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The new Louisiana laws most likely to affect you

The Louisiana State House in Baton Rouge.
Kezia Setyawan
The Louisiana State House in Baton Rouge.

This story was originally published by the Louisiana Illuminator.

Many of the laws that took effect Jan. 1 in Louisiana appear unlikely to encroach upon your everyday life at first glance. But closer examination reveals trending political attitudes in the state, cover matters such as fiscal policy, health care access and public safety.

Arguably the most publicized new state law for 2024, a prohibition is now in place against gender-affirming care for trans minors in Louisiana. The restriction will most likely lead to a court challenge as it has in other states that have put similar bans in place. Courts have blocked enforcement of the laws while the cases are litigated.

Interestingly, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine, a Republican, rejected a bill last week that would have stopped doctors and other providers from administering transgender care.

“These are gut-wrenching decisions that should be made by parents and should be informed by teams of doctors who are advising them,” DeWine said. “These are parents who have watched their children suffer for years, and have real concerns their children would not survive without it… Families are basing their decisions on the best medical advice they can get.”

A veto attempt from the Ohio Legislature is anticipated, although some Republican lawmakers have come out against the measure.

What follows is a brief overview of the most notable statutes that became official at the start of 2024.

Fertility preservation

Louisiana will require many more health insurance plans to cover fertility preservation for cancer patients and others undergoing medical treatments that could render them unable to conceive a child.

A new state law mandates health insurance companies help pay for egg and sperm extraction as well as storage for up to three years. It applies to new health care plans starting this year and for existing health care plans next year.

However, health insurance plans aren’t required to pay for in vitro fertilization or freezing fertilized eggs, which some doctors believe improves viability. Rep. Paula Davis, R-Baton Rouge did not include such measures in her legislation because they drew opposition from the Catholic Church and conservative Christian groups in 2022.

The new law also allows churches and church-run schools to apply for exemptions to the coverage mandate if fertility preservation conflicts with their religious beliefs.

The mandate also doesn’t apply to Medicaid or health insurance plans purchased through the state health care exchange.

Centralized parish sales tax filing

You won’t notice any difference when you’re at the cash register, but a new system is now in place that proponents say will make life easier for retailers that do business in multiple parishes. Instead of remitting sales taxes in each individual parish, they’ll now file with the Louisiana Uniform Local Sales Tax Board.

Prior to this law taking effect, Louisiana relied on more than 50 different tax collecting agencies including individual parishes, cities, sheriffs, police juries, school boards and other government entities. The new law only applies to sales taxes, meaning those local entities will still handle property taxes and other collections.

State Police traffic stops

Louisiana law requires all police departments to track and report data on traffic stops, including the number of people stopped, their race, gender and age. An exception to the law is in place for law enforcement agencies that have adopted policies to prevent racial profiling.

Rep. Denise Marcelle, D-Baton Rouge, obtained approval for a change to the law that exempts Louisiana State Police from the exception. State troopers and agency policy have been under closer scrutiny since an Associated Press investigation into the May 2019 death of Ronald Greene. Journalists revealed in 2022 that State Police sat on body camera footage and other details of the Black motorist’s death while in the custody of white troopers after a vehicle pursuit.

Pet insurance

A new law sets up the pet insurance industry in Louisiana and requires carriers to provide detailed information about the policies they offer and what’s covered. It includes whether the pet insurer will reduce coverage or increase premiums depending on the policyholder’s claim history or the covered pet’s age, or if the insurer excludes pets from coverage because of certain health conditions.

Offshore safety Persons in the oil and gas industry being transported offshore by air must now start wearing life jackets equipped with personal locator beacons. Rep. Troy Romero, R-Jennings, gained unanimous support for his legislation to assist rescue efforts in the event of helicopter accidents in Gulf waters.

Juvenile crime victims

A new law clears the way for victims or their family to access juvenile court proceedings, which are currently held in confidence. The legislation from Rep. Stephanie Hilferty, R-New Orleans, applies to crimes of violence and second and subsequent felony offenses. It allows courts to provide online video access, where available.

Critics of the measure are concerned word of mouth from those who observe juvenile court proceedings could lead to retaliations.

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