By Victor Skinner | The Center Square contributor
Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards signed into law two bills related to occupational licensing, with one putting restrictions on occupational licensing regulations and another that will make it easier for ex-convicts to find out if they’re eligible for a license.
House Bill 639, sponsored by Rep. Thomas Pressly, R-Shreveport, allows felons to petition state licensing boards for a determination on licensing eligibility before participating in school or training. The bill, backed by the Pelican Institute, was signed by Edwards Tuesday to become Act 486.
Another occupational licensing reform backed by the Pelican Institute, House Bill 1062, sponsored by Rep. Aimee Freeman, D-New Orleans, gained Edwards’ approval as well. The bill, dubbed the Right to Earn a Living Act, became Act 583 to require occupational licensing boards and commissions to justify their rules and regulations based on public health, safety, welfare or a fiduciary duty and gives Louisianans the ability to challenge those rules in court.
“Louisiana is one of the most onerously licensed states in the country,” said Pelican Institute CEO Daniel Erspamer in a news release. “These bills will begin the process of reforming our occupational licensing laws and give everyone in Louisiana a fair chance at succeeding as an entrepreneur. Restoration of the right to earn a living for our citizens is the cornerstone of ensuring every Louisianan has the opportunity to flourish and follow their chosen career.”
Other measures signed by Edwards include bills to create leases for wind energy, increase transparency for public schools, improve the state’s medical marijuana law and limit the release of booking photos, among many others.
The governor signed into law House Bill 165, sponsored by Rep. Jerome Zeringue, R-Houma, to expand current limits on individual oil and gas leases from a maximum of 5,000 to up to 25,000 acres for wind energy leases.
The bill, now Act 443, also authorizes the State Mineral and Energy Board to enter into operating agreements for the state to receive a share of revenues.
Edwards also approved House Bill 369, sponsored by Rep. Lance Harris, R-Alexandria, to require schools to post an understandable summary of parents’ rights in education, including access to instructional materials.
HB 369, now Act 466, requires schools to distribute the same information to parents during the first week of school.
Several Edwards approved bills are designed to improve the state’s medical marijuana regulations. They include House Bill 135, sponsored by Rep. Joseph Marino, I-Gretna, to allow for dispensing medical marijuana to certain qualifying patients from out-of-state; House Bill 137, also by Marino, to extend legal protections to visiting qualifying patients; and House Bill 190, sponsored by Rep. C. Travis Johnson, D-Vidalia, to allow nurse practitioners to recommend medical cannabis to patients, instead of just doctors.
Edwards also signed House Bill 629, sponsored by Rep. Marcus Bryant, D-New Iberia, to prohibit a search without a warrant of a person’s place of residence based solely on the odor of marijuana; House Bill 234, sponsored by Rep. Laurie Schlegel, R-Jefferson, to prohibit smoking or vaping marijuana in motor vehicles; and HB 697, sponsored by Rep. Tanner Magee, to reform the medical cannabis system and expand the number of dispensaries.
Another Magee sponsored bill, House Bill 698, to impose fees on marijuana testing facilities, was also approved by Edwards.
The governor also announced his approval of House Bill 729, sponsored by Rep. Royce Duplessis, D-New Orleans, to limit the release of booking photos for most crimes, with several exceptions.
Other approved bills dealt with high school core curriculum requirements, security services at the Capitol, sports wagering, victims of sex crimes, establishing a new Dew Drop-America’s Rock and Roll Museum, hair discrimination, insurance coverage for prescription human milk, alcohol delivery, firearm hold agreements and many other issues.