1. JINDAL'S IN FOR TRUMP
"He's non-serious. He's a carnival act. ... Donald Trump is a narcissist and he's an egomaniac. We can win right now, or we can be the biggest fools of all time." That was former Gov. Bobby Jindal a few months ago, before he dropped out of the presidential race. At the time, Jindal bragged about his willingness to take on Trump, but now that The Donald is the presumptive GOP nominee, Jindal is more pragmatic — or would the right word be "opportunistic?" He told CNN last week, "If it comes down to a binary choice between Donald Trump, I'm supporting the party's nominee. ... I would vote for him over [presumptive Democratic nominee] Hillary Clinton."
Jindal even had given a speech at the National Press Club in Washington D.C. lambasting Trump, and was so proud of it he gave the speech its own page on his website. That page was scrubbed as of last week.
2. Medical marijuana: closer to reality?
Medical marijuana could be made available to more people in Louisiana — if the Louisiana Senate approves state Sen. Fred Mills' Senate Bill 271, which narrowly passed through the state House's Health and Welfare Committee on May 3. Medical pot isn't available yet. Mills passed a measure last year that puts in motion the state's cultivation of marijuana for medical use and prescribes how pharmacies could make it available. SB 271 allows "recommendations" (not prescriptions, as to avoid federal scrutiny) of medical cannabis to treat more diseases, including cancer and HIV/AIDS.
The measure passed after moving testimony from Katie Corker, who shared two large Ziploc bags of medication used to control her 9-year-old son Connor's debilitating seizures. "I can't say for certain medical cannabis will free him from his seizures," Corker said. "But I can say I will never stop fighting for him. ... If Connor were your child, what would you do?"
The measure faces opposition from the Louisiana District Attorneys Association and the Louisiana Sheriffs' Association. Lincoln Parish Sheriff Mike Stone, who stated he has seen "families destroyed by marijuana," said medical weed poses "an unnecessary risk to these people and the public health." Speaking to reporters about medical marijuana May 5, Gov. John Bel Edwards said the state shouldn't get between doctors and parents on what's best for treating children.
3. State Senate votes to triple waiting time for abortions
The Louisiana State Senate has voted 34-4 to pass a bill that would triple the waiting time for women seeking abortions. House Bill 386, sponsored by Rep. Frank Hoffmann, R-West Monroe, requires women to wait 72 hours between a state-mandated counseling session and a scheduled abortion procedure. Current law says women must wait 24 hours.
Anti-abortion advocates dubbed the proposed wait time a "reflection period" between counseling and abortion. Abortion rights activists, however, say that the bill is an attempt to restrict women's access to legal health care.
4. Beyonce to New Orleans: get in formation
With New Orleans starring in her visual album Lemonade and music video "Formation," it was only a matter of time before Beyonce announced a performance in the city. Her massive "Formation" world tour comes to the Superdome Saturday, Sept. 24. Also coming to New Orleans in September: Drake (Sept. 2 at the Smoothie King Center), Kraftwerk (Sept. 9 at the Orpheum Theater), Dixie Chicks (Sept. 10 at the Smoothie King Center), Gary Clark Jr. (Sept. 12 at the Civic Theatre) and Alabama Shakes (Sept. 22 at Champions Square).
5. RIP NOLA Patrol
Within a year of its launch, the New Orleans Police Department's latest enforcement wing, the NOLA Patrol, is no more. The city had planned to hire 50 civilians, paid for by $800,000 in earmarked hotel-motel taxes to handle traffic and quality of life issues in the French Quarter. The city pulled the plug last month, however, in the face of insufficient personnel to train and staff the program. The remaining funds will be redirected to other safety measures.
6. Legislators target "sanctuary cities"
The Louisiana House has backed a measure to punish "sanctuary cities" that don't enforce federal immigration laws. On May 4, the House voted 67-27 to support House Bill 1148 from state Rep. Valarie Hodges, R-Denham Springs, whose measure restricts cities with "sanctuary policies" from receiving certain funding.
Under its federal consent decree, the New Orleans Police Department prevents officers from inquiring about immigration status. NOPD Superintendent Michael Harrison says immigration matters are a federal issue, not a local one; several legislators agree. State Reps. Walt Leger and Helena Moreno, both New Orleans Democrats, questioned whether there even is an issue with municipalities refusing to cooperate with immigration authorities.
7. Down with OPP?
Facing federal intervention of his alleged mishandling of Orleans Parish Prison (OPP) and the stipulations of a sweeping consent decree, Orleans Parish Sheriff Marlin Gusman has made a few personnel changes — and he announced last week he'll begin transferring 600 inmates from the jail this month. Gusman is due in U.S. District Judge Lance Africk's courtroom May 25 for a hearing to determine whether to appoint a "receiver" at the jail.
8. More planning ahead on short-term rentals
The New Orleans City Planning Commission (CPC) will once again examine whether entire homes can be rented out via services such as Airbnb. The CPC already recommended whole-home rentals be prohibited in its report to the New Orleans City Council, with recommendations on new rules and regulations for short-term rentals. But on May 5, the council voted 6-0 to instruct the CPC to begin drafting those rules and regulations — and hold public meetings — with a provision from Mayor Mitch Landrieu's administration to reconsider whole-home rentals. Council members repeated that the procedural step to get more input and public hearings on the whole-home rental issue was not an endorsement of such rentals. District A City Councilwoman Susan Guidry said she opposes whole-home rentals "period," and Council President Stacy Head said if they were allowed, they'd likely be the most heavily regulated.
9. It's raining so hard ...
That second-weekend deluge at the 2016 New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival put some bad juju on attendance numbers. This year, Jazz Fest saw 425,000 attendees — down 35,000 from 2015. Pounding rains and lightning cut short the second Saturday of Jazz Fest, which canceled performances from Stevie Wonder and Beck, among others.
10. Voter Registration Week is underway
Louisiana Secretary of State Tom Schedler kicks off 2016 Voter Registration Week May 9. New voters can register on the Secretary of State's website, by mail or at many state locations, such as any Office of Motor Vehicles, WIC or food stamp offices, disability centers or military recruiting offices. The last day to register to vote in the Nov. 8 presidential election is Oct. 11. For more information, visit www.geauxvote.com.