WRKF News

Louisiana’s Senate worked Monday, forgoing the holiday barbeque. The Senate Finance Committee did do some grilling however, as Commissioner of Administration Kristy Nichols gave them a rundown of HB 1, as approved by the House.

“They did include $31.1 million for LSU Medical School in Shreveport,” Nichols said of the House “priority list” – a wish list if more revenue is found.

Pennington Experiments with House Calls for Nutrition

May 25, 2015

Researchers at Pennington Biomedical know that in order to get kids eating well, they’ve got to get to the parents. As part of a new study, Pennington Interventionist, Allison Davis, is experimenting with going into the homes of families with young children -- ages two to six. She’s showing parents and their kids how to eat better and move more.

We Remember

May 25, 2015

Louisiana remembers, and honors service members who have made the ultimate sacrifice on this Memorial Day.

The state’s full House of Representatives, with help from the Marine Corps Band, held a “Ceremony of Remembrance” before breaking for the long holiday weekend.

New Orleans Rep. Nick LoRusso, who also serves as a Lt. Col. with the Army’s Judge Advocate General Office, served as host, “To honor all of our fallen dead.”

As a teacher of teachers at LSU, Steve Bickmore is focused on getting teachers to expand reading lists to include more books like that reflect their students’ lives, like Jaqueline Woodson's Brown Girl Dreaming, Coe Booth's Tyrell, and Kwame Alexander's Crossover. And he’ll be highlighting that at LSU’s upcoming conference on the theme of African-American cultures in young adult literature, May 31-June 5. 

 


They took every penny they could find.

“The House efforts have solved 850-million of the one billion dollar problem,” Appropriations chairman Jim Fannin announced.

They even decided what to do with some money they’ve not yet found.

“This 31-million for the medical school in Shreveport would be put in a priority line if that funding is available,” Shreveport Rep. Thomas Carmody said, in support of Rep. Bubba Chaney’s amendment to HB 1.

It took six hours of debate, but he full House passed a 24-billion dollar budget for the fiscal year that starts July 1, resolving over half the $1.6-billion dollar shortfall.

House and Senate committees worked on numerous bills Wednesday, while awaiting today’s main event: the House floor debate on the budget. Several of those bills were previously featured here on Capitol Access.

Jack Donahue’s Senate-approved bill to uncouple TOPS from college tuition found favor with the House Education committee, helped along by the widow of the program’s founder, Phyllis Taylor.

“I would never stand here and support anything that limited the TOPS program,” Taylor told the committee. “We are seeking certainty, not limitations.”

The House Civil Law Committee heard arguments on both sides of HB 707 Tuesday. That’s the controversial measure prohibiting state action against those that exercise religious beliefs about marriage, including refusal to deal with same sex couples. It's also known as the "Marriage and Conscience Act".

“Religious observers need this basic protection,” said Rep. Mike Johnson of Bossier City, the bill’s author.

He urged swift action before the U.S. Supreme Court issues its ruling in the Obergefell v. Hodges case.

“June 18, the world is going to change,” Johnson warned.

It is expected the high court will rule that all states must recognize same-sex marriage.

The Senate Revenue and Affairs Committee met Monday to consider the eleven tax bills approved by the full House on May 7th. It quickly became apparent that Chairman Neil Riser had a strategy for dealing with them: just move them along.

“Any objection? Hearing none, that bill will be reported favorable. Next bill,” Riser steadily announced.

No amendments were offered for any of the revenue-raising bills, and while numerous people put in cards either supporting or objecting to the bills, public testimony was limited.

These bills also face hearings before the Senate Finance Committee, prompting Baton Rouge Senator Sharon Weston-Broome to observe, “It appears that people are forfeiting their opportunity to speak today, to wait for Senate Finance.”

At Baton Rouge Rehab Hospital, the support groups for survivors of strokes and brain injuries work a little differently. Four years ago, a meeting for just caregivers broke off. And now, medical staff at the hospital are trying to pay closer attention to the needs of caregivers earlier on.


Sue Lincoln

When the Revenue Estimating Conference met last Thursday, they only found an additional $79-million to help with the FY 2016 budget shortfall.

“We still have a long way to go,” House Speaker Chuck Kleckley declared.

Senate President John Alario was marginally more optimistic.

“We’re getting closer, but we’ve still got a long way to go,” was Alario’s pronouncement.

With 24 days left in the session, I asked Kleckley and Alario to gaze into the crystal ball and make a few predictions about the budget.

“I think we can probably answer that better after we get it off the House floor,” Kleckley said, referring to the budget bill — HB 1, which will be debated by the full House on Thursday.

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