A House committee voted down a bill Tuesday that would remove non-violent and non-sex offenses from habitual-offender law that currently limits judicial discretion and gives prosecutors the upper hand in plea negotiations.
Louisiana State University leaders picked a good moment to celebrate their annual “LSU Day at the Capitol,” coming right after both Gov. John Bel Edwards and House Republicans proposed adding more money for TOPS scholarships back into next year’s budget.
But after a painful decade of dealing with cuts in overall spending on higher education, officials from LSU’s campuses and medical schools in Baton Rouge, Alexandria, Eunice, Shreveport and New Orleans descended on the Capitol Tuesday to lobby for more stability.
After a contentious debate, the House Appropriations Committee voted Monday almost along party lines to approve a state budget that would fully fund TOPS while slashing health services for the state’s most vulnerable citizens.
A set of amendments sponsored by the committee’s vice chairman, Franklin Foil, R-Baton Rouge, would allocate $233 million to fund the popular TOPS scholarships and $13 million to fund Go Grant, a program that provides need-based financial aid.
A survey by the LSU Public Policy Research Lab found that a majority of Louisiana residents support criminal justice reform and Medicaid expansion, two major policies pushed by the John Bel Edwards administration.
The survey comes at a time when legislators are considering proposals to scale back last year’s changes in criminal justice and cut funding for some Medicaid programs.
Former U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu said Thursday night that she is not sure what she would have done if she had still been in the Senate when fellow Democrats called on Sen. Al Franken to resign over sexual harassment allegations.
“It was a very tough issue because he is known as a very thoughtful, extraordinary advocate for women and women’s issues generally,” Landrieu said at a panel discussion on sexual harassment.
“I thought a lot about what I would have done, and I’m still not 100 percent sure,“ she said.
The sponsor of controversial legislation that would require criminal grand juries to review all officer-involved shootings resulting in injury or death deferred her own bill after agreeing to seek creation of a task force to study it.
Rep. Denise Marcelle, D-Baton Rouge, proposed the bill after Attorney General Jeff Landry decided not to file criminal charges against the Baton Rouge police officers involved in the 2016 shooting death of Alton Sterling.