Anthem, fee hikes, GUMBO spending making way through legislature


Bills varied but important

There is always scrutiny concerning certain bills making their way through the state legislature. High profile bills such as legalizing raw marijuana and the debate over allowing transgender females (male to female) to compete in female sports are making headlines. But what about the rest of the bills? Every bill affects some of the state’s populace, but they’re not heard about until signed and one goes to buy a vehicle and the fees have gone up or residents file their taxes and an exemption is gone.

Anyone who can recall “I’m just a Bill” from Schoolhouse Rock knows the process. A bill is only that until it is signed into law. With that in mind, the Times went over the House and Senate bills making their way to their respective calendars this week and pulled information on some that grabbed our attention. Some may have you contacting your legislators while others may have you scratching your head and asking why such a bill is even necessary.

•SB124 by Sen. Sharon Hewitt GOVERNMENT ORGANIZATION:  Provides that no athletic contest shall be held in a venue, the construction of which was funded wholly or partially by the state or a political subdivision of the state, without the playing of the national anthem prior to the contest. Current Status:  Pending House referral

This article published in the Thursday, May 6, 2021, print edition

• HB391  by Rep. Tanner Magee MEDICAL MARIJUANA: Present law authorizes physicians to recommend “medical marijuana.” Prohibited forms are raw or crude marijuana and marijuana in inhalation form. Proposed law would allow dispensing in those forms, but it would be limited to 2.5 ounces per 14 days and only to those 21 and over. Current Status:  Pending Senate introduction

• SB67 by Sen. Rick Ward III MOTOR VEHICLES:  Proposed law changes the maximum dealership documentation fee from $200 to $425. Current Status:  Pending House referral

• HB329  by Rep. Lance Harris VOTERS/VOTING:   Proposed law would change the age of a child who may accompany his parent from 15 to 17. Current Status:  Pending Senate and Governmental Affairs

•HCR60  by Rep. Raymond Crews ELECTIONS:  Requests the secretary of state to study the implementation of a notification system to alert a voter regarding the status of his vote  Current Status:  Pending House referral

•HCR20 by Rep. Jason Hughes HIGHER EDUCATION:  Requests that the governor appoint additional women to Board of Regents and each of the four public postsecondary education management boards with the goal that women will comprise at least 50% of each board’s membership by July 1, 2023. Current Status:  Pending House final passage  –  Sched. for 5/5/21

•HB699  by Rep. Richard Nelson CONTROLLED SUBSTANCES:  Proposed law would legalize cannabis and provide for licensing for cultivation regulated by the ATF. Current Status:  Pending House final passage  –  Sched. for 5/4/21

•HB642   by Rep. Clay Schexnayder FUNDS/FUNDING-GRANTS:   Proposed law creates the Louisiana Rescue Plan Fund and directs the treasurer to deposit any federal monies allocated to Louisiana pursuant to Coronavirus State Fiscal Recovery Fund of the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, except $400 million to be paid to the Unemployment Compensation Fund, into the fund. Proposed law creates the following funds and directs the treasurer to deposit the following amounts into the funds:

1. Louisiana Water Infrastructure Fund – $300 million (Creates the Louisiana Water Infrastructure Program to provide grants to community water systems and sewer systems. Requires the office of public health to administer the program)

2. Granting Unserved Municipalities Broadband Opportunities (GUMBO) Fund- $90 million (To provide grants to help fund broadband access in rural and disadvantaged areas)

3. Louisiana Loggers Relief Fund – $10 million (To provide grants to timber harvesting and timber hauling businesses who suffered revenue loss due to COVID-19. Limits the grant amount to $25,000 per eligible business)

4. Louisiana Save Our Screens Fund – $4.5 million (To provide grants to movie theaters in La. who were forced to close or reduce capacity due to COVID-19. Limits the grant amount to $10,000 per movie screen) Current Status:  Pending House floor action

Look for additional bills in the weekend, May 8-9 edition.