Section Legislative Report

Lawmakers pass state budget in special session

A $28 billion-plus Louisiana operating budget won final legislative passage Friday, a week later than expected, after a stalemate in the spending negotiations forced lawmakers into a special session.

JBE to sign criminal justice overhaul into law

In a legislative session mired by budget feuds, tax disagreements and a divisive debate over Confederate monuments, Gov. John Bel Edwards had one major achievement: He convinced legislators to overhaul Louisiana’s criminal sentencing laws and its approach to prisoner rehabilitation.

State budget inches toward finish line

It would appropriate all forecasted revenue for fiscal year 2018, but instruct state agencies to refrain from spending a combined $60 million as a precaution against midyear shortfalls.

House GOP makes budget offer in special session

House Republican leaders made their initial offer Tuesday for a $28 billion-plus Louisiana operating budget, calling it a good-faith effort to broker a compromise in the limited days of the special session.

Budget deal remains elusive in session’s final hours

A budget compromise offered on Thursday morning by Speaker Taylor Barras to Senate leaders offers hope for a budget agreement but it remains to be seen as to whether Barras can deliver the votes in his chamber to get the deal done.

Campus ‘free speech’ bill goes to JBE

House Bill 269, authored by Lance Harris, R-Alexandria, requires state institutes of higher education to state their support for the First Amendment and create a system of disciplinary sanctions for students who interfere with freedom of speech.

Bills that alter driver license acquisition advance

The Senate Committee on Transportation, Highways and Public Works moved three bills changing aspects of how one obtains a driver’s license in Louisiana, including how to deal with traffic cops, online courses and an additional fee.

Repeal of tax credits for private school families falters

Private school families may be breathing a sigh of relief after legislation to repeal income tax credits and deductions for families with children attending nonpublic schools hit a roadblock in the House Ways and Means Committee.

Mills’ drug-pricing bill advances

The bill would require the Louisiana Board of Pharmacy to create a website that contains transparent pricing information for prescription drugs.

Police training bill passes House

The bill's author hopes it will prevent unwanted interactions between police officers and arrestees, such as what occurred in Baton Rouge last July.

Campus ‘free speech’ bill falters

House Bill 269 would have required state institutions of higher learning to state their support for the First Amendment and create a system of disciplinary sanctions for students who interfere with invited speakers.

School assessment measure clears House

House Bill 517 by Rep. Gary Carter, D-New Orleans, requires the state superintendent of education to annually submit a written report to the House and Senate education committees on every public and charter school for the next five years.

Brew U. prevails at Capitol

Shreveport Rep. Cedric Glover voluntarily withdrew his bill Thursday that would have prevented state colleges or universities from affixing their names or logos to an alcoholic beverage after having some fun in front of the House Education Committee.

Bills upping minimum wage, protecting LGBTQ advance

Channeling the spirit of workplace reform, a Senate committee on Wednesday favorably moved two bills — one to ultimately increase the state’s minimum wage to $8.50 an hour, the other to enact a non-discrimination policy for Louisiana employees who identify as LGBTQ.

Coastal plan approved

The latest master plan, which is updated every five years, includes 124 projects that proponents say will build 802 square miles of land and reduce flood-related damage by $150 billion over 50 years.

BESE targets ‘severely impacted’ school districts

The Board of Elementary and Secondary Education unanimously moved Thursday to incorporate $18 million of legislative suggestions into its funding formula for Louisiana’s public schools next year, but not at the expense of other programs.

Charter transparency bill nixed in House

The House Education Committee Wednesday rejected 9-3 a proposal that would allow parents of children in public charter school to know what educational experiments in their schools are working and which aren’t.

Technicality sinks ’sanctuary city’ bill

The Louisiana House of Representatives Tuesday narrowly killed a controversial bill that would have imposed penalties on so-called sanctuary cities, primarily New Orleans.

Speed cam prohibition fails in committee

A retired police chief representing the Louisiana Association of Chiefs of Police said the cameras do in fact slow traffic and lessen speed-related accidents by 80 percent.

HB444: Economic development tool or tax giveaway?

A proposed constitutional amendment by Rep. Alan Seabaugh would allow local governments to negotiate deals with private entities that would provide early access to revenue but reduce local government income once exemptions expire. Seabaugh calls it a tool

Needle exchange bill clears House

Currently, state law prohibits any transaction involving drug paraphernalia, but gives an exception to products made for scientific research, medical or clinical use.

Gas tax hike still on session agenda

Some Republicans, with an eye to 2019, don’t want to give Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards the benefit of having orange barrels all over the state’s highways when he runs for re-election.

Reps mull parole for lifers

HB205 would also allow lifers who have been denied pardon to reapply after three years, instead of five.

Solons consider spreading pain of budget cuts

The bill before the Senate Finance Committee removing the statutory mandate that state funds go to itemized state and local programs was held to allow the author additional time to build her case.

Senate committee agrees to jettison some state museums

The Senate Education Committee on Thursday favorably reported to the full Senate a bill that would transfer five state museums — from New Orleans to Shreveport — to local jurisdictions, including one that never existed.

House OKs sunscreen for students

The Louisiana House overwhelmingly has agreed that public school students should be able to carry sunblock without a doctor's permission or their school's blessing.

Ethics exemption for top cop’s son wins House OK

Under the proposal, Louisiana's anti-nepotism laws would be rewritten to let the son of Col. Kevin Reeves continue working as a state trooper even though he hadn't been with the agency for a full year as required by ethics law.

Senate passes measure on juvie lifers

The bill makes juveniles convicted and sentenced to life in prison without parole eligible for parole consideration 25 years after conviction.

Raft of bills floated to aid TOPS

Everything from post-graduate residency requirements to increased GPA requirements to eliminating its dedicated funding have been offered.

Bill would merge school retirement systems

Senate Retirement Committee Monday favorably sent to the full Senate a bill that would incorporate the Louisiana School Employees’ Retirement System into the Teachers’ Retirement System of Louisiana.

House Republicans seeking no-growth budget

House Republican leaders may propose a budget for the coming year. that would hold funding at current levels, according to reports. What that budget would look like and what cuts it would entail should begin to emerge today.

Brew-haha erupts over university-branded beers

A contentious proposal in the Louisiana House of Representatives by a Shreveport lawmaker would prohibit a state institution of higher learning from allowing its name or symbol to be affixed to an alcoholic beverage.

Basinkeeper: CRPA plans benefit a few millionaires

From 1932 to 2000, nearly 2.5 billion cubic centimeters of sediment have piled up in the Atchafalaya River Basin, as shown here at the base of a cypress tree.Photo by Dean Wilson Mere hours befor

Computer science as … science?

A resolution asking the State Board of Elementary and Secondary Education to allow computer science courses to count as science credits has moved on to full House debate.

Proposed gas tax hike set at 17 cents

By increasing the gas tax by 17 cents, the additional cost to the average Louisiana driver would be approximately $113 per year — less than $10 a month.

Public pushes for programs at cash-strapped Capitol

The House Committee on Appropriations Tuesday was filled with stories of hardship and passion as advocates for disability services and health care programs dominated the first day of open testimony on Gov. John Bel Edwards’ executive budget.

Coussan’s LITE bill advances

It would dissolve Louisiana Immersive Technologies Enterprise’s governing commission and hand ownership and operating responsibilities to UL Lafayette.

Session off to slow start; here’s your preview

Legislators return to Baton Rouge for the first full week of the 2017 regular session after the Easter break, but don’t expect them to plunge into the heavy lifting of budget writing just yet.

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