Sunday, March 16, 2014

The 2014 Louisiana Legislative Session Is Underway

The 2014 Louisiana circus legislative session has arrived which is always good for some lively entertainment.
During this session legislators will deal with at least a few bills dealing with Common Core.  During the pre-filing period, at least six have been filed.

The Alexandria Town Talk has a summary of the bills so far:

• H.B. 377 by Rep. Brett Geymann, R-Moss Bluff, which creates a commission to develop new state standards; 
• H.B. 481 by Rep. Rob Shadoin, R-Ruston, calling for the development of curriculum guides prior to full implementation of Common Core in public and nonpublic schools that have chosen to use the standards; 
• H.B. 554 by Rep. Henry Burns, R-Haughton, which calls for development of state content standards and assessments subject to legislative approval and allows local school systems to develop their own standards; 
• H.B. 556 by Burns which prohibit implementing Common Core and reverts to prior standards; 
• H.B. 557 by Burns which prohibits using Common Core and creates the Student Standards Task Force to study implementation; and 
• H.B. 559 by Rep. Barry Ivey, R-Baton Rouge, which drops Common Core, implements Louisiana-based standards and prohibits using the assessment tools planned for use with Common Core.
Michael Deshotels at Louisiana Educator has a more comprehensive list of all of the education bills here and here.

In Louisiana,  the backlash against Common Core has been growing with protests around the state and anti-Common Core billboards popping up.  There is even a Stop Common Core in Louisiana Facebook group.

In other bills, legislators will deal with the normal shenanigans with the budget, such as this shell game by Gov. Bobby Jindal:

Lawmakers are particularly irked by a budget maneuver that borrows $50 million in cash from the New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center to pay for state health care costs. The Jindal administration would replace the money with $75 million in bonds, so the deal is good for the New Orleans area. But it would also mean less for other state construction projects, like new highways and roads. 
Jindal's proposed budget would also essentially wipe out a trust fund for elderly care, a financial resource that Louisiana expected to last for decades. The account, once flush with $800 million, has been drawn on so heavily to fill state budget gaps in recent years, it could be entirely depleted by the end of this fiscal cycle. 
The governor is also using federal money given to the state for hurricane recovery to cover expenses not directly related to disasters, including state programs for people with disabilities. Some advocates are concerned the federal government might not approve such uses of the money, though the administration is confident their proposals will hold up to scrutiny.

The outnumbered Democrats this session will try to raise minimum wage, expand Medicaid, and enact statewide fairness laws.

There will also likely be debate to reduce marijuana penalties, increasing heroin penalties, and possibly even one bill to bring back the electric chair.

NOLA has an extensive roundup of topics to watch for this session.

You can read Jindal's opening speech here.

So hang on to your hats and here we go.  As lively as this session is likely to be, I doubt it will top this momentous event (actually, let's hope it doesn't):

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