Law signed that bans
offenders from sites
Gov. Bobby Jindal signed into law Wednesday a ban on certain convicted sex offenders using Facebook and other social networking websites.
“We already restrict sex offenders from playgrounds, daycares, and schools, and they should not be allowed to prey on our children in our homes through our computers,” the governor said in a prepared statement.
House Bill 620 by state Rep. Ledricka Thierry, D-Opelousas, is an updated version of a 2011 law limiting the Internet use of convicted sex offenders whose crimes involved children.
A federal judge rejected the previously passed law, declaring it a “near-total ban on Internet access” and unconstitutionally broad.
Under the new law, sex offenders would have to commit “intentional use” of a social networking site by creating a profile or attempting to contact other users on the site.
Bill advances, would change voting hours
Reversing an earlier vote, a bill that would trim Saturday voting by one hour won approval Wednesday in the Senate and Governmental Affairs Committee.
The proposal, House Bill 209, would require that voting be held from 7 a.m. until 8 p.m. instead of the current 6 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Secretary of State Tom Schedler, who backed the measure, said Louisiana has the longest voting day in the nation.
He said voters can cast ballots for 80.5 hours including early voting and that the early starting time poses a hardship on election commissioners.
“This is about some sensitivity to commissioners,” Schedler told the panel.
Louis Reine, president of the Louisiana AFL-CIO, opposed the bill.
Reine said it is a “great thing” that the state offers voters a long day to cast ballots.
A bid to shelve the bill failed 2-5. It then won committee approval without objection and next faces a vote in the Senate.
The same committee deadlocked 4-4 on the bill earlier this month. It passed the House 60-41 on April 4.
The bill would not change voting hours for federal elections, which are held on Tuesdays.
Voting to shelve the bill were Sens. Ed Murray, D-New Orleans and Greg Tarver, D-Shreveport.
Voting against shelving the bill were Sens. Mike Walsworth, R-West Monroe; Jack Donahue, R-Mandeville; Jonathan Perry, R-Abbeville; Neil Riser, R-Columbia and Bob Kostelka, R-Monroe.
dead for session
An effort to further restrict public smoking is dead this year.
State Sen. Mike Walsworth, R-West Monroe, told the state Senate on Wednesday that no further efforts will be made to advance House Bill 378 to the governor.
“That bill is going away for the session,” Walsworth said after speaking to the proposal’s sponsor, state Rep. Frank Hoffmann, R-West Monroe.
Smoking is prohibited in public buildings, schools and certain public places.
Hoffmann wanted to extend the prohibition to within 25 feet of a public building entrance or wheelchair ramp.
The new ban would have curtailed legislators and lobbyists from ducking outside the State Capitol for a smoke break.
Bill allowing taking
notes at trial killed
The Louisiana House killed Senate-passed legislation Wednesday that would have allowed jurors in criminal trials to take notes during court proceedings.
Senate Bill 5 died when only 35 state representatives voted for it and 59 voted against. Fifty-three votes were needed for passage.
The House amended the measure to give judges discretion on whether to allow the note-taking, but that was not enough to overcome opposition from those who said it would be disruptive.
State Rep. Helena Moreno, D-New Orleans, said Louisiana and Nebraska are the only states that don’t allow the note-taking in criminal trials.
“You are just giving people the option at the judge’s discretion,” she said.
The State District Judges Association supported SB5 while the Louisiana District Attorneys Association and Attorney General Buddy Caldwell opposed it.
Note-taking is permitted in civil trials in Louisiana.
Pharmacists to give
shots under OK’d bill
Certain pharmacists could administer pneumonia and shingle vaccines under legislation headed to the governor’s desk for signing into law.
The Louisiana House on Wednesday voted 75-27 to give final legislative passage to the measure Senate Bill 378 sponsored by state Sen. Fred Mills, R-St. Martinville.
Pharmacists could give the shots in primary care health professional shortage areas without a prescription from a physician. Today, specially trained pharmacists can give flu shots.
“This bill is about access to health care for 600,000 uninsured Louisianians,” said state Rep. Walt Leger, D-New Orleans. He said surrounding states allow the practice.
