LA Rep. Patricia Smith

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.

Louisiana’s full House approved “Erin’s Law” on Monday. Approved in 20 other states, it requires schools to teach kids what constitutes sexual abuse and sexual assault. There was no debate, and the votes for passage were unanimous.

Tuesday, the House Education Committee began hearing a bill to require schools to teach comprehensive sex education. Baton Rouge Representative Patricia Smith is the author, and she made reference to the previous day’s approval of “Erin’s Law”.

“It came out of this committee; passed the House floor. My question to you is, how can you teach sexual assault without talking about sexual education?” Smith queried her fellow committee members.