APPEL: Good Grief, What A Waste Of Time This Session Is

Well, aside from the negative aspects of raising the budget to an all time high of somewhere around $37 billion, this Louisiana legislative session will go down as pretty much a waste of time.

Unless, of course, you think this represents a positive bit of public policy for the state…

A bid to decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana for recreational use moved one step away from the governor’s desk Tuesday, after a Senate committee narrowly agreed to send the proposal to the full Senate for debate.

The proposal by Democratic Rep. Cedric Glover, of Shreveport, would make possession of up to 14 grams of marijuana — a half-ounce — a misdemeanor carrying a fine up to $100, even for repeat offenses, and end the possibility of jail time.

“Possession of small amounts of marijuana should not lead you to jail, and it should not lead you to becoming a felon,” Glover said.

A Senate judiciary committee voted 3-2 for the measure. The proposal already won bipartisan House support in a 67-25 vote. If the full Senate agrees to the measure without any changes, the bill would head to Gov. John Bel Edwards, who has indicated he’d sign it into law.

Supporters say ending jail time for possession of small amounts of cannabis will stop clogging up the state’s criminal justice system with people arrested for minor offenses and focus police efforts on other criminal activity.

There is no cohesion amongst what should be an overwhelming GOP majority in the House, no leadership from the Governor, and nothing to speak of coming out of the Senate. That lack of leadership means that at least in the case of Speaker Clay Schexnayder, there is a real possibility of a change to be made in the middle of a legislative term, something which hasn’t happened in Louisiana in a very long time.

The much vaunted “tax reform” bills, if they make it through, are OK, but in the big picture not really impactful at all. Only elimination of the income tax would have had a strong effect on the economy. After all, they’re doing it in Mississippi and Texas, Tennessee and Florida did away with state income tax years ago.

Its probably time to pack up and go home. Nothing much is likely to change until we have a reform governor anyway. Who knows when that might be.

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