There was a fisherman in the Atchafalaya Basin who one day came upon a beautiful ornate bottle in the muck and the mud. He picked it up and observed it was sealed with a cork, but despite being empty it was unusually heavy. Curious of his findings he set about to opening the bottle. Then appeared a genie from the bottle with an offer to grant the fisherman three wishes of his choice.
We are familiar with various versions of this tale. Some of us may even have fantasized over what we would wish for if we were ever to find ourselves in this situation. If you had three wishes which could be granted, what would you ask for? Would others in a similar situation wish for the same things? Would the wishes of someone else give you insight into their thoughts, motives and aspirations?
The 2023 Louisiana Legislative Session is what is commonly called a “fiscal session.” Article 3, Section 2 of the Louisiana State Constitution mandates that bills presented during sessions convening in odd numbered years concern fiscal matters with few exceptions. One of those exceptions is that each member of the legislator may file up to five bills outside the scope of fiscal policy. Five very special bills with the hope that they will become law. So just what do you think your legislators filed? Keep reading to find out what is the most important issues on the minds of our elected representatives.
PROTECTING OUR RIGHTS
When it comes to passing legislation to strengthen and protect the rights of the people of our state there are many familiar faces leading the charge. Names worthy of mention are Danny McCormick (10/10), Beryl Amedee (9/10) and Beth Mizell (8/10) who have presented bills in the area.
While HB299 introduced by McCormick (10/10), authored in the true spirit of the founding fathers and built upon the precepts of the Tenth Amendment to the Federal Constitution, seeks to combat federal overreach in the area of Second Amendment rights. This strategy rings true to the words of James Madison as a “…refusal to cooperate with officers of the Union.”
McCormick through HB131 also seeks to lessen the restrictions which are required for retired peace officers to carry weapons concealed. A measure which can also be found in similar versions, such as HB38 introduced by Joseph Stagni (4/10) and SB130 introduced by Jay Morris (9/10).
PROTECTING OUR CHILDREN
SB7 introduced by Heather Cloud (8/10) confirming the rights of parents to make decisions with regards to what materials their children can access in local libraries and to define what constitutes “sexual conduct” and “sexually explicit material”. While on the House side HB102 was introduced by Julie Emerson (9/10) and co-sponsored by Amedee and Valarie Hodges (8/10) seeking the same protections. Hodges also introduced HB360 seeking to restructure the Livingston Parish Library Board of Control. While HB25 introduced by Paul Hollis (6/10) and co-sponsored by Amedee seeks to ensure parish and municipal governing authorities have more control over library boards and that the policies of library boards remain consistent with state law.
Other noteworthy bills include:
- HB184 introduced by Larry Frieman (9/10) seeks to permit the intervention of a family member (or other interested party) in a proceeding triggered by the removal of a child from his home.
- SB64 introduced by Mike Fesi (9/10) to establish the Partners in Protecting Children subcommittee.
- HB466 introduced by Dodie Horton (8/10) to prohibit a public-school teacher, employee, or other presenter at a school from doing instruction on and discussion of sexual orientation and gender identity with certain public school students grades kindergarten through 12
- SB217 introduced by Cameron Henry (8/10) seeks to create the Child Abuse and Neglect Registry.
- HB77 introduced by Laurie Schlegel (7/10) seeks to allow the attorney general to investigate and pursue actions against commercial entities that knowingly and intentionally publish or distribute material harmful to minors and that fail to perform reasonable age verification.
- HB463 introduced by Gabe Firment (7/10) seeks to prohibit irreversible medical procedures that attempt to alter the gender of minors.
- SB175 introduced by Jeremy Stine (7/10) seeks to create the crime of unlawful deepfakes involving minors.
PROTECTING OUR PERSONAL HEALTH DECISIONS
When it comes to protecting the right to make choices concerning individual healthcare decisions and those of their family members Kathy Edmonston (9/10) is leading the charge. Edmonston has introduced a series of legislation which includes:
- HB182 to prohibits requiring a COVID-19 vaccine as a condition of enrollment or attendance at a public or nonpublic school
- HB399 seeking to require that communication issued to students or parents about immunization requirements include exemption information and applies exemptions not only to students seeking to enter school but also to students attending school.
