Monday likely will prove a light work day in the Louisiana Legislature as Republicans take off for fundraising events connected with the party’s “Elephant Stomp.”
No committee meetings are scheduled in the House of Representatives. Both chambers are scheduled to convene at 4 p.m. with light schedule.
But votes are scheduled that could finally pass gun rights legislation and the “I’m A Cajun” bill. Additionally, Democrat-led legislative efforts to adopt a private sector-based Medicaid expansion plan also are on Monday’s radar.
The Elephant Stomp is the annual fundraiser for the Louisiana Republican Legislative Delegation. It takes place at the Country Club of Louisiana, off Highland Road.
The Stomp includes a golf tournament, from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. and costing $1,250, according to the GOP delegation flyers. The 29th Stomp Gala begins at 7 p.m. and costs $600 per person, with music by The Tip Tops from Mobile, Ala.
The full Louisiana House is scheduled for a final vote on Senate Bill 201 that would create an “I’m A Cajun” driver’s license and identification card. The full state Senate has on its agenda four bills that would extend gun rights.
State Senate committees have scheduled debate on legislation that addresses issues with the Firefighters’ Pension and Relief Fund in the city of New Orleans.
If approved by the full House without amendments, legislation creating a designation “I’m a Cajun” in the color black below the person’s photograph on a driver’s license or identification card, would clear its final legislative hurdle. SB201 would require an annual fee of five dollars for the designation. The money collected would help fund Council for the Development of French in Louisiana, better known as CODOFIL.
The Legislative Fiscal Office estimated a $50,000 cost for creating the designation and tracking it through the driver’s license database.
The full Senate is scheduled what could be the final legislative vote, if no amendments are approved, for four bills that would expand gun rights in Louisiana.
House Bill 5 would ban in Louisiana the enforcement of federal laws or regulations restricting ownership or possession of semiautomatic firearms.
State Rep. Jim Morris, R-Oil City and sponsor of HB5, says limits to federal restrictions on guns is needed because of the overreaction to events such as the deadly Connecticut elementary school shooting that is leading to attempts to infringe on Second Amendment rights.
House Bill 6, sponsored by state Rep. John Schroder, R-Covington, would exempt off-duty law enforcement officers from the laws that prohibit carrying firearms on school grounds. HB6 passed the full House April 29 on a 91-0 vote.
House Bill 8 was approved by the full House April 23 vote of 76 “for” and 18 “against.” HB8 would create criminal penalties for reporters, editors and others involved releasing information associated to concealed carry permit holders and applicants.
State Rep. Jeff Thompson, R-Bossier City and sponsor HB8, said the information, such as names and addresses, already is not public information but releasing the information is not penalized.
According to HB8, those who publicize the information “shall be fined $10,000 and may be imprisoned for not more than six months.” Law enforcement officials who violate the ban on release would trigger a maximum $500 fine and up to six months in jail.
House Bill 265 by Rep. Barry Ivey, R-Central, which would provide for a lifetime concealed handgun permit, was approved by the full House on an April 24 vote of 65 “for” and 19 “against.”
Ivey amended the legislation to require permit holders to fulfill an education requirement and testing once every five years. The lifetime permit would cost $500. Today, renewal is every five years and the permit is $125.
The Senate Finance Committee, which begins work at 9 a.m., is scheduled to consider Senate Bill 125. It’s the second stop for a measure that would allow state government to accept federal money for expanding the rolls of Medicaid to include people who are uninsured, but don’t currently qualify for the state and federally funded insurance for the poor.
Gov. Bobby Jindal and many Republican legislators oppose the expansion, a key part of Obamacare, saying that state government eventually might have to pay more and that it extends a health care program they say delivers poor results.
State Sen. Karen Peterson, D-New Orleans and head of the Louisiana Democratic Party, sponsored SB125 and accepted amendments that would allow those who would be included in the expansion to seek coverage from private insurance companies.
The amended SB125, which already has cleared one Senate committee, also is being pushed by state Sen. Ben Nevers, D-Bogalusa. He is scheduled to speak Monday at the Press Club of Baton Rouge.
The Louisiana House is scheduled to take up similar legislation when it meets Tuesday. State Rep. Patricia Smith has the House version of the amended SB125, which is known as the “Arkansas Plan,” because that state has adopted a similar plan that the federal government approved.
Democrats argue that the state would accept the federal dollars for Medicaid expansion to cover some 400,000 Louisiana residents — mainly working adults — who are uninsured. They cite the boost the dollars will have on the economy and jobs picture, while improving access to health care.