WRKF News

Wallis Watkins

The Louisiana Budget Project, a indepedent nonprofit that studies budget policy in the state, released a report Tuesday detailing how the American Health Care Act could impact Louisiana. 


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When will lawmakers be called back for the next special session to deal with the fiscal cliff?

“You know, that’s a good question,” Governor John Bel Edwards said, when asked. “And I truly don’t know.”


Sue Lincoln

“I move the House of Representatives adjourn sine die,” the “dean” of the House Andy Anders intoned Friday evening, receiving cheers in response.

The second special session of the year delivered a budget only marginally different than the one proposed by the Senate during the regular session. That had many – including Governor John Bel Edwards – wondering aloud whether the special session had truly been necessary.

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“This is essentially the same bill that we passed out a couple of weeks ago, that we thought was responsible and made complete sense,” Senate Finance chair Eric LaFleur told his committee. “It just took a little, a week I think, for the House to come around. And I don’t foresee it getting any better than it is now.”


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A somber mood dominated the Capitol Wednesday, following the early morning news that Louisiana Congressman Steve Scalise had been shot.


Sue Lincoln

The House Appropriations Committee passed the newest version of the state’s operating budget Tuesday. Chairman Cameron Henry (R-Metairie) says this latest version leaves $100 million unspent. 


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“The more we fund this year, the bigger the fiscal cliff is going to be next year. And we can’t sustain more taxes. It’s irresponsible!”

Representative Valarie Hodges (R-Denham Springs) summed up the thinking of a majority of House Appropriations committee members, as special session budget hearings began where the regular session left off – with a bill that doesn’t spend all the estimated revenue.


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“We are a body that’s in complete chaos. The House doesn’t have leadership,” says Baton Rouge Representative Ted James.

A Democrat, James has used his Friday, Saturday  and Sunday away from the Capitol to talk with other members about making a change in House leadership: in particular, “The Speaker, the Chairman of Appropriations.”


Wallis Watkins

It appeared no lawmakers wanted a special session, so when Appropriations chair Cameron Henry told the House there was no budget deal – with 30 minutes left on the regular session clock -- the end of the regular session turned into something resembling a bench-clearing brawl.


Sue Lincoln

To the uninitiated, this final day of the session may look like one long cocktail party, with knots of people conversing quietly here and there, as both the House and Senate take lengthy recesses. But those clusters of conversation are actually conference committees, working to resolve differences over the contents of bills.

I sat down with the man who knows the most about conference committees – John Alario. Having served as Speaker twice and Senate President twice, he says there is a strategy to picking the three conferees from each chamber.

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