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Capitol Access
3:00 am
Tue March 10, 2015

Michelangelo Beside the Mississippi

Some of the renovations going on at the Capitol are obvious, as chain-link fencing and mounds of dirt block access and parking. For others, you have to look up — way up.

From the floor of the House chamber, turn back toward the balcony. There, on a scaffold, stands George Stuart. He’s painting the ceiling.

“This is a touch-up,” he explains. “We had water damage and the paint started peeling. Whole sections had to be re-plastered.”

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Louisiana's Prescription
3:13 pm
Mon March 9, 2015

Mental Illness Lands Many in Parish Prison

When someone having a mental health crisis is picked up by Baton Rouge Police, they often end up inside parish prison. Sources at Capitol Area Human Services estimate between 30 and 50 percent of inmates there are suffering with a mental illness.

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Capitol Access
3:00 am
Mon March 9, 2015

Curbing Fraud in Film Tax Credit Programs

Louisiana’s budget problems have many criticizing the tax incentives for the entertainment industry, which cost the state about $250-million last year. A legislative task force has been looking into ways to curb fraud in the film program. They met last week, to discuss the thrust of bills they may file in the upcoming legislative session.

“These are various common-sense measures that we think can be taken to perhaps make it a little bit less easy to steal from these programs,” Louisiana Inspector General Stephen Street said, as he prepared to give the panel suggestions based on his experiences investigating problems with the programs.

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Bayou Garden
7:10 am
Sat March 7, 2015

Is It Spring Yet?

Gardeners should think about when winter freezes end, not necessarily when Spring begins.
Credit mightyjoepye/flickr

Weather is unsettled and unpredictable this time of the year.

We often have days in the 70s in December, January and February right along with hard killing freezes.

When we look at this time of the year, the question from gardeners often is, "Well, when does Spring begin?"

And it sort of depends on how you define Spring. 


Capitol Access
3:00 am
Fri March 6, 2015

Common Core Disconnect: Student Stress vs. School Scores

“My child is crying and beating his head on the table at night, when we address homework,” Desoto Parish parent Karen Jenkins told the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education Thursday.

“My grandchildren started vomitin’ at school,” Caddo Parish grandmother Pat Dyson said.

Both were trying to persuade BESE to make allowances for opting out of the upcoming PARCC testing, because they believe Common Core is doing more harm than good.


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Culture
2:19 am
Fri March 6, 2015

Sounding Baton Rouge's Song

John Gray

At his talk at TEDxLSU last Saturday, John Gray — a musician and educator — talked about “music as a connector”.

When you hear a few bars of the "Star Spangled Banner", that might make you feel patriotic. And, “When the Saints Go Marching in”, might stir up some football fandom.

If culture were a gumbo, he said, music is the roux — the special ingredient that binds us together and makes us who we are.

And he’s calling on his city, Baton Rouge, to consciously sustain its own culture.

At his talk at TEDxLSU last Saturday, John Gray — a musician and educator — talked about “music as a connector”.

When you hear a few bars of the Star Spangled Banner, that might make you feel patriotic. And, “When the Saints Go Marching in”, might stir up some football fandom.

If culture were a gumbo, he said, music is the roux — the special ingredient that binds us together and makes us who we are.

And he’s calling on his city, Baton Rouge, to consciously sustain its own culture.
 


Capitol Access
3:00 am
Thu March 5, 2015

Sending Out an S-O-S for Voting Machines

Voting machines stored in a Louisiana warehouse

Addressing the House and Governmental Affairs committee Wednesday, Louisiana Secretary of State Tom Schedler sent out an S-O-S on the condition of the state’s stock of voting machines.

“I just will tell you that it’s getting a little scary out there,” Schedler said, reminding lawmakers, “Voting machine equipment is all 15-20 years, plus.”

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Capitol Access
3:00 am
Wed March 4, 2015

Following Legislation's (Nearly) Paperless Trail

The deadline for pre-filing bills for the 2016 legislative session is just 30 days away. But where does the track for a bill actually start?

Louisiana House Clerk Alfred “Butch” Speer says the process starts with a member’s idea, which is then brought to one of the 80 people who work in the House Legislative Service Division.

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Capitol Access
3:00 am
Tue March 3, 2015

"Excellence Fee" Idea Not Measuring Up

Higher Education Commissioner Joseph Rallo

At first, it seemed as though everyone was breathing a sigh of relief, as the 2016 executive budget proposal unveiled last week did not slash higher education as deeply as expected.

“The true reduction to higher education is $211.3 million,” Commissioner of Administration Kristy Nichols told the Joint Budget Committee last Friday.

But Nichols went on to admit that number is built on “ifs” and “maybes” that include capping the business inventory tax credit, as well as asking college students to pay what the administration is calling an “excellence fee”.

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Health
5:39 pm
Mon March 2, 2015

Urgent Care Not Emergency Care

Credit Wallis Watkins

After the nearby charity hospital, Earl K. Long, was shut down, Baton Rouge General’s Mid-City Emergency Room took on more patients. And, in 2013, LSU Health’s Urgent Care Clinic in North Baton Rouge opened. But, the sign on the urgent care clinic’s door reads, “NO EMERGENCY ROOM.”

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