Freshman state rep files range of legislative bills

EDITOR’S NOTE: Third in a series examining local lawmaker bills

Changes in how Louisiana pays for trials of capital defendants, elimination of carry permit fees for veterans and a method that would allow levee districts an easier path toward acquiring privately held lands are at the top of the legislative agenda for Rep. Tanner Magee, R-Houma, as he navigates his first year in Baton Rouge following a grueling special session.

“The biggest for me are things that will help bring in money and allow cost containment,” Magee said during a break in the midst of the current regular session. “These are reform bills that will help Louisiana to work for itself and help coastal restoration.”

A high priority bill for the attorney-legislator is HB-912, which is pending review by the Administration of Criminal Justice Committee.

The measure would require that before choosing to seek the death penalty, a district attorney must confer with the parish president of the place where the case has been brought, with the parish paying 30 percent of the representation costs for the defendant.

“They cost a fortune,” Magee said of capital cases, very few of which are brought by prosecutors in Terrebonne or Lafourche. “We cannot afford to bring them and they go on forever. I am not saying the state is not necessarily required to fund the defense, but the parish should pay 30 percent. Not only our tax dollars but our court costs get put into a capital defense fund and in Terrebonne and Lafourche we are under-writing other DAs. We should not have Terrebonne Parish paying for decisions made by the district attorney in Shreveport.”

Caddo Parish is known for rampant prosecution of death penalty cases, and is in one of three judicial districts that Magee says are most prone to seeking death. Their trends run counter to what many district attorneys in Louisiana and other states are doing, which is to cut down on the number of capital cases because of the length of time they take to prosecute and the costs.

An amendment to state laws regarding weapons is HB-304, which would waive the fee for carry permits for veterans of the U.S. armed forces. •

Rep. Tanner MageeCOURTESY