Anthony Harvey  /  AP file
Britney Spears during her appearance on MTV TRL UK in London, early May.
By Reporter
NBC News
updated 5/13/2004 8:22:34 AM ET 2004-05-13T12:22:34

Memo to Britney Spears: Make sure to forget those low-rise jeans next time you fly home to Louisiana. 

And Ludacris, why don’t you pull up your pants and cinch them with a belt before you take the stage in Baton Rouge.

Otherwise, you might both get a ticket.

That’s what the Louisiana House Criminal Justice Committee approved last week.  The new proposed bill would crack down on anyone who wears low-slinging, pants-sagging, belly-baring, underwear-peeking pants. It faces the full State House sometime within the next two months.

"Baggy Pants Bill"
House Bill 1626, also known as the “Baggy Pants Bill” states: “It shall be unlawful for any person to appear in public wearing his pants below his waist and thereby exposing his skin or intimate clothing.”

State Representative Derrick Shepherd’s bill would make any violator subject to three eight-hour days of community service and up to a fine of $175.

That means the local teens on the basketball court are going to have to keep their pants up, too.

Shepherd told the New Orleans Times-Picayune, "There's a way to shoot hoops professionally. You don't have to shoot hoops with your pants below your waist."

He thinks the waistline location might even improve their behavior.  

"Hopefully, if we pull up their pants," he said, "we can lift their minds while we're at it."

Local councilman Glenn Green said, “It’s getting to the point where these young men and women are just getting offensive with their underwear showing, the cracks between their buttocks showing…their g-strings showing. It’s hard to legislate morality; you can’t really do that. It just comes to a point of plain old bad taste and it’s just gotta stop.”

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Executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union's Louisiana chapter, Joe Cook, does not think the bill will likely pass the full House floor. He said the Supreme Court doesn’t usually prohibit obscene behavior under the First Amendment.

“It infringes on young people’s freedom of expression and their privacy rights. The zone of privacy they have and the right to be left alone,” Cook said.

So, what about your local plumber?

"What about a woman who is wearing a bathing suit under her garment or she has something like a sarong wrapped around her and it's below her waist?" Cook said. "I can think of a lot of workers, plumbers, who are working and expose their buttocks and the beginning of the crack of their anus."

The Times-Picayune notes that this is the fourth effort in five years to legislate jeans-wearing etiquette state-wide in Louisiana.

$500 penalty in one small town
But, one small town has been mandating it locally for years.

In the town of Opelousas, wearing saggy pants is considered a misdemeanor and carries a maximum penalty of a $500 fine and up to 6 months in prison.

Captain Ronnie Trahan with the Opelousas Police Department said, “The problem that we’re having is not with individuals exposing their underwear. We had a problem with individuals exposing more than their underwear.”

And down the bayou in the town of Westwego, a city councilman in 2002 attempted to bar low-riding jeans from public buildings.  (The city attorney warned the city would interfere with freedom of speech and would not meet federal standards, so the councilman later ditched the proposal.)

As for Britney and Ludacris, they may be safe to hang in Louisiana for a few more days. The full Louisiana State House hasn’t passed the bill yet. They plan to take it up sometime before the end of session on June 21.

Bethany Thomas is the NBC News Dallas Bureau coordinator.

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