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CMS puts hold on Medicaid pharmacy payments

The federal health agency has rejected Louisiana’s latest plans for Medicaid reimbursement of pharmacists for prescription drugs. The federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services recently notified Louisiana officials of its objection to the payment methodology. On Thursday, Louisiana Medicaid director Ruth Kennedy received notice that the federal agency is deferring payment of… Continue reading →

American Family Association defends Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal's prayer rally at LSU: Prayer is the sole purpose

Advocate staff photo by BILL FEIG -- Gov. Bobby Jindal answers questions after signing SB667 concerning legacy law suits into law on the last day of legislative session.

Following the lead of Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, the group sponsoring a controversial prayer rally at LSU in January said the event is solely about prayer. On Thursday, Jindal defended the event, saying "it's no a political event. It's a religious event." American Family Association president Tim Wildmon released a statement early Friday morning. "As our nation faces unprecedented crises—culturally, socially,… Continue reading →

Our Lady of the Lake College announces December 2014 graduates

More than 160 Our Lady of the Lake College students will be conferred master’s, bachelor’s or associate degrees during the college’s commencement exercises at 2 p.m. Friday in the Baton Rouge River Center. Anticipating trends in healthcare, the college transitioned from offering associate degrees in nursing and now offers only bachelor’s degrees in nursing. This graduation ceremony… Continue reading →

LSU to send 1,650 students off in fall graduations

About 1,650 students are expected to graduate during LSU’s fall commencement Friday. LSU doesn’t hold a main ceremony for its December graduation, but individual colleges will hold exercises throughout the day naming graduates and featuring commencement speakers. Keynote speakers include University of Louisiana System President Sandra Woodley at the College of Agriculture ceremony at 9… Continue reading →

Legislators OK mid-year budget cut plans

 Jim Fannin

Louisiana legislators made some minor changes Thursday but otherwise approved the Jindal administration’s plan to fill an unexpected hole in revenue collections and rebalance this year’s $25 billion state budget. About 160 vacant jobs were eliminated outright, and others won’t be filled for the remainder of the budget year, which ends on June 30. Nobody will be… Continue reading →

Legislative panel weighs housing protections for domestic violence victims

Advocate staff file photo by BILL FEIG -- Aerial of the new State Capitol building and grounds.

Some Louisiana lawmakers are hoping that efforts to protect victims of domestic violence from eviction could become a key issue in the next legislative session. The Louisiana House Civil Law Committee and the Senate Judiciary A Committee held a joint meeting at the State Capitol on Thursday to discuss the issue. A bill proposed this… Continue reading →

Molina contract extension approved

The Jindal administration received legislative approval Thursday for a $40 million, one-year extension of the state’s Medicaid claims processing contract. The Molina Medicaid Solutions contract, scheduled to end Dec. 31, already has cost the state more than $420 million over the past 10 years. And legislators heard that this contract extension request… Continue reading →

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal on criticized prayer rally: 'It's not a political event; it's a religious event'

Advocate staff photo by RICHARD ALAN HANNON -- Gov. Bobby Jindal announces his administration's move to pull out of Common Core during a press conference on Wednesday at the Louisiana State Capitol.

. NEW ORLEANS -- Gov. Bobby Jindal on Wednesday defended his role as headline speaker at a prayer rally on Louisiana State University's campus next month that has drawn the ire of protesters who say the group hosting the event promotes discrimination and an anti-gay agenda. The Jan. 24 prayer rally is expected to draw thousands of people… Continue reading →

Emails show LSU board member helped set up Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal's controversial prayer rally at PMAC

Bobby Jindal

A member of the LSU Board of Supervisors played a key role in helping select the university’s Pete Maravich Assembly Center as the site of a prayer rally that will feature Gov. Bobby Jindal next month. Emails obtained by The Advocate through a public records request show that Rolfe McCollister Jr., an LSU board member… Continue reading →

Louisiana's Public Service Commission refuses to sell vehicles that Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal's administration want for $1.4M

The Louisiana Public Service Commission refused Wednesday to sell half its vehicles, as ordered by the Jindal administration, to help fill a hole in the state budget. The five elected commissioners said they represent sprawling districts and need the automobiles to perform their duties. Besides, their cars already are paid for and they would have to rent… Continue reading →

Documents: New details emerge in Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal's prayer rally; LSU Board of Supervisors member Rolfe McColliser involved in planning

Associated Press photo by Parker Michels-Boyce -- Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal delivers the keynote speech May 10 at the Liberty University commencement ceremony in Lynchburg, Va.

