BATON ROUGE — A bill seeking to keep unmanned aircraft from flying over Louisiana's chemical plants was revived by a Senate judiciary committee Tuesday, after it was killed last month by a House panel.
Sen. Mack "Bodi" White's original bill (Senate Bill 356) would have banned drones from passing over a lengthy list of areas deemed "critical infrastructure" in the state. Lawmakers on the House criminal justice committee deemed the language too broad.
So, White got more limited language added to a House-backed bill (House Bill 1029) by Rep. Terry Landry, D-New Iberia, to prohibit the use of drones over petrochemical plants and nuclear plants. It would include exceptions for law enforcement agencies.
Landry didn't object to the addition, and the Senate committee advanced the measure to the full Senate for debate without objection.
The drone ban was tacked onto a measure that would criminalize the intentional projection of a laser at a plane or in its flight path in Louisiana. Police officers who supported the measure said the lasers can temporarily blind people flying planes, like police helicopters that are used in heavily-populated areas.
The bill would carry a prison sentence of at least one year and up to five years for a first offense. Subsequent offenses would carry a minimum prison sentence of two years and up to 10 years.
Students at poor-performing public schools could have the possibility of switching to higher-performing schools, under a bill nearing final legislative passage.
Sen. Ben Nevers, D-Bogalusa, said his Senate-backed proposal (Senate Bill 61) would offer choice to public school students, like the state has offered through the taxpayer-funded voucher program.
"Please give the parents across this state a choice," he told the House Education Committee.
The proposal would start with the upcoming 2014-15 school year, in school districts that agree to participate.
Parents would be able to enroll their children in the public school they choose if the student was assigned to a school that was graded with a D or F in the state's school grading system.
The school that a parent chooses must be rated at an A, B or C level — and it must have the space to take the student.
The House committee advanced the measure without objection, sending it to the full House for debate.