Baton Rouge

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Gov. Edwards on LGBT nondiscrimination order: "Louisiana is a state that is respective and inclusive of everyone around us"

Posted By on Wed, Apr 13, 2016 at 12:05 PM

Gov. John Bel Edwards
  • Gov. John Bel Edwards
Gov. John Bel Edwards has issued the first statewide measure creating legal protection for transgender people in Louisiana.

Today, Edwards signed an executive order protecting state employees, as well as employees of state contractors and people receiving state services, from discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. Previous legislative efforts to include LGBT protections in nondiscrimination laws have failed. Edwards' order creates protections from discrimination on the "basis of race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, political affiliation, disability, or age," and extends that protection in services provided by state agencies. 

There still are no statewide nondiscrimination laws protecting all LGBT people. Edwards' order also recognizes exemptions for churches and religious organizations. (A "Pastor Protection Act" filed by state Rep. Mike Johnson received committee support yesterday.)

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Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Louisiana's "Pastor Protection Act" gets committee support

Posted By on Tue, Apr 12, 2016 at 3:15 PM

A crowd at Jackson Square in 2015 rallying in support of the U.S. Supreme Court decision allowing same-sex marriages. - ALEX WOODWARD
  • ALEX WOODWARD
  • A crowd at Jackson Square in 2015 rallying in support of the U.S. Supreme Court decision allowing same-sex marriages.

After failing to get support for his 2015 "Marriage and Conscience Act" as a last line of defense from the U.S. Supreme Court's landmark decision on gay marriage, state Rep. Mike Johnson, R-Bossier City, got committee support for his House Bill 597, aka the "Pastor Protection Act."

Johnson brought his measure to today's House Committee on Civil Law and Procedure, where it passed 7-3. Opponents argue the measure could open the door for all kinds of anti-LGBT discrimination as the measure not only protects clergy but employees of any "religious organization" from having to provide "services" to anyone they believe "violate[s] a sincerely held religious belief." Johnson says it's intended only to apply to people performing same-sex marriages.

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Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Louisiana students rally in Baton Rouge for the "Raise the Age Louisiana Act"

Posted By on Wed, Apr 6, 2016 at 5:49 PM

Carlos Wilson and Jasmine Jeff were two of the students who traveled to the state capitol today in support of state Sen. J.P. Morrell's "Raise the Age Louisiana Act," which would stop the prosecution of 17-year-olds as adults. - DELLA HASSELLE
  • DELLA HASSELLE
  • Carlos Wilson and Jasmine Jeff were two of the students who traveled to the state capitol today in support of state Sen. J.P. Morrell's "Raise the Age Louisiana Act," which would stop the prosecution of 17-year-olds as adults.

In many ways, 17-year-old Carlos Wilson is trying hard to mature into a responsible adult. He has a job, he says, and a one-year old son whom he calls “his pride and joy.”

But he’s constantly reminded that he’s not yet of age to do some adult things. He pays taxes, for instance, but cannot vote to help determine how that money will be spent. And last year, he was unable to sign his own son’s birth certificate, because he was too young.

He also can’t serve on a jury, join the army or buy beer or cigarettes.

Yet if Wilson were to get arrested, he would be sent to an adult lockup, even if charged with a minor offense. That’s because Louisiana is only one of nine states in the country that prosecutes 17-year-olds as if they are adults.

“We as 17-year-olds deserve clarity,” said Wilson, a senior at the New Orleans Charter Science and Math Academy. “Are we adults, or are we still children?”

Wilson has been part of a steering committee for his school that for the past year has been researching the possibility of raising the age in Louisiana for criminal infractions from 17 to 18.

On Wednesday, Wilson traveled with about 300 youth from Lafayette and New Orleans to present his findings during a rally on the steps of the state capitol, and to ask that legislators stop prosecuting 17-year-olds as adults.

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Monday, April 4, 2016

Y@ Speak: endangered species

Posted By on Mon, Apr 4, 2016 at 6:45 PM

Dear Bird Lover Basketball Fan:

Our Pelicans need your help. One by one, these men are forced to wear suits and sit down instead of running for a few hours in their natural habitat: shiny, shiny wood in multimillion dollar state-of-the-art arenas. Please, think of the bird men.

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Monday, March 7, 2016

It's The Best, Greatest Y@ Speak, OK?

Posted By on Mon, Mar 7, 2016 at 3:15 PM

Donald Trump gets a warm New Orleans welcome and Louisiana voters head to the polls and to #ProTip election day hacker Chris Rose. Also: the earth's days are numbered as #NOLAscanner gets climax-of-Ghostbusters-level strange.

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Monday, February 15, 2016

Y@ Speak: crushes

Posted By on Mon, Feb 15, 2016 at 3:55 PM

After a jumbo-sized Mardi Gras Y@ Speak, we're trimming down for the sobering post-Carnival reality of the state's economic Code Red — appropriate for Valentine's Day. Zuck, care to help?

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Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Gov. Edwards to address budget crisis in live statewide address Feb. 11

Posted By on Wed, Feb 10, 2016 at 12:11 PM

Gov. John Bel Edwards.
  • Gov. John Bel Edwards.

Saying "We have reached the end of the road where cuts alone will work to solve this problem," Gov. John Bel Edwards announced he will deliver a statewide address Feb. 11 about the Louisiana budget crisis, which is worse than than previous projections.

The state's Revenue Estimating Conference (REC) issued a forecast today saying Louisiana was facing an $850 million immediate deficit (up from a previously forecast $750 million) and a projected budget gap for the 2016-2017 fiscal year of $2 billion.

