GOP lawmakers seek to keep Louisiana pastor from prosecution



BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Republican Louisiana lawmakers trying to chisel away at Gov. John Bel Edwards’ coronavirus restrictions are seeking to protect a Baton Rouge area pastor charged with violating those rules. The House criminal justice committee voted 6-3 for a bill by Republican Rep. Danny McCormick that would grant immunity from penalties and prosecution to anyone “assembling to exercise religious freedom” during a declared emergency. The bill is one of dozens filed in the special session that seek to undermine the Democratic governor’s coronavirus rules. McCormick’s bill would be retroactive to March 11. The move aims to end the prosecution of Tony Spell, a minister who violated Edwards’ prior bans on large gatherings.