Kelly Connelly

Government & Politics Reporter

Kelly grew up in Baton Rouge. She started out in radio at Baton Rouge High where she was first on air at WBRH and KBRH. While studying film and politics at Hendrix College, she reported and hosted for KUAR in Little Rock, AR. She then moved on to KUT in Austin, TX. She misses the dry air, live music at Studio 1A and breakfast tacos, but is happy for crawfish and non-ironic use of Mardi Gras beads.

Opposing opinions surfaced from state education leaders this week on whether the state should move forward on implementing national education standards called Common Core.  The ongoing struggle to fund higher education continued at a meeting of higher education officials Wednesday.

Republicans have reason to be wary of their newfound power in the state Senate, having recently gained a two-thirds supermajority. Some political analysts say too much power can backfire.


State Sen. Rick Ward is dropping out of the race for Louisiana's Sixth Congressional District. According to The Times-Picayune, Ward's changed his mind because the position would require too much time away from his children. This decision comes three weeks after announcing his candidacy, and a month after switching to the Republican party in mid-July.

Many accused Ward of switching parties because he wanted to run for the higher seat. Ward said he switched because the "R" behind his name would better represent his views.

On Saturday, gubernatorial candidate Rep. John Bel Edwards delivered what The Times-Picayune called an animated speech at a Democratic rally, aiming to distance himself from Republican Governor Jindal's practices. Edwards doesn't have to try hard: he's opposed nearly every one, if not all, of the Governor's initiatives since they both assumed office in 2008.

Edwards is a leader of the minority party. Republicans have two-thirds supermajority control over the Senate (thanks to a few recent aisle-jumpers), a majority in the House, and every statewide office other than US Sen. Mary Landrieu's seat. 


Taxpayers may be on the hook for hundreds of thousands of dollars if the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority-East has to withdraw its lawsuit against oil and gas companies.

SLFPA-E met opposition from the legislature’s Joint Transportation Committee Wednesday, as the committee gathered information from the authority on the suit, also hearing opposing testimony from Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority head Garret Graves.

Louisianians may find solace from impending increases in flood insurance rates as Sen. Mary Landrieu’s bill to prevent those hikes heads to the Senate Appropriations Committee for consideration at its Thursday meeting.

Landrieu chairs the Homeland Security Subcommittee of Appropriations, which passed the bill to the larger body Tuesday.

The measures are included in the Homeland Security Appropriations bill for next fiscal year. Called the Strengthen, Modernize and Reform the National Flood Insurance Program, or SMART NFIP, the bill would postpone parts of last year’s Biggert-Waters Act.

Another Louisiana State Senator has jumped the aisle to the Republican party.

Sen. Rick Ward, who represents parts of the Capitol Region, from Port Allen into Assumption Parish, gives the Republicans a supermajority in the Senate. Several kinds of measures are constitutionally required to pass with a two-thirds vote, like tax increases and procedural items after a certain date near the end of the session.

The Louisiana House alliance of fiscally conservative Republicans and Democrats may have a harder time facing the Senate next session.

Kelly Connelly, WRKF

Environmental remediation scientists at LSU’s School of the Coast and Environment have found remnants of crude oil in the hearts of pogy that live off Grand Isle.

Pogy, a baitfish more officially called menhaden, make up the second largest commercial catch in the United States. They’re not only resold as baitfish, but they’re also processed into fish oil and fish meal, making their way into vitamins, cosmetics and livestock feeds.

LA Swift got its start after Hurricane Katrina, shuttling evacuees and recovery workers between the Crescent and Capitol cities.

Ridership spiked after the storm, dropped off, and is now steadily growing. But the riders are commuters, using the bus to get to work.

The bus ran out of funding in June, but the service provider agreed to keep rolling another month. Long-time rider MiLisa York, who’s started a petition to keep the bus going long-term.

Leadership of the Louisiana state legislature is speaking out against the Democrat minority push to call a special veto session.

Democrats want a session to address Governor Jindal’s line-item vetoes to strike funding to expand care for the developmentally disabled.

House Speaker Chuck Kleckley said in a statement that a veto session could produce unintended consequences.

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