La. House lawmakers frustrated about 'wasting time' in last days of session

La. House lawmakers frustrated about 'wasting time' in last days of session
Source: WAFB
Source: WAFB

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - With the clock ticking during the last week of session, some lawmakers felt they were wasting their time on unimportant issues.

Rather than debating the budget, state legislators spent a lot of time Monday on a bill renaming a school and another bill dealing with terrorism.

"Would you please stop bringing Israel and those other countries here so we can do our job?" Rep. Barbara Norton, D-Shreveport, asked Rep. Valarie Hodges, R-Denham Springs.

Hodges was attempting to amend a bill that blocks Louisiana from investing in companies that work with countries that back terrorism.

"Those guys in Washington are paid to do what you are trying to do. You're paid to do what needs to be done right here," Norton said, her voiced raised.

"This is the state's business and it's our business to protect our citizens," Hodges fired back.

Then, in the afternoon, lawmakers waded into what has become a surprise controversy of the session: a bill renaming the Louisiana School for Math, Science, and the Arts in Natchitoches, La. in honor of the late Jimmy Long.

Former Rep. Long was instrumental in the founding of the school and his brother Gerald Long, R-Winnfield, is currently a state senator.

However, alumni protested the name change, prompting lawmakers to spend house reaching some form a compromise. Under the agreement, the name would change, but the current name could be used in practice (on signs, stationary, etc.).

"I would ask that you consider passing this amendment and let's move on, because we've got budgets, we've other things to do here," pleaded Rep. Sam Jones, D-Franklin, after close to an hour of debate.

Lawmakers eventually passed the bill with a vote of 56-43.

Eventually, House lawmakers did get to work on the larger issues of the day, including passing three bills that serve as the cornerstone of criminal justice reform efforts.

Lawmakers have until Thursday June 8 to reach a compromise on the state budget.

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