Connect with us


Capitol Briefing: Louisiana domestic violence bill gets unexpected pushback from gun lobby



LOUISIANA – A legislative proposal that would make it easier for victims of domestic violence to apply for a temporary restraining order has come under fire from Louisiana’s powerful gun lobby — though its proponents aren’t exactly sure why.

House Bill 55 from New Orleans Democratic Rep. Aimee Adatto Freeman would remove the requirement that an application for a temporary restraining order include a notarized affidavit. Instead, it would allow applicants to provide a written affirmation, signed by a witness, that the facts included in the petition are true.

In some portions of the state — including in the clerks of court in Orleans, Calcasieu and Ouachita parishes — notaries aren’t immediately available in-house, often forcing victims to seek out and pay for a private notary on their own, according to Mariah Wineski, the executive director of the Louisiana Coalition Against Domestic Violence

HB55 sailed through the House Civil Law Committee with bipartisan support and little controversy. It wasn’t until the measure advanced to the House floor that gun rights groups registered their opposition with lawmakers.

“This legislation would allow Domestic Abuse Temporary Restraining Orders to be granted without notice based only upon written affirmation of the petition,” wrote Matthew Herriman, the National Rifle Association’s state director, in a note to lawmakers. “These orders, which are already fraught with frivolous claims, result in the loss of someone’s constitutional right to keep and bear arms. Lowering the bar here is a violation of due process and sets a terrible precedent.”

A temporary restraining order does not, under current or proposed law, result in the loss of someone’s ability to own firearms, Wineski said. It only restricts someone from purchasing a new gun during the duration of the order, which can last a maximum of 21 days before a judge is required to hold a formal hearing on the merits of the application.

“I’m confused and concerned by the opposition to this bill. We think it’s a very simple bill. It doesn’t do what they’re claiming that it does,” Wineski said.

Bill would stop millions in payouts to private businesses

The state would stop sending checks to private businesses if legislation forwarded Monday by a Senate committee makes it through the process.

Louisiana taxpayers give some businesses about $256 million a year when those companies add up deductions, rebates, credits and other benefits to find out that in addition to owing no taxes, the state owes them.

Senate Bill 240 would keep the tax breaks but stop the payouts to cover the extra.

“It’s nonsensical,” said state Sen. Jay Luneau, the Alexandria Democrat who sponsored the legislation. Once the company’s tax liability hits zero, that’ll be the end of it and the state will not write a check.

“Why are the tax dollars that my companies pay, that your companies pay, going to refund companies with more deductions?” Luneau said.

The state annually exempts $9 billion that otherwise would be taxed and go into the state treasury.

Sen. Gary Smith, D- Norco, pointed out that the companies wouldn’t lose money, they just wouldn’t get a check from the state. However, the companies would be allowed to carry the additional credits forward into next year’s income taxes.

Only the Louisiana Chemical Association announced its opposition to the legislation.

SB240 was advanced to the full Senate without opposition.

Senate agrees to ban discrimination on hairstyles

The Louisiana Senate unanimously voted to make it illegal for employers to discriminate against someone because of their hairstyle, a measure striking at tactics that have targeted Black people who wear their hair naturally.

Senate Bill 61, by Sen. Troy Carter, a New Orleans Democrat recently elected to a congressional seat, would expand Louisiana’s existing anti-discrimination law, which bars employers from discriminatory practices based on a worker’s race, religion, sex or national origin.

The legislation  would spell out that prohibited discrimination on the basis of race includes hair texture and hairstyles such as braids, twists and natural hair.

The Senate’s 36-0 vote Monday sent the measure to the House.

Effort to centralize sales tax collections clears a third hurdle

The Louisiana speaker’s House-passed bill to centralize the collection of sales taxes is headed to the Senate.

The Senate Revenue and Fiscal Affairs committee members voted unanimously Monday to advance the measure.

At its center is the creation of a State and Local Streamlined Sales and Use Tax Commission. Made up of state and local officials equally, the board would collect taxes on sales then distribute the appropriate amount to the appropriate taxing entity.

The House approved more than a dozen amendments two weeks ago and the Senate committee added more changes Monday to House Bill 199 by House Speaker Clay Schexnayder, R- Gonzales.

For generations municipal and parish governments, school boards and sheriffs, along with myriad other agencies, have collected their own taxes — it’s in the Constitution. The state is charged with the authority to collect state sales taxes, not taxes for local agencies. The system, complicated though it is, has worked fine for years.

On the other hand, nearly every other state has moved into a centralized system that collects and disperses sales taxes for both state and local agencies.

Louisiana’s business community and state legislators have argued for years that centralized collections is more efficient and would collect more revenues. But past efforts ran into opposition from parish and local governments wary of the state gathering all the bucks and distributing the money in the state’s own good time.

If approved by 20 of the 39 senators, HB199 then would have to return to the House, where 70 of the 105 representatives would have to vote in favor of the amendments added in the Senate.