- HB158, which was co-sponsored by Amedee, Hodges and McCormick, seeking to limit civil liability for refusal to mandate vaccinations for COVID-19 or other pandemic diseases and prohibiting the denial of business permits and professional licenses for failure to mandate such vaccines.
- HB372, which was co-sponsored by Amedee, Hodges, McCormick, Horton and Chuck Owen (8/10), another bill that screams of state nullification of illegal federal acts provides that the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization do not have jurisdiction in this state.
Another important bill in this arena was brought by Owen. HB291 seeks to create the “No Patient Left Alone Law” to prevent the barbaric actions witnessed in our healthcare institutions in which patients were left to die alone.
PROTECTING US FROM FOREIGN INFLUENCE
A handful of bills have been filed by multiple member of our legislature focused on various aspects of influence and control by foreign actors.
- HB311 introduced by Blake Miguez (9/10) seeks a constitutional amendment to prohibit the use of funds and resources from a foreign government or a nongovernmental source for the conduct of elections.
- HB537 introduced by Hodges prohibits the purchase, lease, or otherwise acquisition of immovable property by foreign adversaries or persons connected with a foreign adversary.
- HB125 introduced by Michael Echols (8/10) seeks to restrict foreign adversaries from directly or indirectly, owning, acquiring, leasing, or otherwise obtaining any interest, in agricultural land.
- SB91 introduced by Barry Milligan (6/10) and co-sponsored by Stewart Cathey (4/10) prohibits foreign actors, tied with identified foreign adversaries, from owning, purchasing, leasing, possessing, exercising any control, or holding any interest in immovable property located within 50 miles of any federal or state military land, facilities, or weather stations, or any facility operated by the Civil Air Patrol.
PROTECTING US FROM CRIMINALS
When it comes to addressing crime Debbi Villio (5/10) is out front. All five non-fiscal bills introduced by Villio are focused on fighting crime. In addition to the bills introduced Villio has also co-sponsored other bills in this category, including:
- HB321 creates the Truth and Transparency in the Louisiana Criminal Justice System Pilot Program.
- HB65 designates the crime of simple burglary of an inhabited dwelling as a crime of violence.
- HB66 provides for forfeiture of good time and credits earned toward the reduction of sentence in certain circumstances.
- HB70 provides relative to diminution of sentence and parole eligibility for offenders convicted a fourth or subsequent time of a nonviolent felony offense.
- HB75 increases the penalties for distribution or possession with intent to distribute fentanyl or carfentanil.
Of the five non-fiscal bills introduced by Laurie Schlegel (7/10) this session, three are also concerned with crime:
- HB16 by Schlegel (7/10) (co-sponsored by Villio (5/10)) provides additional penalties for the crime of simple burglary under certain circumstances.
- HB54 by Schlegel (7/10) provides additional time for district attorneys to initiate prosecution of a juvenile as an adult for certain offenses.
- HB84 by Schlegel (7/10) (co-sponsored by Villio (5/10)) addresses juvenile offenders adjudicated delinquent for carjacking
Other noteworthy bills include:
- SB48 introduced by Morris (9/10) seeking a Constitutional amendment to eliminate a judge’s discretion to grant bail for certain offenses after conviction.
- SB54 introduced by Morris (9/10) removes the requirement that an officer must issue a summons for misdemeanor offenses, and theft or possession of stolen things valued at $500 but less than $1,000.
- HB85 introduced by Mike Johnson (6/10) seeks to create the crime of approaching a law enforcement officer who is lawfully engaged in his law enforcement duties.
- HB147 introduced by Mark Wright (7/10) requiring as a condition for parole eligibility offenders shall not have any disciplinary offenses within 24 consecutive months prior to their parole eligibility and hearing date.
- HB151 introduced by Wright (7/10) (co-sponsored by Villio (5/10)) provides for forfeiture of good time and credits earned toward diminution of sentence in certain circumstance.
