Louisiana won’t be lifting its ban on sales of unpasteurized milk. Police officers around the state won’t be required to wear body cameras. A five-year state vehicle inspection sticker won’t be offered to drivers. And government payroll offices likely won’t be prohibited from deducting union dues from public worker paychecks.
Those proposals are on an ever-growing list of bills that have been shelved by their sponsors, rejected by lawmakers or stuck in limbo unable to gain enough support to advance any further in the legislative session, with time for revival of the ideas growing short.
The regular session must end by June 11.
Among the pile of jettisoned bills are many of the centerpieces of Gov. Bobby Jindal’s legislative agenda, a rebuke to the Republican governor who is nearing the end of his second term in office and unable to run again because of term limits.
Lawmakers voted down a proposal pushed by Jindal to give special protections to people who oppose same-sex marriage. The governor issued an executive order that sought to enact some of those provisions anyway, but questions linger about its legality.
In addition, Jindal’s efforts to prohibit the use of the Common Core education standards in Louisiana’s public schools have fizzled.
Lawmakers instead agreed to a compromise that calls for a review of the standards and may — or may not — get rid of Common Core after Jindal’s out of the governor’s office. The governor jumped on board, after the agreement was clearly moving through the Legislature with or without him.
And many of Jindal’s ideas for raising new revenue to help close next year’s budget shortfall have been sidelined or heavily rewritten, giving him little stamp so far on the budget proposal that moved out of the House. Whether senators will weave back in more of the governor’s proposals remains to be seen.
The list of measures shot down by lawmakers is much broader than just Jindal’s agenda.
Lawmakers again refused proposals to expand Louisiana’s Medicaid program as authorized by the federal health overhaul. But legislation nearing final passage would provide a financing mechanism to help Louisiana pay for an expansion if the state’s next governor is interested, showing lawmakers haven’t entirely shut the door on the idea.
Some lawmakers shelved their own bills rather than watch them get defeated, like a proposal that would have required police officers to wear body cameras or a measure that would have outlawed allowing children under the age of 12 to fire an Uzi submachine gun.
Other legislators pushed their bills only to see them fail at their first committee hearing.
That’s what happened to a proposal to repeal a seven-year-old law that allows public school science teachers to use supplemental materials in their classrooms, criticized as a backdoor way to introduce creationism in science classes.
Also refused at their first hearing were proposals to give all Louisiana workers paid sick days, to allow sales of raw milk from farmers to the public, to let citizens enact laws through ballot initiatives and to add new regulations to cable television providers.
A contentious anti-union bill, to ban automatically-deducted union dues from public worker paychecks, won approval from a House committee only to sputter on the House floor. Debate on the idea was scrapped amid pushback from teachers, police officers and firefighters — not the kind of floor fight most lawmakers want to have in an election year.
That proposal was a key initiative of the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry, a powerful lobbying group that has seen many of its high-profile issues sputter. Its package of “judicial transparency” bills to require more disclosure of judicial contracts and court budgets failed to get out of a House committee.
Jettisoned by a Senate committee after getting overwhelming support from the House was a proposal to add a new legal restriction banning gender-based “sex-selection” abortions.
In the final two weeks of the session, lawmakers appear to be focusing on the issue that was supposed to be grabbing their attention all along: the state’s finances. But many of the discarded proposals rejected this year are certain to appear again next year.
Melinda Deslatte covers the Louisiana State Capitol for The Associated Press.