LA Lawmakers discuss hot topics with voters ahead of legislative session
POSTED: Wednesday, February 26, 2014 - 6:00am
UPDATED: Wednesday, February 26, 2014 - 1:27pm
Baton Rouge, LA (NBC33) — As the 2014 legislative session draws closer, local lawmakers are making sure everyone knows about the big issues.
Two Baton Rouge legislators held a meeting Tuesday night to talk about the biggest topics and answer questions from the public.
"When we go into the session, we look [for] and value the opinion of our constituency," explained State Rep. Regina Barrow (D-Baton Rouge).
Rep. Barrow and State Sen. Sharon Weston Broome (D-Baton Rouge) had a small but engaged audience. They both talked about the bills they' plan to prefile before the session. Sen. Broome said she planned to file a bill that would provide protection in housing for victims of domestic abuse.
"Sometimes," she mentioned, "when there's been an incident of domestic violence, the landlord might not be too excited to have that person in the house, right?"
Rep. Barrow said one of the bills that she is excited for would force drivers to pay for damage they cause to state property after an accident.
"And that actually frees up some additional dollars to deal with highways, infrastructure, some of the issues that we have in our community as it relates to highways," she stated.
The deadline for legislators to prefile bills is Friday. They have another month in which they may submit five other bills, but both women said they plan to prefile every bill they want debated.
The audience had ideas of its own for future bills, including raising the cost of a driver's license and making teenagers apply more often.
"When kids are getting in cars, it's like they don't understand it's a moving weapon," one man claimed. "And we're paying for it, all of us."
The lawmakers had an insurance team at the meeting to help people sign up under the Affordable Care Act. Only one woman tried, and the notorious Healthcare.gov website would not work. But an official from the state Department of Insurance said people need to keep trying to go online and get coverage.
"We believe that, what? If we have health insurance, that means we're going to have a healthy state, which means that that's also going to affect what?" asked Bernadette Williams, who works in the Office of Consumer Advocacy. "Our insurance premiums."
The deadline is March 31 for people to sign up for health care and not face monthly penalties, although several deadlines related to health insurance have been delayed since it was rolled out last fall.
Sen. Broome will have another public meeting at 6:00 p.m. Thursday at the Louisiana Technology Park, 7117 Florida Blvd.
Rep. Barrow will have a meeting at the same time on Thursday at Brusly Town Hall, 601 S. Vaughan Street.