Automatic expungement bill advances, but fiscal hurdles loom ahead

Published: May 31, 2022

By: Alex Tirado

Rep. Royce Duplessis, D-New Orleans, sponsored a new law that will limit the release of mug shots in Louisiana. (Greg LaRose/Louisiana Illuminator)

A Louisiana Senate committee approved a bill Tuesday that would provide for the automatic expungement of qualifying criminal records, but lawmakers raised concerns about the long-term expense to taxpayers if applicants no longer have to pay to clear their names.

The Senate Judiciary C Committee advanced House Bill 707, authored by Rep. Royce Duplessis, D-New Orleans, would automatically expunge records of arrests, misdemeanors and felonies in certain circumstances. Individuals convicted of felonies must wait a decade after completing their sentences before receiving an expungement, while those convicted of crimes of violence and sex offenses are not entitled to expungement.

Setting up the new system would cost the state $3 million in the first year. The bill’s fiscal note also estimated a cost of $1 million per year for implementation because of the involvement of multiple government entities and the increased workload associated with processing some 2.5 million records.

The cost could still derail the bill. Sen. Bodi White, R-Baton Rouge, expressed concerns about the cost. He chairs the Senate Committee on Finance, which also will consider the bill.

Read more at Louisiana Illuminator

Former State Police leader agrees to turn over notes in investigation of Ronald Green death

Published: May 26, 2022

By: Piper Hutchinson, LSU Manship School News Service

Louisiana State Police (Bodycam video via the Associated Press)

BATON ROUGE, La. – The lawyer for former Louisiana State Police Superintendent Kevin Reeves has agreed to turn over Reeves’ journals containing notes from his meetings as the state’s top cop under the condition that they remain under seal.

As part of the agreement, the House and Governmental Affairs Committee agreed to defer a resolution holding Reeves in contempt of the Legislature if he complies by a 4 p.m. deadline on Friday. 

Under the agreement, Reps. Tanner Magee of Houma and John Stefanski of Crowley, both Republicans, will be permitted to inspect the journals at the office of Reeves’ lawyer, Lewis Unglesby.

The inspection will determine if any of the pages contain sensitive information, like Social Security numbers, which could then be excluded. The rest of the journals will return to the Capitol with the lawmakers by tomorrow’s deadline.

Read more at KTBS

Senate Education Committee advances bill requiring schools to supply period products

Published: May 26, 2022

By: Allison Allsop, LSU Manship School News Service

BATON ROUGE – The Senate Education Committee unanimously advanced a bill Wednesday that would require schools to provide menstrual products in locations of the schools’ choice.

The bill, authored by Rep. Aimee Adatto Freeman, D-New Orleans, was first voted on by the House Committee on Education back in April. The committee, and then the full House, voted to advance the bill.

The bill has been amended along the way. Originally, the bill noted school bathrooms as a place where the menstrual products could be available. During the House floor debate, it was amended to only say “easily accessible locations.”

Rep. Beryl Amedée, R-Houma, raised concerns then over why this amendment was needed. She said that bathrooms seem like the logical placement for menstrual products, and she questioned whether moving them to the nurse’s station or the school office might discourage students, especially younger girls who are having their first periods.

Read more at Daily World

Resolution advances recommending House members volunteer as substitute teachers

Published: May 26, 2022

By: Allison Allsop / LSU Manship School News Service

REP. PATRICK Jefferson proposed a bill asking all House members to serve as substitute teachers. (Photo credit: Allison Allsop/LSU Manship School News Service)

BATON ROUGE–A House committee unanimously advanced a resolution Tuesday recommending that all House members volunteer as substitute teachers.

House Resolution 99, authored by Rep. Patrick Jefferson, D-Homer, asks that state representatives have an “immersive experience” in public elementary and secondary schools to inform their policy decisions. 

The resolution also asks that the members report in writing their findings and experiences. 

In 2004, a resolution authored by former Sen. John Alario passed through both chambers. Jefferson called his resolution the “Alario fist bump.” 

Read more at The Franklin Sun

Senate committee kills bill that protects against housing discrimination for criminal history

Published: May 26, 2022

By: Piper Hutchinson, LSU Manship School News Service

BATON ROUGE– A Senate committee shot down a bill Wednesday that would have made it easier for formerly incarcerated people to access housing.

House Bill 1063, sponsored by Rep. Matthew Willard, D-New Orleans, would have amended the Louisiana Equal Housing Opportunity Act to require housing providers to disclose whether criminal history is considered as a basis for eligibility.

Rep. Matthew Willard (second from left) presented his housing bill Wednesday to a Senate committee. Piper Hutchinson/LSU Manship School News Service

The bill also would have protected property owners and employees of housing providers from liability stemming from a decision to rent to somebody with a criminal record.

The bill had already passed the House on a 56-40 vote. But it failed Wednesday in the Senate Committee on Commerce, Consumer Protection and International Affairs on a party-line vote, with three Republicans against it and two Democrats for it.