Greg Albrecht, the state's chief economist, told the REC this morning, "For all practical purposes, Louisiana is in its own recession, and it has come on pretty rapidly."  

LaPolitics editor Jeremy Alford reported Edwards and his team contacted television stations around the state last week asking for airtime for what would amount to a "State of the State" address, which was granted. Edwards will address Louisiana at 6:30 p.m. Thursday night.

Last month, Gambit examined the state budget mess in a cover story, "Louisiana's Hangover." 

Under the cut: Edwards' statement.

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Thursday, February 4, 2016

Republican state lawmakers and Gov. John Bel Edwards are poised to repeat the mistakes of the past

Posted By on Thu, Feb 4, 2016 at 2:33 PM

thinkstockphotos-506558022.jpg

I’ve seen this play before. It does not end well. Yet, for some reason, Republican state lawmakers and Gov. John Bel Edwards are poised to repeat the mistakes of the past. If that happens, there’s little hope that our state’s worst-ever fiscal crisis will lead to long-range tax and budget reforms. That’s too bad. A crisis is a terrible thing to waste.

It’s not that major political players and respected fiscal experts haven’t offered specific long-range solutions. They have, in droves. And it’s not that the Democratic governor and the Republican caucus haven’t been talking about working together.

The problem, as is almost always the case, is that when it’s actually time to work together, things break down quickly along partisan lines, with both sides retreating to their silos to lob talking points at one another.

There’s still time — barely — to get it right. And, to be fair, both sides are equally right and wrong here.

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Monday, January 11, 2016

John Bel Edwards takes office as Louisiana's 56th governor

Posted By on Mon, Jan 11, 2016 at 3:03 PM

John Bel Edwards delivers his inaugural address on the steps of the Louisiana State Capitol.
  • John Bel Edwards delivers his inaugural address on the steps of the Louisiana State Capitol.

John Bel Edwards, the Democratic state representative from Amite who triumphed over Republican U.S. Sen. David Vitter to become Louisiana's 56th governor, took his oath of office this morning in Baton Rouge surrounded by family, friends and hundreds of supporters.

In his inaugural speech from the steps of the Louisiana State Capitol, Edwards struck a get-down-to-business tone, saying, "We must be honest with ourselves and one another. I can tell you I'd rather be here today inheriting a billion dollar surplus, than a $1.9 billion shortfall, but there isn’t a challenge we won’t meet." 

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Thursday, January 7, 2016

Remembering C.B. Forgotston, a Louisiana original

Posted By on Thu, Jan 7, 2016 at 6:22 PM

C.B. Forgotston, the attorney, blogger, talk show guest and frequent irritant to those in power, died Jan. 3 at 70.
  • C.B. Forgotston, the attorney, blogger, talk show guest and frequent irritant to those in power, died Jan. 3 at 70.


John Adams once wrote, “The love of power is insatiable and uncontrollable. … There is danger from all men. The only maxim of a free government ought to be to trust no man living with power to endanger the public liberty.” Those words, penned in the 18th century, infused the more recent writings by Louisiana political watchdog C.B. Forgotston.

For more than 20 years, Forgotston, a Hammond attorney, blogger, talk show guest and frequent irritant to those in power, fearlessly skewered our state’s public officials with Adams-like precision. He died on Jan. 3 at age 70, but his work lives on in the memories of his many readers and admirers.

On his website and his Twitter feed, he took regular aim (and no prisoners) at politicians of all stripes, especially Gov. Bobby Jindal, whom he derided as a charlatan. He often posted copies of Jindal’s campaign promises, juxtaposing them with the governor’s actions, and his website recently featured a countdown clock, ticking off the minutes and seconds ’til Jindal was out of office. Had he lived to see it, Forgotston would have held new Gov. John Bel Edwards accountable from Day One.

Jindal was hardly Forgotston’s only target. He limned former Gov. Mike Foster as “Big Daddy” and a big spender, and he proudly posted the “Louisiana Misery Index” — a list of lists on which Louisiana consistently fared poorly. To those who called him “cynical,” he replied with an entry from his oft-quoted “Glossary” of Louisiana political terms — “Cynicism: The power of accurate observation as commonly called by those who have not got it.”

Forgotston may have been cranky, but he was no crank. An LSU law graduate, he worked for several years as chief counsel to the House Appropriations Committee and later as a lobbyist for the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry (LABI). He opposed both the state lottery and the land-based casino in New Orleans, two battles he lost. If he struck some as cynical, it was because he had served time in the belly of the beast. He saw up close how power corrupted people.

In C.B.’s Glossary, “mullets” were average Louisianans, perpetually suffering under the contemptible rule of self-serving politicians. Among his other definitions:

America: A country that Louisiana would like to one day join.

Ethics: The concept of right and wrong. A concept so unknown to politicians in Louisiana that the leges had to pass a statute to remind themselves of it.

Intaxication: The temporary euphoria one feels when they hear they will receive a tax decrease only to realize that it was their money to begin with.

Statute: A mere guideline for politicians. It is a mandatory law for Mullets.

Statesman: A term used by leges to describe themselves when they turn their backs on the people who elected them.

Like him or not, agree with him or not, Forgotston was exactly the kind of watchdog Louisiana needs. Of the politicians he battled, he told Gambit in 2006, “I don’t know if they respect us as much as fear us, but I consider that a badge of honor.” Rest in peace, C.B. Louisiana misses you already.



A funeral for C.B. Forgotston will be held at 11 a.m. Fri. Jan. 8 at Holy Ghost Catholic Church (600 N. Oak St., Hammond). Visitation from 9-11 a.m.

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