Mizell’s bills protect history, cursive writing

Published 7:00 am Saturday, March 19, 2016

State Sen. Beth Mizell said the regular legislative session is off to a whirlwind start following an intense two-week special session to deal with the budget shortfall.

Mizell, who is a freshman senator, said even after the budget cuts and tax hikes, budgetary priorities are still out of order.

“Government will never have all the money it wants,” she said. “The areas of most need are not made priorities, and revenues raised don’t necessarily go to the area that makes sense to most of us. That’s the frustration.”

Now in regular session, Mizell said the senate has seen over 300 bills filed so far, though all the bills are still in committee. Bills must make it out of their respective committees before they are voted on by the full senate. She said the budget is still a big priority for her, although this year state lawmakers cannot touch the budget while in regular session.

“I think we’re going to have to streamline the tax process,” she said. “We’ve got to be more competitive. We’re giving away too much, but it’s not being given out across the board.”

Mizell is referring to the numerous tax loopholes that leave some industries with lucrative tax breaks while ignoring other industries altogether, creating a complex tax code that is at once high compared to other states but also riddled with loopholes.

For her part, Mizell has authored two bills. One, the Heritage Protection Bill, will establish a seven-member board that would have a say whether cities and organizations can move or change things of historic value — including statues, street names and anything else deemed historically important.

This year, the city of New Orleans made national news when the city council voted to remove all Confederate statues from their existing spaces and relocate them to either a museum or an historic park — the exact location has not yet been determined.

Mizell said the state board would be all-volunteer, and they would take into consideration the intent of those who created the historic objects and the needs of future generations in addition to popular current sentiment.

“The role of the board would be to look beyond the mood of the moment,” she said.

Mizell said historic artifacts, whether or not they’re popular, serve a purpose by being in public.

“It’s a tremendously teachable moment,” she said. “Whether you like them or not.”

She added that historical artifacts make up the character of a city and a state, and by losing them, areas risk losing their unique heritage.

Another bill Mizell has pre-filed would require cursive handwriting to be taught in Louisiana schools.

“They don’t teach cursive anymore,” she said. “I believe it’s something children need to be able to do. I don’t like multiplication, but it’s something they need to learn.”

She added that if kids can’t read cursive, they will lose the ability to read historical documents.

“Children can’t read the (original) Constitution,” she said. “They can’t read a letter my grandmother wrote, if they can’t read cursive.”