LIVINGSTON - If an idea is already well-implemented, use it.
That was the strategy adopted by councilman Maurice 'Scooter' Keen and the clerk staff for the Livingston Parish Council when trying to draw up an ordinance for solicitation in Livingston Parish.
The group gathered pieces from various, similar rule sets in neighboring parishes and pieced together the beginning of a solicitation ordinance. The new law will provide more strict rules for solicitors, define who is exempt, and provide the Livingston Parish Sheriff's Office with the ability to enforce fines and citations for those who choose ignore the new guidelines.
Pieces needing correction before June 27th included:
- The definition of a 'peddler'
- Specific exemptions to the ordinance - particularly which groups
- Addition of a requirement for a 'sales tax letter' to be included in the permit process
- Confirmation from the sheriff regarding his office's cost of enforcing the program, so that the fee could be modified to a 'break-even' level for both the parish and the sheriff's office
Should the ordinance be enacted, the penalty section reads:
Any person perpetrating a nuisance as described and prohibited in this part, upon conviction thereof shall be punished by a fine of not more than five hundred dollars ($500.00), or confinement in the jail for not more than sixty (60) days, or both, at the discretion of the judge, and revocation of the peddlers permit for a period of two (2) years for each and every violation.
According to Sheriff's Deputy Alden Thomason, who testified before the committee, until a new law is passed all the sheriff's office can do is tell parties that 'they must leave.'
"At which point, they usually pack up and go somewhere else in the parish," Thomason added.
Thomason said that most calls the sheriff's office responds to are groups from other states who show up in large-capacity vehicles to try and sell subscriptions, food products, or goods in specific neighborhoods.
He added that some calls are about sales in retail locations, but that's up to the private business owners to enforce.
Keen said that many people in his district, which borders Denham Springs to the north and east, complain about cable companies entering their neighborhood - especially after hours.
While Keen wanted to include language that limited solicitations to specific times of the day, the committee balked at the idea at the meeting. Exemptions for scouts were also a big point of concern, to be included with charitable organizations, educational fundraisers, and politicians.
"I think politicians should have to pull a permit," Councilman Garry 'Frog' Talbert quipped.
The ordinance committee will present the updated ordinance, if ready, to the council for introduction. At which point, it will appear as a public hearing at the first regular council meeting in July.