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Capitol Access
8:39 am
Wed April 17, 2013

Income Tax Repeal Out, What's In?

After the legislature tabled all tax repeal bills, the Louisiana Legislative Black Caucus ditched the parts of its tax package that would cut taxes. But it’s keeping the part that raises revenue.

Representative Katrina Jackson leads the caucus. She says under her plan, the funds from raising the tobacco tax would be dedicated. “It starts making the areas of higher education systems whole, and the area of health care as well,” Jackson said.

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Education
5:56 am
Wed April 17, 2013

School Counselor, Librarian Mandates to Stand

The state's top school board has dropped plans to do away with requirements for counselors and librarians at public schools.

The Dept. of Education had recommended the change as part of a continuing push to give more flexibility to local administrators. The reversal came as a surprise to the dozens of critics who flocked to the BESE meeting to voice impassioned opposition Tuesday.

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Business
5:44 am
Wed April 17, 2013

Grocers Absent from BR's Scotlandville Neighborhood

Research compiled by the Pennington Biomedical Research Center shows the extent of food deserts in Baton Rouge. The Scotlandville community is located at the top with zip code 70807.
Credit Katy Drazba, MPH & Stephanie Broyles, PhD; Pennington Biomedical

For over 30 years, Scotlandville hasn’t been able to attract a grocery store.

Mayor Kip Holden has tasked the new Food Access Policy Commission with figuring out how to get grocers interested in investing in the community again.

Wednesday, the commission is looking over feedback recently collected from grocers about the worries that have kept them away.

With nearly 26,000 residents living in poverty without access to fresh food within a one-mile radius, Scotlandville is the largest food desert in Baton Rouge. 


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Smart Growth
12:53 pm
Tue April 16, 2013

NOLA Adjudicated Property Redemption Window Could Become State-Wide

A bill to shorten the time frame from three years to 18 months for owners of adjudicated properties to pay unpaid taxes has advanced in the house.


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Citizens with Developmental Disabilities
1:00 am
Tue April 16, 2013

De-Institutionalizing Louisiana, Part Two: Demand vs. Expansion

The chapel at St. Mary's Residential Training School in Boyce, La.
Credit St. Mary's Residential Training School

In Boyce, La., St. Mary’s Residential Training School offers both residential care and educational services for individuals with developmental disabilities.

This concludes our two-part series on the state’s goal to wind down the number of individuals living in places like St. Mary’s.


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Culture
6:36 pm
Mon April 15, 2013

Postcard from Baton Rouge Blues Fest

Henry Gray, the blues pianist, at work, April 13, 2013.
Amy Jeffries WRKF

The Memphis Blues, the Chicago Blues, the Mississippi Delta Blues have all had their fair share of the spotlight. But what about the Baton Rouge Blues?  -- the Swamp Blues? 

This weekend the Baton Rouge Blues Foundation hosted its annual festival downtown to celebrate the music of our city.


Medicaid
1:04 pm
Mon April 15, 2013

Bill to Create Hospitalization Stablization Formula Passes With Few Details

The House Appropriations Committee has approved a proposed constitutional amendment that seeks to try and maintain the level of funding to hospitals that take Medicaid patients.  

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Capitol Access
10:46 am
Mon April 15, 2013

Income Tax Repeal Bills Shelved

Last week Governor Bobby Jindal announced his main priority this session would be repealing the income tax. Lawmakers took that off of the table on Monday.

Chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, Representative Joel Robideaux, said he’d spoken with constituents, House leadership, and policy analysts. There’s little support for bills that repeal the income tax without making up the revenue. “As a result of my conversations and review of the analysis," Robideaux said, "I would prefer if we indefinitely shelve bills to repeal the income tax. It’s a difficult, but I believe necessary measure.”

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Capitol Access
6:00 am
Mon April 15, 2013

Some Policy Analysts Say Ditch Tax Reform "Plan B"

Now that the governor’s plan to replace the income tax with a higher and broader sales tax is off the table, lawmakers, policy analysts and other officials are coming up with new ideas. 

Governor Jindal isn’t requiring a new plan to make up for lost revenue, but eliminating the income tax would cost the state 23.7 billion dollars if it’s phased out over the next ten years.

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Citizens with Developmental Disabilities
1:00 am
Mon April 15, 2013

De-Institutionalizing Louisiana, Part One: Waivers vs. Facilities

Roberta Fontenot, 70, once lived in the state's largest institution for individuals with developmental disabilities. She now lives in her own apartment on waiver supports.
Credit WRKF

Louisiana's efforts to move more individuals with developmental disabilities out of congregate living and back into the home with supports actually started pretty late compared to the rest of the country.

In the 1980s when other states were beginning to shut down their large, state-run facilities as part of the national de-institutionalization movement, Louisiana was still building. Only in 2005, after Hurricane Katrina forced the shutdown of the New Orleans metropolitan facility did the state start ramping up its de-institutionalizing efforts.

This is the first of a two-part series exploring the progress of that effort over the years since.

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