Bills address bombs and reporting suspicious activities

On the day following the bombing in Boston, the Louisiana Senate on Tuesday took up legislation related to bombs and reporting suspicious activities.

State Sen. Bodi White, R-Central, said the timing of the hearings of the two bills that he sponsored was not planned. Both were scheduled last week.

But the events Monday at the Boston Marathon crystallized the issues for senators, White said.

Senate Bill 43 was approved without opposition by the Senate Judiciary C committee. It proceeds to the full Senate for consideration.

SB43 would change the legal references in the law that make it unlawful for any person, without proper license, to manufacture, possess or control any bomb.

“We had a potential loophole in the law,” White said.

East Baton Rouge Parish District Attorney Hillar Moore III asked White to sponsor the change and take away the possibility that an alleged bomber could get off on a legal technicality, he said.

Also Tuesday, the Senate Judiciary A Committee postponed for a week action on legislation that would provide immunity from civil or criminal liability for a person who in good faith makes a report of suspicious behavior or activity.

The report could be to law enforcement or any other appropriate authority of the behavior or activity of another person “made with the reasonable belief that such behavior or activity constitutes, or is in furtherance of, a crime or act of terrorism.”

“This is not mandating you to do anything,” said White, who also sponsored Senate Bill 26. “It makes it clear that we want people to know they can freely report anything they think is suspicious as long as they are not trying to hurt someone.”

White said New York already has the “See something, say something” act. Louisiana would be the second state to adopt it, he said.

White got support from New Orleans lawyer Paul Deckert, who referred to Monday’s deadly Boston Marathon bombing.

“Yesterday’s events seem to amplify” the need to remove any barriers to people reporting suspicious or unusual activity, Deckert said. “Putting agencies in a position to respond in advance is important.”

Committee members said they wanted some of the terms used in the legislation better defined.