By Victor Skinner | The Center Square contributor
Gov. John Bel Edwards signed more than six dozen bills into law on Tuesday that address a range of issues, from compensation for intercollegiate athletes to designating the Gulf Fritillary as the official state butterfly.
Senate Bill 250, sponsored by Sen. Patrick Connick, R-Marrero, was signed into law as Act 307 to allow colleges, universities, and boosters to compensate intercollegiate athletes for use of their name, image, or likeness.
The law allows colleges and universities to directly pay prospective college athletes, as well as boosters or “representatives of an institution’s athletic interests” to help arrange compensation for students. The changes put the state’s NIL law “in line with other states that are doing this,” Connick has said.
Act 307 retains prohibitions on paid endorsements of things like tobacco, alcohol, banned substances, or sports betting. The new law follows a vote in April by the Louisiana High School Athletic Association to allow high school athletes to profit from their name, image or likeness.
Edwards also signed into law Senate Bill 7, now Act 289, sponsored by Sen. Ed Price, D-Gonzalez, to provide a 2% increase for retired troopers in the Louisiana State Police Retirement System. The increase would apply to the first $68,312 of the annual benefit for certain retirees.
“The PBI (permanent benefit increase) is funded from our experience account. The experience account has a balance of $9,497,110. Actuarial costs of granting a 2% PBI for those retirees who qualify — which are 60 years of age or older, and a supplemental 2% to members at least 65 and retired on or before June 30, 2001 — is $9,497,110,” Kevin Reed, the system’s executive director, told the Senate Finance Committee.
The experience account consists of what’s left from excess investment returns after paying toward accrued unfunded liabilities.
“In essence, we will deplete the experience account for the purpose it was intended and that is to pay the PBI to the retirees,” Reed said, adding that the average monthly benefit increase would be $65.60.
Another bill that gained Edwards’ approval, House Bill 308, sponsored by Rep. Patrick Jefferson, D-Homer, increases the minimum weekly benefit for unemployment compensation by $25, from $10 to $35. The move, now Act 330, isn’t expected to impact state expenditures.
Other legislation signed by Edwards allow custodians of public records to charge fees for electronic copies of public records, increase the sales threshold for Louisiana’s cottage food law to $30,000, require driving instructors to pay for stronger background checks, create new rules for the capital outlay process, allow school bus drivers to appeal disciplinary action and clarify parameters for teacher evaluations.
Approved bills also include fingerprinting all persons arrested for offenses involving operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated, a boost in juror compensation rates, penalties for charter fishing without required credentials, screening children for autism spectrum disorder, and a requirement for the Department of Education to review laws on teacher training and report to the legislature, among others.
A full list of bills approved by Edwards on Tuesday is available on the governor’s website.