On Feb. 27-28, Mary Ann and I were in Washington, D.C., to meet with a number of members of Louisiana’s Congressional delegation. Mary Ann was attending the Credit Union National Government Affairs Conference and I was there to promote federal support for local road improvements. Although the delegation members have extremely tight schedules, we were able to have individual meetings Feb. 27 with Senators John Kennedy and Bill Cassidy and Representatives Ralph Abraham and Garret Graves and a senior staff member of Representative Mike Johnson. On Feb. 28, we also met in a larger group with these same members plus Representative Clay Higgins.
On the credit union side, Mary Ann thanked them for maintaining the tax-exempt status of credit unions and to support repeal of certain regulations of Dodd-Frank and the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau that are harmful to small banks and credit unions. All of our members with whom we met were supportive of the regulatory reforms. She stressed the importance of recognizing the negative impact of “one Size fits all” regulations on community banks and credit unions.
My objective was to get help for parishes/counties and municipalities in the proposed federal transportation infrastructure bill. We were pleased to receive expressions of support for local government highway needs. Although the final bill to be considered by Congress has not yet been drafted, it appears that it will include funds for local roads. We also understand that local governments will have to meet the same matching fund requirements that state departments of transportation must meet to receive federal funds. That means that Natchitoches Parish would have to contribute part of the cost of its road projects. At present, we do not have the funds we need to participate in the program.
The only way forward for the Parish to make significant progress in road improvements is for it to pass a tax dedicated strictly to roads. If the federal plan is put into law as proposed, the federal dollars committed to Parish roads would multiply the Parish dollars, resulting in far more road work being done in the Parish than if we had to fund the entire cost. We thanked the delegation members with whom we met for taking time from their busy schedules to meet with us. All were very cordial and thanked us for providing them with input from our community.
Rick Nowlin Parish President