State Sens. Daniel Martiny (Republican, District 10, Jefferson Parish) and Rick Ward (Republican, District 17, St. Helena, East Feliciana, West Feliciana, Pointe Coupee, East Baton Rouge, West Baton Rouge, Iberville, Assumption and St. Martin parishes) killed House Bill 1148 in the 2016 legislative session. The bill would have prohibited sanctuary city policies by municipalities and law enforcement agencies in Louisiana.

There are two law enforcement agencies, the New Orleans Police Department and the Lafayette Parish Sheriff’s Office, executing sanctuary city policies. There is no incentive for them to amend their illegal policies, nor is there any state law preventing additional agency or state subdivisions from implementing such illegal policies.

HB1148 (initially HB151) passed the House Judiciary Committee unanimously and then the House of Representatives with a two-thirds majority. At the initial Senate Judiciary Committee A May 17 meeting, Martiny and others objected to the state attorney general being so empowered to enforce the proposed bill. Bill authors subsequently met with attorney general staff and amended the bill to resolve the attorney general empowerment issue. Sen. Jack Donahue (Republican, Mandeville) presented this amendment, which passed at the May 24 committee meeting.

Committee Chairman Ward then offered an amendment for the initial gutting of the bill, which passed, removing the word “policy” from the proposed bill, making the bill ineffective. A municipality or parish would have to pass a formal sanctuary city ordinance to be guilty. The 300 plus sanctuary cities across the nation no longer pass sanctuary city laws because that results in citizen backlash. They cleverly just change policy, which is not obvious to the public. Ward prevented some proponent speakers from testifying. Hence, for example, testimony that New Orleans implemented its sanctuary city policy in 2009 was not entered into the record. Per testimony of opponents, New Orleans was forced to adopt sanctuary city policy as a result of a federal consent decree imposed in 2012. Ward allowed an opponent witness to intimidate the committee, the legislative proponents and the audience in general.

Martiny then offered an amendment kill shot, which passed, to void Donahue’s previously passed amendment and further gut the bill by holding the violator in contempt, which carries only a $50 to $100 fine, thus providing no incentive for compliance. This was after Martiny’s concerns expressed at the previous May 17 committee meeting were resolved by Donahue’s amendment. Throughout both hearings on May 17 and May 24, Martiny stated he was opposed to sanctuary city policies. He did not walk the talk.

No wonder citizens are losing faith in government. Sanctuary city policies may well be in the future of your community.

Harold Magee

retired logistics manager