WRKF News

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.

A bill prohibiting abortions based on the baby's sex was approved by Louisiana's full House Thursday. The bill's author, Houma Rep. Lenar Whitney explained why she brought the bill.

"The practice of sex-selection abortion has made its way from the Asian nations to inside our borders here in the United States," Whitney said.

Whitney said those cultures prefer boys over girls, and this is about protecting mothers and their potential daughters. "In high Asian immigrant populations, many of these women were coerced into abortions and threatened by divorce and violence if they did not bear sons."

We are checking back in with a series of conversations about what to do with East Baton Rouge Parish schools.

Anna Fogle is the parent of two kids in the schools and helped organize the Beyond Bricks listening sessions and Rev. Gerard Robinson of McKowen Baptist has been a host for some of them.

They’ll be presenting the results of those conversations at community assemblies over the next several weeks. The schedule is at beyondbricksebr.org.

Did you know a piece of paper could kill? Natchitoches Rep. Kenny Cox found that out Wednesday, when the fiscal note for his HB 590 was delivered just a few minutes before its hearing in the House Natural Resources Committee.

Cox’s bill would require industrial plants to install air quality monitors along their fence lines.

“This bill is about safety: safety for the people who live along the fence lines,” Cox said in explanation of the proposed law.

Before too much testimony on the bill was given, Houma Rep. Joe Harrison advised Cox that the estimated state cost for implementing the bill – the fiscal note – was going to be the real issue.

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