A full day of action at the Capitol Wednesday often took on the qualities of the Twilight Zone.
In the House Municipal Affairs Committee, there was Shreveport Representative Thomas Carmody’s bill to require elections in order to remove military monuments.
“House Bill 71 is an effort to make sure that those persons and their sacrifices are not just randomly tossed away,” Carmody said of his bill, filed in response to the controversial removal of confederate monuments on-going in New Orleans.
“I think students should be paraded to these monuments,” Shreveport resident Brenda O'Brock said, while testifying in support of the bill, which advanced to the House floor.
The House Labor Committee turned down two bill: one requiring equal pay, the other duplicating federal law prohibiting employer retaliation against workers who talk about what they make.
“We’ve had this law – this federal law – on the books since 1935!” said the anti=pay secrecy measure's author, New Orleans Representative Helena Moreno.
Business group lobbyists testified that since few companies were even aware the federal law existed, enacting a state version would be unfair.
A senate version of equal pay legislation, combining the elements of both measures rejected in House committee less than two hours before, was approved by the Senate Labor.
“There is this entire argument of 'the market dictates rates',” explained that bill's author, New Orleans Senator J.P. Morrell. “With pay secrecy, all of the power rests in the employer to pay you what he wants to pay you, not what the market dictates.”
In House Judiciary, singer John Legend testified on behalf of criminal justice reform.
“Every decision we make with incarceration has a cost to it,” said Legend, who leads the “Free America” campaign, advocating for the types of criminal justice reform Louisiana is contemplating. “We have to realize the human toll that these policies have exacted.”
Some of the strangest testimony came in the final committee meeting of the day – Senate Education. Shreveport Senator John Milkovich, arguing for his bill to let each school district set its own education standards, went off on a lengthy rant about Bill Gates, state Education Superintendent John White, and Common Core.
“Common Core comes from the United Nations. It’s a federal agenda!” Milkovich thundered. “Common Core was intended to allow electrodes on kids, data-mining of parents. But it’s made a lot of money for its backers!”
“I appreciate your passion, John, but you're getting very red in the face,” Franklinto Senator Beth Mizell interrupted, clearly concerned.
“Yeah? So?, I am fired up!” Milkovich responded
Ultimately, the Senate Education Committee threw cold water on Milkovich's idea, deferring the bill.