Solar energy tax credits see new light in Louisiana Legislature

By William Taylor Potter

A state legislative committee moved Monday (May 1) to fix one of its “broken promises” by unanimously passing a bill to pay solar energy systems tax credits still owed before it put a cap on the program took effect last summer. House Bill 187, by Rep. Gregory Cromer, R-Slidell, now goes to the full House for consideration.

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

How much will Louisiana make off medical marijuana sales?

By Sarah Gamard

BATON ROUGE — The lucrative nature of medical marijuana sales was at the center of a Louisiana House committee discussion on a law that puts the state into the distribution business. LSU and Southern University plan to grow marijuana for use as medical treatments, as authorized under 2016 legislation to legalize and regulate the distribution.

LSU’s operation alone is estimated to cost between $10 million and $15 million. But the Committee on Agriculture, Forestry, Aquaculture and Rural Development was warned Thursday (April 27) that it will take seven to eight years for the operation to become lucrative.

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

Sanctuary city ban advances in Louisiana Legislature, with New Orleans in mind

By William Taylor Potter

A bill prohibiting so-called sanctuary city policies anywhere in Louisiana — but targeting New Orleans — was approved with a 8-7 committee vote Wednesday (April 26) and sent to the full House for debate.

House Bill 135 by Rep. Valarie Hodges, R-Denham Springs, defines sanctuary city policies as ordinances or guidelines discouraging or prohibiting cooperation with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) when it comes to immigrants or preventing local law enforcement officers from asking a suspect about his or her immigration status when routinely stopped for another offense, such as a traffic violation.

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

Brew U: Shreveport lawmaker seeks to bar colleges from branding with beer companies

By Sarah Gamard

A contentious proposal in the Louisiana House of Representatives by a Shreveport lawmaker would prohibit a state institution of higher learning from allowing its name or symbol to be affixed to an alcoholic beverage.

This has ramification for both the microbreweries and the schools. The controversy even caught the attention of Gov. John Bel Edwards, who weighed into the brew-ha-ha Thursday.

Read the story in bestofneworleans.com/Gambit

Protest at state Capitol for incarceration reform

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Yolanda Castillo (left) holds a sign at the steps of the State Capitol. Her nephew is 40 years old and has been incarcerated for 21 years. Castillo was one of several demonstrators Thursday who came with the Louisianans for Prison Alternatives to advocate bills this session that would reform Louisiana incarceration. Photo by Sarah Gamard.

By Sarah Gamard

The Louisiana State Capitol was flooded with a sea of bright blue T-shirts Thursday when more than 100 members of the group Louisianans for Prison Alternatives came to support bills relating to incarceration reform.

The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) also was there to support the group. Sarah Omojola, an SPLC policy counsel in New Orleans, said twice as many people as expected showed up for the demonstration.

Read the story in bestofneworleans.com/Gambit