La. Lawmakers tackle children and guns and lingerie - KNOE 8 News; KNOE-TV; KNOE.com |

La. Lawmakers tackle children and guns and lingerie

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BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - Louisiana welfare recipients would be prohibited in state law from spending the federal assistance at lingerie shops, tattoo parlors, nail salons and jewelry stores, under a bill that received the support Wednesday of the House Health and Welfare Committee.

The Department of Children and Family Services already has enacted the restrictions in emergency rules. The bill (House Bill 1176) by Rep. Chris Broadwater, R-Hammond, would enshrine them in law.

Broadwater said he wants to make sure people use the federal aid to provide basic needs for their families.

The restrictions would cover the Family Independence Temporary Assistance Program - commonly known as welfare benefits - and the Kinship Care Subsidy Program. Both programs pay cash assistance to low-income families for items like food, clothing and housing.

Also barred under the bill from taking welfare debit cards would be video arcades, bail bond companies, cruise ships, psychics, adult-entertainment businesses, nightclubs, bars and any businesses where minors are not allowed.

Violators would stop receiving welfare benefits for a year for a first offense, two years for a second offense and permanently for a third offense. Businesses that violate the law would be fined $500 for a first violation, $1,000 for a second time and $2,500 for additional violations.

Tracking violations may be difficult, however, because the welfare money can be taken off the electronic benefit card as cash through an ATM.

The measure, backed without objection, moves next to the full House for debate.

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An effort to make more of the state education board's members elected by the public, rather than appointed by the governor, failed to win support Wednesday in the House and Governmental Affairs Committee.

Currently, eight members of the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education are elected from individual districts around the state, and three are appointed by the governor.

Rep. Brett Geymann's constitutional change (House Bill 374) would have reconfigured the board so that two of the governor's appointments would have become at-large seats elected by voters statewide. The governor would have maintained one appointment.

"Parents want to have a voice, and I think this is one way we can do that," said Geymann, R-Lake Charles.

He said parents have complained that BESE members haven't responded to their concerns about the Common Core education standards.

Opponents of the bill said they didn't necessarily believe that having elected members would make BESE members more responsive to the public. They said the current model is a balanced approach to overseeing education policy for the state.

"I kind of like the ability for the governor to have some say because he represents the whole state," said Rep. Greg Miller, R-Norco.

The committee voted 6-2 against the bill, stalling it in committee.

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In other legislative action:

-The House criminal justice committee rejected a bill that would have made it a crime to expose a child under the age of 10 to a gun that isn't secured in a lockbox or equipped with a safety device like a trigger lock. The committee voted 8-4 to kill the proposal (House Bill 1189) by Rep. Barbara Norton, D-Shreveport.

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Online:

Louisiana Legislature: www.legis.la.gov

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