Monday, April 1, 2013 Written by IND Monthly Staff
C’EST BON Treating marijuana like cocaine and methamphetamine has had hugely unnecessary social and fiscal costs for American communities since the War on Drugs ramped up a few decades ago. Nearly half of the roughly 1.5 million drug arrests annually in the U.S. are for marijuana possession, and the cost of enforcing marijuana laws and incarcerating pot smokers is enormous: an estimated $5.5 billion annually. This is arguably even more germane to Louisiana, which has the highest incarceration rate in the nation. But a sensible bill by New Orleans Democratic Rep. Austin Badon addresses this issue. Badon’s House Bill 103 amends the criminal penalties for second and subsequent pot possession offenses, slashing the maximum jail time defendants face, and prevents prosecutors from applying habitual offender statutes to people convicted of marijuana possession. Long overdue. Now here’s hoping the bill gets a serious hearing on April 20.
PAS BON Badon’s colleague in the House, Republican Frank Hoffmann of West Monroe, is at it again. The chief water boy for the Louisiana Family Forum has again filed a bill, HB 116, that would effectively neuter the state school board in its oversight of textbooks used in public schools in Louisiana. The LFF is a well-known proponent of setting Intelligent Design — creationism in a lab coat, in other words — right beside Darwinian evolution in biology classrooms, and getting the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education out of the text-selection equation is a nice place to start. Hoffmann’s bill among other things takes that authority away from BESE and gives it to local school boards, opening the door for Louisiana’s more evangelical parishes to introduce stunningly unscientific curricula into science classes. Sorry guys, but dinosaurs and homo sapiens — ermahgerd we said homo! — were not contemporaries. A similar bill filed in the 2011 session withered on the vine. We hope this one does, too.
COUILLON There’s a Democrat in the White House, and he’s black, probably socialist and possibly Muslim. If that ain’t a Petri dish for cultivating crazy, we don’t know what is. Just check out the creeping fungus known as the SOAR (Save Our American Republic) Project, a bunch of Bible-thumping “patriots” pushing lawmakers — any lawmaker — to sponsor in the upcoming session the Louisiana Balance of Powers Act, a law that would give the Pelican State the “authority” to ignore federal law because, you know, guns and FEMA Death Cathedrals and stuff. Nary a state suckles Uncle Sam’s hammy man-teat more than Louisiana, but hey — don’t matter. As of this writing no lawmakers have pre-filed a bill along those lines, but the SOAR Project did find a compatriot in the “oath-keeping” sheriff of Iberia Parish. In a full-page ad in The Iberian, the SOAR Project thanks Louis Ackal — and reproduces his endorsement letter — for “Taking a Stand Against a Tyrannical Federal Government.” Citing an absence of [the Christian] religion in public places, Obamacare and the dire threat to the 2nd Amendment occasioned by background checks, Ackal vows to “defend the citizens of my parish from unconstitutional abuse or harassment by federal agents.” We wish him well in that noble endeavor. By noble endeavor we mean paranoia.
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NOV 21 Bobby Jindal is headed to Iowa again, the Des Moines Register reports here. The paper outlines what's going on with Bobby's non-campaign for president, and there's a lot of stuff here -- too bad none of it sounds like somebody running Louisiana. Hey, wasn't that the job he wanted?
NOV 21 The end of the term has come for the grand jury investigating a lucrative Medicaid contract and a former state health official's ties to the company that won it, the Advocate reports here, but that doesn't mean the investigation into this stinkiness is over. There are still some things to look into, the lead prosecutor says.
NOV 21 With the passage of two amendments to Louisiana's much-amended constitution (it has been amended almost 200 times now) higher education has an even bigger target on its collective back, columnist Jim Beam opines in this post. Higher ed used to share the spotlight with health care, but that has changed, he says.
NOV 21 Here's a weird one: The Louisiana Cannabis Industry Association has endorsed Bill Cassidy for the U.S. Senate. Apparently, Mary Landrieu said she wouldn't consider support of medical marijuana but Cassidy said he would, WWL reports here.
NOV 21 Solange Knowles, possibly best-known for assaulting her brother-in-law in an elevator while wearing an ugly dress after the Met Ball, got married in the Marigny Opera House this past weekend, the New York Times reports here. Knowles, who has a house in the Faubourg Marigny district and owns a boutique in the Quarter, married Alan Ferguson.
NOV 21 This post on the Fuel Fix blog outlines a $1.4 billion move announced this week by the Apache Corp. that includes the sale of assets in south Louisiana. The company's interests in more than 90,000 acres in south Louisiana are some of the assets being sold, the post reports.
NOV 21 One (possible) positive from Hurricane Katrina is a comprehensive zoning ordinance for New Orleans. Nine years later, we're getting closer to that being finalized, but the current version has some problems. Here's the latest in a series of posts on The Lens in which residents give their views of the draft; this one is more amusing than most.
NOV 21 The new NOLA smoking ordinance is going to harsh your (nicotine) buzz, man. This post on Gambit outlines the high (or low, as the case may be) points: it includes electronic cigarettes and hookahs in its bans; eliminates smoking within 25 feet of any building's public entrance and in any public space - or near any public space - operated by the city.
NOV 20 Politico reports here that Bobby Jindal won't be kept out of the presidential race by anyone else's candidacy. (If he's running, which he's not, 'cause he's not done prayin' on it) So he's not interested in who is running, or what the polls say, or how much money he's got? K.
NOV 20 NOLA Defender's Tiny Daiquiri has a little fun with Bobby Jindal's Meet the Press appearance in this post. Bobby is still prayin' on whether or not he'll run for the job he's been running for over the past three years, Tiny says.
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