Rickey Hardy’s Legislative Diarrhea

Amid the cacophony of bills filed in the current legislative session it appears there is a champion in the competition for Highest Volume Of Stupid Bills Wasting The Legislature’s Time.

That would be Rickey Hardy, first-term Democrat from Lafayette, proud graduate of Comeaux High School and Southwest Paralegal College and self-employed in the House-Washing and Lawncare industry, whose 13 pre-filed bills seem aimed at making criminals out of as many Louisianians as possible.

Hardy’s signature piece of legislation this year is the “Pants On The Ground” bill, which would regulate attire throughout the state…

It shall be unlawful for any person to wear clothing in any public place or place open to the public view which intentionally exposes undergarments or the cleft of the buttocks.
B. Whoever violates the provisions of this Section shall be punished as follows:
(1) On a first conviction, the offender shall be fined not more than five hundred dollars and ordered to perform five eight-hour days of court-approved community service.
It shall be unlawful for any person to wear clothing in any public place or place open to the public view which intentionally exposes undergarments or the cleft of the buttocks.
B. Whoever violates the provisions of this Section shall be punished as follows:
(1) On a first conviction, the offender shall be fined not more than five hundred dollars and ordered to perform five eight-hour days of court-approved community service.
(2) On a second conviction, the offender shall be fined not more than seven hundred fifty dollars and ordered to perform ten eight-hour days of court-approved community service.
(3) On a third or subsequent conviction, the offender shall be fined not more than one thousand dollars, imprisoned for not more than six months, or both. In addition, the offender shall be ordered to perform twelve eight-hour days of court4
approved community service.
C. The community service requirements provided for by this Section shall not be suspended, and any order waiving or suspending such requirements in violation of the provisions of this Subsection shall be null and void.

The sentiment behind this landmark piece of legislation, which disgraced and jailed former legislator Derrick Shepard introduced in the House in 2004 and Senate in 2008 (to failure both times), isn’t all bad. Imbeciles who waddle about with their trousers billowing below their hips do need incentives to improve their dress code. But it would seem obvious that general ridicule would be a better corrective instrument than a law which provides for community service and jail time – jail time! – for the habitually droopy-pantsed. And to the extent that this scourge of public indecency must be addressed by elected officials there are countless city councils and police juries well-equipped to do so with city ordinances; a state law regulating belt level is the worst kind of busybody idiocy.

But the criminalization of saggy pants is only the beginning for Rep. Hardy’s legislative agenda. He also loves a parade.

Not one but TWO crucial pieces of legislation seek to protect Louisiana’s parade-goers from marauding evildoers. Hardy’s House Bill 26 creates the crime of Simple Battery During A Parade and House Bill 42 stiffens criminal penalties for illegally carrying or discharging firearms at parades. These bills are indispensable; why, I had no idea it was legal, before Rep. Hardy rode to the rescue, for parade-goers to beat each other to a pulp as the floats rode past. As for the firearms-at-a-parade bill, it’s a shame this one wasn’t on the books in Egypt or Anwar Sadat might be alive today.

There’s more.

House Bill 133 entitles state legislators to attend any meeting of any public body in the state, regardless whether those meetings might be closed-door or entail executive sessions. Certainly nothing could go wrong if that bill passed; Rep. Hardy’s participation in strategy meetings of Louisiana’s economic development department, for example, would lead to a wealth of expertise and ideas being brought forth.

If that one isn’t to your taste, perhaps you’ll like House Bill 43, which expands drug-free zones from 1,000 feet to 2,000 feet around schools, day care centers and the like. Or House Bill 55, which establishes a Who Dat Nation license plate. Or House Bill 27, which stiffens penalties for miscreants who give controlled substances to kids 12 years old and younger (as opposed to 13-year olds). Or House Bill 77, which prevents defendants in felony cases from being released on their own recognizance. Or House Bill 98, which would require the DMV to put a special code on drivers’ licenses for those convicted of DWI and required to use ignition interlock devices. Or House Bill 104, which would require that you spend 48 hours in jail if you get arrested for DWI. Or House Bill 139, which would mandate that if you’ve been convicted twice of controlled substance violations you’d have to carry an orange driver’s license which says “drug offender” on your person at all times for the next eight years.

Or maybe house Bill 152, which would necessitate a five-year suspension of a driver’s license for anyone caught driving with a license under suspension.

Hardy has been described as a nice guy, if perhaps one of the dimmest bulbs in the Louisiana legislature. That said, he’s actually passed seven bills in the previous two legislative sessions since his election in 2007 – so it’s possible some of his current crop of legislative inanity might become law.

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