Candidates may substitute computer coding for foreign language

Published: June 7, 2022

By: Piper Hutchinson

The Louisiana Legislature approved a bill from Sen. Sharon Hewitt, R-Slidell, that allows TOPS candidates to choose between two units of foreign language or computer coding to qualify for the scholarship. (Greg LaRose/Louisiana Illuminator)Greg LaRose/Louisiana Illuminator

The Louisiana Legislature signed off on a bill Monday that would allow students to substitute computer coding for a foreign language when being considered for TOPS eligibility.

Senate Bill 191, sponsored by Sen. Sharon Hewitt, R-Slidell, would amend the requirements for eligibility for the Taylor Opportunity Program for Students to allow them to count two credits of computer coding in high school instead of two credits of a foreign language.

The House voted 54-41 to approve the bill after a conference committee removed an amendment by Rep. Beryl Amedee, R-Houma, which had changed the bill from allowing coding as a substitute for a foreign language to allowing those classes to be counted under the science requirement.

The conference report was also sustained by the Senate Monday on a 34-0 vote.

Read more at Longview News-Journal


Published: June 6, 2022

By: Piper Hutchinson and Alex Tirado, LSU Manship School News Service

Gov. John Bel Edwards held a press conference Monday shortly after the Legislature concluded its 2022 regular session.
LSU Manship School News Service/Alex Tirado

BATON ROUGE – As the Legislature adjourned Monday, Gov. John Bel Edwards expressed his support for the investments in education and infrastructure, including a teacher pay raise of $1,500 and $300 million toward a new Mississippi River bridge.

But he also announced that he would acquiesce in one area that he has disagreed with Republican lawmakers saying he would allow a bill that prohibits transgender athletes from competing according to their gender identity to become law without his signature.

Edwards vetoed a similar measure last year, but he said that he decided not to veto the latest ban, Senate Bill 44, sponsored by Sen. Beth Mizell, R-Franklinton, because he knew that the Legislature could override the veto this time.

“I hope we can all get to a point soon where we realize that these young people are doing the very best that they can to survive,” Edwards said.

As the session’s 6 p.m. deadline approached, legislators spent the day debating, rewriting, and passing some of the remaining bills.

Read more at St. Mary Now

Federal district judge ruled that the new congressional maps drawn during a special legislative redistricting session earlier this year need to be redone

Published: June 6, 2022

By: Allison Allsop, LSU Manship School News Service

Gov. John Bel Edwards

BATON ROUGE–A federal district judge ruled Monday that the new congressional maps drawn during a special legislative redistricting session earlier this year need to be redone to be fair to the state’s minority residents.

Gov. John Bel Edwards quickly said that he would call the Republican-led Legislature back into a new special session to reconsider the maps. Republican leaders said they would appeal the ruling.

Edwards vetoed the maps in March, but the legislators overrode his veto.

The maps created only one minority district for the six Louisiana congressional seats despite 33% of the state’s population being Black.

Read more at Bossier Press

Louisiana House expands criminal penalties for abortion providers

Published: June 5, 2022

By: Piper Hutchinson, LSU Manship School News Service

Rep. Julie Emerson, R-Carencro sponsored 15 pages of amendments to a five-page bill enhancing criminal penalties for abortion providers. Piper Hutchinson/LSU Manship School News Service

BATON ROUGE–The House gave final passage Thursday to bills that would enhance criminal penalties for abortion providers and make it a crime for out-of-state companies to supply abortion pills to Louisiana residents by mail.

Senate Bill 342, sponsored by Sen. Katrina Jackson, D-Monroe, would increase criminal penalties for abortion providers under Louisiana’s trigger laws.

The bill passed 72-25, with Democratic Reps. Robby Carter of Amite, Chad Brown of Plaquemine, Mack Cormier of Belle Chasse, Travis Johnson of Vidalia, Jeremy LaCombe of Livonia and Francis Thompson of Delhi supporting the bill.

Rep. Mary DuBuisson of Slidell was the only Republican to vote against the bill.

The House also voted 72-24 vote to give final passage to Senate Bill 388, which would criminalize providing abortion-inducing medication by mail.

Louisiana is one of thirteen states with trigger laws that go into effect if the U.S. Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade. Under a law signed by former Gov. Kathleen Blanco, a Democrat, most abortions would become illegal almost immediately upon the overturning of Roe.

Existing statute allows for prison terms of one to five years and fines of $5,000 to $50,000 for abortion providers. Jackson’s bill increases the penalties to one to 10 years of prison time and fines of $10,000 to $100,000.

Gov. John Bel Edwards, a Democrat, said at a press conference Thursday that he supports exceptions for rape and incest. He has not yet said whether he would veto Jackson’s bill. He has previously supported bills that do not include the exceptions.

Read more at The Daily Iberian

Legislature votes to allow adopted people access to original birth certificates

Published: June 3, 2022

By: Alex Tirado | LSU Manship School News Service

Senators chatted on the floor during a break in the legislative session.LSU Manship School News Service Photo by Alex Tirado

The state Senate gave final passage Friday to a bill that would allow adopted people 24 years of age or older to obtain their original birth certificates.

