By: Jeremy Alford
A Thibodaux lawmaker has filed legislation that would strip legislators of their long-held right to award scholarships to Tulane University but that doesnt mean the bill will be debated. The four-year scholarships, presently valued at $33,000 a year, are perennial issues. Rookie Rep. Jerome Dee Richard, an independent from Lafourche Parish, placed them on his hit list for the session that begins this week, but feedback from his colleagues has been sharper than he anticipated. At this point, Im not 100 percent sure Im going to go forward with the bill, but I wanted to get it filed to get a conversation going, he says. Tulane legislative scholarships date from the late 19th century, but they didnt become controversial until the mid-1990s, when media reports revealed that lawmakers were doling them out to family members. Since then, some lawmakers have allowed Tulane to pick students from their respective districts, while others have appointed committees to award the scholarships. If passed, Richards House Bill 272 would not take effect until 2012 so any scholarships promised during the ongoing term can still be delivered.