News & Politics

One Louisiana Lawmaker Wants to Regulate the Cajun Navy

The damage estimates from the Louisiana floods earlier this month were astonishing: 20,000 people evacuated over 20 parishes, 13 dead, over 146,000 homes affected. As extensive as the devastation has been, we’ve seen some heartwarming and inspiring stories from Louisiana as well.

By now you’ve heard about the Cajun Navy. Last week, Liz Sheld introduced you to an admirable group of individuals who banded together to do what the government couldn’t (or wouldn’t) do in response to the flooding in and around Baton Rouge. The volunteers of the Cajun Navy risk their lives to save lives, and for that they truly are modern heroes.

But now there’s a problem — one we probably should have seen coming from a mile away. One state lawmaker wants to get red tape involved in the Cajun Navy and its efforts.

Republican State Senator Jonathan “J.P.” Perry of the Vermilion-Lafayette area said he is working on legislation that could require training, certificates and a permit to allow these Good Samaritans to get past law enforcement into devastated areas.

In a radio interview on News Talk 96.5 KPEL in Lafayette, Sen. Perry said it comes down to two main points for law enforcement officials.

“At the end of the day, there are going to be two things that are going to be the hurdle when you approach it from the state’s standpoint,” Sen. Perry said. “Liability is going to be number one for them. They don’t want the liability of someone going out to rescue someone and then not being able to find them, and secondly, there’s a cost.”

Perry continues by saying the liability issue could be solved by something like a waiver that boaters sign prior to a natural disaster.

So it sounds like Perry wants the state government to get their hands all in the Cajun Navy’s affairs. But don’t get him wrong: he backtracked clarified his position later on. He’s not trying to regulate them; he wants to free them up to do what they do — by requiring costly training and licensing, of course.

“The intent of what I want to do is to completely un-regulate it to where our volunteers are not stopped from going out,” Perry said in the video. “What’s happening is, it’s all getting twisted around like I’m trying to put a fee on it. I’m trying to tax it. I’m trying to require a permit.”

What could go wrong? Government regulation has never made citizens’ lives difficult. Their yoke is easy, and their burden is light. (Wait — that’s not government. That’s Jesus who said that.)

Both Good Samaritans and legal experts note that this type of government involvement just isn’t necessary.

“If you ask anyone of those people (who were rescued by citizens), I don’t think they cared if we were first responders or volunteers. It didn’t matter,” Jared Serigne, Producer of Louisiana Sportsman TV , told Tucker.


“We don’t need any legislation. The law is clear. If a person has a boat and he or she wants to come to an emergency situation and rescue folks they are protected under Louisiana law from their ordinary negligence,” explained attorney Chick Foret. He also said he believes law enforcement should be able to monitor and control a scene.

I’m sure Senator Perry has the best of intentions. I’m certain he’s not trying to shake down these brave people who are simply trying to help their neighbors in the best way they know how. The problem is that adding bureaucracy and red tape to the Cajun Navy will burden the volunteers and put a damper on the spirit of innovation and selflessness that has made their story so inspiring.

Image via YouTube screen capture