Briefs from the Legislature’s regular session

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BATON ROUGE — A proposal to give victims of domestic violence additional housing protections is in limbo after a House committee refused to advance the bill Tuesday while changes are discussed.

Sen. Sharon Weston Broome, D-Baton Rouge, said her Senate-approved bill (Senate Bill 174) would give “bare minimum” protections to domestic violence victims.

Among other provisions, it would bar landlords from evicting tenants for frequently calling the police due to the actions of an abuser. It also would allow landlords to evict abusers if there is “reasonable documentation” of abuse.
One major provision of the bill would allow domestic violence victims to break a lease without penalty if they have a court protection order or are recognized as a victim by a state-recognized social worker.

Several lawmakers worried the bill could saddle landlords with unfair legal liability. Others felt the bill was written sloppily and could lead to unintended consequences if it moved forward in its current form.

“There are a lot of people who are maybe deserving of this,” said Rep. Nancy Landry, R-Lafayette. “But I also think it opens the door to some opportunists abusing this.”

Broome said she has worked with business groups to add in additional protections for landlords.

The House civil law committee deferred the bill with 7-6 vote. But Rep. Neil Abramson, D-New Orleans, chairman of the committee, said he will bring the bill back for another vote next week if his concerns are addressed.

“I’m an optimist. We have another shot,” Broome said.

License plates

A pilot program that would allow law enforcement in a handful of parishes to use technology that can automatically scan a driver’s license plate would be created under a bill nearing final passage.

Sen. Ronnie Johns, R-Lake Charles, touted his bill as a way to crack down on uninsured motorists and car thieves by making it easier to compare the license plates against databases.
The House transportation committee agreed Tuesday to the Senate-backed bill (Senate Bill 250). The proposal heads next to the full House.
Johns said the program would be piloted in nine parishes: Allen, Ascension, Avoyelles, Bossier, Calcasieu, Iberville, Plaquemines, Terrebonne and Webster parishes.

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