Absent Democratic senators, judiciary committee approves gender-affirming healthcare ban for minors
BATON ROUGE, La. (KALB) - With Democratic Senate members absent under protest, HB648, a bill by State Rep. Gabe Firment (R-District 22) to ban gender-affirming healthcare for minors passed uncontested out of the Senate Judiciary A Committee.
The new committee vote came less than 24 hours after the full Senate revived it Thursday night in a 26-12 vote.
Last week, the measure was killed in the Senate Health and Welfare Committee after Chairman Fred Mills (R-District 22) joined Democrats to involuntarily defer the bill.
The hearing on the bill in Judiciary A wrapped up in under 10 minutes, with no testimony from either those in support or opposition. Testimony was limited to only the legalities of the bill, not the healthcare aspects.
The decision to hear the bill under a different committee led senators on the committee to boycott the hearing, including Central Louisiana State Sen. Jay Luneau (D-District 29). Luneau serves on both the Health and Welfare Committee and Judiciary A.
“This is not a court issue. This is a health issue. And so we disagree that it should have been done there,” said Luneau. “We thought that it was not germane to that committee. There had already been a legitimate hearing held where everybody was given their chance to voice their concerns, and a vote was taken and the committee had made a decision. So, it’s not what we do in the Senate. It’s not how we normally do business, and we did not think it was appropriate to participate in that.”
Luneau added that he believes the lack of germaneness could impact the bill’s future in the courts.
“This bill is destined to wind up in the courts. It’s gonna cost the state millions of dollars to litigate it before it’s all said and done, and that’s what we’re trying to avoid,” explained Luneau. “But anyway, it seems like we’re heading down that path anyway.”
Following the hearing, the ACLU of Louisiana released a statement on HB648, asking the full Senate to reject the “harmful bill.”
“This is a dark day in Louisiana. Lawmakers have turned their backs on democratic processes, science, parental rights, and the health and safety of children. Our hearts break for transgender youth in our state who have repeatedly been attacked by their own elected leaders for political gain.
We will never stop fighting alongside our partners to create a future where transgender youth, adults, and their families are safe and healthy in Louisiana. We call on senators to protect the rights of transgender children and their families and reject this harmful bill.”
The legislative session must end by June 8 at 6 p.m.
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