State Rep. Robert Johnson, D-Marksville, said the immunizations should be provided by physicians because of the potential for adverse reactions.
“I don’t think we should be taking this risk. We need to have these people treated by physicians,” he said.
Rep. Nancy Landry, R-Lafayette, noted physician opposition to the legislation. “They show more concern for money than their patient’s health,” she said. She said pharmacists administered 110,000 flu vaccines last year with no adverse reactions reported.
Leger put the chance of an adverse reaction at “one in a million” and said pharmacists must be trained to handle situations if they occur.
backing of Senate
The state Senate embraced a resolution Wednesday that calls for state education leaders to put more emphasis on science, technology, engineering and math.
Senate Resolution No. 120 by state Sen. Conrad Appel, R-Metairie, asks the Board of Regents to develop a strategy for attracting and graduating more students interested in those educational areas.
The Senate adopted the resolution without objection.
On a vote of 36-0 Wednesday, the state Senate endorsed a proposed constitutional amendment to let voters decide whether public employees and officials convicted of “public corruption crimes” could lose some of their government retirement benefits.
In addition to approving House Bill 9, the Senate voted 37-0 in favor of House Bill 10, the companion legislation, after making a minor change. HB10 now returns to the House for concurrence on the change.
The constitutional amendment would go to Louisiana voters on Nov. 6.
HB10 would allow a judge to order forfeiture of retirement benefits. The individual or his spouse or children would still be able to get the money they contributed minus any interest.
State Rep. Tony Ligi, R-Metairie, sponsored both measures.
Senate approves bill on drunken driving
Motorists who rack up two drunken-driving convictions in a year would go to jail under legislation that cleared the state Senate on Wednesday.
The Senate voted 33-3 in favor of House Bill 47 by state Rep. Sherman Q. Mack, R-Albany.
Under the bill, two convictions for driving while intoxicated in a year would mean 30 days in jail.
The legislation now returns to the House for concurrence on changes.
Cellphone, Internet safety bill passes
Legislation to require public schools to teach Internet and cellphone safety is headed to Gov. Bobby Jindal’s desk.
The state Senate voted 37-1 in favor of House Bill 236 by state Rep. Valarie Hodges, R-Denham Springs, giving the measure final legislative passage.
State Sen. Bodi White, R-Central, said the purpose of the legislation is to teach children about the dangers of identity theft and sexual predators.
Bus driver tenure
bill returns to House
The state Senate tweaked legislation Wednesday that would make future school bus drivers ineligible for tenure.
After making the change, the chamber voted 32-6 in favor of returning House Bill 293 to the Louisiana House.
State Sen. Conrad Appel, R-Metairie, said Louisiana is the only state that offers tenure to school bus drivers. Tenure is a form of job protection.
“The intent of the bill is to eliminate tenure for school bus drivers,” he said.
Appel said the legislation would not impact current bus drivers.
Instead, the bill would prevent school bus drivers who start work after June 30 from becoming regular and permanent employees.
To become school bus drivers, motorists must receive instruction or training, be at least 21 years old and pass a physical examination.
State Sen. J. P. Morrell, D-New Orleans, offered an amendment to allow a driver who owns his bus to receive tenure after seven consecutive years of employment as a school bus driver.
Morrell said he wanted to protect drivers who do a fantastic job. He said they essentially are small business owners.
Appel objected to the change, but the Senate voted 20-17 in favor of it.
dies in Senate panel
A House-passed bill to trim bullying in public schools was derailed Wednesday in the Senate Education Committee.
The proposal, House Bill 1214, failed to advance when no member of the committee made a motion for or against the measure.
State Rep. Patricia Smith, D-Baton Rouge and sponsor of the bill, said she plans to continue work on the issue through a Senate-passed bill to curb bullying that is awaiting a House vote.
It is Senate Bill 764.
Both measures are aimed at strengthening rules in public schools to combat bullying, offer training for school employees to detect it and spell out disciplinary and other steps when it occurs.
Compiled by the
Capitol news bureau