In the fifth of six Town Hall meetings around his sprawling legislative district, Rodney Schamerhorn was in Robeline last week talking about reapportionment, his legislative agenda and the DOTD Highway Construction Priority Program.
The 24th Legislative District, to which Schamerhorn took office in January of 2000, is comprised of most of Vernon and Sabine Parishes and the area of Natchitoches Parish around Robeline and Provencal. Schamerhorn is a Republican from Hornbeck.
On his legislative agenda this session he lists the number one item as reapportionment. That’s followed by Grandparent’s rights, restitution for financial costs related to crime, hunting regulations in regard to methods of taking game including air-bows/air-rifles, and reintroduction of a bill reducing the expenditures of public notices by requiring legal notices to be placed on web sites and social media.
On the DOTD highway priority list, Schamerhorn said there are five projects in Natchitoches Parish, two in Sabine and two in Vernon Parish.
He said the highway priority system, to him, is all messed up.
“Whenever these things get on the priority list, that means they are bad. If they run out of money, these roads get reclassified the next year for priority,” Shamerhorn said. “So that’s why they keep appearing; they just never follow along.”
“I asked why don’t they move up, and they say there may be another road that needs the money, and that’s unfair,” he added,
“I am on the highway committee so that’s something I’m trying to get straightened out. Once a road hits this priority list, it will be taken care of.”
In Natchitoches Parish the most expensive project is Hwy. 6 (117 to I-49). It’s a major widening project for $22 million. He said they are just waiting on funding.
Hwy. 120 has been on the priority list since 2020. The project calls for Hwy. 6 patch, cold plane and overlay to the parish line. The project was $3.8 million in 2020 but the cost has escalated to $4.7 million.
The list also includes Hwy. 487 (120-174) patch, cold plane and overlay. It also has been on the list since 2020 and is estimated to cost $3.8 million.
“I talked to them (DOTD) today and 175 and 120 are in the plans for this year,” he added.
Hwy. 117 Bellwood to Hwy. 478 is on the list for a med overlay at $1.1 million. Originally in 2020 when it was added, it was a $1.28 million project for patch, cold plane and overlay.
The project with the biggest jump in cost was Hwy. 174 from the DeSoto Parish line to I-49. In 2020, it was estimated at $1.9 million and today the cost is an estimated $3.1 million.
In his legislative agenda, Schamerhorn included grandparents rights. He pointed out that to have visitation rights to see your grandchildren, you have to hire an attorney, go before a judge and the judge would have to grant a ruling.
“It’s wrong,” he said.
He also wants to address restitution to victims of a related crime.
Explaining hunting regulations, Schamerhorn said he took a lot of flack over the increasing of fees. He said, “It’s our right to hunt. But you also need to pay for everything that goes on.”
He said it was going to cost the General Fund $30 milling this coming year to fund Wildlife and Fisheries. One actually saves money when combining basic licenses.
There are new guns available that are single shot air operated. Schamerhorn is trying to get them legalized, because neighboring states have.
Schamerhorn said there are a number of services provided by his office. He mentioned they help with individual benefits like unemployment and health insurance, department of revenue issues, motor vehicle issues, victim rights issues, inmate concerns, local highway and road concerns, municipal funding support and notary public services.