Electronic cigarettes are steps away from being prohibited to minors in Louisiana. The currently unregulated industry of e-cigs was targeted by the state Legislature, with bills in the House and Senate for prohibiting their sale and distribution to people under 18.
Senate Bill 12 from state State Sen. Rick Gallot, D-Ruston, is the Senate version banning e-cig sales and a number of other alternative nicotine products to minors. Today, it passed the Senate 34-0 and heads to Gov. Bobby Jindal where it's expected to be signed into law. (On Tuesday, it received unanimous approval from the House with a 94-0 vote, and sailed through committees.) Louisiana will join several states, including Maryland, New Hampshire, New York and Pennsylvania, with similar legislation. Several other states are pending legislation this year.
Read more about e-cigs in Gambit's preview of the Legislature's tobacco battles.
The Louisiana Legislature has passed a bill from state Rep. Katrina Jackson, D-Monroe, which would require doctors who provide abortions to have admitting privileges within 30 miles of a hospital. House Bill 388 passed the state House of Representatives in March and passed 34-3 today in the Senate. It now heads back to the House. It has the support of Gov. Bobby Jindal.
State Sen. J.P. Morrell, D-New Orleans, attempted to add an amendment that would remove the "arbitrary" 30-mile radius rule. In its place, doctors would have to receive admitting privileges to any hospital with an obstetrics and gynecology section. Morrell said he was concerned that the bill's 30-mile radius excludes many areas throughout the state where "there is no hospital within 30 miles, period," not only making procedures impossible, but could set a precedent for all specialized procedures. The amendment failed 3-34.
Sen. Karen Carter Peterson objected to the bill, calling it a "terrible bill" that "could seriously impede a woman’s ability to something legal in the state, not withstanding your position."
Medical marijuana has been on Louisiana's books since 1991, allowing doctors to prescribe pot to certain patients. But federal law and no state infrastructure for dispensing and regulating marijuana effectively neuters that law, though it remains on the books.
Today, the Senate Committee on Health and Welfare voted to defer Senate Bill 541 from state Sen. Fred Mills, R-Breaux Bridge. That bill deletes the current law and replaces it with a comprehensive means of regulating the prescription of marijuana, including creating a Therapeutic Marijuana Utilization Review Board and coordinating authorities with the state's Dept. of Agriculture and Forestry, the Louisiana Board of Pharmacy and the Louisiana Board of Medical Examiners. The committee voted 6-2 against the bill. (Sens. Bret Allain, Sherri Buffington, Dan Claitor, Dale Erdey, Elbert Guillory and Ben Nevers voted to defer the bill; Mills and Sen. Yvonne Dorsey-Colomb voted against the motion.)
In January, Gov. Bobby Jindal said he would be open to medical marijuana "if there is a legitimate medical need" and under "very strict supervision." That month, the Louisiana House Committee on Administration of Criminal Justice met with doctors, criminal justice organizations and reform advocates to discuss the "feasibility and effectiveness" of legalizing weed. Legislature filed several marijuana bills that tackle health and criminal justice reforms. Last week, however, a bill to reduce penalties for marijuana possession was also killed in committee.
The showdown between Big Oil and those who seek to defend the constitutional right of citizens and their leaders hold miscreants accountable is coming next week in the state Capitol. It’s a true David-versus-Goliath story.
David in this case is the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority-East (SLFPA-E), which sued 97 oil, gas and pipeline companies last July. The lawsuit aims to make the energy companies pay their fair share — and only their fair share — of the costs of coastal land loss caused by oil and gas activity in southeast Louisiana.
Promoters of the lawsuit consistently acknowledge that the energy industry is not the sole source of coastal erosion — just as industry’s own experts have long admitted that digging of thousands of miles of canals has contributed to the problem.
State and federal permits require energy companies to restore the marsh as much as possible. The companies sought those permits and agreed to those terms. That makes them a contract, enforceable at law.
This being Louisiana, and our political leaders being reluctant to offend those who fund their campaigns, those contracts were never really enforced. The old joke that the flag of Texaco flies over the state Capitol was never really a joke, either.
Last summer, someone finally mustered the courage to challenge Big Oil. The SLFPA-E lawsuit was the first stone in David’s sling. Judging by the intensity of the industry’s response — and the rush by some politicians to rally behind Big Oil — that stone clearly hit the mark.
No one has licked Goliath’s boots more eagerly than Gov. Bobby Jindal, but he’s hardly alone. Lawmakers are considering a half-dozen bills to scuttle the lawsuit. The measures range from gutting the independence of the SLFPA-E itself to retroactively de-authorizing the suit.
Is it the sex, or is it the hypocrisy? I keep asking myself that question when I think about U.S. Rep. Vance McAllister, R-Swartz, who will forever be remembered as “the kissing congressman” for being videotaped in a passionate lip lock with a 33-year-old aide who also happens to be the wife of a longtime friend.
This story hurts on many levels, but the hypocrisy is what riles me most of all — and there’s plenty of it to go around, at all levels of both political parties.
As for the sex part, well, that’s as old as the Holy Bible, which a legislative committee voted to make the official state book three days after the video of McAllister’s make-out session went viral. Coincidentally, another Louisiana House committee voted a day earlier to decriminalize anal and oral sex. Hmmn.
Freeing the sodomites while we embrace the Good Book sure makes us look, um, morally confused, but hypocrisy too is as old as the Bible. By the way, Jesus forgave the adulteress and the prostitute — but he consistently condemned hypocrites.
Which calls to mind our self-righteous governor, Bobby Jindal, and state GOP chair Roger Villere, who both wasted no time calling McAllister’s indiscretion “an embarrassment” and demanding that he resign. That prompted many, including many Republicans, to wonder where Jindal’s and Villere’s moral outrage was in 2007 when Louisiana’s U.S. Sen. David Vitter admitted to a “serious sin.” Vitter’s sin turned out to be bedding down with hookers — to the point of taking calls from a prostitution ring while voting in Congress.
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