- Associated Press - Monday, June 5, 2017

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - The Latest on a series of bills to change how Louisiana approaches criminal justice (all times local):

5:00 p.m.

Three of the most significant portions of Gov. John Bel Edwards‘ plan to overhaul the state’s criminal justice system are edging closer to becoming law after passing their most difficult test of the session.

The House on Monday advanced three Senate-backed bills to expand probation and parole opportunities and shrink sentences for some offenders, mainly those jailed for non-violent crimes. The amended bills move back to the Senate for approval before they can go to the governor’s desk.

Sen. Danny Martiny’s measure, which passed 74-31, was met with the most opposition, as it expands parole eligibility for some first-time violent offenders. The other bills decrease drug sentences and lower minimum sentences for habitual offenders.

If the measures all pass, Edwards expects Louisiana’s prison population fall by 10 percent over the next decade.

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2:40 p.m.

Louisiana inmates are closer to having their child support obligations suspended while they are behind bars.

On a second try, the Senate voted 26-11 Monday in favor of Rep. Joe Marino’s House-backed proposal, which had previously fallen five votes short. The amended bill is headed back to the House for approval before it can reach Gov. John Bel Edwards‘ desk.

The bill is part of a bipartisan effort to decrease Louisiana’s incarceration rate and lessen chances that inmates who leave prison reoffend.

Under Marino’s measure, child support duties would not accrue if the offender has been incarcerated for more than 180 days and does not have the means to pay the money.

Those child support obligations could be later extended by the same amount of time that the responsibility had been suspended.

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12:30 p.m.

Parts of Gov. John Bel Edwards‘ plan to drop Louisiana’s incarceration rate are headed to the governor’s desk, winning final passage in the Senate. But one measure stalled at least temporarily with senators.

The Senate voted Monday for proposals to reinvest 70 percent of any savings from the criminal justice redesign into anti-recidivism programs and to make it easier for ex-offenders to get occupational licenses.

The Senate also passed a bill to decrease offenders’ fines and court fees, sending it back to the House for approval before it can reach Edwards.

A separate measure to suspend child support obligations while an offender is behind bars fell five votes short, with 12 senators absent. The Senate is expected to reconsider the proposal.

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House Bills 116, 249, 489, 519, 680 and Senate Bills 139, 220, 221: www.legis.la.gov

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