- Associated Press - Monday, May 18, 2015

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - State senators have spurned a proposal to lift constitutional protections that keep an array of specially created funds shielded from budget cuts.

State Sen. J.P. Morrell, D-New Orleans, said when the state faces deep financial problems, all options for reworking state spending should be available to lawmakers.

“I think our constituents are tired of hearing our hands are tied,” Morrell told the Louisiana Senate Finance Committee.

But lawmakers worried that too much would be open for slashing, particularly the $3.6 billion public school financing formula.

The Finance Committee voted 8-2 against Morrell’s bill (Senate Bill 196), a constitutional amendment that would have required support from voters in the fall election if it had won passage from the full Legislature.

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The state Senate on Monday approved a bill that would allow some sheriff’s departments to automatically scan the license plates of drivers they pull over.

The proposals (Senate Bill 250), which supporters say will help police crackdown on uninsured motorists and car thieves, was approved on a 33-2 vote and now moves to the House for consideration.

As is, law enforcement officers have to manually run a check on a car’s license plate number. If the bill is approved, it would create a pilot program allowing a handful of sheriff’s departments to install equipment that would automatically scan the plates.

That would allow police to quickly find out if a car is stolen, said bill sponsor, Sen. Ronnie Johns, R-Lake Charles.

Tickets for failing to have insurance would be issued through the mail, he said. But before those tickets are issued, the local district attorney would first have to review the information and approve the issuance of a ticket, Johns said.

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Online:

Louisiana Legislature: www.legis.la.gov

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