Louisiana 2014 Legislative Session: Items to Watch Part I

by Courtney C Horne @FireezDragon

Instead of bulk summarizing like I did last session, I will be featuring bills and resolutions that I am going to be keeping an eye on and provide brief summaries of those items. If you have an item you would suggest I keep an eye on, drop me a line through the contact form. 

Today I am featuring: HCR1, SB12, SB46, SB50, SB61, SB78, SB87, SB94, and SB96

House Concurrent Resolution 1 (HCR1)  (Edwards)   – This concurrent resolution is part of an ongoing effort by Louisiana Democrats to have the state participate in the medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act. Similar legislative items were introduced last session and this is not the only item on the topic this session.

Senate Bill 12 (SB12) – (Gallot) – This bill is to add electronic cigarettes to the laws through which the state regulates the purchase of tobacco products. Currently the law does not include them and there are no state regulations to prevent the sale of electronic cigarettes to minors. Update- Scheduled for a committee meeting on March 18th. Update: This has left committee with amendments (technical/phrasing) and is going to the full Senate. Update: This has passed the senate and has been sent to the House.

Senate Bill 46 (SB46) (Dorsey-Colomb) – This would raise the state minimum wage to $10 an hour.  (excluding tipped workers, student employees, and employees of state colleges and universities)

Senate Bill 50 (SB50) – (Nevers) – Currently the state’s early childhood education program is provided for children based on income with no cost early childhood education only for families who meet specific income requirements. This would expand the program to cover all children at no cost.

Senate Bill 61 (SB61) – (Nevers) – This is a bill to permit the parents of children who live in the region of a “D” or “F” graded school to enroll them instead in another public school which received an “A”, “B”, or “C.” It doesn’t require the school system to provide transportation for this choice.

Senate Bill 68 (SB68) – (Kostelka) – This would change the law surrounding possession of firearms on the premises of an alcohol serving establishment. It would allow concealed carry permit holders to carry in alcohol beverage selling businesses that have a Class A restaurant permit. It would also allow off duty and retired police officers to carry in alcohol serving establishments. Current law requires officers to be acting in an official capacity. (A related news item)

Senate Bill 78 (SB78)  (Kostelka) –  This adds members of charter school boards to the list of individuals required to file a financial disclosure statement.

Senate Bill 87 (SB87) (Claitor) – Currently the maximum penalty for manufacture, distribution, or possession with intent to distribute heroin is 50 years and this would raise it to 99.  (Our state already has unusually strong sentencing laws in general) 

Senate Bill 94 (SB94) (Gallot) – This takes some of the tenure changes passed in the Act 1 of the 2012 session (constitutionality of the act is still in question) and modifies them to be phased in more gradually than in the current law. Update: This bill is scheduled for a March 26th committee meeting. Update: The bill did not progress at the March 26th meeting

Senate Bill 96 (SB96) (Nevers) –  This is another legislative item (this one a proposed constitutional amendment) aiming to expand medicaid as outlined in the affordable care act. It would allow the legislature to revisit whether to continue the program if federal funding dropped below 90% of the cost.