Speed trap legislation

Notes from the La. Legislature’s regular session
BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Tiny towns across Louisiana that get more than half their annual income from speeding citations would be labeled “speed traps” with blinking signs posted to warn drivers, under a proposal heading to the full House for debate.
Rep. Steve Pylant, R-Winnsboro, said if the issue is truly one of public safety, as the towns claim, signs with flashing lights will encourage people to slow down. But he said he’s opposed to towns basing their budgets on speeding tickets.
The House Transportation Committee voted 9-3 for Pylant’s bill (House Bill 961) to require speed trap labeling. The municipalities would have to pay for the signs. If they refuse, their speeding ticket money would be transferred to the state treasury.
“We’re just making people aware that this community is generating their revenue to operate off of the (citations). And that’s just not the way they ought to be operating,” Pylant said.
Opponents of the bill included the Louisiana Municipal Association. Ronnie Harris, executive director of the association, offered to work on discouraging the towns from relying too much on speeding tickets, but said the bill goes too far.
Lawmakers who voted against the measure said while they don’t support speed traps, they don’t agree with placing “a stigma” on a community.
“The mere labeling of a community as a speed trap is going to have some unintended consequences,” said Rep. Terry Landry, D-New Iberia.
Of more than 300 municipalities around Louisiana, Harris said, 15 get more than half their income from speeding citations. A 2007 review from the Legislative Auditor’s Office found that the towns of Baskin and Robeline got about 86 percent of their revenue from speeding tickets.
The Senate unanimously backed a revamp of Louisiana’s process for reviewing textbooks to give public school districts more control.
The bill (Senate Bill 336) by Sen. Conrad Appel, R-Metairie, goes next to the House for debate.
The measure would require the state education department to review instructional materials in English, math, science and social studies to decide whether they meet state educational standards. The department would use review panels including educators and content experts.
But local districts would decide which books and materials to use. The state would help with bulk purchasing to get cheaper deals.
School districts would use review committees of teachers, parents and others recommendations which materials should be used, and they could choose items not on the state-reviewed list.
In other legislative action:
—Retired state workers and public school employees would get a 1.5 percent cost of living adjustment to their pension benefits, under four bills that sailed through the Senate Retirement Committee without objection Monday. It would be the first COLA for the workers since 2008. The proposals (Senate Bills 16, 18, 19 and 21) head next to the Senate floor for debate. The dollars would come from better-than-expected investment gains for the retirement systems.
—The Senate voted 35-0 to tighten regulations on explosives licenses in Louisiana. Sen. Francis Thompson, D-Delhi, said he proposed the changes (Senate Bill 129) after an explosion in October 2012 led to an investigation at Camp Minden, in which a Louisiana State Police investigator discovered millions of pounds of improperly stored military propellant. The bill heads to the House for consideration.
Louisiana Legislature: www.legis.la.gov

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