BATON ROUGE, La. (LSU Manship School News Service) – The Senate Health and Welfare Committee on Wednesday, May 11 rejected a House resolution to repeal a state rule requiring COVID vaccines for students.
The committee voted 4-3 against the resolution. Its vote will allow the Louisiana Health Department to add the COVID vaccine to a list of required immunizations for students aged 16 and up.
Rep. Larry Bagley, R-Stonewall, proposed the resolution after several lawmakers brought the rule to his attention.
ROCHESTER, N.Y. — Not a day has passed during the past 62 years that Willie Gibson hasn’t thought of Louisiana and the horrific shootings in Monroe that left four of his friends and co-workers dead and a fifth seriously wounded.
Gibson is the last living witness involved in the events that led to the killings by Robert Fuller, who ran a sanitation business and later became a Ku Klux Klan leader.
And in an interview at his home here, Gibson described publicly for the first time how tensions had boiled over on a job site the day before the shootings in 1960, why he was not there when the shootings occurred and how he fled to New York for his own safety.
Gibson, now 80, provided further support for the idea that Fuller’s eldest son William A. Fuller, who had hit Gibson in the face with a shovel the day before, was involved in the shootings.
His account also shows how shoddy the FBI’s efforts to investigate the case many years later were.
During that investigation, which began in 2007, FBI agents mistakenly thought Gibson was the man who had been wounded in the attack. They also did not spend much time looking for him, apparently believing a witness who said Gibson was dead.
Gibson said he believes that Robert Fuller, who claimed he was acting in self-defense, lied about being the lone shooter. Gibson also said that Charles Willis, the man who actually was wounded, told him later that Bill Fuller, then 19, had had a gun and helped shoot the men.
The FBI, which could have learned much from Gibson and other witnesses it failed to find, never investigated Bill Fuller, who was still alive when the bureau closed the case in 2010.
By: Allison Kadlubar, LSU Manship School News Service
BATON ROUGE — Lawmakers narrowly rejected a bill Tuesday to ban drivers from using hand-held phones after several amendments, debates and product demonstrations.
The bill would have allowed law enforcement to ticket anyone caught with a cell phone in hand while driving.
“This bill is a wireless cell phone hands-free bill,” the author of the bill, Rep. Mike Huval, R-Breaux Bridge, said. “It does not keep you from using a cell phone when you’re driving. It just requires you to do it in a safe manner.”
The bill failed to pass in the House by a close margin of 48-46. But before the vote, lawmakers discussed the bill in intense debates.
Lawmakers adopted eight amendments to alter the bill since it was first proposed in the House Committee on Transportation, Highways and Public Works on March 14.
By: Margaret DeLaney, LSU Manship School News Service
BATON ROUGE–The House Committee on Education voted 7-1 Wednesday to advance a bill to prevent transgender females from participating in girls’ sports.
The bill has already passed the Senate and will now proceed to the House floor.
Senate Bill 44, called the Fairness in Women’s Sports Act, states that “teams designated for females are not open to participation by biological males.”
The bill requires that biological sex be determined by the student-athlete’s official birth certificate. The biological sex would then determine whether the athlete participate on a male or female sports team.
“We’ve had a poll done in the state of Louisiana that shows over 80% of Louisianans support protecting women’s sports for biological females,” Sen. Beth Mizell, R-Franklinton, said.
All intercollegiate, interscholastic and intramural teams in any school receiving state funding would be subject to these rules.
BATON ROUGE, La. (LSU Manship School News Service) – The House Committee on Education advanced a bill Tuesday, May 3 that would require behavioral assessments before students could be expelled, placed in an alternative school or suspended.
House Bill 222, sponsored by Rep. C. Denise Marcelle, D-Baton Rouge, would require that a student be administered an assessment chosen by the Louisiana Department of Health before being removed from a school.
The bill also would prevent schools from suspending students for dress code violations and allow schools to use discretion when punishing students in elementary and middle school for possession of a gun or a knife over 2 ½ inches.
Present law requires an automatic suspension for any student to be found in possession of a knife or gun.
The proposal would only allow students in grades K-8 to be suspended if they acted “in a way that is intended to cause significant bodily harm or emotional distress to another person.”
