Facing opposition from Louisiana's business lobby as well as conservative organizations, an Iberville Parish lawmaker shelved her bill today to prohibit discrimination in the workplace based on sexual orientation. While the legislation can still be brought back up for a vote, the move essentially places an unmovable lid atop this year's drive to ban employers from making decisions on the basis of not only orientation, but also gender identity and expression. Rep. Karen St. Germain, D-Plaquemine, said she filed her HB 887 to level the employment field for gays, lesbians and others. "This is a fairness bill," she added. It was opposed by LABI, the National Federation of Independent Business and the "pro-family" Eagle Forum, among others. LaPolitics
has more on the legislation.
—With the author arguing his proposal had nothing to do with decriminalizing marijuana and law enforcement officials from around the state suggesting otherwise, a Senate committee voted 4-3 today to defer legislation that would have declared as a misdemeanor possession of an ounce or less. Before the session convened, Senate Judiciary Chairman Bob Kostelka, R-Monroe, said he wouldn't allow any pro-marijuana bills to escape his committee if he could help it, which he did when members arrived at a tie vote and he broke it by siding against lessening penalties for simple possession. Sen. J.P. Morrell, D-New Orleans, had agreed to an amended version of his SB 323 that called for a $500 fine and possibly six months in prison for possession of an ounce or less, a proposal that would have made it a misdemeanor—"the way it is in practically every other state," said Morrell. For possession of more than an ounce, the failed amendment would have defaulted to the current law which already contains graduated felonies. A number of district attorneys, judges and sheriffs spoke against the proposal, including Calcasieu Parish Sheriff Tony Mancuso, who's also president of the Louisiana Sheriffs' Association. He told lawmakers they should ignore the suggestions that the war on drugs is being lost. "The point is we can't give up," said Mancuso. LaPolitics
has more from the debate
as well as a brief preview of the coming discussion over medical marijuana.
—The House Transportation Committee resumed its war on Washington (Louisiana, that is) this morning by approving a bill that would effectively shut down the notorious speed trap on Interstate 49 in St. Landry Parish. HB 1233, which passed 11-5, would prevent a municipality's police officer from writing speeding tickets on interstate highways unless at least a half mile in each direction is within the city limits. Rep. Alan Seabaugh, R-Shreveport, designed his bill to apply to Washington, whose strict speed enforcement on a small stretch of I-49 has sparked complaints and legislative efforts to curtail the practice. He cited statistics from the Louisiana Municipal Association stating that the town had collected $1.5 million in traffic fines over the past four years, making up the main source of revenue for the town of 1,000. Seabaugh said his bill would not stop city officers from making DWI arrests or even stopping a car for speeding and conducting a search of the vehicle. "They are only prevented from writing speeding tickets," he said. John Gallagher of the Louisiana Municipal Association acknowledged Washington's reputation but objected to the Legislature telling local enforcement how to do their jobs. LaPolitics
has more on the Legislature's other speed trap bill
, which was rejected by the House recently. (John Maginnis and Jeremy Alford will publish Capitol Views each afternoon on
Daily Report PM through the end of the legislative session. The report is also available to subscribers at LaPolitics.com. Registration is available on the homepage.)
Louisiana Public Broadcasting is providing a daily video update featuring highlights of the session, which you can see beginning at 6 p.m. here