17 April 2018

Committee action, Apr. 17: HB 760, HB 649

HB 760 by Rep. Jay Morris would require information to be provided to legislators on request. He told the House and Governmental Affairs Committee that the bill would improve legislative access to executive branch information by allowing legislators to have quickly this, in an understandable fashion.

Chairman Mike Danahay asked whether this might become disruptive. Morris said better to have too much information and to revisit the law if changes needed. He also had adopted an amendment to protect individual data.

Rep. Rob Shadoin pointed out that the bill allowed many more people than legislators to access this information, but Morris said it would have to come at a legislator’s discretion. Regardless, this could cause a lot of work, he argued. Morris said it was necessary because the executive branch sometimes might not be entirely forthcoming given conflictual interests.

14 April 2018

Legislative regular session through Apr. 14, 2018

The number of bills filed creeps up still, because of substitutes. Also, HB 357 and HB 628 were removed from the bad bill list, as amendments to these in committee made them benign.

THIS WEEK FOR THE GOOD: HB 54 passed the House; HB 88 passed the House; HB 161 passed House committee; HB 163 passed House committee; HB 414 passed House committee; HB 561 with minor amendment passed the House; HB 723 passed the House; HB 727 with minor amendment passed the House; HB 748 with minor amendment passed the House; HB 749 with major amendment passed House committee; HB 830 with minor amendment passed House committee; HB 891 passed the House; SB 364 with major amendment passed Senate committee and the Senate; SB 462 passed the Senate;

THIS WEEK FOR THE BAD: HB 162 was deferred involuntarily; HB 265 passed House committee; HB 328 was deferred involuntarily; HB 579 with major amendment passed the House; HB 651 was deferred involuntarily; HB 823 passed House committee; SB 51 passed Senate committee; SB 274 failed to pass the Senate; SB 278 failed to pass the Senate; SB 380 with minor amendment passed the Senate; SB 491 with minor amendment passed Senate committee; SB 493 with minor amendment passed Senate committee and the Senate; SB 558 with minor amendment passed the Senate.

11 April 2018

Committee action, Apr. 11: HB 265, HB 417

HB 265 by Rep. Pat Smith would allow felons to vote once released from prison, after five years. She told the House and Governmental Affairs Committee that the law and Constitution dictates that those under imprisonment, which includes probation and parole, for a felony can’t vote.

Representatives for an ex-offender interest group noted that the bill would aid those on long-term parole or probation. But Rep. Rob Shadoin noted that parole and probation offenders sometimes did not draw imprisonment and wondered how it could be implemented.

Others said the right to vote would increase their integration into the community, echoing a statistic that people who vote are less likely to offend – although the direction of causation was not made clear. Still others appeared to litigate a case in process over the definition of “imprisonment.” They also noted ex-felons still had to pay taxes yet couldn’t vote in Louisiana and therefore didn’t have a say in society.

Rep. Barry Ivey said just because felons in this situation could not vote doesn’t mean public policy doesn’t address their needs. Speaking on the administrative side, First Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin said the system as is would not reliably work to identify individuals properly under the proposed bill, and would need changes to fit.

Smith closed saying changing the system should not be difficult. The bill was approved 7-2.

HB 417 by Ivey would also restore felon voting rights, but they would have to perform community service for this. Rep. Lance Harris moved for its involuntary deferral, to which Ivey moved for passage. His request failed 2-6.

08 April 2018

Legislative regular session through Apr. 7, 2018

Bill filing has come to a halt, and with that a blizzard of last-minute filings. Also, HB 79 was amended to broaden it in a constructive way, leading to dropping it from the list of bad bills.

THE GOOD: HB 793 by Rep. Steve Carter would discourage hazing at public colleges; HB 825 by Rep. Polly Thomas would ease unnecessary occupational licensing (similar bill: SB 504); HB 830 by Rep. Julie Stokes would reduce the incidence of human trafficking problems; HB 836 by Rep. Julie Emerson would increase Second Amendment rights on college campuses; HB 881 by Rep. Dustin Miller would reduce privileging of those who smoke in public; HB 891 by Rep. Frank Hoffman would prevent abortion providers from funneling indirectly public dollars to the practice; SB 522 by Sen. Dan Claitor would provide improved crime deterrence and restorative justice; SB 531 by Sen. John Milkovich would create a fairer reimbursement methodology for nursing homes; SB 534 by Milkovich would discourage coerced abortions.

THE BAD: HB 795 by Rep. Gary Carter would increase the chances of election fraud; HB 805 by Rep. Robert Johnson would reveal too intrusively taxpayer records; HB 809 by Rep. Ted James would increase needlessly taxpayer expenditures on corrections; HB 823 by Rep. Tanner Magee would remove an oversight opportunity from the medical marijuana program (similar bill: HB 827); HB 852 by Gary Carter would place needlessly onerous regulation on Second Amendment rights; HB 858 by Rep. Marcus Hunter would expand gambling; SB 516 by Sen. Ed Price would impose needlessly higher labor costs potentially on gaming operations.

04 April 2018

Committee action, Apr. 4: HB 88, HB 462

HB 88 by Rep. Sherman Mack would enhance penalties for those who committed benefits fraud. He told the House Criminal Justice Administration Committee that currently no disincentive applied to falsifying application against individuals, as opposed to laws discouraging provider fraud. The penalty would vary from none to five years, or seven years in special cases.

Rep. Denise Marcelle said the bill was a reversal of criminal sentencing reform because it increased time in jail, although it was pointed out this penalty was discretionary, and claimed it would criminalize poor people who lie, although it was pointed out that those who truly qualified for a program who have no reason to falsify their applications. Rep. Barbara Norton asked what would happen if after applying for benefits someone got a raise or different job for more pay, and was told the law only looked at the representation at the time of application.

Rep. Ted James said tax incentives and rebates ought to be included, even though the bill only addressed entitlements, and offered an amendment to do that. Mack said that served to reduce the potential penalty for fraud in those kinds of activities, so why include it in the bill, and also could cause double jeopardy problems. The amendment was defeated 6-11, with only Democrats present voting for it.