The bill was advanced on a 5-4 vote, with two Republicans, Rep. Barbara Freiberg of Baton Rouge and Rep. Vincent St. Blanc of Franklin, voting in favor of the bill.
BATON ROUGE, La. (LSU Manship School News Service) – A bill that would have prohibited licensed medical professionals from engaging with minors in conversion therapy was met with opposition and voluntarily deferred Tuesday at a House hearing.
The bill defined conversion therapy as practices intended to change a lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or queer individual’s sexual orientation, gender identity or both. Under the bill, a medical professional who participated in such therapy could have had his or her license revoked.
“We have a large population of vulnerable youth here, and we need to do everything we can to at least let them know that there are people here who care about them,” the bill’s author, Rep. Mandie Landry, D-New Orleans, said at the House Committee on Health and Welfare meeting.
Some conservative and religious groups believe that gay people can be persuaded to change their sexual orientation, while many experts dispute that.
Landry amended her bill, House Bill 605, by providing further definitions about health providers and consent and removing criminal language to satisfy other lawmakers, but that did not stop opposition.
By: Allison Allsop, LSU Manship School News Service
The Louisiana House Committee on Education has advanced a bill to require schools to provide free and easy-to-access menstrual products, primarily in school bathrooms.
“We don’t want girls to miss class time because they don’t have a five-cent pad,” Kendra Reed, a Junior League volunteer, said.
The bill, House Bill 195, was created by Rep. Aimee Adatto Freeman, D-New Orleans, and advanced last week without objection. It is scheduled for House floor debate Thursday. If it passes in both chambers and is signed by the governor, it will be enacted for the 2023-2024 school year.
Truancy is a big issue among girls facing so-called “period poverty.” Many do not attend school due to not being able to access menstrual supplies.
By: Piper Hutchinson, LSU Manship School News Service
BATON ROUGE — The Senate Committee on Education unanimously advanced a resolution Thursday that would create a task force to study tenure for college professors.
Senate Concurrent Resolution 6, sponsored by Sen. Stewart Cathey, R-Monroe, would create the Task Force on Tenure in Postsecondary Education. The task force would report back to lawmakers with suggestions on changing tenure policies in the state.
The resolution’s language suggests that Cathey, acting in line with Republican lawmakers in other states, is concerned about possible indoctrination of students at Louisiana universities.
“Postsecondary students should be confident that they are being exposed to a variety of viewpoints, including those that are dissenting,” the resolution reads. The resolution seeks to ensure that “faculty members are not using their courses for the purpose of political, ideological, religious or anti-religious indoctrination.”
While the original resolution called for just two faculty representatives on the task force, Cathey amended the bill to allow for one from each of Louisiana’s university systems. Cathey said that he was asked to do this by Jim Henderson, president of the University of Louisiana system.
By: Piper Hutchinson, LSU Manship School News Service
BATON ROUGE — The House Committee on Labor and Industrial Relations on Thursday killed four bills seeking to raise the minimum wage through different approaches.
Louisiana is one of five states that does not have its own minimum wage.
House Bill 472, sponsored by Rep. Tammy Phelps, D-Shreveport, sought to increase the tipped minimum wage. Presently, tipped employees, defined as those who make at least $30 per month in tips, can be paid as little as $2.13 an hour by their employers as long as they make at least $7.25 after tips.
The bill would have increased the employers’ part of the wage to $4.26 an hour.
“None of the good times that we offer here in Louisiana would be possible if it were not for our service employees to work for these businesses,” Phelps said.
By: Olivia C. Landry | LSU Manship School News Service
A survey released Thursday suggests Louisiana residents are split almost evenly over whether to maintain legal access to abortions.
The survey, by the LSU Reilly Center for Media & Public Affairs, found that 49% of the 508 residents surveyed opposed legal access to abortions in all or most cases, and 46% supported it. The difference is within the poll’s margin of error.
In a similar survey in 2016, 55% of state residents thought abortion should be illegal in all or most cases while 40% thought it should be legal.
The shift occurred primarily among Democrats. Over the last six years, the level of Democratic support for legal abortions rose to 74% percent from 51%, and the percentage of Democrats opposed to legal abortion fell to 19% from 42%.