BATON ROUGE—Over 15 bills were heard yesterday during the first day of committee hearings for the special legislative session on crime. In order to fast track their passage, House Republicans suspended rules on proposed bills that could potentially add millions to Louisiana’s state budget. The majority of the bills heard are seeking to overturn key components of 2017’s historical criminal legal reforms, which has saved taxpayers over $152.7 million since its inception. 

Stephanie Willis, policy strategist at the ACLU of Louisiana, testified in opposition at two of these hearings. She spoke in opposition of House Bill 2, which provides civil immunity for law enforcement officers. Willis shared, “The bill as it's written states that it would provide protections for discretionary acts. This is something that we already have. We do not need it.”

Willis also testified at the hearing for House Bill 5. This bill would add illegal use of a weapon to the list of violent crimes. The designation would likely mean a longer prison sentence and little to no chance for people to receive probation. 

Willis testified, “This is going to be extremely costly. I would bear caution to that. There's nothing that states just because we are extending the period of time in which individuals are spending in prison, that it's not going to happen again.”

According to the Legislative Fiscal Office, this proposed bill would cost an additional $115.5 million 0ver a 10-year period. 

Ultimately, both bills passed committee hearings to be voted on the House floor.