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Record-Labeling Bill Sent to Louisiana Governor; He’s Undecided

July 8, 1990

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) _ Records with themes such as rape, drug abuse and satanism would have to carry warning labels, and minors would not be allowed to buy them, under a bill headed for the governor’s desk.

The bill passed both chambers with more than the two-thirds vote needed to override a veto, but the Legislature’s regular session ends Monday night and Gov. Buddy Roemer has 20 days to decide on the bill after it reaches his desk.

Karen Knowles, head of the Louisiana Music Commission which promotes the state’s music industry, said she was concerned by the bill’s potential economic effect. Some record industry leaders have warned of a possible boycott if the bill becomes law.

Knowles said she talked about the bill with Roemer but he didn’t say whether he’d sign it or veto it. Thomas Casey, Roemer’s executive counsel, said the bill would be studied carefully before Roemer makes a decision. Roemer said last week he would ″find it difficult″ to sign a bill providing criminal penalties for objectionable records.

If Roemer vetoes it after the session ends Monday, the only way legislators could override the veto would be by calling themselves into special session.

Under the legislation, record manufacturers would be required to label recordings with objectionable lyrics. Retailers would be subject to misdemeanor criminal penalties for selling labeled recordings to those under 18.

In May, the recording industry unveiled a voluntary labeling system it hoped would halt mandatory labeling campaigns in some states. Labeled records already are in stores, said Mike Cutshaw, an attorney representing the National Association of Recording Merchandisers.

Jay Berman, president of the Recording Industry Association of America, said at the time that most of the 21 state legislatures considering such bills had backed down since the industry announced its plans.

Last week, Capitol Records promised to provide legal help to store operators threatened with arrest for selling its recordings that bear labels warning consumers of sexually explicit lyrics.

Cutshaw said a labeling law would be a ″nightmare″ for retailers that wouldn’t keep objectionable records away from young people.

Retailers also would have to check identification cards. Furthermore, Louisiana law says a married person, even if underage, is not a minor. ″What are you going to do then? Ask for a marriage license?″ Cutshaw said.

Record manufacturers and distributors also could decide simply not to market their products in Louisiana if the legal risk is too high, Cutshaw said.

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