a new "bed tax" on patients. Kleckley, a Republican, is trying to keep the debate from becoming a partisan fight, but it may be too late.

—Bills to expand gun rights in Louisiana, such as allowing people to have concealed weapons in places where they are currently banned and prohibiting state enforcement of any new federal restrictions that might be enacted on semi-automatic weapons. The proposals have set off wide-ranging debates on state's rights, home security and community violence.

Likely less-watched by many outside of the Capitol is one of the most heavily lobbied issues inside the building, a bill that would expand the scope of practice for optometrists, allowing them to perform certain types of eye surgery though they didn't go through medical school.

White-coated ophthalmologists, who are medical doctors and currently can perform such procedures, have filled the Capitol's halls to oppose the change. The bill is on hold on the House floor while lawmakers determine whether they can broker a compromise.

All the haggling continues until June 6, when the regular legislative session must end.

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EDITOR'S NOTE: Melinda Deslatte covers the Louisiana Capitol for The Associated Press.

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