Bill granting parole to juvenile offenders sentenced to life advances

By Jack Richards

BATON ROUGE — The Senate voted 36-1 to allow all juvenile offenders sentenced to life without parole the chance for a parole hearing after serving 35 years.

House Bill 264 by House Criminal Justice chairman Sherman Mack, R-Albany, originally gave the chance for parole only to those cases prior to 2012.  But an amendment by Sen. Danny Martini, R-Metairie, made it all-inclusive.

Read the story in The Advertiser

Bill would make it easier for state to collect taxes online

By Jack Richards

BATON ROUGE — Senate Revenue and Fiscal Affairs Committee unanimously approved a bill to sharpen the ability of the Department of Revenue to collect sales tax on internet and other out- of-state retailers.

House Bill 1121 by Rep. Walt Leger, D-New Orleans, requires retailers to report certain information to help the state collect sales tax that currently goes largely unreported.

Read the story in The Shreveport Times

House committee OKs use of student IDs for voting

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LSU student government representative Jacques Petit (left) and Rep. Randal Gaines, D-LaPlace, speak before the House Education Committee Tuesday regarding a bill to allow university students to use student ID cards as identification for voting. Photo by Jack Richards. 

By Jack Richards

BATON ROUGE — The House Education Committee Tuesday approved a bill to allow university students across the state to use student ID cards as identification for voting, perhaps as early this fall, although the bill doesn’t require it until 2019.

House Bill 940 by Rep. Randal Gaines, D-LaPlace, requires the ID cards to have a picture and a signature, making them valid under the state’s voter identification laws.

Read the story in The Town Talk

REPORT: TOPS STUDENTS MAY PAY THOUSANDS MORE

By Samuel Carter Karlin

BATON ROUGE — A report detailing the recent changes made to the Taylor Opportunity Program for Students — the state’s tuition-paying scholarship – warns that students could be paying thousands for tuition beyond what the scholarship covers in a few years.

The Cowen Institute of Tulane University, released its report, “The Future of TOPS,” Tuesday, offering potential pitfalls to TOPS reforms that have passed or look likely to pass this session.

Read the story in StMaryNow.com/The Banner Tribune & Daily Review

Paper docs still blowing around capitol

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The legislative bill room houses the paper trail of each session’s efforts at passing, amending or killing laws on the books.  Photo by Justin DiCharia.

By Justin DiCharia

BATON ROUGE – In 1997, Louisiana House Speaker Hunt Downer ushered his lawmakers into the digital age. Bills, amendments, votes and fiscal notes became available on their individual screens with the click of a mouse.

Nineteen years later, the path toward a paperless Legislature has made headway, but hard copies still reign and taxpayers are left holding a six-figure invoice.

Read the story in The Advertiser