Bill to parole inmates moves to La. Senate

Certain inmates would become eligible for parole on their 60th birthdays, based on a bill approved Tuesday by the House.

House Bill 138 by Rep. Patricia Smith, D-Baton Rouge, was approved on a 65-25 vote and next heads to the Senate, where similar legislation was defeated a year ago.

Prior to the bill’s passage, Smith narrowly held off a proposed amendment that would have increased the parole eligibility age from 60 to 65. The amendment failed by one vote on a 44-45 vote.

State Rep. Mert Smiley, R-St. Amant, said he proposed the amendment so the “elderly inmates” wording in the bill would match the proper definition of elderly.

Smith said certain convicts should have a chance to be released sooner so they can become productive, working members of society before becoming too old to hold jobs.

Smith said HB138 would impact about 10 current inmates.

“It is a parole eligibility bill; it is not a get-out-of-jail-tomorrow ticket,” Smith said.

HB138 would only apply to non-violent offenders who have served at least 10 years in prison, have clean inmate records and have completed a high school diploma or an equivalency diploma.

Bill would add dues to BR property taxes

A House panel advanced legislation Tuesday that would make several Baton Rouge neighborhoods’ annual dues part of property taxes.

The House Committee on Municipal, Parochial and Cultural Affairs agreed without objection to send Senate Bill 199 by state Sen. Dan Claitor, R-Baton Rouge, to the House floor.

SB199 involves property owners in the neighborhoods of Bocage, Bocage Estates, Jefferson Place, Jefferson Place IV and V.

Neil Buckingham, president of the Jefferson Place/Bocage Neighborhood Association, told legislators that roughly 80 percent of homeowners pay their $540 annual dues.

The legislation aims to ensure that all homeowners pay their dues by including them in their property tax bills.