Capitol Access

Weekdays at the bottom of the hour during Morning Edition

Reports on Louisiana politics, government and the people shaping state policy.

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“The real issue here is the fact that TOPS is in peril,” remarked Representative Julie Stokes (R-Kenner) in the House Education Committee. 

For next year's budget, which begins on July 1, the state only has $60 million of the $300 million needed to fully fund the popular scholarship program.

Six bills to try and make TOPS more compatible with the state’s fiscal reality were heard in the committee Wednesday. Changes proposed included raising GPA requirements, limiting award amounts, and requiring repayment if students drop out.

Sue Lincoln

The noon sun was dazzling, reflecting off hundreds of yellow shirts.  But not all those attending the disabilities rally could ascend the capitol steps. Jamie Duplechine of Lafayette, for example, was one of dozens in wheelchairs.

“Last year made 25 years that the ADA has been around, and it should have definitely made this accessible,” Duplechine said, as she craned her neck to look up the steps at the speaker’s lectern.

Louisiana Dept. of Culture Recreation and Tourism

“We hope, moving forward, we can restore these cuts recommended in this budget in a special session.”

The parade of pleas for more money, like that by Lt. Governor Billy Nungesser, has become a familiar part of the state budget hearing process, though the marching order is different this year.

Sue Lincoln

The four Republican candidates vying for David Vitter’s U.S. Senate seat debated before a receptive crowd Saturday, as Americans For Prosperity hosted a crawfish boil in Baton Rouge.

“Do you like Obamacare?” Congressman Charles Boustany of Lafayette asked the crowd of about 300 people. 

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 Governor John Bel Edwards appeared before the Senate Labor committee Thursday, to testify on behalf of raising the minimum wage.

“It’s a modest but meaningful increase: $8.00 an hour, and then $8.50 an hour,” the governor stated.

He also spoke in support of the Equal Pay Act.

“Louisiana has the largest pay gap in the country, with women earning 65-cents on the dollar, compared to men,” Edwards explained.

Both bills are part of the governor’s legislative agenda, and the issues figured largely in his campaign last year.

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