Louisiana

Friday, April 21, 2017

An alternative to legislative gridlock: a limited-purpose constitutional convention

Posted By on Fri, Apr 21, 2017 at 1:09 PM

State Rep. Neil Abramson, D-New Orleans, has authored a bill to convene a limited-purpose state constitutional convention. - SARAH GAMARD
  • SARAH GAMARD
  • State Rep. Neil Abramson, D-New Orleans, has authored a bill to convene a limited-purpose state constitutional convention.

The Louisiana Constitution of 1974 was far from a perfect document when voters approved it more than four decades ago. Proof of that is the fact that it has been amended more than 180 times — and lawmakers currently are considering still more amendments.

Given the gridlock between the Republican-controlled House and Gov. John Bel Edwards, the prospects for long-range, comprehensive fiscal reform are dim. Heck, it would take a minor miracle to get a small gasoline tax hike out of the House, even though a clear majority of Louisiana voters support that idea as a means of putting more money into the state’s crumbling infrastructure.

That’s one reason why state Rep. Neil Abramson’s bill to convene a limited-purpose constitutional convention deserves serious consideration. If lawmakers can’t even agree on the simple things, maybe a constitutional convention can address the big picture. Abramson doesn’t quite frame his argument that way, but that’s the reality.

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Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Bill would raise gasoline tax by 17 cents a gallon across Louisiana

Posted By on Tue, Apr 18, 2017 at 6:19 PM

CREATIVE COMMONS/MIKE MOZART
  • CREATIVE COMMONS/MIKE MOZART

As he had promised, State Rep. Steve Carter, R-Baton Rouge, filed House Bill 632 today, which would increase Louisiana’s gas tax by 17 cents per gallon and raise an estimated $510 million annually for the state’s highways and bridges.

Off the floor, Carter said, “Across Louisiana, our infrastructure is crumbling. The citizens of this state are sick of being stuck in traffic, and they want bold solutions that improve safety, quality of life and economic productivity, which this bill provides.”

Louisiana motorists now are paying 38.4 cents per gallon, including 20 cents in state taxes.

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Proposed changes for Louisiana animal shelters move to the full state Senate

Posted By on Tue, Apr 18, 2017 at 3:13 PM

Pups clamor for attention at the LA/SPCA. - CHERYL GERBER
  • CHERYL GERBER
  • Pups clamor for attention at the LA/SPCA.

Save the washable markers and cardstock. The days of “Missing Dog” posters may become a faint memory for Louisiana youngsters.

The Senate Committee on Agriculture, Forestry, Aquaculture, and Rural Development on Tuesday moved to recommend to the full Senate two bills, one authorizing animal shelters to post pictures of animals on a social media account or website, and the other setting regulations governing the operation of animal shelters and training of personnel.

Sen. Ryan Gatti, R-Bossier City, who authored Senate Bill 64, said the idea to authorize posting pictures of missing animals came up after talking to an array of pet-owning constituents “from all walks of life.”

“Social media is free, and you can set up a page for just about anything,” Gatti said.

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Monday, April 17, 2017

Y@ Speak: end of Lent

Posted By on Mon, Apr 17, 2017 at 5:40 PM

Louisiana follows its Lenten fast with Easter candy, crawfish boils, declaring John Wayne Day, twerking in the streets. and continuing the relentless tradition of roasting the Falcons.

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Friday, April 14, 2017

Report: Louisianans support anti-discrimination protections for transgender people, but not bathroom access

Posted By on Fri, Apr 14, 2017 at 4:00 PM

A rally in Jackson Square following the U.S. Supreme Court ruling on same-sex marriage.
  • A rally in Jackson Square following the U.S. Supreme Court ruling on same-sex marriage.

The results of a survey of more than 1,000 Louisianans illustrates the continuing, deep divide among people who believe LGBT people deserve protections from discrimination and those who do not.

The Louisiana Survey from LSU’s Reilly Center for Media & Public Affairs at LSU’s Manship School of Mass Communication found that a majority of respondents believe transgender people deserve protections from discrimination in the workplace — but don’t believe transgender people should be able to use bathrooms according to their gender identity.

Nearly 70 percent of respondents agreed transgender people should be protected from workplace discrimination, a move supported by an executive order from Gov. John Bel Edwards which mandates that state contracts include language that prohibits discrimination against LGBT employees. That order — prompted by the state Legislature’s inability to pass similar measures to extend anti-discrimination protections to LGBT people — was tossed out by state courts following a lawsuit from frequent Edwards opponent and Republican state Attorney General Jeff Landry.

