A little more than a month remains before lawmakers kick off the regular legislative session at the Louisiana Capitol on April 10, debating issues ranging from abortion to taxes and libraries. The Reveille is chronicling some of the laws that have been filed so far.
Investigating websites publishing materials ‘harmful to minors’
State Rep. Laurie Schlegel, a Republican from Metairie, proposed a law that would allow the state’s attorney general to investigate alleged failures of websites that distribute “material harmful to minors” to age-check users.
Under the proposed law, websites may be fined up to $5,000 for each day they’re found in violation. An additional $10,000 penalty may be requested by the attorney general and imposed by the court for each violation the company is found responsible for.
The money would go to the Department of Justice “to fund the investigation of cyber crimes involving the exploitation of children,” the law proposes.
The law defines material harmful to minors to include content that depicts, describes or represents actual or simulated sexual contact and “lewd exhibition of the genitals,” among other things. To be in violation, the material would have to lack “serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value as to minors,” the proposed law says.
Schlegel wrote the law that became active earlier this year requiring pornography websites to process state identification from users to ensure they’re 18 or over.
Rolling back corporate taxes
A bill by state Sen. R. L. “Bret” Allain II, a Republican from Franklin, would repeal the corporate franchise tax.
The corporate franchise tax is a tax imposed by the state on corporations doing business in the state. This tax applies to all corporations that receive income from Louisiana sources, regardless of profit.
If passed, the tax repeal would go into effect at the beginning of 2025.
Another bill, also proposed by Allain, would lower corporate income tax rates and change the corporate tax brackets. The two brackets would be below and above $50,000, instead of an additional bracket that currently exists for taxable income over $150,000.
Extending the time to charge juveniles as adults
Another law, proposed by Schlegel and state Rep. Stephanie Hilferty, a Republican from New Orleans, would extend the time allowed to consider whether to charge a juvenile as an adult.
The proposed law would give prosecutors 60 days, instead of the current 30, to make the choice for 15- to 17-year-olds facing certain charges.
Schlegel told 4WWL that “we have to make sure juveniles that do horrific crimes are being charged as an adult.” The lawmakers told the news outlet they believe the increased timeline would give prosecutors more time to screen cases.
Some advocates oppose the practice of trying teenagers as adults entirely, saying it puts them at heightened risk of abuse and suicide and limits the possibility of rehabilitation.
“The juvenile justice system, designed to emphasize rehabilitation over punishment, is better suited to meet youth’s needs,” said the Juvenile Law Center, a nonprofit law firm for children.