21 May 2014

Committee action, May 21: HB 305, SB 62, HB 1079, HB 1176, HB 1274

HB 305 by Rep. Frank Hoffman would have abortion providers prohibited from distributing materials or speak about abortion in public schools. He told the House Health and Welfare Committee that this protected life and the self-esteem of girls. He said this help prevent the selling of abortion. Witnesses gave examples of how Planned Parenthood in particular has distributed material supporting abortion in schools.

Opponents testified that it was unnecessary but would reduce the amount of sex education available where needed, deny free speech they claimed would be unconstitutional and litigated, claimed it would overbroad in preventing other kinds of information including that which would be helpful in reducing pregnancy and disease, and alleged it would cost money to defend.

Hoffman closed by saying sex education is not restricted by the bill, and another supporting witness said that the opponents’ unconstitutionality arguments are meritless because schools are not public forums. Without opposition, it was moved favorably.

SB 62 by Sen. Conrad Appel would create a common application for a Louisiana state university. He told the House Education Committee that a general form would be created, and schools could add their own material. It also could attract out-of-state students by linking it to a national form.

Rep. Barry Ivey asked whether it would apply to two-year schools, and Appel said they would, as the general information could be shared. After amendments were adopted, it was approved without dissent.

HB 1079 by Rep. Tim Burns would require more detailed reporting of campaign expenditures. From the Committee on Senate and Governmental Affairs, Sen. Jonathan Perry asked whether the definition would be too subjective; Burns said guidelines had been created by the Board of Ethics that could be put on forms and put into fact sheets. If there seemed to be ambiguity, an investigation could occur that would allow for modification of reports rather than any prosecution. Burns said it was more providing greater description.

Sen. Greg Tarver asked whether it meant one had to name everybody attending a paid function; Burns said just a description of who they were he thought was adequate. Then he asked about giving away money for a constituent to fund a funeral; Burns said a simple explanation should do. As long as it was related to campaigning or holding of office, it was permissible, there just needed to be adequate explanation.

Questions mounted up, so Chairman Jody Amedee asked Burns if he would defer for a week, given pressing pending business. He agreed.

HB 1176 by Rep. Chris Broadwater would disallow TANF funds from being used for certain purposes and/or at certain location. He asked the Senate Education Committee for some amendments to be approved that modified issues of amusements and jewelry, which were approved. Vice Chairman Fred Mills wondered whether there had been a fiscal note on the bill as had been with other efforts in the past, but there was not as there would be disabling of ATMs, not reprogramming issues.
The bill was approved without objection.

HB 1274 by Rep. Austin Badon would allow for maximal life-sustaining efforts to be made to save unborn children that reasonably would survive in the incident where a pregnant woman cannot sustain life on her own. He said to the House Health and Welfare Committee the bias to protect life was important. Opponents said the law would make pregnant women second-class citizens and deny her choice, or her relatives, or an official organization’s determination if she left some kind of directive to let her die and therefore her unborn baby. They said too much was being put on the rights of the unborn, but too little on the rights of the family and represented “despicable, abominable, immoral, unethical, invasive, inappropriate, abhorrent” state overreach.

Sen. Ben Nevers asked whether the state legally could let a child die, and was told it wasn’t a child that would die, and that government should not interfere with human rights. Nevers said there was another life at stake, and it would be wrong not to maintain life when possible and would err on the side of life.

Badon said living wills were useful, but they didn’t necessarily reflect current attitudes, nor were families that could make these decisions always present. Instead, the bill simply gives a voice to the unborn, allows for eventual natural death, and trusts medical decision-making. Without objection, the bill passed.

HB 1262 by Rep. Barry Ivey would require provision information to women considering abortion about the procedure and options to encourage diversion of victims from human trafficking. Providers would have to distribute these and report incident such as coerced abortion, as clarified by amendments which were adopted. Witnesses testified that women who experienced abortion often suffered psychologically afterwards, and more information was better for them in making that decision. They also said that they did not trust the abortion industry to police itself, drawing upon past experience.

Opponents said the trafficking portion was overblown in its benefits, and said the required pamphlets contained information they largely could provide on their own already, and that the industry could police itself, making the bill unnecessary. They also said some women would be better off psychologically or financially if they had an abortion, calling research that showed the opposite “bad science.”

Ivey reiterated there were no restrictions to abortion in the bill, and noted the irony that clinics said they provided information on the potential negative psychological effects of abortion even as they called it bad science. The bill passed with objection.

Not at my mortuary.
Tarver, clarifying his example.

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