Blake Miguez, Acadiana’s newest legislator, staring at budget abyss _lowres

Blake Miguez

On a vote of 66-28, the Louisiana House approved legislation Monday to prohibit banks with gun control policies from refusing to do business with companies that sell or make firearms.

House Bill 413 would build upon a State Bond Commission ruling last year that banned two national banks from participating in the funding of three highway projects. Citigroup and Bank of America had put limits on handling the finances of companies that sold or manufactured certain types of guns. The policies were issued in the wake of the Feb.14 shooting at a Florida high school, which killed 17 students and teachers. 

Citigroup’s policy would require its retail clients to make sure they don't sell firearms to anyone who hasn't passed a background check, nor to anyone under the age of 21, nor sell bump stocks or high-capacity magazines, if they wanted to continue to do business with the institution. Bank of America announced that it would stop financing most gun manufacturers.

Louisiana residents want to protect their rights under the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which protects the right to keep and bear arms, said Rep. Blake Miguez, the Erath Republican and chief sponsor of the legislation.

He said the big corporations were pushing their own political agenda from their board rooms. “This protects against a discriminatory action,” Miguez said.

HB413 would prohibit a bank, credit union, financial institution, payment processor, savings and loan association, or trust company from refusing to provide financial services to a person, association or business is engaged in buying, selling or manufacturing firearms.

"Without financing, these businesses could go out of business overnight," Miguez said of gun dealers, shooting ranges and others in the industry.

Miguez amended the legislation at the request of Louisiana banks to add guidance for when and how the attorney general could investigate possible violations.

State Rep. Patricia Smith, a Baton Rouge Democrat who opposed Miguez, said his measure essentially was protecting the private gun industry from discrimination. The legislation essentially would use government authority to force private institutions to do business with another industry,she argued.

Smith briefly attempted making a point to amend the legislation to stop companies from refusing to do business and employ people based on gender identity and sexual orientation. Miguez opposed the amendment.

Smith withdrew her amendment after making the point.

"It's called capitalism. If you don't like what the bank's telling you, you go down the street and find another bank," said Rep. Sam Jones, a Franklin Democrat.

New Orleans Democratic Rep. Royce Duplessis argued that the legislation abridged corporate First Amendment rights to free speech. He pointed out to Miguez that the U.S. Supreme Court already has determined that corporations have rights of free speech.

Miguez responded that he had not read the Supreme Court opinion and his bill was about the Second Amendment, not the first.

The legislation now heads to the state Senate for further consideration.

Voting for restricting business with companies that have gun control policies (66): Reps Abraham, Adams, Amedee, Anders, Armes, Bacala, Berthelot, Billiot, Bishop, Bourriaque, C. Brown, T. Brown, S. Carter, Chaney, Connick, Coussan, Crews, Davis, DeVillier, DuBuisson, Dwight, Edmonds, Emerson, Falconer, Foil, Garofalo, Guinn, L. Harris, Henry, Hilferty, Hill, Hodges, Hoffmann, Hollis, Horton, Howard, Huval, Ivey, M. Johnson, LaCombe, N. Landry, Leopold, Mack, Magee, McFarland, McMahen, Miguez, G. Miller, Jay Morris, Jim Morris, Moss, Muscarello, Pearson, Pope, Pugh, Pylant, Schexnayder, Seabaugh, Stagni, Stefanski, Stokes, Talbot, Thomas, Turner, White and Wright.,

Voting Against HB413 (28): Reps. Bagneris, Bouie, Brass, Carpenter, G. Carter, Duplessis, Franklin, Gaines, J. Harris, Jackson, James, Jefferson, Jenkins, R. Johnson, Jones, Jordan, T. Landry, Larvadain, LeBas, Leger, Lyons, Marcelle, Marino, D. Miller, Moore, Norton, Pierre and Smith.

Not Voting (11): Speaker Barras and Reps. Abramson, Bagley, Carmody, R. Carter, Cox, Gisclair, Glover, Richard, Simon and , Zeringue.

Follow Mark Ballard on Twitter, @MarkBallardCnb.