Gov. John Bel Edwards introduced Col. Lamar Davis as the new Louisiana State Police Superintendent in November 2020. (JC Canicosa/LA Illuminator)
On his first radio show after the 2021 Louisiana Legislative Session, Gov. John Bel Edwards announced that he had signed a bill increasing the number of days Louisianians will have to vote in presidential elections. The governor also said the delay in Census numbers means that a special legislative session for congressional redistricting won’t happen this year.
Edwards announced he’d signed a bill prohibiting those younger than 21 from vaping, and he expressed confidence in the superintendent of the Louisiana State Police even as he said officers’ actions in a now infamous brutality case diminishes the public’s trust in law enforcement.
Edwards hosts his statewide call-in radio show on WRKF 89.3 FM in Baton Rouge once a month. Here are the biggest news stories from Wednesdays’ show:
Redistricting won’t happen until 2022
Edwards said the Census Bureau won’t have the 2020 data ready for the states until Sept. 30, which is “much later… than we would need in order to have a redistricting special session” this calendar year. That’s why he said it’s likely that the special legislative session to address redistricting for congressional seats will be pushed back until 2022.
He said legislative leaders are targeting January or February for the special session, which means state lawmakers may be in session for up to four months next year including the 11-week regular legislative session that begins in March.
Extending early voting in Louisiana
Louisiana voters will have four extra days to cast their ballot in the next presidential election. Edwards said that signed into law House Bill 286 introduced by Rep. Frederick Jones (D-Bastrop).
The law extends the state’s early voting period from eight days to 12.
“We’re one of the few states in the nation this year that actually made it easier for people to vote and gave them more days to go out and vote early,” Edwards said.
Since the 2020 Presidential Election, at least 14 states enacted laws that will make it harder for their residents to vote. Many other states have proposed laws that would limit voting, but haven’t passed yet.
Louisianians 20-years old or younger aren’t allowed to vape
Louisianians 20-years old and younger will no longer be allowed to buy or use tobacco, nicotine or vaping products, according to House Bill 473 , which Edwards said he’d signed.
The governor said the law puts Louisiana back in sync with federal standards. President Donald Trump signed The Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act in 2019, which raised the federal minimum age for sale of tobacco products from 18 to 21.
‘There are certain people who just should not be in law enforcement’
Louisiana State Police Superintendent Col. Lamar Davis has made changes in leadership and policies in response to leaked body cam footage of troopers beating motorist Ronald Greene near Monroe in 2019, Edwards said. Edwards did not elaborate on what changes Davis has made.
Greene, a 49-year-old Black man, died in the custody of state police. Video footage of state troopers beating him and stunning him has provoked national outrage. Edwards put Davis in charge of State Police in October.
“That’s a very tragic situation,” Edwards said. “It’s one where the conduct of the troopers on the scene fell far below what is expected of them.”
Edwards — the son and brother of sheriffs — said the troopers’ actions make it harder for the public to trust police.
“There is nobody who is more offended by some of this misconduct than the people who are actually wearing the uniform,” he said. “Because it makes it harder for them to engage with the public and do their job.”
“There are certain people who just should not be in law enforcement,” the governor said.
Edwards said he is waiting to see the results of the investigation of Ronald Greene’s death, but said he’s “very impressed by the responsiveness and professionalism of Col. Davis and others within the state police to make sure that we’re making changes.”
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