Rep. Charles Owen, R-Fort Polk, who was himself adopted, authored House Bill 450 to grant adoptees the same right to know where they came from as any other resident of Louisiana.

Under present law enacted in 1977, an adopted person’s original birth certificate is sealed after a final decree of adoption and can only be opened by a court order.

The bill, which the Senate approved 29-5, would create a simpler process, allowing an adopted person to request a copy of his or her original birth certificate from the state registrar without the costly burden of going to court.

Read more at The Advocate

Legislature passes bill shielding public employees using medical marijuana

Published: June 2, 2022

By: Piper Hutchinson, LSU Manship School News Service

BATON ROUGE — The Senate gave final passage to a bill Wednesday that would protect state employees who legally use medical marijuana.

House Bill 988, sponsored by Rep. Mandie Landry, D-New Orleans, protects state employees from negative consequences if they are diagnosed with conditions for which a doctor recommends medical marijuana used in accordance with state law.

The bill cleared the Senate on a 26-8 vote. It was opposed by Republican Sens. Mike Fesi of Houma, Beth Mizell of Franklinton, Cameron Henry of Metairie, Sharon Hewitt of Slidell, Jay Morris of Monroe, Barrow Peacock of Bossier City, Rogers Pope of Denham Springs and Bodi White of Central.

The law would protect employees from being fired and would protect prospective employees from being discriminated against for use of medical marijuana.

Read more at Town Talk

House passes bills to restrict guns for some former juvenile offenders

Published: June 2, 2022

By: Piper Hutchinson, LSU Manship School News Service

Rep. Debbie Villio supported a bill to prohibit some from juvenile offenders from possessing firearms. (Piper Hutchinson/LSU Manship School News Service)

BATON ROUGE–The House voted 59-39 Tuesday to pass a bill that would prohibit former juvenile offenders from possessing firearms until they are 24 years old.

Senate Bill 379, sponsored by Sen. Barrow Peacock, R-Bossier City, would prohibit former juvenile offenders who have been adjudicated for a crime of violence from possessing firearms until then.

The House amended the bill, which was carried on the floor by Rep. Debbie Villio, R-Kenner, to remove a provision that would have allowed the former offenders to possess guns to hunt.

Rep. Joe Marino, I-Gretna, argued that the bill is unconstitutional, as juveniles are not convicted by a jury, but rather adjudicated solely by a judge.

Read more at BIZ Magazine

Senate Committee guts ‘constitutional carry’ bill, amending it to allow teachers to carry concealed guns at schools

Published: June 1, 2022

By: Allison Allsop and Piper Hutchinson, LSU Manship School News Service

Rep. Danny McCormick’s bill on concealed carry in general was amended to focus on school personnel.(Credit: Piper Hutchinson/LSU Manship School News Service)

BATON ROUGE, La. (LSU Manship School News Service) – A Senate committee struck provisions Wednesday, June 1 that would have allowed for permit-less concealed carry dramatically altering a bill to instead allow for teachers to carry concealed guns on school property in certain circumstances.

House Bill 37, sponsored by Rep. Danny McCormick, R-Oil City, was intended to remove current requirements that an individual must have a concealed carry permit to carry a handgun in a concealed manner in Louisiana.

An amendment proposed by Sen. Eddie Lambert, R-Gonzales, removed provisions of the bill that would have allowed for permit-less carry and inserted language that would allow for teachers to become certified to carry weapons on school grounds.

The amendment passed 8-2 Wednesday evening, with Republican Sens. Jay Morris of Monroe and Mike Reese of Leesville in opposition.

Lambert pointed to the more than 40-minute period that police in Uvalde, Texas, were delayed in entering Robb Elementary School last week during a mass shooting that killed 19 children and two teachers.

Read more at KALB

Louisiana House summons governor in Ronald Greene probe

Published: June 1, 2022

By: Piper Hutchinson, LSU Manship School News Service

BATON ROUGE, La. — The House committee investigating the response to the death of Ronald Greene on Wednesday requested that Gov. John Bel Edwards and two members of his legal counsel testify before the committee.

“The Special Committee to inquire into the Circumstances and Investigation of the Death of Ronald Greene was created to search for the truth,” House Speaker Clay Schexnayder said in a statement. “That search for truth has continually led us to serious questions that can only be answered by Governor John Bel Edwards and his executive staff.”

“This committee will do its job and see this through no matter where the evidence leads,” Schexnayder said in the statement.

The House special committee is charged with investigating the slow response to the death of Greene, a Black motorist, who died after a violent encounter with State Police officers in 2019.

Read more at WWL

Senate panel advances bill that gives only U.S. citizens the right to vote

Published: May 31, 2022

By: Allison Allsop, LSU Manship School News Service

BATON ROUGE, La. (LSU Manship News Service) — A Senate committee advanced a bill by conservative lawmakers on Tuesday aimed at limiting the right to vote in Louisiana to U.S. citizens.

House Bill 178, authored by Rep. Debbie Villio, R-Kenner, proposes a constitutional amendment to make it clear that in Louisiana someone must be a citizen of the United States to register to vote.

Without the amendment, local governing authorities have the power to allow non-citizens the right to vote.

Louisiana Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin supported the bill.

Read more at BRProud