Three of Southwest Louisiana’s four Republican state senators voted for a bill Wednesday that makes kindergarten attendance mandatory. The vote was 34-1, and the bill moves to the House.
Voting for Senate Bill 10 by Sen. Cleo Fields, D-Baton Rouge, and chairman of the Senate Education Committee were Sens. Mark Abraham of Lake Charles, Ronnie Johns of Sulphur and Mike Reese of Leesville. Sen. Heather Cloud, R-Turkey Creek, cast the only vote against the measure.
The proposed law requires that each child who turns 5 years of age on or before Sept. 30 to attend full-day kindergarten, beginning with the 2022-23 school year. Families may have home school for kindergarten but must report attendance to the state Department of Education.
All four senators voted for House Bill 199 by Speaker of the House Clay Schexnayder, R-Gonzales, that is a proposed constitutional amendment setting up a streamlined system for collecting state and local sales taxes. The vote was 37-1.
The speaker’s bill goes back to the House for concurrence in amendments added by the Senate. Voters will decide the fate of the amendment on Nov. 8, 2022.
If they approve, a statute will have to be passed with details about how the system will work. Local and state members of the State and Local Streamlined Sales and Use Tax Commission will work out those details. That legislation, like the amendment, requires a two-thirds vote for approval.
The House with a 68-25 vote Tuesday approved HB 652 by Rep. Cedric Glover, D-Shreveport, that decriminalizes the possession of small amounts of marijuana. That takes away the possibility of jail time and reduces the maximum penalty to a $100 fine for possession offenses.
If Glover's bill becomes law, anyone caught with under a half-ounce of marijuana can only be issued a summons for a fine of up to $100, with no jail time. The bill moves to the Senate.
Reps. Ryan Bourriaque, R-Abbeville, Wilford Carter, D-Lake Charles, Les Farnum, R-Sulphur, Brett Geymann, R-Moss Bluff, and Troy Romero, R-Jennings, voted for the bill. Reps. Dewith Carrier, R-Oberlin, Charles Owen, R-Rosepine, Rodney Schamerhorn, R-Hornbeck, and Phillip Tarver, R-Lake Charles, voted against.
The House also voted Tuesday for a police reform bill by Rep. Edmond Jordan, D-Baton Rouge. HB 609 limits the use of police immunity. It would prohibit police officers from invoking qualified immunity in wrongful death or other injury lawsuits when the court believes the force is unreasonable.
The vote was 53-42, exactly the majority required in the House. The bill moves to the Senate.
Bourriaque, Carter, Geymann, Owen and Tarver voted for the bill. Carrier, Farnum, Romero and Schamerhorn were against.
The House on Tuesday also unanimously passed a bill that would give victims of child molestation who are not yet 28 years old more time to pursue civil court damages.
It would give child sex abuse survivors until their 53rd birthday to file lawsuits. Current law gives them only until their 28th birthday to file suits. They have until they turn 48 to press criminal charges. HB 492 by Rep. Jason Hughes, D-New Orleans, moves to the Senate.