Read more at The Shreveport Times

Despite objections from residents, Louisiana House committee advances bill rezoning Central school district

Published: May 25, 2022

By: Piper Hutchinson, LSU Manship School News Service

Sen. Bodi White, R-Central, stands at left in this photo with Sen. Barrow Peacock, R-Bossier City. (Ashley Wolf/LSU Manship School News Service)

BATON ROUGE–The House Committee on Education advanced a bill Tuesday that would adjust the boundaries of the school district in Central, a suburb of Baton Rouge, and exclude potential Black students.

Senate Bill 189, sponsored by Sen. Bodi White, R-Central, adjusts boundaries of the Central Community School System to exclude a planned subdivision, Belle Arbor.  

The bill would affect 400 students, many of them from black families. Those students would instead be assigned to the East Baton Rouge school district, which is lower rated than Central schools.

The bill cleared the committee on a 5-4 vote, with committee chairman Rep. Lance Harris, R-Alexandria, casting the deciding vote. The vote was entirely along party lines.

An earlier version of the bill included two other neighborhoods, but those were amended out of the bill.

Belinda Davis, a member of the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education and a professor of political science at LSU, previously spoke against the bill.

Read more at BIZ Magazine

Can adopted people see their original birth certificates in Louisiana? A bill would allow it

Published: May 25, 2022

By: Alex Tirado, LSU Manship School News Service

BATON ROUGE — After a lengthy debate, the Senate Judiciary A Committee advanced a bill Tuesday that would allow adopted persons to obtain their original birth certificate.

House Bill 450, sponsored by Rep. Charles Owen, R-Fort Polk, would allow an adopted person 24 years or older to request an uncertified copy of his or her original birth certificate from the state registrar.

Under present law, an adopted person’s original birth certificate is sealed after a final decree of adoption and can only be opened by a motion of disclosure or a limited medical exception.

Rep. Charles Owen testified about his bill that would allow access to an adopted person’s original birth certificate. Alex Tirado/ LSU Manship School News Service

The bill provides an avenue for adopted people to receive a copy of their birth certificate without going through lengthy bureaucratic hurdles.

Read more at Town Talk

Louisiana House passes bill to protect state employees legally using medical marijuana

Published: May 25, 2022

By: Piper Hutchinson, LSU Manship School News Service

BATON ROUGE – The House passed a bill Tuesday that would protect state employees who are being legally treated for medical marijuana.

House Bill 988, sponsored by Rep. Mandie Landry, D-New Orleans, protects state employees from negative consequences if they are diagnosed with a condition for which their doctor recommends medical marijuana used in accordance with state law.

The bill, which passed 60-32, would protect employees from being fired and would protect prospective employees from being discriminated against for their use of medical marijuana. It now moves to the Senate for further consideration.

The bill would not apply to law enforcement, firefighters or other public safety officials.

Read more at The News Star

Louisiana Legislature approves tenure study task force

Published: May 23, 2022

By: Piper Hutchinson, LSU Manship School News Service

BATON ROUGE – The House gave final passage Monday to a resolution to study tenure policies at universities in Louisiana.

Senate Concurrent Resolution 6, sponsored by Sen. Stewart Cathey, R-Monroe, creates the Task Force on Tenure in Postsecondary Education. The task force would report back to lawmakers with suggestions on changing tenure policies in the state.

The resolution passed the House on a 60-30 vote.

The language suggests that Cathey, acting in line with Republican lawmakers in other states, is concerned about possible political indoctrination of college students.

“Postsecondary students should be confident that they are being exposed to a variety of viewpoints, including those that are dissenting,” the resolution reads. The resolution seeks to ensure that “faculty members are not using their courses for the purpose of political, ideological, religious or anti-religious indoctrination.”

Rep. Polly Thomas, R-Metairie, who has a Ph.D. in educational psychology, spoke against the resolution.

Read more at WBRZ

Louisiana Legislature passes $39 billion budget

Published: May 19, 2022

By: Piper Hutchinson, LSU Manship School News Service

BATON ROUGE, La. (LSU Manship School News Service) – The Louisiana House gave final legislative approval to a bundle of budget bills on Thursday, May 19 that include funds for $1,500 pay raises for K-12 teachers and $300 million for a new Mississippi River Bridge in Baton Rouge.

The basic package had already cleared the House, but amendments made by the Senate had to be concurred on.

In one of the nine bills, the House advanced the $39 billion state operating budget on a bipartisan 88-7 vote, with one Democrat, Rep. Wilford Carter of Lake Charles, and six Republicans voting against the bill. The Republicans were Reps. Raymond Garofalo of Chalmette, Kathy Edmonston of Gonzales, Barry Ivey of Central, Julie Emerson of Carenco, Danny McCormick of Oil City and Blake Miguez of Erath.

The six Republicans, representing the conservative faction of the legislature, raised concerns about one-time funds being used for recurring expenditures.

Read more at KALB