Monday, July 22, 2024

Louisiana special session aims to take a bite out of crime

by BIZ Magazine

(The Center Square) — Louisiana lawmakers will consider two dozen items aimed at reducing crime during an extraordinary session next week, from constitutional carry, to the death penalty, to harsher penalties for carjackers.

“This special session begins to fulfill the campaign promises we made to the people of Louisiana to make our state safe again. No one, regardless of their neighborhood or zip code, should feel unsafe. We all want safer communities,” Gov. Jeff Landry said in a statement. “We will defend and uplift our law enforcement officials and deliver true justice to crime victims who have been overlooked for far too long. I am eager to enact real change that makes Louisiana a safer state for all.”

As of Friday noon, lawmakers had prefiled 15 bills in the House and 13 in the Senate for the extraordinary session that begins Monday at 1 p.m. and runs through 6 p.m. on March 6.

Among legislation pending in the upper chamber is Senate Bill 1, by New Iberia Republican Sen. Blake Miguez to allow law-abiding citizens to carry concealed weapons without a permit. There’s also Senate Bill 3, by Turkey Creek Republican Sen. Heather Cloud, to lower the age for consideration as a juvenile in the criminal justice system to 17, reversing reforms implemented under Gov. John Bel Edwards. Monroe Republican Sen. Stewart Cathey’s Senate Bill 11 also addresses the threshold for juvenile justice.

Cathey also prefiled Senate Bill 10 to reduce good time earned by prisoners sentenced for the death of a peace officer or first responder.

Other Senate measures include efforts to increase penalties for carjacking from Sen. Valarie Hodges, R-Denham Springs. Another would create an office of public defender from Sen. Mike Reese, R-Leesville.

A bill from Sen. Rick Edmonds, R-Baton Rouge would increase penalties for DWIs while another is intended to boost transparency in the justice system from Many Republican Sen. Alan Seabaugh.

Prefiled House bills target many of the same issues, with Oil City Republican Rep. Danny McCormick offering constitutional carry with House Bill 12, Prairieville Republican Rep. Tony Bacala’s House Bill 1 to increase transparency, and House Bill 7 by Metairie Republican Rep. Laurie Schlegel to crack down on carjacking.

Schlegel also prefiled House Bill 8 to increase penalties for distribution of fentanyl to minors, while Kenner Republican Rep. Debbie Villio submitted House bills 9, 10, and 11 to reform sentencing, probation and parole conditions for certain offenders. House bills 13 and 14 from Covington Republican Rep. Mark Wright also address sentencing and parole for dangerous offenders, respectively.

Rep. Nicholas Muscarello, R-Hammond, prefiled House Bill 6 to expand methods for the death penalty to include nitrogen hypoxia. It would further give the Department of Public Safety and Corrections authority to determine the appropriate method: electrocution, lethal injection or nitrogen hypoxia.

Still other prefiled bills would provide immunity from civil liability for peace officers, require drug testing for certain offenders, designate the use of weapons as a crime of violence and impose time limitations on rape prosecutions.

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