Earlier this week, we brought you the story of how the Louisiana Senate approved a bill, without debate, to allow police to install cameras in squad cars to scan license plates. The bill was sold as a way to crackdown on uninsured motorists. The bill is being backed by a private consortium that would install the machines in exchange for a percentage of each ticket written. The consortium just happened to be politically connected as well.
But the Louisiana Legislature is aiming for a two for one special. Not only is this a crony capitalist bill, but it also has a touch of Big Brother as well. The license plates are to be scanned as vehicles drive by, regardless if they’re actually doing anything to warrant a search.
So when the bill was heard yesterday in the House Committee on Administration of Criminal Justice, SB 54 had something it had not had so far in the process, opposition. Representatives from the Louisiana Libertarian Party and the Louisiana Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers testified against the bill. And that opposition paid off.
The House committee rejected the bill 6 to 5 with 1 absention. State Reps Tony Bacala (R-Prairieville), Stephen Dwight (R-Lake Charles), Chris Hazel (R-Pineville), Frank Howard (R-Many), and Terry Landry (D-New Iberia) voted to report the bill favorably. State Reps. John Bagneris (D-New Orleans), Barbara Carpenter (D-Baton Rouge), Valerie Hodges (R-Denham Springs), Ted James (D-Baton Rouge), Denise Marcelle (D-Baton Rouge), and Barbara Norton (D-Shreveport) voted to kill the bill.
Committee Chairman State Rep. Sherman Mack (R-Albany) abstained. He then moved to defer the bill voluntarily, which was agreed to unanimously.
What this means is that this bill is not completely dead for the session, but it probably is. There may be another attempt to pass it through the House, with amendments. But with sine die less than a month away, it will be tough to bring the legislation back to life. But you never know so we need to keep our eyes on this bill and make sure the Louisiana House doesn’t try to sneak it through.