La. Senate passes $30B budget

BATON ROUGE — The Louisiana Senate passed on Thursday in a 35-2 vote a $30 billion state operating budget for next year that includes pay raises for school teachers, across-the-board increases for school districts and a boost for early childhood education. Eric LaFleur, a Democrat from Ville Platte who chairs the Senate Finance Committee, said on the Senate floor “I think we have a budget that we can be proud of.” The Senate Finance Committee on Monday amended the budget bill to better reflect the proposals of Gov. John Bel Edwards and the Board of Education and Secondary Education, or BESE, on public school funding. But the proposal differed from what House Republican leaders pursued. Earli

Teens charged with arson of 14.5 acres

Two teenagers are charged in connection with a suspected arson of 14.5 acres of timber in Ouachita Parish and a third also was in custody, according tot he Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry. Christopher Caleon Beaver and Jose Louis Reeves, both 18 and of Calhoun, are accused of stealing fireworks from a shed and using them to set fire to timber and property on Jim Finley Road, according to investigators. A 15-year-old, whose name was not released because of his age, also was taken into custody. Damage to the shed and burned timber is estimated at $36,000, according to LDAF. Beaver was booked into the Ouachita Parish jail May 15 on counts of simple arson and simple burglary, ac

House passes bill to phase out extra tax

BATON ROUGE — The Louisiana House on Thursday voted 73-21 to pass a bill that would phase out the extra portion of the state sales tax that the Legislature renewed last year after five months of partisan tensions to address recurring budget crises. The proposal would reduce the extra 0.45 of a cent of sales tax by one-tenth of a penny every year from 2020 to 2022 and repeal the rest in 2023. Last year lawmakers struck a compromise under which the sales tax extension would expire in 2025. This would give lawmakers time to find more permanent solutions to the state’s fiscal shortfalls. “If you are fine with extracting excessive money out of the taxpayer’s pockets,” said the sponsor of the bill

House panel OKs phasing out sales tax

BATON ROUGE — The House Appropriations Committee on Monday advanced a proposal on a 12-5 vote along partisan lines that would phase out the portion of the state sales tax that the Legislature extended last year after nearly five months of partisan dispute. The bill, sponsored by Rep. Lance Harris, R-Alexandria, would reduce the extra 0.45 of a cent of sales tax by one-tenth of a penny every year from 2020 to 2022 and repeal the rest in 2023. Under this proposal, the state is projected to lose $392 million in revenues by 2024. “This particular piece of legislation speaks to giving individuals and taxpayers some of the money back that we extract out of their pocket on a temporary basis,” Harri

Tort reform bill fails in Senate panel

BATON ROUGE — A Senate committee rejected a bill on Tuesday that would reduce auto insurance premiums by curbing civil lawsuits. The panel also advanced a proposal to raise Louisiana’s minimum age for marriage to 18. The insurance bill was sponsored by Rep. Kirk Talbot, R-River Ridge, and was intended to shield insurance companies from lawsuits and reduce the number of lawsuits against drivers over time. Talbot’s bill, called the “Omnibus Premium Reduction Act of 2019,” had passed the House 69-30 last week but failed 4-1 Tuesday in the Senate committee, Judiciary A. The bill actually could have led to more jury trials, according to a legislative fiscal note by the Louisiana Department of Ins

HOV lanes, no inspection stickers OK'd

BATON ROUGE — The House Transportation Committee approved bills Monday to authorize high-occupancy vehicle lanes and study higher fines for drivers who injure or kill motorcyclists and pedestrians. The high-occupancy lanes, which would be a first for Louisiana, are designated for vehicles with more than one person. The bill, proposed by Senator Dale Erdey, R-Livingston, is intended to reduce traffic overflow by re-labeling lanes with adequate shoulders. Erdey said one possible place for an HOV lane would be from Interstate 12 in Walker to the I-10 and I-12 split in Baton Rouge. This bottleneck, committee Chairman Rep. Terry Landry, D-New Iberia, said, causes commuters to get stuck in the cor

