Louisiana 2014 Legislative Session: Items to Watch Part VI

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 entry covers: SB201, SB209, SB237, SB245, SB250, SB 275, SB 292

Senate Bill 201 (SB201)  (Allain)  –  This bill would require,  in addition to a majority vote (as is currently required),  for certain proposals for political subdivisions or special districts to incur or assume debt, issue bonds, or levy taxes, a minimum turn out of 20% in the election for the proposal to pass.

Senate Bill 209 (SB209)  (Ward)  -This would require that as part of permitting solution mining injection wells and solution mined caverns that payments made to the state in the case of a disaster or property owners impacted by a disaster to be made within 180 days. (Bayou Corne Sinkhole has inspired bills like this)

Senate Bill 237 (SB237)  (Morrell) – This bill removes non violent crimes from qualifying under the habitual offender laws in certain cases and heavily reduces the number of cases where controlled substance violations qualify under the habitual offender laws.

Senate Bill 245 (SB245) (Morrish) – This bill prohibits parish and municipal governing authorities from appointing more than one member of the same immediate family to the same board or commission. (With the state’s history of corruption I am surprised this was not a measure already in place) Update : This bill has a scheduled committee meeting on March 18th. Update: The bill has been moved to the March 19th committee meeting Update: This bill has passed out of committee and is scheduled for the full senate on the 24th of March Update: This bill has passed the Senate and been sent to the House.

Senate Bill 250 (SB250)   (Ward) –  This adds two exceptions to the state law prohibiting ownership of big exotic cats. 1) for owners who hold a USDA class C exhibitor’s license. 2) previous owner who obtained their animal by lawful means prior to August 1, 2006. This bill is obviously related to the Truck Stop Tiger case.  (On a personal note, every time I pass the truck stop I am sad for the tiger. It is a small enclosure next to the interstate… )

Senate Bill 275 (SB275)  (Mills) Repeals the statute that creates the crime of “drug traffic loitering”   because the Louisiana Supreme Court declared this statute unconstitutionally vague in State v. Muschkat, 96-2922 (La. 3/4/98), 706 So.2d 429

“Drug-traffic loitering is the remaining in a public place in a manner and under circumstances manifesting the purpose to engage in unlawful conduct in violation of R.S. 40:966 through 995 or R.S. 40:1031 through 1036”

There is a broad range of behaviors they consider manifesting the purpose to engage in unlawful conduct. They are:

1)  Seen by the officer to be in possession of drug paraphernalia.

(2)  A known drug trafficker.

(3)  Behaving in such a manner as to raise a reasonable suspicion that he is about to engage in or is engaging in unlawful drug-related activity and such activity includes any of the following actions:

(a)  Acting as a “lookout”.

(b)  Being physically identified by an officer as a member of a criminal street gang or association, which has as its purpose illegal drug activity.

(c)  Transferring small objects or packages for currency in a furtive fashion.

(d)  Being in an area known for unlawful drug use and drug trafficking.

(e)  Being on or in premises that have been reported to law enforcement as a place suspected of unlawful drug activity.

(f)  Being within six feet of any vehicle registered to a known unlawful drug user, possessor, or seller, or a person for whom there is an outstanding warrant for a crime involving drug-related activity.

(g)  Repeatedly beckoning to, stopping, or attempting to stop passersby or engaging passersby in conversation.

(h)  Repeatedly stopping or attempting to stop motor vehicle operators by hailing, waving of arms, or any other bodily gesture.

(i)  Circling an area in a motor vehicle and repeatedly beckoning to, contacting, or attempting to stop pedestrians.

(4)  The subject of any court order, which directs the person to stay out of any specified area as a condition of release from custody, a condition of probation, parole, or other supervision or any court order, in a criminal or civil case involving illegal drug activity.

(5)  Evicted as the result of his illegal drug activity and ordered to stay out of a specified area affected by drug-related activity.

(6)  Taking flight upon the appearance of a police officer.

(7)  Trying to conceal himself or any object within his possession that reasonably could be involved in an unlawful drug-related activity.

Senate Bill 292 (SB292) (Morrell) – This bill would add circumstances with abuse or protective orders to circumstances where an immediate divorce may be granted (in most cases there is a required time period for a divorce of 180 days- including currently in abuse cases where there are shared children). It also requires courts to consider abuse and criminal convictions when granting awards in divorce cases.  I think this is a deeply needed measure because forcing victims to wait 180 days to divorce their abuser is pretty horrifying. Update : This is scheduled for a March 25th committee meeting Update: This bill has been reported from committee with slight amendments. Update : This bill is scheduled to go before the full Senate on March 31st