With the myriad of problems facing Louisiana, it is beyond ridiculous that some state legislators are once again worried about the wardrobe of youngsters. Former legislator Derrick Shepherd, now a convicted felon, made national headlines for proposing a bill outlawing sagging pants. Shepherd railed against the fashion of youngsters who exposed their undergarments by wearing low riding pants. After introducing his bill, Shepherd was ridiculed by Comedy Central and comics throughout the country. Thankfully, the bill failed in the Louisiana Legislature in 2004 and once again in 2008.
It was ironic that Shepherd was so worried about fashion and not worried enough about ethics. It is amazing that anyone would want to follow in the footsteps of such a disgraced legislator, but Democratic State Representative Rickey Hardy of Lafayette has now picked up the baton for Shepherd.
Hardy has introduced a bill that would make it illegal for people to wear any type of clothing that exposes undergarments. Violators would face a fine and community service. After multiple offenses, the penalties would increase substantially.
So, if this bill passes, not only will youngsters with low riding pants have to worry about being arrested, but any women with exposed bra straps might be fined. To truly implement this bill, local municipalities across the state would need to hire hundreds of additional police officers.
If this bill becomes law, our already overburdened law enforcement officers would be sidetracked from important crime fighting duties. It would turn our police into the fashion patrol. Obviously, it is not a pleasant sight to see youngsters wearing low riding pants, but it does not rank very high on our list of problems.
Currently, New Orleans is the Murder Capital of the nation and crime is a major dilemma across the state. We need more focus on critical crime prevention duties and less focus on minor issues like clothing styles.
Our police officers are already tasked with enforcing scores of ridiculous laws passed by our legislators. The last thing we need to do is add another law on the books especially one that is so ridiculous and unenforceable.
Unfortunately, some of our legislators are intent on passing more laws. Along with targeting sagging pants, another legislator wants to make it illegal for drivers to use hand held cell phones. This effort makes no sense since research shows that the use of hand held cell phones is no more dangerous than the use of hands free devices. So, let’s forgo the additional law and focus on making life better for the people of Louisiana.
A much better use of legislative time is to focus on ways to make Louisiana a more business friendly state. We should be reducing taxes and slashing government spending, so that Louisiana is more competitive with neighboring states. Clearly, our state bureaucracy is too large, especially when compared to other states.
Legislators could also do a favor for citizens of Louisiana by enacting legislation to rescind fees that have been increased. Although Governor Jindal promised not to increase taxes, there are a myriad of fees that have been raised. For example, the cost of using state parks and renewing a driver’s license has increased substantially. In addition, parents of college age children will be facing higher tuition and fees in Louisiana colleges.
With such a poor economy, it is a horrible idea to raise costs on any Louisiana residents, especially since the services we receive as taxpayers are so questionable.
Instead of raising fees, passing more laws and making life more difficult for the people of Louisiana, legislators should focus on relieving the burden on state taxpayers and on improving the quality of life in our state.
Jeff Crouere is the Host of “Ringside Politics,” which airs at 7:30 p.m. Fri. and 10:00 p.m. Sun. on WLAE-TV 32, a PBS station, and 7 till 11 a.m. weekdays on WGSO 990 AM in New Orleans and the Northshore. He is the Political Analyst for WGNO-TV ABC26 and a Columnist for selected publications. For more information, visit his web site at RingsidePolitics.com. E-mail him at [email protected].