June 2, 2017 12:38 AM

Emerson hair braiding bill faces Senate amendments while Coussan's LITE Center bill awaits governor's signature

Photo by Robin May

The Senate concurred with House amendments on Sen. Fred Mills SB55 on Friday morning, sending the bill to Gov. John Bel Edwards for his signature. The Senate is set to vote on Friday on bills by Reps. Stuart Bishop and Julie Emerson that could move them closer to final passage.

Mills' SB55 seeks to provide another tool in fighting the opioid addiction problem that has emerged in Louisiana and other states. The bill would require anyone who has access to opioids for either medical or research purposes to obtain a license to possess them. It would also use the state's existing prescription monitoring program in the fight to prevent multiple refills of prescriptions and the practice of pharmacy shopping by some patients.

The House amendments to the bill were minor, cleaning up language in the bill. The Senate unanimously concurred in the changes this morning, Mills told The Independent.

The Senate is scheduled to consider Rep. Stuart Bishop's HB49 today. The bill would direct $900,000 per year from state royalty settlements to DNR for the hiring of additional auditors to ensure that royalty and severance tax payments from oil and gas production on state-owned lands and water bottoms are accurate. David Boulet, who recently left his DNR assistant secretary position, told The Independent that Bishop's bill will help the Office of Mineral Resources address key manpower shortages.

Rep. Julie Emerson's HB468 is also scheduled for Senate consideration on Friday. Early this afternoon, Emerson told The Independent that consideration of the bill that would deregulate natural hair braiding had been pushed back to later in the day. She said in a text message she expected the bill to be amended on the Senate floor, which means it will have to be returned to the House for concurrence.

Rep. Jean-Paul Coussan has two bills awaiting signature by Edwards.

HB328 won final passage on Tuesday. The bill would allow courts to make the losing party pay in lawsuits over the extinction of property rights. The bill won unanimous approval in both the House and Senate.

Coussan's HB299, which transfers ownership and control of the Louisiana Immersive Technology Enterprise Center (LITE Center) from the LITE Center Commission to UL Lafayette, won final passage two weeks ago and awaits Edwards' signature. The bill dissolves the LITE Center Commission and the public-private partnership that operated the facility for a decade. The facility never found its business niche.

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