Respondents who agreed to workplace protections for LGBT people included 83 percent of Democrats and 59 percent of Republicans.

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Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Huh? Louisianans love Medicaid expansion, but hate "Obamacare"

Posted By on Wed, Apr 12, 2017 at 11:46 AM

A "second line for health care" last month in New Orleans drew health care providers who spoke out in favor of the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare. - KAT STROMQUIST
  • KAT STROMQUIST
  • A "second line for health care" last month in New Orleans drew health care providers who spoke out in favor of the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare.

In spite of “widespread approval” of last year’s Medicaid expansion in the state, Louisianans largely have an unfavorable and deeply divided view of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), according to The Louisiana Survey 2017’s fifth report released today by the Reilly Center for Media and Public Affairs.

The survey shows that overall 72 percent of Louisiana respondents approve of the state’s expansion of its Medicaid program, while less than 50 percent have a favorable opinion of the ACA, which provided for the expansion.

Nevertheless, in the last three years more Louisianans have signaled they approve of the federal health care law, which has been nicknamed Obamacare.

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Monday, April 10, 2017

Gov. Edwards addresses the opening of the 2017 Louisiana legislative session

Posted By on Mon, Apr 10, 2017 at 4:08 PM

Gov. John Bel Edwards had a message for Republicans opposing his plans for tax reform: Chart a new path. The call to action came during his State of the State address – the second of Edwards’ tenure – that opened the Louisiana State Legislature’s 2017 regular session.
  • Gov. John Bel Edwards had a message for Republicans opposing his plans for tax reform: Chart a new path. The call to action came during his State of the State address – the second of Edwards’ tenure – that opened the Louisiana State Legislature’s 2017 regular session.

Gov. John Bel Edwards had a message for Republicans opposing his plans for tax reform: Chart a new path.

The call to action came during his State of the State address — the second of Edwards’ tenure – that opened the 60-day Louisiana State Legislature’s 2017 regular session. Much of the speech centered on the governor’s proposals for tax reform, which includes eliminating one penny of the five-cent sales tax and implementing a commercial activity tax (CAT) for businesses.

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Y@ Speak Classic

Posted By on Mon, Apr 10, 2017 at 4:06 PM

While today's Twitter fills up on bad open-mic jokes about airplanes, we look back at last week's hot takes on our favorite New Orleans subjects: sports, dysfunction, and festival behavior.

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Monday, April 3, 2017

Y@ Speak: emergency alert

Posted By on Mon, Apr 3, 2017 at 6:35 PM

Congratulations, we survived April Fool's Day and woke up way too early thanks to the powerful combination of technology, weather and leaving our phones close enough to immediately grab upon waking. Once more unto the tweets:

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Friday, March 31, 2017

In Louisiana parishes, number of people receiving disability benefits increasing faster than national average

Posted By on Fri, Mar 31, 2017 at 2:26 PM

INSURANCE REVOLUTION / CREATIVE COMMONS 2.0
  • INSURANCE REVOLUTION / CREATIVE COMMONS 2.0

A lengthy Washington Post story published March 30 profiles an Alabama man's experience applying for disability benefits to illustrate a larger point: applications for benefits are on the rise in economically depressed rural America. The story (and accompanying analysis) suggests that confluence of scarce jobs, poor access to health care and socio-emotional factors such as declining family and community connections may have contributed to the rise in the number of people whose health has deteriorated enough — or whose prospects are bleak enough — to turn to disability benefits, particularly in rural regions.

Writer Terrence McCoy reports:

Between 1996 and 2015, the number of working-age adults receiving disability climbed from 7.7 million to 13 million. The federal government this year will spend an estimated $192 billion on disability payments, more than the combined total for food stamps, welfare, housing subsidies and unemployment assistance. ... 

Across large swaths of the country, disability has become a force that has reshaped scores of mostly white, almost exclusively rural communities, where as many as one-third of working-age adults live on monthly disability checks, according to a Washington Post analysis of Social Security Administration statistics.

Rural America experienced the most rapid increase in disability rates over the past decade, the analysis found, amid broad growth in disability that was partly driven by demographic changes that are now slowing as disabled baby-boomers age into retirement.

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