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Briefs: Louisiana hate-crimes law would include police

Louisiana: Senate kills LGBT hiring bill

BATON ROUGE, La. — The Louisiana Senate has killed a New Orleans senator’s bid to ban employment discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, with no debate from lawmakers against the bill.

The chamber voted 25-8 against advancing the measure to the House for debate. Only one Republican senator voted Tuesday in support of the bill.

Democratic Sen. Troy Carter’s proposal would have applied to public and private business, but exempt churches and religious organizations. Gov. John Bel Edwards has enacted similar anti-discrimination provisions for state agencies and contractors.

Carter told his colleagues there was no “hidden message” in the bill and asked them to focus on its sole purpose of extending fair employment opportunities.

The bill continually faced strong opposition from business groups and conservative Christian organizations.

—Associated Press


Ohio: Reducing early voting ruled unconstitutional

COLUMBUS, Ohio — A law trimming early voting in Ohio is unconstitutional and cannot be enforced, a federal judge ruled Tuesday in a case involving a series Republican-backed voting changes in the presidential battleground state.

The state’s Democratic Party was among the plaintiffs that sued Ohio’s elections chief over the voting rules.

The challenged policies included the elimination of a week of early voting in which Ohioans could also register to vote — a period known as golden week. Democrats alleged the changes disproportionately burdened black voters. The state argued the changes were minor and that Ohio residents had many opportunities to vote.

U.S. District Judge Michael Watson sided with Democrats on their golden-week claim, ruling that the cut violates the Voting Rights Act and voters’ equal protection rights.

—Associated Press


Virginia: Justices hand GOP a loss on voting map

The U.S. Supreme Court threw out a challenge to a judge-drawn voting map that might help Democrats pick up a seat from Virginia in the U.S. House.

The unanimous ruling Monday said the state’s Republican congressional delegation couldn’t press an appeal seeking to reinstate an earlier map drawn by the state legislature. That map helped Republicans capture eight of Virginia’s 11 U.S. congressional districts in the 2012 and 2014 elections.

In ordering the new map, a lower court said race played too much of a role when the legislature drew the boundaries for the 3rd District, held by Democratic Rep. Bobby Scott. Mapmakers consolidated black, mostly Democratic voters into Scott’s district so that it stretched from north of Richmond southeast to Norfolk, about 100 miles away. That improved Republican prospects in neighboring districts.

Virginia’s Democratic Attorney General Mark Herring didn’t appeal that ruling, but the state’s Republican representatives took the matter to the Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court ruling said the Republican representatives lacked enough of a stake in the litigation to give them the right to appeal.

—Bloomberg News


Louisiana: Hate-crimes law would include police

BATON ROUGE, La. — Louisiana is poised to become the first state in the nation to expand its hate-crime laws to protect police, firefighters and emergency medical crews — a move that could stir the national debate over the relationship between law enforcement and minorities.

If signed by the governor, the new law would allow prosecutors to seek greater penalties against anyone convicted of intentionally targeting first responders because of their profession.

Existing hate-crime laws provide for larger fines and longer prison terms if a person is targeted because of race, gender, religion, nationality, sexual orientation or affiliation with certain organizations.

The state House unanimously supported extending the laws, and the bill gained overwhelming support in the state Senate. The measure met no objection from committees in either chamber.

Gov. John Bel Edwards, a Democrat whose grandfather, father and brother have served as sheriffs, was expected to sign the bill into law this week, said his spokeswoman, Shauna Sanford.

—Associated Press

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