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Mar 9, 2014 8:02 PM by Kari Beal

Bills up for debate in State Legislature

Monday is the beginning of a busy three months for the state legislature. There are more than 1,500 bills up for debate. Many cover controversial topics such as abortion, common core and marijuana.

Medical marijuana is legal for doctors to prescribe in many state, including Louisiana. However, possession of medical marijuana in Louisiana is illegal.

"Never did they address the issue of dispensing, prescribing and distribution, "Louisiana State Senator Fred Mills said.

Senate bill 541 would make it easier for patients to fill their prescriptions. However, anyone who illegally distributes marijuana could face 20-50 years in prison if House Bill 103 is passed
This is just one topic hitting the capital walls. Another is funding for post-secondary schools.

"Funding for our universities has been cut dramatically. I don't know how UL keeps their lights on," Louisiana State Treasurer John Kennedy said.

Kennedy said his bill would reduce spending on consultants by 10 percent and put more money towards universities.

Governor Bobby Jindal also has education on his mind. He is pushing for $40 million to encourage colleges to do more commercial research and produce graduates in fields where there are jobs.

Changes could come to the Lafayette Parish School Board if House Bill 980 proposed by Louisiana State House Representative Nancy Landry is approved. The new legislation would restructure the system of governance.

"I filed this constitutional amendment to allow us, as a community, to explore other options for school governance; to be able to tweak the system that we have now," State Rep. Nancy Landry said.

Saturday many residents showed their support for environmental bills on the stairs of the capital during a water rally, titled a "Water Festival." One bill the supporters are pushing hits close to home with the salt domes in Lake Peigneur. Senate Bill 209 would put stricter permits on those who store natural gas in salt caverns.

"They want to drill another hole in Lake Peigneur. If they destroy that salt dome that would the second time they destroyed a salt dome there. The first was at Jefferson Island," Retired Ltd. Gen. Russel Honore said.

Also up for debate are stricter regulations on abortion, such as House Bill 305 banning the distribution of information in public schools and House Bill 388, which requires doctors to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals.

Other bills propose minimum wage increases, changes in criminal prison sentence and leases on the Atchafalaya basin.



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