Louisiana 2014 Legislative Session: Items to Watch Part IV

by Courtney C Horne @FireezDragon

This is part of my ongoing effort to highlight and provide brief summaries of legislative items in the 2014 session. If you have an item you would suggest I keep an eye on, drop me a line through the contact form. 

This post covers: HB103, HB108, HB121, HB124, HB129, HB148, HB172, HB174, HB187, HB199

House Bill 103 (HB103) (Foil) – This bill increases the minimum mandatory penalty from five years to 20 years for distribution or possession with intent to distribute of Schedule 1 substances (which includes marijuana). (Marijuana prohibition is very expensive and incarceration is pricey) Update: This bill is scheduled for a March 26th committee meeting. Update: This bill was voluntarily deferred on March 26th.

House Bill 108 (HB108) (Schroder) – This bill seeks to protect public workers from retaliation when they give information upon request to a legislator or legislative committee. Given the state’s history of corruption I am surprised a measure like this wasn’t already put in place.

House Bill 121 (HB121) (Richard) – This bill expands the documents of the governor’s office that will be subject to public records requests and puts in place a time line for privilege to lapse on documents that are privileged.

House Bill 124 (HB124) (Smith) –  Currently charter school teachers do not have to meet the eligibility standards for public school teachers and this would require them to start meeting those eligibility requirements.

House Bill 129 (HB129)  (Havard)  – This would prohibit charter schools from using a for profit entity to manage or operate the schools.

House Bill 148 (HB148) (Champagne) This constitutional amendment would require money received from fines associated with the Deepwater Horizon oil spill to be deposited to the Coastal Protection and Restoration Fund.

House Bill 172 (HB172) (Talbot) – This bill would make it so public employees in the state can no longer authorize their union dues to be withheld from their pay checks. (Attacking unions of public employees is a popular GOP strategy in the states.)

House Bill 174 (HB174)  (Brossett) – This is a constitutional amendment to expand medicaid as outlined under the affordable care act. It would allow the state to use the option of allowing new beneficiaries to purchase private insurance with assistance.

House Bill 187 (HB187)  (Lopinto) – Creates a legal framework for gestational surrogacy contracts in the state. Update: This bill was heavily amended before being reported from committee. The changes include requiring the couple to be married of opposite sexes and not use donor eggs or sperm and the amendments also included prohibiting paying for the living expenses of the surrogate. The amended bill could be interpreted as outlawing other types of surrogacy (such as unmarried or lgbt couples) which while not protected under current law are not illegal either. The numerous changes to the bill reflect a push by far right “christian” groups. 

House Bill 199 (HB199) (Badon) – Expands protections against and definitions of discrimination to include sexual orientation and gender identity or expression in a large number of areas of state law pertaining to discrimination. Also adds protections against discrimination based on age, sex, or disability in several areas. If you go to the text of the bill and scroll to the bottom a nice chart of the changes is provided.