Capitol Views: B.R. breakaway school district bill falls short; drug test bill nixed by Senate panel
Backers of a new southeast Baton Rouge school district today fell four votes short of getting the proposal on the constitutional ballot this fall. The House vote was 66-34 on Senate Bill 299 by Sen. Bodi White, R-Denham Springs.
Debate was brief, as three Baton Rouge Democrats—Reps. Ted James, Pat Smith and Regina Barrow—spoke against the measure, all citing the damage it would do to the parish school system. Two parish Republicans, Cliff Richardson and Erich Ponti, urged House members to allow people to vote on the question.
After the vote, White huddled with Rep. Hunter Greene to go over the vote totals with an eye to bringing the measure up again. All 34 nay votes came from Democrats, while six Democrats voted with all 58 Republicans and two independents who supported the bill. Five Democrats did not vote.
Both the Senate and House have approved the statute setting up the district, and the Senate has approved the constitutional amendment.
—On a 3-1 vote, a Senate committee deferred a bill to drug test welfare recipients today, effectively killing the bill for this session.
“I’ll be back next year,” pledged Rep. Sherman Mack, R-Albany, who characterized his bill as a deterrent measure that would help make people on cash assistance ready to work. Rob Tasman of the Louisiana Conference of Catholic Bishops questioned the morality of the bill and doubted its constitutionality.
The bill had been amended by Judiciary B Committee Chairman Sen. J.P. Morrell, D-New Orleans, to convert the random testing program to a pilot program to test 500 recipients of Family Independence Temporary Assistance Program payments.
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