There are two bills under consideration by the Louisiana legislature which have caught my interest. House Bill 1626 “prohibits wearing pants below the waist.” For obvious reasons, this bill has attracted the attention of people all over the country, and they are laughing at us. I even heard a segment on NPR this morning, during their regular half-past-the-hour humorous news spot. There’s been a lot of writing about this bill, mostly heaping scorn upon it, which it certainly deserves. (For some reason about half the articles refer to it as House Bill 1640, which is incorrect.)
Here’s the text of the bill as it now stands:
To enact R.S. 14:106.3, relative to offenses affecting the general peace and order; to create the crime of wearing pants in public below the waist; to provide for penalties; and to provide for related matters.
Be it enacted by the Legislature of Louisiana:
Section 1. R.S. 14:106.3 is hereby enacted to read as follows:
§106.3. Illegally wearing pants below waist in public; penalty
A. It shall be unlawful for any person to appear in public wearing his pants below his waist and thereby exposing his skin or intimate clothing.
B. Whoever violates the provisions of this Section shall be fined not more than five hundred dollars or imprisoned for not more than six months, or both.
Patently ridiculous. It would be funny, except we’ve got serious problems in Louisiana, and our legislators should be working on solutions, not providing comic relief for the rest of the county.
But not everyone is the legislature is goofing. There’s another bill, House Bill 1605, which is positive and encouraging. It eases the requirements for minor political parties to achieve state recognition. Parties would need only 1,000 registered voters to be recognized. Plus some paperwork would have to be filled out, and there’s a $1,000 fee. Recognition means that the party’s name would actually appear on voter registration forms and on ballots.
Of course, this much worthier bill isn’t getting nearly as much attention as the “saggy pants” bill, although the Times-Picayune did write a good article about it.