WRKF News

Some of the renovations going on at the Capitol are obvious, as chain-link fencing and mounds of dirt block access and parking. For others, you have to look up — way up.

From the floor of the House chamber, turn back toward the balcony. There, on a scaffold, stands George Stuart. He’s painting the ceiling.

“This is a touch-up,” he explains. “We had water damage and the paint started peeling. Whole sections had to be re-plastered.”

When someone having a mental health crisis is picked up by Baton Rouge Police, they often end up inside parish prison. Sources at Capitol Area Human Services estimate between 30 and 50 percent of inmates there are suffering with a mental illness.

Louisiana’s budget problems have many criticizing the tax incentives for the entertainment industry, which cost the state about $250-million last year. A legislative task force has been looking into ways to curb fraud in the film program. They met last week, to discuss the thrust of bills they may file in the upcoming legislative session.

“These are various common-sense measures that we think can be taken to perhaps make it a little bit less easy to steal from these programs,” Louisiana Inspector General Stephen Street said, as he prepared to give the panel suggestions based on his experiences investigating problems with the programs.

“My child is crying and beating his head on the table at night, when we address homework,” Desoto Parish parent Karen Jenkins told the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education Thursday.

“My grandchildren started vomitin’ at school,” Caddo Parish grandmother Pat Dyson said.

Both were trying to persuade BESE to make allowances for opting out of the upcoming PARCC testing, because they believe Common Core is doing more harm than good.


At his talk at TEDxLSU last Saturday, John Gray — a musician and educator — talked about “music as a connector”.

When you hear a few bars of the "Star Spangled Banner", that might make you feel patriotic. And, “When the Saints Go Marching in”, might stir up some football fandom.

If culture were a gumbo, he said, music is the roux — the special ingredient that binds us together and makes us who we are.

And he’s calling on his city, Baton Rouge, to consciously sustain its own culture.

At his talk at TEDxLSU last Saturday, John Gray — a musician and educator — talked about “music as a connector”.

When you hear a few bars of the Star Spangled Banner, that might make you feel patriotic. And, “When the Saints Go Marching in”, might stir up some football fandom.

If culture were a gumbo, he said, music is the roux — the special ingredient that binds us together and makes us who we are.

And he’s calling on his city, Baton Rouge, to consciously sustain its own culture.
 


Addressing the House and Governmental Affairs committee Wednesday, Louisiana Secretary of State Tom Schedler sent out an S-O-S on the condition of the state’s stock of voting machines.

“I just will tell you that it’s getting a little scary out there,” Schedler said, reminding lawmakers, “Voting machine equipment is all 15-20 years, plus.”

The deadline for pre-filing bills for the 2016 legislative session is just 30 days away. But where does the track for a bill actually start?

Louisiana House Clerk Alfred “Butch” Speer says the process starts with a member’s idea, which is then brought to one of the 80 people who work in the House Legislative Service Division.

At first, it seemed as though everyone was breathing a sigh of relief, as the 2016 executive budget proposal unveiled last week did not slash higher education as deeply as expected.

“The true reduction to higher education is $211.3 million,” Commissioner of Administration Kristy Nichols told the Joint Budget Committee last Friday.

But Nichols went on to admit that number is built on “ifs” and “maybes” that include capping the business inventory tax credit, as well as asking college students to pay what the administration is calling an “excellence fee”.

Wallis Watkins

After the nearby charity hospital, Earl K. Long, was shut down, Baton Rouge General’s Mid-City Emergency Room took on more patients. And, in 2013, LSU Health’s Urgent Care Clinic in North Baton Rouge opened. But, the sign on the urgent care clinic’s door reads, “NO EMERGENCY ROOM.”

One component of the Jindal administration’s 2016 budget proposal, revealed Friday, involves holding the line on spending in the public-private hospital partnerships. The private partners in the LSU hospital deals had asked for an additional $142-million in the fiscal year that starts July 1.

“What we funded these hospitals for was level funding, effectively,” Commissioner of Administration Kristy Nichols detailed to the Joint Budget Committee. “And some of the hospitals are projecting growth above level funding. That’s the point of discussion that we are going to have to work through in this process.”

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