Amendment would deny officials benefits
The Louisiana House on Tuesday endorsed a proposed constitutional amendment under which public employees and officials convicted of “public corruption crimes” could lose some of their government retirement benefits.
The House voted 100-0 for House Bill 9, the proposed constitutional change and for HB10 the companion statute. Both measures now head to the Senate for consideration.
The constitutional amendment would go to Louisiana voters on Nov. 6 if the Senate approves by a two-thirds vote.
Legislation sponsor state Rep. Anthony “Tony” Ligi, R-Metairie, said any public official or employee who violates the public trust should not be entitled to the retirement benefits funded by taxpayer dollars. Convictions could be for a state or federal felony.
Under HB10, the sentencing judge could order forfeiture of retirement benefits if he finds that the nature of the offense and the prior service of the public servant or any mitigating factor warrants such an order. The individual or his spouse or children would still be able to get the money they contributed minus any interest.
Jindal elder-care plan stripped from budget
A push by Gov. Bobby Jindal’s administration to merge the governor’s Office of Elderly Affairs into the state health department appears to be dead for the session, after facing strong opposition from parish councils on aging around Louisiana.
The Louisiana House Appropriations Committee stripped the idea from next year’s $25 billion budget proposal, and state Sen. Sherri Smith Buffington, R-Keithville, said Tuesday that the proposal won’t be pursued.
Leaders of parish councils on aging and elderly residents who receive services through programs overseen by the Office of Elderly Affairs said the office would be swallowed up in the massive Department of Health and Hospitals’ bureaucracy.
Fifty-one jobs and $44.6 million would have been moved into a department that will have 7,000 employees, under the recommendation by the governor’s office.
DHH Secretary Bruce Greenstein said the move wouldn’t reduce services, would make operations more efficient and could generate additional federal health-care money for senior citizen programs.
The Office of Elderly Affairs works with local senior centers, community service organizations and volunteer programs to provide assistance with meals, transportation, counseling and personal care for senior citizens.
Jindal fired the head of the office, Martha Manuel, after she criticized the proposed move earlier in the session. Manuel said the merger would damage services for Louisiana’s senior citizens.
Senate supports ban on some pet sales
The Louisiana Senate on Tuesday altered — then approved —House-passed legislation aimed at stopping the sale of dogs and cats at certain locations.
The Senate version of House Bill 231 would create the crime of unlawful sale of dogs and cats on any highway, right of way, public park, public playground, or swimming pools or any other public recreational area or adjacent property.
The Senate adopted an amendment sponsored by state Sen. Barrow Peacock that would still allow the exchange of dogs and cats at the locations which the House version prohibited. Peacock’s amendment also eliminated from the illegal sale sites flea markets, commercial or retail parking lots.
“Privately owned property should still be able to do this,” said Peacock, R-Shreveport.
Offenders would face penalties of a fine or not more than $250 for a first violation and not more than $1,000 for second or subsequent violations.
HB231 sponsored by state Rep. Anthony “Tony” Ligi, R-Metairie, returns to the House for concurrence in Senate changes.
Senate backs ban on sex offenders online
A House-passed bill that limits Internet use for convicted sex offenders whose crimes involved children cleared the Louisiana Senate on Tuesday.
The Senate voted 37-2 for the measure by state Rep. Ledricka Thierry, D-Opelousas.
House Bill 620 is a revision of a law that a federal judge threw out last year as unconstitutionally broad because it was a “near total ban on Internet access.”
Under the revamp, 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.
The legislation would prohibit sex offenders convicted of crimes involving juveniles from using social networking sites such as Facebook. The bill is part of Gov. Bobby Jindal’s legislative package.
First-time violators could be imprisoned for up to 10 years at hard labor without benefit of parole, probation or suspension of sentence.
Senate OKs making pirogue official boat
The Louisiana Senate gave final legislative passage Tuesday to a bill designating the pirogue as the official state boat.
The Senate voted 38-0 for House Bill 746 sponsored by state Rep. Bubba Chaney, R-Rayville.
HB746 now heads to Gov. Bobby Jindal’s desk.
the Capitol news bureau
and The Associated Press