Legislators have wish lists ready

Published 12:00 am Monday, March 29, 1999

By LEONARD GRAY / L’Observateur / March 29, 1999

BATON ROUGE – The 85-day, 1999 Regular Session of the Louisiana Legislature convenes Monday, and local legislators have their wish lists ready when the gavel falls at noon.

Sen. Ron Landry (D-LaPlace) filed legislation to require charter schools tocomply with the public bid law. “They’re using public funds, they shouldcomply,” he said.

Also, Landry filed for creation of the Advisory Committee on Water Transportation Warnings, aimed at addressing the problem of unlabeled barges and other shipping which may contain hazardous material.

The recent barge accident, where more than 200 barges were loose in the Mississippi River, focused attention on the problem when few knew what were in those barges.

Senate Bill 86 calls for requiring all motorcyclists under age 18 to wear a helmet, while leaving adults free to choose. SB 242 would allow leveedistricts to construct bicycle/walking paths on the levee.

SB 226 is aimed at a specific constituency in his district, as it allows fishermen to keep 10-inch catfish. He doubted the move would harm thecatfish population.

“There’s an East Coast market for that right now,” Landry said. “They’repretty hardy fish, and they bounce back real fast.”Landry will also lead the charge in the Senate against SB 33, filed by Sen.

John Hainkel and aimed at a statewide redistribution of ad valorem tax revenue from Waterford 3, now flowing into St. Charles Parish coffers.”I’m definitely against that one,” Landry declared. He said he doubtsHainkel has gained further support for his position, “but you never can tell.”Landry concluded, “You can’t take it for granted, and you can’t fall asleep.”Rep. Joel Chaisson (D-Destrehan) will be helping to lead the fight in theHouse against SB 33.

“It’s absolutely ludicrous,” Chaisson declared as to Hainkel’s proposal.

“We’ll be fighting this the whole way.”Chaisson has also filed a number of bills on behalf of the state association for constables and justices of the peace, headed this year by District 3 Justice of the Peace Henry R. Miller Jr. of St. Rose.These four bills include increasing the maximum amount allowed to be handled by JP courts from $2,000 to $3,000. Chaisson said this would easeof the burden now sustained by district courts by assigning this amount to small-claims court instead.

Another is to increase the civil suit filing fee from $60 to $80. A thirdbill is to provide for parishwide jurisdiction for justices of the peace and providing that suits must be filed in the JP jurisdiction where the defendant resides.

Finally, Chaisson filed a bill calling for an increase in the minimum pay for JPs and constables to $100 per month. Chaisson added he will alsosupport a bill filed by another legislator which would permit a full-time deputy to also serve as an elected constable.

Rep. Bobby Faucheux (D-LaPlace), as usual, has a host of bills for thissession. House Bill 328, for instance, calls for the state to take over theGaryville Timbermill Museum as a state park, once it is out of debt.

HB 74 is one of at least eight bills filed by Faucheux and other legislators with ideas on what to do with the $4.4 billion of tobacco lawsuitpayments to the state over the next 25 years.

“I don’t want us to just set up a trust fund, but I don’t want us to waste it, either,” Faucheux said. He added the money should be used on healthcare research.

HB 688 redefines the definition of carnal knowledge of a juvenile, making an exception where there is an ongoing relationship by the male (at least two years older than the female) and underage female that is known by the parents. That would change the charge from a felony to a misdemeanor.HB 542 would require the advertisement for the job opening of a superintendent of schools. This is in reaction to the recent, virtuallyinstantaneous, hiring of St. James Parish’s superintendent, Faucheux said.HB675 calls for spending disclosures by lobbyists campaigning for legislation. Faucheux said he tried a similar bill two years ago andexpects this to be shot down as well.

HB 485 calls for transfer of ownership of the old Junior Food Mart in Gramercy to the Gramercy Police Department. When the state highwaydepartment bought right-of-way for the expansion of Louisiana Highway 641, the empty building was part of the acquisition. Barring this, thebuilding would be torn down, and the police department needs larger quarters.

Other proposed legislation includes HB 199 to add parks to the list of qualified properties for firearm-free zone designation. HB 344 wouldrequire the fingerprinting of food stamp recipients.

Also, Faucheux has filed HB 518, which calls for a record vote on gubernatorial appointments. This would allow a specific record to be kepton how such appointments are confirmed by the Senate. “The Senate willkill it,” he predicted.

Other regional legislators will be active as well. Rep. Glenn Ansardi (D-Kenner) will be pushing for requiring front and rear display of license plates and to ban “phantom” gaming cruises. Rep. Roy Quezaire will bepushing for a “Louisiana Agriculture” specialty license plate.

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