Higher Ed Commissioner salary taken out of Legislature’s hands _lowres

Advocate file photo -- The Louisiana state capitol in Baton Rouge.

The Louisiana Senate on Tuesday voted 31-5 for the House-passed measure, giving it final legislative passage.

The House had earlier approved the bill on a 91-6 vote.

State Sen. Ben Nevers, D-Bogalusa, said the legislation is aimed at ensuring “that our children ...are not being targeted by abortion organizations.”

“It doesn’t name one organization” just those that have “a financial incentive to promote abortions. This bill prohibits that,” said Nevers.

But state Sens. Karen Peterson and J.P. Morrell said the legislation clearly targets Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast.

“It takes one of the premier organizations in this country out of the equation,” said Peterson, D-New Orleans. She said Planned Parenthood is providing sound and age appropriate information. In addition, she said it assumes the organization is promoting abortions.

“This is a direct attack on an entity that is performing a very, very good service,” Peterson said.

Morrell said no other organization is banned by state law — not even neo-Nazis spewing hate speech — from going into public schools or school that receive public funds.

Decisions should be left up to local school boards and the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education to do as they see fit, said Morrell, D-New Orleans.

“Because of the sanctity of life I think we need to do this,” Nevers said.

But Morrell said the legislation, House Bill 305, sets “a very troubling precedent ... We are wading into some very troubling waters.”

On Tuesday, Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast Louisiana state director Melissa Flournoy released a statement saying “Lawmakers would fail our young people by restricting the ability of trained educators from providing accurate, age-appropriate sex education or materials in schools.”

“In a state with dangerously high rates of teen pregnanc6y and STDs, this bill could have devastating, lifelong consequences for our teens,” Flournoy said.

Follow Marsha Shuler on Twitter @MarshaShulerCNB. For more coverage of the state capitol, follow Louisiana Politics at http://blogs.theadvocate.com/politicsblog/.