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.

No comments: