Edwards signs bills protecting medical marijuana patients and hurricane victims

The office of Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards announced Tuesday that he has signed 97 additional bills into law, including several measures to protect hurricane victims and patients who use medical marijuana.

The national spotlight turned to vulnerable Louisiana residents last August after Hurricane Ida, the second most destructive hurricane to make landfall in Louisiana. The evacuation of more than 800 nursing home residents to an unsuitable warehouse in the township of Tangipahoa revealed that no state agency was tasked with approving evacuation plans for nursing homes and other medical facilities. Fifteen people died after the evacuation, with at least five deaths attributed to the deplorable conditions at the warehouse.

House Bill 291, sponsored by Rep. Rick Edmonds, R-Baton Rouge, mandates the Louisiana Department of Health and Human Services to approve the emergency plans. In the past, it was only tasked with checking them.

Similarly, House Bill 933, sponsored by Rep. Joe Stagni, R-kenner, requires nursing homes to submit new emergency plans to the state and asks the health department to either approve them or list required changes.

Renters also get protection after a hurricane under a new law Rep. Mandie Landry, D-New Orleans. Sponsored. House Bill 160 creates an exception to the abandonment of a property in communities in a federally declared disaster area. It prevents landlords from permanently removing tenants who have been evacuated because of a storm.

gun laws

House Bill 260, sponsored by Rep. Tanner Magee, R-Houma, creates firearms ownership agreements that allow a person to turn over their firearms to a state-licensed dealer for an agreed-upon period of time and return them in accordance with the agreement. Magee said the intent of his bill is to help veterans who may be struggling with mental health issues.

House Bill 365, sponsored by Rep. Alan Seabaugh, R-Shreveport, adds possession of a firearm by a felon to the violent crime list.

House Bill 585 by Rep. Aimee Freeman, D-New Orleans, requires sheriffs to file an annual report with the Louisiana Commission on Law Enforcement and Administration of Criminal Justice regarding the transfer of firearms from persons convicted of certain crimes. The report would include information on the number of civil and criminal firearms transfer orders and information on the recipients of the transfers.

Medical marijuana

After the first medical marijuana dispensaries began operating last year, a series of bills were introduced to address problems and expand access.

House Bill 135, sponsored by Rep. Joe Marina, I-Gretna, allows the state’s dispensaries to sell medical marijuana to residents outside of Louisiana who have a medical marijuana card from another state.

House Bill 137, also a Marino statute, grants patient visitors immunity from prosecution for possession of medical marijuana.

House Bill 190, drafted by Rep. Travis Johnson, D-Vidalia, adds certain nurses to the list of healthcare providers authorized to recommend medical marijuana.

House Bill 775, a proposal by Rep. Cedric Glover, D-Shreveport, excludes devices used to consume medical marijuana from the state’s drug laws.

criminal justice

Also signed by the governor was House Bill 629, sponsored by Rep. Marcus Bryant, D-New Iberia, which states that the smell of marijuana alone is not a likely reason for police to conduct a search without first obtaining a search warrant.

House Bill 729 of Rep. Royce Duplessis, D-New Orleans, restricts the release of mugshots of suspects arrested for nonviolent crimes. The bill was originally intended to apply to most mugshots, but the Louisiana Sheriffs’ Association and news media lobbyists ultimately limited the exclusions. Regardless of the severity of the crime, all booking photos are released once a person is convicted or pleads guilty.

Another Duplessis proposal signed by the governor, House Bill 746, prohibits the use of solitary confinement for juveniles except as a temporary security measure.

Other new laws

House Bill 1061, sponsored by Rep. Jason Hughes, D-New Orleans, requires that information about emergency contraception be offered to survivors of sexual assault.

House Bill 142, sponsored by Rep. Laurie Schlegel, R-Jefferson, provides civil remedies for parents of minors exposed to online pornography or other explicit material when websites do not have adequate screening procedures.

House Bill 248 by Rep. Matthew Willard, D-New Orleans, removes Robert E. Lee Day and Confederate Memorial Day from the list of state public holidays. It also adds Mardi Gras and President’s Day to the state holiday calendar.

House Bill 516, sponsored by Landry, requires public high schools to adopt policies for pregnant or nursing students. You must take into account excused absences in the case of pregnancy and illness of the student’s child.

The new law gives students permission to breastfeed or express milk during school hours. In addition, schools that already offer childcare must allow students with children to enroll them in the childcare service.

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