House panel OKs bill to eliminate tax hike

BATON ROUGE — The House Ways and Means Committee on Monday advanced a proposal that would reduce and eventually repeal the portion of the state sales tax the Legislature extended last year after months of partisan wrangling. The bill, by Rep. Lance Harris, R-Alexandria, would gradually phase out the extra 0.45 percent of sales tax by 2023. It would reduce the tax by one-tenth of a penny every year from 2020 to 2022 and repeal the rest in 2023. Under the proposal, the state would lose a total of $392 million in revenue by 2024. “We might be extracting too much money out of the taxpayer’s pocket because we’re continually ending up with surpluses’’ Harris said,” and we continually raise taxes a

House passes $30B budget

BATON ROUGE — The House on Thursday passed a $30 billion operating budget for next year that includes $1,200 teacher pay raises, $600 for support staff and full funding for TOPS scholarships, but not the $39 million for public schools sought by the governor. In stark contrast to previous budget debates, the full House almost unanimously approved the bill in a 100-1 vote. The budget now moves to the Senate, which could push to add in the $39 million for the schools that Gov. John Bel Edwards originally proposed. Edwards, a Democrat up for re-election, proposed pay raises of $1,000 for teachers and $500 for support workers. Republican House leaders suggested that the state cannot afford both t

Tax exemption passes in Senate bill

BATON ROUGE — After the Senate rejected his bid for a constitutional amendment to exempt diapers and tampons from the state sales tax, the bill’s sponsor, Sen. J.P. Morrell, found another way to get the job done. Late Wednesday, Morrell, a Democrat from New Orleans, changed another bill to do essentially the same thing by statute. That bill passed 29-5. The main difference, Morrell explained, is that voter approval of a constitutional amendment would have made the tax exemption permanent, while the Legislature could change or rescind its own approval at any time. The House still needs to consider the matter and could reject Morrell’s latest plan. Morrell also proposed other bills that sought

Panel OKs $30 billion state budget

BATON ROUGE — The House Appropriations Committee on Monday advanced a $30 billion state operating budget that would include $1,200 raises for public school teachers and $600 raises for support staff. That marked an increase from the $1,000 raises for K-12 teachers and $500 for support workers that Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards has proposed. The higher raises would cost an additional $20 million. But the committee, led by Rep. Cameron Henry, R-Metairie, rejected the governor’s proposal for a $39 million increase in funding for operating the schools. That rejection came in a 17-3 vote shooting down amendments proposed by one of the governor’s floor leaders. The committee also increased fund

Logging Cost Analysis seminar set

The University of Georgia's Warnell School of Forestry this summer is having a continuing education program on the Logging Cost Analysis. If you'd like more information, click the link below or download the PDF. The program is set for June 12-13. Logging Cost Analysis Continuing Education Program link Logging Cost Analysis PDF

Death penalty abolition bill passes panel

BATON ROUGE — A new effort to abolish the state’s death penalty advanced Tuesday with a 4-2 Senate committee vote on a bill proposed by Republican State Sen. Dan Claitor. Louisiana is one of 31 states that permits capital punishment. Similar legislative efforts to ban the death penalty have failed in recent years. Under this year’s bill, voters would decide whether to change Louisiana’s constitution to make it illegal to execute criminals for any offense committed on or after January 1, 2021. Judiciary Committee C also passed an amendment that would include the bill on the 2020 presidential ballot for voters to decide. The bill was filed by Claitor, R-Baton Rouge, the committee’s chairman, a

House panel considers IT, cybersecurity

BATON ROUGE — Lawmakers are looking for ways to train more information-technology experts and bolster the state’s cyber defenses. Gov. John Bel Edwards has promoted the state’s need to build an IT and cybersecurity infrastructure, and the House Appropriations Committee considered bills this week to help achieve this goal. The committee advanced a proposal by Rep. Mark Abraham, R-Lake Charles, to create the Louisiana Cybersecurity Talent Initiative Fund. If approved by the full Legislature, it would appropriate more money for degree and certificate programs related to cybersecurity and information technology. “Cybersecurity is the new frontier,” Abraham said. “For once, can Louisiana be on th

News Categories
Recent Posts
Search By Tags
Follow Us
  • Facebook Basic Square
  • YouTube Social  Icon
RSS Feed