State legislation proposed to close loophole in domestic violence situations involving same-sex couples

By Katie Gagliano

Proposed legislation prefiled for the 2017 Legislature by State Rep. Pat Connick, R-Marrero, aims to close a longstanding loophole in Louisiana’s domestic violence statutes by including same-sex couples.

House Bill 27 would alter the state’s civil and criminal statutes by opening harsher sentencing possibility for abusers in same-sex cohabiting relationships and by providing key public welfare assistance options to same-sex victims.

Read the story in bestofneworleans.com/Gambit

Toy guns in schools? That would be a crime under this proposed Louisiana law

By Rose Velazquez

BATON ROUGE — Louisiana students as young as kindergarteners who take toy guns to school could face criminal penalties under a bill filed for the Legislature’s spring session by Rep. Dodie Horton, R-Haughton. House Bill 43 would ban the possession of “imitation firearms, projectiles or ammunition” in Louisiana schools, at school-sponsored events or within 1,000 feet of campuses.

Read the story in NOLA.com/The Times-Picayune

BESE committee debates whether Lycée Français students should have French profiency as a condition of admission

By Sarah Gamard

The Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) School Innovation and Turnaround Committee Tuesday took a step toward tightening prerequisites for a French immersion school in New Orleans.

The school, Lycée Français de la Nouvelle-Orléans, wants to require students have a certain level of proficiency in French before admitting them to its French immersion program where classes are taught in French instead of English.

Read the story in bestofneworleans.com/Gambit

85 percent of Louisiana’s population in recovery from natural disasters

By Caitie Burkes and Sarah Gamard

Here’s a sobering statistic: 85 percent of Louisiana’s population, in 56 out of 64 parishes, is in recovery of some sort from natural disasters since March. That was part of the data poured out Thursday (Feb. 23) to the state Senate Select Committee on Women and Children.

Representatives from the Department of Children and Family Services, the Department of Health, the Governor’s Office of Homeland Security & Emergency Management, the Governor’s Office of Women’s Policy and the Office of the Attorney General testified. All presenters, many who work directly with mental health, domestic abuse and housing issues for families affected by these disasters, stressed the need for money to provide emotional support in Louisiana’s affected communities.

Read the story in NOLA.com/The Times-Picayune