LA Rep. Patricia Smith

Sue Lincoln

The House took up the Senate amendments to the current year Supplemental Appropriations bill today – the amendments that yesterday took 7 million dollars from an escrow account in the Attorney General’s office.

Teach The Children Well

May 27, 2016
smithsonian.org

Much of the session news has been dominated by TOPS, abortion restrictions, and of course the budget. But lawmakers have taken up more mundane concerns too, like what kids are -- or aren’t -- learning in school.

“This bill would just ensure that we continue to teach the critical skill of cursive writing in schools,” Representative Chris Broadwater said of Senator Beth Mizell’s SB 275, as he handled it on the House floor Thrusday. “I’ll be happy to answer any questions.”

LOFSA

“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.

S. Lincoln

A bill heard in the House Municipal & Cultural Affairs committee Thursday brought a welcome respite from the simmering angst of the state budget crisis. It names the Gulf Fritillary as the official state butterfly.

“Louisiana has 45 state symbols, ranging from the state dog* to the state donut**,” Monroe Representative Jay Morris explained to the committee. “We don’t have a state butterfly at this time, and all of our neighboring states do have one.”

Sue Lincoln

There are more than 1200 bills filed for the regular legislative session which starts today, but the one of greatest concern is undoubtedly House Bill 1 – the budget.

“We have to fashion a budget, with the revenue that’s available, that’s going to be $800-million short,” Governor John Bel Edwards said, following the close of the special session last Wednesday.

Media Commons

Perhaps it’s because it’s so late in the session, with so much left to be done, but some of the ladies in the Legislature are no longer putting up with political posturing from the men on the far right. The women are instead using logic to deflate the rhetoric.

Take  West Monroe Senator Mike Walsworth’s argument against a bill to end the Enterprise Zone program.

Rex Fortenberry

If the votes on the alcohol tax increase are an accurate indication, a new alliance in the House between Democrats and moderate Republicans may leave the hard-line conservatives who’ve been holding up the revenue-raisers hung out to dry.

Though the alcohol tax hike failed to pass by 5 votes on Friday, it came up again Sunday evening. 

Sue Lincoln

Louisiana’s House Republicans have been insisting the Governor needs to make more budget cuts before they’ll consider raising revenue. With the full House considering the tax hike bills tomorrow, they took matters into their own hands today.

“The Governor maxxed out all of his cuts. Our additional cuts are 87-million,” House Appropriations chairman Cameron Henry said when opening discussion on his bill to remove a total of $117-million from state agencies.

courtesy LSU

Louisiana’s House Appropriations Committee has been asking every agency to present their worst-case scenario when showing up for budget hearings. Wednesday, the committee got the grim prognosis—full force—from higher education.

“Higher education would be reduced by $600-million. That’s an 82-percent reduction from 14-15,” legislative budget analyst Willis Brewer stated.

“Is your hospital next?” asked a sign prominently displayed during a February 11 rally on the state Capitol steps, protesting the planned closure of Baton Rouge General’s Mid-City Emergency Room. With that ER shutting down tomorrow—an unintended consequence of privatizing Louisiana’s charity hospital system—it’s a question that continues to trouble Baton Rouge Rep. Patricia Smith.

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