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New Court, City Hall 

  A long-sought new Civil District Court building is taking a big step closer to reality, along with another long-held dream of a new City Hall, thanks to a bill pending final legislative approval. Senate Bill 159 by Sen. Edwin Murray, D-New Orleans, authorizes the state commissioner of administration to enter into a cooperative endeavor agreement with the City of New Orleans to redevelop the sites of the former Louisiana Supreme Court and the former State Office Building at 325 Loyola Ave. as the new Civil Courts Building — and as a "municipal complex."

  Murray's bill already has cleared the Senate and was unanimously approved by the House Appropriations Committee. "As originally introduced, the bill would have made the state-owned sites available for a new courthouse," Murray told Gambit. "But our new mayor asked me to amend it so it could also be a site for a new City Hall, and so we did that on the Senate floor. Both projects have been talked about for a long time."

  Murray's bill awaits a vote by the full House and, if approved, the signature of Gov. Bobby Jindal. Murray also has a companion bill to help pay for the new courthouse. Senate Bill 750 authorizes the judges and clerk to increase various filing fees at Civil Court, with all of the increases dedicated to paying for a new courthouse. That bill was approved last week by the Senate Judiciary B Committee. It awaits Senate floor action and consideration by the House. — Clancy DuBos

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