8 THINGS TO KNOW ABOUT THE 2018 LEGISLATIVE SESSIONS

Senator JP Morrell’s Legislative Wrap Report

 

With the end of my final term as state senator nearing, I decided to go big before going home during this year’s legislative sessions. I authored 54 bills to tackle the toughest issues, and I helped lead negotiations to avoid the disastrous fiscal cliff— keeping our schools and hospitals funded. 

The achievements listed below were only possible due to the support of the many activists and community leaders who worked tirelessly to make them happen — thank you. 

It’s an honor to serve. 

Sincerely, 
JP

 
 

1.  AVOIDING THE FISCAL CLIFF: FUNDING FOR SCHOOLS, HOSPITALS & PUBLIC SAFETY 

Once again, the state faced a fiscal cliff and the Legislature was forced into three special sessions to avoid it. As Chair of the Senate Revenue and Fiscal Affairs Committee, I led negotiations to finally stabilize the budget, securing funding for our local colleges, universities, and hospitals — and making sure capitol priorities happened in the New Orleans area.

 
 
 

2.  DISMANTLING INSTITUTIONAL RACISM: UNANIMOUS JURIES

Following the Civil War, Louisiana held a constitutional convention to “establish the supremacy of the white race” and to exclude African Americans. The current practice of non-unanimous juries has its roots in this racist past and was intended to dilute the ability of African Americans from having a jury of their peers. My proposal for a constitutional amendment to require unanimous juries for felonies passed, and now you, the voter, will decide if it becomes law. When it does, this will be one of the greatest civil rights accomplishments of our time — so remember to get out and vote “yes” on November 6th.

 
 
 

3.  SUPPORTING HARD-WORKING FAMILIES: EARNED INCOME TAX CREDIT

It’s our job to help families trying to make ends meet, especially when they have to bear a disproportionate portion of the sales tax burden. It wasn’t easy in the Republican-dominated Legislature, but we were able to increase tax refunds for low-income working families with children by an extra $21 million per year.

 
 
 

4.  INCREASING PROTECTIONS FOR SURVIVORS OF SEXUAL ASSAULT & DOMESTIC VIOLENCE

In recent years, I’ve helped pass historic legislation to increase protections for the survivors of sexual assault and domestic violence — positioning Louisiana as a national leader in this area. We carried on that legacy this session with several of my bills passing to provide even more protections, including: 

  • prohibiting abusers and those under active protective orders from possessing guns
  • creating the Louisiana Sexual Assault Oversight Commission
  • codifying that a person in police custody is incapable of consenting to sexual conduct
  • requiring a delay for slander and defamation lawsuits brought against accusers of sexual assault
 
 
 

5.  RESTRUCTURING THE SEWERAGE & WATER BOARD

Last year’s August floods revealed that the Sewerage and Water Board is, to put it plainly, a giant dumpster fire. So in order to hold the S&WB accountable, I authored legislation to return City Council representation back to the board.

 
 
 

6.  PROTECTING HOMEOWNERS FROM SKYROCKETING TAXES

Exacerbated by Short Term Rentals, the demand for housing in New Orleans is exploding, causing a huge increase in property tax valuations — upwards of 300% in some neighborhoods. So I authored legislation to phase in new assessments, giving more time to longtime homeowners who otherwise might suddenly be forced out of their homes through no fault of their own.

 
 
 

7.  ENDING POLICY OF BOOTING CARS

The City of New Orleans established a policy in which a car could be booted after just one unpaid parking ticket, placing a great financial burden on citizens. So I authored legislation to fix the problem. With a light shining on the issue, the City Council then took up the matter and passed an ordinance -modeled on my legislation- to undo the policy.

 
 
 

8.  ENSURING PATIENTS GET CHEAPER MEDS

Too many New Orleanians go without their medications because of the high costs. Part of the problem is that some pharmacists are prohibited from telling patients about cheaper options. My legislation to fix that passed. People deserve to save money when possible, it’s only fair.