Fake bath salts bill headed to governor

Legislation to ban hallucinogenic products sold as bath salts is headed to the governor for his signature.

The House voted 94-0 in favor of the Senate’s tweaks to House Bill 12 by state Rep. Ricky Templet, R-Gretna.

The legislation aims to close loopholes that allow manufacturers to change the ingredients to continue legally making the products.

The products are sold under a variety of names, including “Voodoo Remix,” “Wicked Potpourri” and “Nola Platinum.”

HB12 was part of the governor’s legislative package.

Abortion alternative bill clears Legislature

A bill that would require abortion clinics to post signs for pregnant women about alternatives won final legislative approval Tuesday.

The House voted 85-0 in favor of the Senate’s changes to House Bill 636 by state Rep. Frank Hoffmann, R-West Monroe.

If the governor signs the legislation into law, the state’s six licensed abortion clinics would have to post signs alerting women that:

--They cannot be coerced into having an abortion;

--There are agencies that would assist them before and after birth of the child;

--The father is liable for financial support;

--Adoptive parents can pay costs.

Retroactive benefits for Guard advances

Benefits for the families of Louisiana National Guard soldiers who died while on active duty will be made retroactive to Sept. 11, 2001, to pick up 32 families who aren’t able to get the lump-sum payments under current law.

The House and Senate gave final legislative passage Tuesday to two separate measures that would provide the benefit. The bills mirror each other.

Existing law provides $250,000 checks for relatives of guard members who die while on active duty and $100,000 for permanently disabled guard members. To qualify, the death or disability must have occurred between July 2007 and the present.

Lawmakers say they left out families they had intended to include, so the compensation clock will be shifted back to 2001 under the bills — Senate Bill 1 and House Bill 143.

The proposal will cost the state $8 million. Gov. Bobby Jindal supports the spending plan.

The benefits apply only to Louisiana National Guard members and their relatives, not to members of the U.S. Army or other military branches.

Worker compliance bill goes to governor

Firms seeking public contract work must verify the citizenship of their employees under legislation that headed to Gov. Bobby Jindal’s desk Tuesday.

The House voted 94-0 to adopt Senate changes and give the measure final legislative passage.

Under House Bill 342, sponsored by state Rep. John Bel Edwards, those seeking public contract work must certify that they have registered with and use the federal E-Verify system to determine whether their employees are legal citizens or legal immigrants.

E-Verify is mandated by the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigration Information Act of 1996. It is a free Internet-based system to confirm the legal status of newly hired employees.

The employer must also continue to check the status of any new employees during the term of the contract.

Edwards, D-Amite, urged the House to go along with Senate changes that sweep in subcontractors on the public works jobs.

Those found in noncompliance could face cancellation of the contract and be banned from eligibility for other public contracts for up to three years.

Jindal gets bill to pay slain pair’s families

Legislation that would provide death benefits for the families of two fraud investigators killed on the job earlier this month is headed to Gov. Bobby Jindal’s desk.

The Senate gave final legislative approval Tuesday to Senate Bill 271 as it agreed to a minor House change. Now all that’s needed is Jindal’s signature.

SB271 would provide a $250,000 benefit to the spouses of investigators Kim Sledge and Rhett Jeansonne and $25,000 for surviving children.

Sledge and Jeansonne, both of Denham Springs, were shot to death by Ville Platte insurance agent John Melvin Lavergne as they were attempting to collect evidence on two fraud cases involving Lavergne.

Lavergne shot himself to death during a standoff with law enforcement at his insurance business.

Courts’ budget bill passed by Legislature

An annual budget to finance the operations of state courts, including the Louisiana Supreme Court, has won final legislative approval.

The judicial budget for the new year that begins July 1 will grow by nearly $5 million to $159 million.

The increase is about half of what the Supreme Court justices requested to cover mandated increases in retirement and health-care costs, to pay for annual “merit raises” that have been scrapped in other agencies and to expand drug courts.

While House members balked at any increase, senators added the new money into the bill. The courts received $154 million in the current fiscal year.

The House gave final passage to the spending plan with a 98-0 vote Tuesday, sending it to Gov. Bobby Jindal.

House Bill 608 will pay for the Louisiana Supreme Court, appellate courts, drug courts and some district court expenses.

State district courts mainly get their financing through fines, fees and other self-generated money.

Lawmakers agree on delaying primary

Louisiana’s presidential primaries will be pushed back from February to March.

The House gave final passage to the shift with a unanimous vote, sending House Bill 509 to the governor. Lawmakers said without the change, the state’s representation at national party conventions in 2012 would be jeopardized.

The measure will switch the date of the primary to the third Saturday after the first Tuesday in March, similar to when it was before the 2008 primary.