In a rarely-seen maneuver – only employed once before in the last 70 years, the Louisiana legislature has officially called themselves back into special session, taking the initiative to finish the critical legislative work of a state budget rather than waiting on the governor to issue his own call. The session began immediately upon sine die – the end of the regular session, at 6:01 p.m. last night.
The FY 2021 budget, which starts on July 1, 2020, is the chief item up for debate. The legislature’s special session will end in 30 days, meaning the budget – and the other 40 items on the call – will need to be acted on quickly.
Certainly, this session will go down in history as one of the strangest sessions ever in Louisiana. The session began on March 9, 2020 but only a few days later, the Legislators were required to leave the building and did not return for 49 days! Throughout the remaining 30 days, LFF was there, weighing in on bills and communicating with lawmakers on important measures. We are encouraged by a favorable outcome for life and liberty.
Gambling – Sadly, the legislature and regulators see Louisiana as partners with the gambling industry. Not surprisingly, gambling has surpassed the oil and gas industry as our top economic engine. The Legislators voted to send sports betting to a vote of the people (SB 130) and to move internet gambling closer to availability for the people (HB 357). Passed
Fiscal – A bill which would have required fiscal restraint in state spending failed in Senate committee. (HB 118) Failed
Criminal Justice Reform – LFF supported some modest changes in criminal justice reform that was started back in 2016 (HB 77, HCR 2, HCR 3, HCR 14, HB 481) Passed
Elections - LFF opposed increasing the possibility of fraud in elections by way of balloting by mail. (SB 486, HB 419). We supported additional security for the currently allowed mail in ballots (SB 75) and proper identification for those qualifying for elected office (SB 218) Passed
2nd Amendment protections – Several bills protecting our 2nd amendment rights received a lot of debate but did pass both houses of the Legislature and are headed to the Governor’s desk. (HB 140, HB 334, HB 746, HB 781) Passed
Drugs – LFF carefully monitored bills which greatly expanded the availability of medical marijuana in Louisiana. As we have seen in other states, medical marijuana has morphed into the legalization of recreational use of marijuana. We will oppose this in all respects. Fortunately, all attempts to lessen restrictions on recreational marijuana failed. However, medical marijuana availability increased. (HB 819) Passed
Life issues – SB 433 will require mandatory reporters of sexual abuse, including abortion facilities, to report pregnancies of children under 13 years of age as possible cases of abuse. Passed
Marriage and family – LFF opposed a bill which would allow expedited divorce by a simple affidavit (HB 236) Failed
There were many other bills which we would have supported or opposed. But due to the compressed time period for the session, those were left on the Legislative agenda.
For the Special Session which began at 6:01 p.m. on Monday, the Legislators will be discussing fiscal issues and a few gambling expansions. LFF will be following bills during the entirety of the special session. Stay tuned!
Cities across the U.S. have emerged from their COVID-induced malaise into, riots, looting, and civil unrest. While many protests have been peaceful, some have been eclipsed by organized violence, targeting law enforcement, small businesses, and passers-by.
Protests in Louisiana have remained peaceful for the most part. Meanwhile, the police officer who was caught on video pressing his body weight into George Floyd’s neck for 8 minutes has been charged with third-degree murder. More serious charges may ensue with findings from the independent autopsy. Louisiana law enforcement officers have also weighed in on the excessive use of force in Floyd’s death.
Yesterday, Governor John Bel Edwards announced that Louisiana will be entering Phase 2 of the Economic Restart Plan on Friday. As the Pelican State continues its slow relaunch, businesses and churches across the state are starting to see more clarity in the timeline of normalcy.
Beginning Friday, churches and businesses across the state will be allowed to open to 50% capacity. This is welcome news for Louisianans who have been struggling for the past few months.
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