Thursday, April 03, 2014

Everybody hates Badon's bill

State Rep. Austin Badon had to pull his bill to lessen penalties for marijuana possession from consideration today.  The bill was opposed by speakers from the ACLU as well as from the libertarian leaning conservative Pelican Institute on the grounds that it did not go far enough in the direction of full decriminalization.

This afternoon in a chat with the The Lens, Sen. JP Morrell also characterized Badon's bill as being a bit lukewarm for his liking
I think Rep. Badon's bill is well intended but it doesn't go far enough. The problem it poses, during this legislative session, is that it is a "compromise" that, if successful could lead people who are considering my bill to reconsider their support 
Morrell is supporting a Senate version that would reduce possession charges to misdemeanors. Under Badon's bill, marijuana possession would remain a felony.

But what really got to Badon was the opposition of the Louisiana Sheriffs' Association whose support he had counted on. One supposes, in fact, the bill was as moderate as it was specifically to court the Sheriffs.  They said no anyway
But, Badon deferred discussion on his bill Thursday -- and said he doubted he would bring it back up for discussion -- after Sheriffs' Association head Mike Ranatza testified against the bill in front of committee.

Badon said the LSA had indicated to him that they would remain neutral on the bill, as the Louisiana District Attorneys Association did Thursday; Ranatza would not comment on the blow up, but was overheard telling state Rep. Steve Pylant, R-Winnsboro, "I never spoke to him since last year" on the bill.
It's kind of weird that Badon would have been caught this flat-footed by the Sheriffs, even stranger that he would not have been in contact with them, even.  In any case, he made a point of  demonstrating frustration afterwards.
When asked to comment on Ranatza's statement that there had been no discussion, Badon told NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune, "B---s---...His leadership has to be called into question...You don't do that in this body."

Badon was seen avoiding Ranatza after the vote was taken, slipping out the back as he called, "Austin! Austin!" behind him. Badon said, "I'm not in a good frame of mind, Mike."
If only there were a safe, legal way available to help him calm down....

Oh well.  Morrell's Senate bill is still forthcoming. And the House will undoubtedly take this up again.  Part of me wonders if Badon might have decided to stall his own bill on purpose just to see if the Senate version offers some room to hammer out something better.  He clearly wasn't happy with this version.
Badon agreed with Esman and said he wished the bill went further, but he was forced to compromise: "It's a good bill. I wish it would do more but it is a consensus bill."

Badon was reluctant to postpone debate on his bill to lessen these penalties, however, and noted afterward he hadn't decided to bring it back up for another vote later: "I'm pretty livid. I don't want to make any rash decisions right now."
In other words, pulling it in the first place might not have been a "rash decision" either? Just speculating.

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