Capitol Access

Weekdays at the bottom of the hour during Morning Edition

Your on-ramp for news and insight from Louisiana's statehouse.

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Capitol Access
3:00 am
Tue March 25, 2014

Tourism Giveth, Yet the Budget Taketh Away

The Senate Finance Committee got an outline of the proposed state budget Monday, and Houma Senator Norby Chaubert was curious about something.

“I notice that the majority of the statewide offices saw an increase in funding,” Chaubert said. “But I did not see the Lieutenant Governor’s budget getting any bump.”

The Lieutenant Governor’s office, which oversees the state Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism, is indeed struggling to make ends meet.

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Capitol Access
3:00 am
Mon March 24, 2014

Student Data: Private Property or Shared Resource?

Louisiana parents gave the House and Senate education committees an earful last week.

“There seems to be no effective safeguard in law to protect our children’s information from the whim and will of BESE and LDE,” said Sara Wood of Mandeville.

She was talking about data privacy. Seven bills have been filed this session, each trying to prohibit how much individual information about Louisiana students is shared—and with whom.

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Capitol Access
3:00 am
Fri March 21, 2014

Parents Mobilizing Over Common Core

Credit Bill Feig / The Advocate

Whether you love it--like Vera Collins of Jefferson Parish, who says, “Louisiana’s Common Core State Standards is vital to making the dream a reality”—or hate it, like Ralph Roshto of Lacombe, who says, “Supporting Common Core is like a chicken supporting Colonel Sanders,”—Common Core is driving parents to the state capitol in droves.

But just what is this education issue that’s polarizing Louisiana moms and dads?

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Capitol Access
3:00 am
Thu March 20, 2014

Abortion Restrictions Advance in the House

Rep. Katrina Jackson (D-Monroe), center, and Louisiana Family Forum president Gene Mills, right.

A bill that would impose tighter restrictions on abortion providers is headed to the House floor. Monroe Representative Katrina Jackson is the author of the measure, HB 388, which requires any doctor who performs more than five abortions annually to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of his or her practice. That rule is not just for those who perform surgical abortions, either. It’s required for doctors prescribing the so-called “abortion pill”, also known as RU-486.

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Capitol Access
3:00 am
Wed March 19, 2014

Repealing Unconstitutional Law

It might seem obvious…when the U.S. Supreme Court rules a state law “unconstitutional”, then the state repeals that law. Baton Rouge Senator Dan Claitor has been trying to get one of those old laws off the books for several years now, but prior attempts never made it past the first hurdle—the Senate Education Committee. This time his repeal bill, SB 70, has made it to the Senate floor, and it’s eligible for debate there as early as today.

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Capitol Access
3:00 am
Tue March 18, 2014

State Ag Budget Under Strain

The House Appropriations Committee began hearings on the budget proposals for each of the state’s departments Monday. Agriculture and Forestry Commissioner Mike Strain is asking for a bit more money this next year, and Representative Henry Burns (R-Haughton) quizzed him about the reasons.

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Capitol Access
3:00 am
Mon March 17, 2014

Getting That Settlement Paid Could Take an Act of the Legislature

Each session, lawmakers file appropriations bills, trying to get the state to pay what courts have ruled is owed to plaintiffs.

This session, one of the 26 “Appropriations/Judgment” bills is authored by Crowley Representative Jack Montoucet, on behalf of the Louisiana Probation and Parole Officers Association. The amount due that group is $3,722,315.00.

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Capitol Access
3:00 am
Fri March 14, 2014

State Retirement 101

Figuring out how to pay for retirement plans might not be the most scintillating topic, but it’s a growing issue for Louisiana lawmakers. Here’s why:

Just as with Social Security, active workers pay into the system while retirees take money out. The difference between the pension plan’s cash on hand and how much will be paid out over time is known as the unfunded accrued liability, or UAL. In Louisiana’s state retirement systems, the UALs have grown a lot lately.

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Capitol Access
3:00 am
Thu March 13, 2014

Education Committee Talks "Empowerment"

Senate Education Committee chair Conrad Appel

The word of the day in the Senate Education Committee Wednesday was “empowerment”, with bills giving more authority to school principals and local districts moving forward.

The “Empowered Community Schools” bill, SB 385, by Sen. Eric LaFleur (D-Ville Platte) would allow principals rated “highly effective” to basically declare themselves in charge — of hiring and firing and over school service and repair contracts.

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Capitol Access
3:00 am
Wed March 12, 2014

There Will Be a Test

On the first real business day of the new session Tuesday, the House Appropriations jumped right in with heavy lifting, as they began combing through the governor’s 329-page budget proposal. Lawmakers didn’t hesitate to ask for detailed explanations about the line items.

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