- HB188 introduced by Frieman (9/10) provides relative to offenses that disqualify an offender from parole eligibility.
- HB464 introduced by Bryan Fontenot (6/10) provides additional penalties for the crime of possession of a firearm or carrying of a concealed weapon by a felon in certain situations.
- SB31 introduced by Mizell (8/10) to create a database to track trafficking arrests, convictions, restitution, fines, and civil asset forfeiture.
PROTECTING OUR ELECTIONS
While there have been many issues which have surfaced in other areas of the country concerning election integrity, most of the areas of concern don’t exist in Louisiana. We told you not to be fooled by all of the misinformation being spread ahead of this year’s elections. As such, only a handful of bills have been filed concerning this highly charge topic for good reason. There isn’t much that needs to be changed about the way we hold elections in Louisiana. But we can always strive to strengthen our already strong election process. These bills include:
- HB159 introduced by Les Farnum (4/10) requiring the Department of State conduct a supplemental annual canvass of registered voters. This is Farnum’s THIRD attempt to bring this bill. The previous two attempts passed in 2021 and 2022, but were vetoed by Governor John Bel Edwards. Current law only allows the Registrars to canvass and remove voters.
- HB174 introduced by Emerson seek to prohibit the disclosure of certain information regarding the active duty or dependent status of certain voters.
- HB212 introduced by Hollis makes it easier to recall public officials. It provides that the number of electors required to sign a recall petition shall be a percentage of the number of electors who voted in the contest electing the public official to his office, or if the public official was elected without opposition, the number of electors in the voting area who voted in the most recent election for an office that encompassed the voting area.
- HB496 introduced by John Stefanski (5/10) is a 52 page bill seeking what appears to be a sundry of minor tweaks to the election code.
- SB123 introduced by Cameron Henry (8/10) addressing when certain recall petition information becomes public record.
- SB203 introduced by Cloud (8/10) makes other minor changes regarding correcting and verifying voter registration information.
It may be worth noting that of Louisiana’s 105 legislators and 39 senators, not a single one brought a bill to outlaw voting machines, force hand-counted elections, or (the latest nonsense) allowing parishes to have their own election rules with zero oversight from the state. Can you just imagine what Orleans Parish would do with that last one? Ballot harvesting as far as the eye can see!
Aside from the big categories we have addressed above there are many other bills that don’t fit neatly into one of those categories which are worthy of mention. They are:
- HB68 introduced by Hodges (8/10) authorizing an elective course on the history and literature of the Bible to be offered in public high schools.
- HB81 introduced by Raymond Crews (8/10) requiring public school employees to use certain names and pronouns for students unless parents provide written permission to do otherwise.
- HB373 introduced by Phillip DeVillier (7/10) prohibiting a provider of drinking water from denying a request for water service to a properly permitted residential or commercial structure that is located within the provider’s service area
- HB462 introduced by Rick Edmonds (8/10) and sponsored by thirteen other legislators requires each public school governing authority to post on its website certain fiscal information and requires the treasurer to post the information on the website of the Department of the Treasury.
- HB487 introduced by Barry Ivey (6/10) seeking a constitutional amendment only requiring a majority of the elected members of each house of the legislature to reduce the rate of a tax, repeal a tax, provide relative to tax administration, or repeal or reduce a tax exemption, exclusion, deduction, credit, or rebate. Additionally, provides that enactment of any other law relative to taxes shall require the favorable vote of at least two-thirds of the elected members of each house of the legislature.
- HB597 introduced by Ivey (6/10) to provide for the State Transparency Portal.
MEANWHILE ON THE LEFT… AND MORE…
Now that we have seen a glimpse of what those on the right side of the aisle desire this legislative you must at least be a little curious about what the members of the left desire with their five special wishes. But before we totally tip the scales there are few RINO relevant items worthy of mention:
- SB144 and SB160 introduced by Senate President Page Cortez (1/10). In true predictable fashion the biggest concern of Cortez is horse racing. Perhaps now that he is on the way out he is looking for a way to “invest” the spoils of his political career.
