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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Louisiana has billions of taxpayer dollars tied up in thousands of contracts—for goods and services, consulting, privatization and more. Lawmakers, frustrated by the continuing battles to balance the state budget, are pushing to take a closer look at those contracts.

It looks like the cost of a driver’s license is going up—but so is the length of time between renewals.

“The fee will be more, but it’s a six year fee, so over time it’ll be the same,” explains Franklin Foil.

The Baton Rouge representative authored the measure increasing both the cost and expiration dates for all Louisiana drivers’ licenses. A basic license, which now costs $21.50 and is good for four years, will be going up to $32.50, and will be valid for six years.

It was just a couple of months ago that John Maginnis appeared on WRKF’s “The Jim Engster Show,” talking about Governor Bobby Jindal’s presidential aspirations.

“Outside Louisiana, there’s no serious talk about Jindal being a serious contender,” Maginnis told Engster and WRKF’s listeners. “But I think he’s still a viable vice-presidential contender, a running mate.”

Longtime political reporter John Maginnis passed away unexpectedly Sunday, at the age of 66. 

“I’m not a communist.”

But Senator Conrad Appel isn’t a happy camper, either. He took to the floor of the Senate Thursday to deliver a tirade directed toward Governor Bobby Jindal.

“You can call me a communist. You can call me a socialist fascist—that’s a good one,” Appel declared forcefully. “Anything you want to call me? Do it!”

Sue Lincoln

A couple of weeks after the end of the 2012 legislative session, an irate Katrina Jackson called a press conference. She was livid because Governor Jindal had vetoed her signature piece of legislation, supporting public schools.

“This bill passed by a unanimous vote of the House, and only missed one vote in the Senate, Jackson said in June 2012. “He’s defying the expressed will of the Legislature!”

Now, two years later, Governor Jindal is tweeting that he’s looking forward to signing her H.B. 388, which received final concurrence in the House Wednesday afternoon.

With less than two weeks left in the session, bills are piling up in both chambers. While both the House and the Senate worked on shortening their stacks of paperwork Tuesday afternoon, critters became a recurring theme.

Sue Lincoln

The Revenue Estimating Conference, the state’s official income predictors, met Monday afternoon to adopt new revenue projections for the upcoming fiscal year, which starts July 1.

LSU economist Dr. Jim Richardson had immediate concerns about the Jindal administration’s numbers, which included $54-million extra in anticipated tax collections.

 “I don’t have a warm fuzzy feeling about this,” Senate Finance Committee chairman Jack Donahue said, regarding a proposed constitutional amendment to help Higher Ed.

The House-approved measure that would have dedicated state funding for colleges and universities was shot down in Donahue’s committee late last week. Donahue, who also serves on the Senate Education Committee, said he supported the concept but was reluctant to lock up any more state dollars.

They’re called “legacy lawsuits”—when property owners sue oil and gas companies for environmental damage done in decades past. Thursday, Louisiana’s House spent hours hearing—and ultimately approving—two bills dealing with legacy lawsuits.

“When we get to court, we know there’s an issue,” explained Chalmette Representative Ray Garofalo, while introducing his bill, which would let parties on either side ask the Department of Natural Resources to come up with a remediation plan for the polluted or otherwise damaged property.

 With a 34 to 3 vote, the full Senate has approved HB 388, requiring doctors who perform any abortions to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of their practice.

“There are parts of the state where there is no hospital within 30 miles, period,” protested New Orleans Senator J.P. Morrell. “That would make it impossible for there to be procedures done in rural areas.”

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