Measure to free up state funds approved by Finance committee

Sen. Sharon Hewitt, R-Slidell (Photo: Sarah Gamard/LSU Manship School News Service).

By Drew White

A measure that could free up several hundred million dollars in state spending that is set by law and cannot be adjusted in the annual budget progress narrowly cleared its first hurdle Monday.

In a 6-4 vote, the Senate Finance committee approved a slightly watered-down version of a bill that would reclassify the funds in the Treasury. It now heads to the full Senate for consideration.

Read the story in KALB-TV/


La House votes to pass budget calling to cut TOPS funding by 20%

By Devon Sanders, Ryan Noonan, & Paul Braun

Tensions were high Thursday as the Louisiana House voted 55-47 to pass a state budget that called for cutting TOPS funding by 20 percent and stripping most of the funding for partner hospitals and other health services for the poor.

This proposal came after state officials estimated that federal tax changes would bring in an extra $346 million in state revenue next year, lowering the projected budget deficit to $648 million.

Read the story in KALB-TV/

La Department of Correction agrees to ease prisoner interview restrictions

By Paul Braun

The Department of Corrections has agreed to ease restrictions on prisoner interviews to settle a lawsuit filed by a student journalist and the American Civil Liberties Union of Louisiana.

Christopher Lowery, a former project coordinator for the Wrongful Conviction Project at LSU’s Manship School of Mass Communication, filed the suit last year after department officials denied his request to interview Angola inmate Darold Hines.

Read the story in KALB-TV/

‘Lunch shaming’ bill defeated; student-initiated prayer bill advances

Students testified in support of a bill Thursday that would allow school employees to participate in student-initiated prayer during the school day.(Photo: Kaylee Poche/LSU Manship School News Service)

By Kaylee Poche

The Senate Education Committee on Thursday voted 4-2 to reject a bill that would have prevented schools from punishing students with lunch debt even though the bill had easily passed the House earlier this month.

The committee also voted 5-1 in favor of a bill allowing school employees to participate in student-initiated prayer during the work day if all of the students had obtained signed permission slips from their parents.

Read the story in The Town Talk.

Being a presidential press secretary like ‘being a human piñata’

Former White House press secretaries Mike McCurry, left, and Ari Fleischer speak at LSU’s Manship School Tuesday. (Photo: Dilyn Stewart/LSU Daily Reveille)

By Luke Jeanfreau, LSU Daily Reveille

As anyone who watches the news can see, the White House press secretary is often in a tough spot.

“I’d liken the job to being a human piñata,” Mike McCurry, who was a press secretary for former President Bill Clinton, said Tuesday night at LSU’s Manship School of Mass Communication. “The press corps just kind of whacks at you to see if anything will spill out.”

Read the story in The News-Star.

Louisiana Senate to consider bill that would fortify policies against sexual harassment at state agencies

Sen. Sharon Hewitt, R-Slidell, responding to questions at a Senate hearing on her bill that would fortify sexual harassment policies across the state. (Photo by Tryfon Boukouvidis/LSU Manship School News Service)

By Tryfon Boukouvidis

Louisiana senators agreed Wednesday to cooperate on a comprehensive compromise bill that would fortify Louisiana’s policies against sexual harassment in state agencies.

The Senate and Governmental Affairs Committee sent the bill to the Senate floor to be considered next week after senators negotiate changes in the language.

Read the story in Gambit/