BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — The House unanimously agreed Tuesday to earmark some future Gulf oil spill recovery money for Louisiana's college campuses.
The proposal (House Bill 386) by Rep. Walt Leger, D-New Orleans, could steer to public colleges some of the money Louisiana is expected to receive from BP to pay for economic damage caused by the 2010 spill.
Those dollars are separate from other civil penalties from violations of environmental laws, money that's required to be set aside for coastal restoration and protection projects.
Lawmakers already have set aside the first $1 billion in economic damages money to repay Louisiana's "rainy day" fund and an elderly trust fund that have been used to plug budget gaps in recent years. Leger's bill would target oil spill money above that, place it into a fund and require the interest earnings be spent on higher education.
The economic damages claims are the subject of ongoing federal litigation, and it's unclear when any of the money might be available to the state.
A 95-0 House vote sent Leger's proposal to the Senate for debate.
Couples who lie on marriage license applications could face additional jail time under a bill aimed at cracking down on sham marriages that passed the House civil law committee without objection Tuesday.
Under current law, those who lie on marriage license applications face five years jail time, but that penalty would increase to 10 years under the bill, said Rep. Valarie Hodges, R-Denham Springs, who sponsored the proposal.
"I'm 1,000 percent in favor of marriage, but there is a lot of marriage fraud," said Hodges, who could not back up her claim with hard data, but instead cited media accounts of fraud.
The measure (House Bill 716) will next be considered by the full House.
Increased jail time is just one component of the proposal, which would also impose stringent identification requirements to crack down on people in the country illegally who seek marriage as a step toward legal residency.
It would require anyone born outside the U.S. to show a valid birth certificate and current ID. Anyone with a birth certificate written in a foreign language would be required to have it translated. Additionally, everyone seeking a marriage license would have to swear under oath that they have provided accurate information.
But Hodges said the measure isn't aimed solely at people who entered the country illegally. She said it also would prevent people who are still married from marrying someone else. Currently, only one person has to be present when some marriage paperwork is signed, she said.
"You could be going in there to marry your dog," Hodges said. "This forces that other spouse to have to go in and sign it, under penalty of law, that they are not married."
Many Louisiana drivers would only have to get a state vehicle inspection every five years under a proposal that won support Tuesday from the House transportation committee.
The measure by Rep. Richard Burford, R-Stonewall, would lengthen the current inspection requirement from two years to five years for any vehicle that is seven years old or newer.
Burford said newer model cars tell drivers when something is wrong, lessening the need for inspections. He noted 31 states don't require inspection stickers at all.
Rep. Terry Landry, D-New Iberia, opposed the proposal, raising concerns about safety.
The committee sent the bill (House Bill 564) to the House floor for debate with a 9-3 vote. If approved by the full Legislature, it would take effect Sept. 1.
Burford's bill would keep the inspection fee at $10 for each year the sticker is in effect — $50 for five years. Local parishes also add charges to the price.
Annual inspections would still be required in parishes with auto emission problems that have been cited by the
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The five-year inspection also would not apply to commercial vehicles and student transportation vehicles like school buses.
The last time inspection requirements were changed was in 2012.
Online: Louisiana Legislature: www.legis.la.gov
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Posted on Wed, May 6, 2015
by The Lafourche Gazette