- HB352 introduced by Malinda White (3/10) reveals she more concerned with “bare knuckle boxing” than real issues facing the state. Maybe we struck a nerve when we published “Men Are Not Punching Bags.”
- HB248 introduced by Wayne McMahen (3/10) concerns itself with whether a person can be buried with their pet remains.
Other Republicans have revealed that they may be suffering from an inability to properly prioritize. HB433 introduced by Timothy Kerner (6/10) reveals that the biggest issue facing the residents of Jefferson Parish is alcohol infused ice cream. While Lance Harris (6/10) introduced HB368 to adopt an official “state nut.” More shocking than the subject of the bill is that he selected the “pecan” instead of the current occupant of the Governor’s Mansion. Perhaps someone could motion from the floor to correct his obvious oversight.
Instead of protecting life, the crowd on the left seems to be most focused with the topic of abortion this session. They have introduced several bills aimed at this topic:
- HB266 by Mandie Landry (1/10) that forbids the state from discriminating against anyone who intentional terminates a pregnancy.
- HB346 by Delisha Boyd (1/10) (co-sponsored by Kyle Green (2/10) and Vanessa LaFleur (1/10)]. Boyd is also concerned with gender identity discrimination (HB40).
- HB522 by Aimee Freeman (3/10). Freeman also thinks providing “free” menstrual products is a top legislative priority (HB117).
- HB598 by Candace Newell (1/10). Candace would like to survey public school students about their personal knowledge and practices concerning sex (HB306).
Gary Carter (1/10) would like to establish a state minimum wage of $10.00 per hour (SB149), while denying prospective employers from asking about an applicant’s wage history (SB148). LaFleur (1/10) has introduced a similar bill in the House (HB283).
Edmond Jordan (1/10) remains focused on finally putting an end to slavery in Louisiana (HB211). We can only wonder how disappointed he will be when he learns that this was done 160 years ago. If HB545, which Jordan also introduced, passes prisoners in the state will have access to “free” telephone calls. Maybe the prisoners can call and explain to him the differences between hard labor and slavery.
And there are plenty of bills aimed at so called “systemic racism.” Denice Marcelle (1/10) seeks to make changes to the data collection process aimed at addressing alleged racial profiling by law enforcement (HB89). Larry Selders (1/10) wants to eliminate the death penalty for persons with mental illness (HB328), while Green (2/10) thinks it should be done away with altogether (HB228). Gary Smith (3/10) wants reduce many offenses presently classified as first degree murder to second degree murder (SB107), while Randal Gaines (3/10) wishes to place oversight of local jury decisions into the hands of a state board (HB588).
Matthew Willard (1/10) wishes to make it more difficult for police by designating some traffic offenses as secondary offenses that cannot be used as grounds for a stop absent a primary violation (HB322). While Rodney Lyons (1/10) believes motorists should receive a “Miranda” style warning before law enforcement officer’s search of a person’s motor vehicle (HB557). Lastly, Carter (1/10) thinks if you are the victim of a crime in which someone steals a firearm from your vehicle, YOU should be liable for damages if the firearm is subsequently used in the commission of a crime (SB216).
The left is concerned with election issues. Tammy Phelps (1/10) would like to establish Louisiana High School Seniors Voter Registration Day (HB316). Let’s add hundreds more to our voter rolls that will likely never show-up to the polls. Sam Jenkins (1/10) (co sponsored by Carter (1/10)) seeks to require the registrar to reinstate the voter registration of a person whose registration was suspended following an order of imprisonment (HB396). Barbara Carpenter (1/10) is concerned with absentee voting for incarcerated persons (HB519). Lastly, Pat Moore (1/10) would like to authorize a person or organization engaging in lawful “nonpartisan activities” to remain within a 600 foot radius of the entrance to any polling place being used in an election on election day or during early voting (HB494). Nothing to be concerned about here folks!
As the 2023 Regular Session kicks off be sure to sit back, pop a bag of popcorn and enjoy the process. It is almost certain to be as entertaining as Comedy Hour with Kenneth Boudreaux, fam!