Louisiana news briefs

Former sheriff Waguespack confirmed as legislative auditor

The Louisiana Legislature confirmed Mike Waguespack on Monday to be its new legislative auditor.

Waguespack, a certified public accountant who was Assumption Parish’s sheriff for 16 years, replaces Daryl Purpera, who stepped down earlier this year. The LLA provides “independent assessment and proactive guidance, resulting in accurate reporting of the fiscal condition and performance of government and the sources and uses of its financial resources.”

“I’ll work hard for you every day, and I’ll be your trusted adviser,” Waguespack told the Senate.

A legislative commission last week recommended Waguespack to the full Legislature.

House approves “sandbox” for blockchain companies

The House approved without objection House Bill 482, which calls for a “regulatory sandbox” for companies that use blockchain technology. Blockchain is a type of database for storing digital information, such as cryptocurrency transactions.

The sandbox concept is meant to encourage development of companies in new sectors for which specific state regulations don’t apply. The companies are lightly regulated at first, giving lawmakers time to create additional rules if necessary.

“It’s not like we let them come in and do anything they want,” Rep. Mark Wright, R-Covington, who authored the bill, said during its committee hearing. “This is basically saying we’re open for business.”

Senate committee endorses concealed carry of guns without permits, training

Louisiana residents who are at least 21 years old and not barred from having a gun would no longer need a permit to lawfully carry a concealed firearm under Senate Bill 118, which a Senate committee advanced Monday.

Sen. Jay Morris, a Monroe Republican who authored the bill, said the change would apply only to “law-abiding citizens.” Democrats said they are worried that letting untrained residents carry a concealed gun would be dangerous.

The bill advanced to the Senate floor with a 3-2 party-line vote.

Senate to consider expanding state Supreme Court

A Senate committee advanced a proposal Monday to expand the number of members of the Louisiana Supreme Court from seven to nine.

Senate Bill 163 also would call for redistricting of justices’ districts after each U.S. census. The most heavily populated district currently is 75% bigger than the least populated, said bill co-author Sen. Patrick McMath, R-Covington. The current districts have been reapportioned only once over the past 80 years, he said.

“The goal is to set up fair districts where all the people of our state get a roughly equal say in who is on our Supreme Court,” McMath said.