Droopy-Pants Law Fails in Louisiana; Similar Measure Gutted in Florida

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On April 22, a bill that would have ended the scourge of droopy pants throughout Louisiana failed in the state senate.  This was lamented by the bill’s sponsor, Sen. Derrick Shepherd (D-New Orleans), who said the state should take a stand against low pants and other clothing felonies.  "The shorts are getting shorter, the tops are getting smaller, the cleavage is getting larger," he warned his colleagues.  (And, presumably, the pants are getting lower.)  "When are we going to say, ‘Enough is enough’?"’ 

How about now, was the answer of the Senate’s Judiciary Committee, which killed the measure.  Committee member Sen. Yvonne Dorsey said she did not like baggy droopy pants any more than Shepherd does, but felt that people should have the right to wear them.

This was Shepherd’s second attempt, and second failure, to raise standards and waistlines throughout the state.  As I previously reported, at least three Louisiana towns have passed ordinances against pants that droop or sag excessively, and the AP stated that about a dozen either have such laws or are considering them.  But with the failure of Shepherd’s bill, most of his state will continue to be overrun with underpants.

A similar measure appears to be on the ropes in Florida, where Sen. Gary Siplin, who we last saw leaping a fence to escape a difficult press conference, introduced a similar bill last year.  SB 302, titled "Public School Dress Requirements," passed the Florida Senate in March and is now before the House.  Siplin seems to be trying a different tactic, since his bill was directed at the underwear itself as opposed to the pants that may expose them:

Section 1. Exposure of undergarments.–
      (1) A student may not wear and expose below-waist underwear while on the grounds of a public school in a manner that exposes or exhibits one’s covered or uncovered sexual organs in a vulgar and indecent manner.

This version might need some tweaking, since as drafted it doesn’t require pants to be worn at all, as long as one’s underwear does not indecently exhibit one’s sexual organs — although even that is apparently okay as long as one’s underwear is at or above one’s waist.  My guess is that we would see some extremely interesting protest undergarments in Florida if this bill passed.

Sadly, an amendment to the bill offered by two Republican senators did not have enough support to pass.  That amendment would have clarified that the low-pants ban would "not apply to students who are studying refrigerator repair or plumbing."

While the bill is still on schedule in the Florida House (under the more descriptive title "Indecent Wearing of Below-Waist Underwear"), it appears to have been gutted by the committee to which it was assigned there. Without much comment, the committee reported the bill "favorably," but only after adopting a "substitute strike everything amendment" that replaced all the text.  The new text does not appear on the website, but would apparently refer the matter to local school boards, directing them to establish "dress-related requirements."

Given that state or local legislative bodies in at least five states (Florida, Virginia, Missouri, Louisiana, and Georgia) have now taken up this important issue, hopefully Congress will start work on a federal measure to standardize waistlines across the country.

Link: Florida House (Committee Analysis of HB 335)
Link: Orlando Sentinel