Legislators see movement on their authored billls

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Local legislators saw a lot of movement on their personally authored bills this past week in Baton Rouge.

Representatives Jeff Thompson, R-Bossier City, and Henry Burns, R-Haughton, have worked to merge their bills allowing properly permitted carrying of firearms into establishments that incidentally serve alcohol, such as a restaurant, with that of Joseph Lopinto, R-Metairie.

“Joe Lopinto got that issue out of the criminal justice committee and it will go before the House floor next week,” said Thompson.

“My HB10 was replicated so I dropped it and (Lopinto’s) HB72 was passed. If that legislation fails, I’ll reactivate it,” said Burns. “The only problem is I had local law enforcement supporting it and now they’re calling me and asking me what is going to happen to my bill.”

Thompson also noted two bills that deal with the disposal of explosive materials — including his bill that would allow state police to perform removal of the hazardous materials — are moving through the state Senate now. He expects them to go before the governor’s signature by the end of the month.

“These bills deal with getting funding to recover some losses that came as a result of the Explo situation at Camp Minden (Ed.’s note: highly explosive materials were improperly stored at the Webster Parish location, requiring a lengthy cleanup process) as well as providing funding going forward for disposal of these types of materials,” said Thompson.

His HB370 that prohibits use of cellphones by drivers in school crossings came out of the house committee this week.

“You have distracted kids crossing dangerous roads. In one second, you go 60 feet. It will take you a second to react and another second for that reaction to take effect. In that whole process, you’ve traveled 180 feet which could be the difference between life and death,” Thompson explained.

His HB312 that would have lowered the cost of a hunting license for veterans was heard last week and has been altered to allow for a special hunting date.

“Instead of cutting into the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries’ money, I’m working with the wildlife and fisheries commission to have a special extended hunting season for veterans as a thanks to our veterans living in ‘Sportsman’s Paradise,'” said Thompson.

On the Senate side, Senator Barrow Peacock, R-Bossier City, saw his SB13 go before the retirement committee. The bill provides for use of entry age normal valuation method by the State Employees’ Retirement System and the Teachers’ Retirement System.

“This clears up reporting for government accounting systems,” Peacock explained.

The representatives also dealt with the controversial Common Core State Standards, particularly bills that would develop standards for required subjects and prohibit student “data mining.”

“There was a real concern about sharing student data, we’ve made good strides to prevent data mining from anyone that doesn’t need it,” said Thompson.

“I’m not against common core but we need time to implement it without feeling uncomfortable in the training part and the equipment part that is needed,” said Burns.