HB 25, HB 1357, and HB 1358 all passed the Louisiana House today by large margins. HB 25 passed by a vote of 83 Yeas, 11 Nays, 10 Absent. HB 1357 passed by a vote of 77 Yeas, 18 Nays, 9 Absent. And HB 1358 passed by a vote of 70 Yeas, 17 Nays, 17 Absent. In short, it is a disappointing day. But all is not lost. These bills move next to consideration in the Senate where those of us who oppose these bills can press our arguments again and more forcefully, and hope for a more receptive audience. If you want to see how your legislator voted on these measures, click here for HB 1357, here for HB 1358, and here for HB 25. On HB 1358, which was the first of the three to be debated on the Floor by the legislature, Rep. Damon Baldone, a Democrat from Houma, proposed an Amendment to the legislation that read as follows:
On page 2, after line 16, insert the following:This amendment was defeated by a vote of 52 Nays, 43 Yeas, and 9 Absent.
"(3) The person was transporting the alien in the course of rendering humanitarian in the form of food, shelter, clothing, medical aid, educational services, or religious services."
My Representative, Walker Hines, I am pleased to report, voted against HB 1357 and HB 1358. Unfortunately, he also voted for HB 25, though that legislation was amended in such a way that gave local law enforcement a bit of a loophole to ignore it. I can't say that I'm pleased that Hines voted for HB 25, which amounts to ethnic profiling as I see it; but he deserves much credit for being one of the few to oppose the other two bits of legislation that were really the pieces of legislation that sought to criminalize charity.
In his defense of the bills, Rep. Geymann said that the language did not prohibit acts of kindness and good samaritan behavior; but the fact that he and others refused to back up that claim by supporting Baldone's Amendment specifying this for the record, is a testament to his deceptiveness and his lies on the subject.
And I have to admit to being stunned that, when questioned about it, Rep. Geymann said point blank that this legislation did not carry any punitive action against the migrants themselves, as if that somehow salvaged the integrity of the measure, but that it sought specifically to target citizens!!!!!. In essence, he was implying that illegal immigrants caught being transported or sheletered by a citizen neighbor would be treated courteously and left to go freely about their business, but that the citizen doing the transporting and sheltering would be the ones subject to criminal consequences. What kind of bass-ackwards rationale is that?!?!
Other legislators who are in my good book for opposing HB 1357 and HB 1358 include:
Walt Leger, III from District 91 (Uptown New Orleans). A good Social Justice Catholic and Jesuit Graduate. A true man for others. He also voted against HB 25.
Juan LaFonta from District 96 (Gentilly), who actually opposed all three measures.
Charmaine Marchand from District 99 (Bywater/9th Ward), who also opposed all three bills.
Karen Carter Peterson from District 93 (CBD/French Quarter/Marigny/Treme), who also voted against all three bills.
Legislators in the dog house for supporting all three bills and for voting against Baldone's Amendment:
Nick Lorusso from District 94 (Lakeview). And he's a Jesuit Graduate, too. Very disappointing that he would vote to criminalize basic Christian charity, to dismiss the Catholic Church's clear position against these measures on moral grounds, and to not even support an Amendment that protects humanitarian good deeds.
Kirk Talbot from District 78 in the River Ridge/Harahan region of Jefferson Parish.
UPDATE: Wednesday, May 14, 2008, 12:31PM: Walt Leger, III, emailed me to inform me that his vote on HB 25 was incorrectly registered. He was away from his voting machine with the visiting delegation from the New Orleans Mayor's Office and City Council (it was New Orleans Day at the Legislature) when the vote on HB 25 was called and so he manually indicated his vote to the Clerk, which was incorrectly recorded. His actual vote was a "NAY" on HB 25. The official record should correct this. Good for him! I've edited my posting and the tallies accordingly.