Louisiana Legislature 2019: Gleason

Hunter Lovell, LSU Manship School News Service
Rep. Walt Leger III proposed selling Team Gleason Foundation license plates to help fund the foundation created by a former New Orleans Saints player suffering from ALS.

A Senate committee gave the green light to create Team Gleason Foundation license plates to help former New Orleans Saints player Steve Gleason raise money to fight the neuromuscular disease ALS.

The Senate Committee on Transportation advanced the bill on Thursday, May 16.

Rep. Walt Leger III, D-New Orleans, sponsored the bill, which would require a $25 annual royalty fee that would be forwarded to the foundation.

The license plate would honor Gleason and help fund the foundation’s research, which seeks to “provide cutting-edge technology to people who are living with this horrible disease,” Leger said.

Gleason has been a vocal leader in the fight against ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, since his own diagnosis in 2011. He and his wife started the foundation to support those living with ALS.

Gleason was a safety for the Saints from 2000 to 2008 and was best known for his blocked punt against the Atlanta Falcons that led to a 23-3 victory in the first game in the Superdome after Hurricane Katrina.

In 2015, Gleason challenged Microsoft to develop a method for completely paralyzed individuals to control their wheelchairs with only their eyes. Not only did Microsoft help, but the tech giant created eye-tracking technology for all of its Windows 10 products.

Leger’s bill had already passed through the House without opposition and will move to a full Senate vote next.

The committee also advanced bills Thursday to create a “Combat Veteran” plate to honor veterans of the armed services and the “Spanish Heritage” license plate for members of the Canary Islanders and Los Islenos societies of Louisiana.

A bill sponsored by Rep. Phillip DeVillier, R-Eunice, drew skepticism from lawmakers before passing 4-2. It would authorize golf carts to cross certain highways in Church Point, La., between sunrise and sunset.

Some senators worried that allowing the golf carts on highways would create a safety hazard and set a precedent for more populated areas.

Sen. Sharon Hewitt, R-Slidell, offered a compromise, suggesting that the committee pass the bill and ask DeVillier to seek a DOTD study of any possible broader effects.

DeVillier said he had never intended for his bill to apply beyond Church Point. But he agreed to request the study.

“I know my community,” he said. “I haven’t heard of one incident. And we’re trying to do this the right way.”

Originally published May 16.