LaBruzzo’s true intentions revealed

State Rep. John LaBruzzo’s proposal to randomly drug test welfare recipients passed the House Wednesday evening by a 61-27 margin. It now faces scrutiny in the Senate.

LaBruzzo, R-Metairie, stripped his proposal to “prioritize” the testing of pregnant women, which, though problematic for its own reasons, at least allowed LaBruzzo the room to claim his interest was in improving the health of women and infants. As suspected, this proposal is in line with LaBruzzo’s controversial legislative history around welfare.

In fact, Rep. Walker Hines, D-New Orleans, explained in an e-mail to The Lens that support for LaBruzzo’s effort grew after the new fiscal note attached to the bill indicated that the random drug testing effort would cost less than previously thought – mostly because it would lead to people losing their food-stamp benefits. Hines, who voted against the bill along with most of the New Orleans delegation, explained that the new fiscal note “reduced by almost 70%” the costs outlined by the note shown in committee.

“It also shows that 47% of those tested under Labruzzo’s [sic] new requirements will refuse treatment thus eliminating their FITAP (food stamps) benefits, saving the state money,” Hines wrote.

In other words, working people struggling with substance abuse issues – or guilty of the heinous crime of smoking pot now and again – will neither get treatment nor food assistance for their families.

“It’s a very complicated issue,” Hines said. “The constitutionality of the bill is still very much in question and will not be resolved.”

Louisiana government to get between you and your doctor

Yesterday, the Senate health and welfare committee passed a bill requiring doctors to perform ultrasounds on women seeking abortions. The new law was proposed by a Democrat, Sen. Sharon Weston Broome of Baton Rouge, but does not go as far she had hoped. To get the bill through committee, it was stripped of a provision that would have forced women to look at the ultrasound screen during the procedure. New language was added to give women the choice to refuse to see the results of the ultrasound.

Broome’s proposal also was not as extreme as those recently passed in Oklahoma. One is almost identical to Broome’s proposal except it does not give women the right to refuse ultrasound results. The second permits doctors to withhold information about potential birth defects and disabilities discovered while the child is in the womb from parents. You read that right.

Broome also voted last year to ban the adoption of foster children by gay couples.

No word on when Broome might propose allowing condom distribution programs for Louisiana public high schools. My guess is never.