Posted: Jun 5, 2013 11:18 PM by KATC
With less than 24 hours left in the legislative session, a major overhaul to a bill that spurred a lot of discussion between community leaders in Lafayette.
Bringing you up to speed: Representative Vincent Pierre drafted House Bill 420 to redesignate $200,000 from the Cajundome's share of the "Hotel-Motel Tax," and give it to the old Holy Rosary Institute for renovations. Holy Rosary was the first African-American catholic school in Lafayette that was built in 1913, and has deteriorated since its closure in 1993.
But last month an amendment was added flipping things around saying the Cajundome would get their cut of the money first. Then the Holy Rosary would get the $200,000 they were hoping for. But another change, this time taking the Holy Rosary Institute out of the proposed law all together, a law only written to benefit the historic school. Another amendment was filed by Senator Page Cortez Wednesday. It puts this former school on an even playing field with any other historic structure in Lafayette needing renovations.
The amendments to HB 420 outlines several things including who gets the money when.
First up the Cajundome. They will receive the funds they need to make their payments, such as the lease. Right now, Cajundome uses a little more than one million dollars to make those payments, but that could change if they decide to do more improvements.
Next up to get money is the Lafayette Convention and Visitors Commission. They get $200,000 to award grants for promoting tourism and the restoration of historic sites. That funding is nothing new to the amendment, or HB 420.
Then after the Cajundome receives up to $3 million total in funds from the "Hotel-Motel Tax", LCVC will receive more funds, to the tune of $100,000. Any more money brought in by the tax will be given to the Cajundome.
The amendments to HB 420 also create an oversight committee, and further stipulations on how you can qualify for the grants through LCVC.
According to the amendment, Holy Rosary Institute can apply for the grants just like any other historic, or tourism agency. However, if the amendment is adopted, if the group in question is a non-governmental agency, like Holy Rosary, they have to have a matching grant. For example, if Holy Rosary asked for a $1,000 grant, they would have to bring $1,000 to the table.
Back to the oversight committee, which according to Cortez is one of the biggest changes for the bill. The committee would be comprised of 10 representatives from all of the districts in Lafayette. According to the Senator Cortez this group would decide how the grant money was used, and prioritize projects that most benefit Lafayette.
Senator Cortez says he drafted the amendment in the interest of fairness.
"The senators in Lafayette are pretty confident this is the only way we'll accept this bill," said Senator Cortez. "So I don't believe the Senate would move from what we've offered as an amendment."
We reached out to the original bill's sponsor, Representative Vincent Pierre, but our phone calls were not returned. The amended bill will be debated on the final day of the legislative session, Thursday.