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal's much-publicized prayer rally "The Response" began with talks of having the event in the fall, according to public records obtained by The Advocate. The records also show LSU Board of Supervisors member Rolfe McColliser has been involved in the plans. Continue reading →

Arguments erupt as Louisiana lawmakers debate implementing new special education law

A new state law that overhauled Louisiana’s special education system triggered more arguments Wednesday, including finger pointing on whether state or local officials are to blame for the biggest parental complaints. State Superintendent of Education John White said that few grasped the implications of the measure earlier this year when it won lopsided approval… Continue reading →

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal to return to Iowa for private meetings with pastors

Associated Press file photo -- Gov. Bobby Jindal

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal is planning to return to Iowa in early January. Per an invitation obtained by The Advocate, Jindal will have two events planned on January 6 to meet with pastors. Check out our politics blog for more details on Jindal's plans.… Continue reading →

Politics blog: Latest move by Tea party darling Rob Maness shows he's unlikely to leave politics anytime soon

Advocate photo by Michelle Tripp   --  Colonel Rob Maness making calls for his U.S. Senate Campaign during his

Former U.S. Senate candidate Rob Maness has announced the launch of a new political action committee. The group is called GatorPAC, and it's billed as a PAC that will "inspire and recruit" conservative political candidates. Check out our politics blog for more details.… Continue reading →

Group Benefits reports enrollment

Nearly 95 percent of state Group Benefits members will get health insurance through a Blue Cross and Blue Shield plan offering next year, the agency reported Tuesday. Some 135,000 households representing about 230,000 state employees, teachers, retirees and their families have enrolled, slightly more than last year. The new benefit plans offered have not… Continue reading →

‘Jena Six’ teen Mychal Bell graduates from Southern University

Mychal Bell, one of the Jena Six, is shown outside the LaSalle Parish Courthouse in Jena, La., Thursday, Sept. 27, 2007, in this Advocate file photo. Bell has just graduated from Southern University. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Mychal Bell, who made national headlines a few years ago as part of the ‘Jena Six,’ has graduated from Southern University. According to a graduate list supplied by the school, Bell received a bachelor’s degree in interdisciplinary studies during Friday’s graduation. In 2006, Bell and five other black teens were charged as adults with attempted murder… Continue reading →

Lafayette VA Clinic postponed

Advocate staff photo by BRYAN TUCK -- Rep. Charles Boustany is shown in this November 2013 Advocate file photo.

The opening of a new, much-enlarged Veterans Affairs medical clinic in Lafayette has been pushed back to October 2016, nearly a year beyond the previously announced date, a VA official said Tuesday. “Just when south Louisiana’s veterans are given a chance for optimism, the VA goes back on its word again,”… Continue reading →

Backlash brewing over prayer rally Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal planning at LSU; religious group planning event opposes gay marriage, other rights efforts

Advocate staff photo by BRAD BOWIE -- Governor Bobby Jindal takes questions from reporters after announcing that Enquero Inc. has selected Lafayette as the site of it's new technology center on Monday at the Lafayette Economic Develpment Authority offices. The Agile Delivery Center will create 350 new technology oriented jobs in Lafayette.

A backlash is brewing over a prayer rally featuring Gov. Bobby Jindal, scheduled for LSU’s Pete Maravich Assembly Center next month. LSU students, faculty and other activists have come out against the event, called “The Response,” largely because it’s being paid for by the American Family Association, a controversial conservative religious group that opposes gay marriage and… Continue reading →

U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu lands on list of 'weirdest political fundraisers' of 2014

Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La. acknowledges supporters at her election night headquarters in New Orleans, Tuesday, Nov. 4, 2014.  (AP Photo/Bill Haber)

U.S. Sen Mary Landrieu's cocktail event with Hillary Clinton and concert featuring Stevie Wonder didn't help her win her re-election bid. But it did help her land on the Sunlight's Foundation's "weirdest political fundraisers list" of 2014. Check out our politics blog to see where Landrieu landed on the list and whom she joined… Continue reading →

Politics blog: Sen.-elect Bill Cassidy gets committee assignments for incoming Congress

Associated Press file photo GERALD HEBERT -- Republican Senate candidate Bill Cassidy

U.S. Sen.-elect Bill Cassidy has has been named to the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee by the Senate Republican leadership, his office announced Monday. See story here.… Continue reading →

Audit cites welfare agency lapses

Some welfare recipients may be improperly receiving benefits because of record-keeping lapses at the state agency administering the program, according to a legislative auditor’s report released Monday. The auditor also noted improper financial controls that allowed theft of more than $150,000 by former employees of the agency’s audit division, as well as five employees who received $43,529… Continue reading →

Politics blog: Before heading to Iowa on Tuesday, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal: If I run for president, I know I won't be insiders' favorite

Associated Press file photo -- Gov. Bobby Jindal

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal will be in Iowa on Tuesday, making his fourth trip to the state as he ponders a run for president. Ahead of the visit, Jindal joined an Iowa-based Christian radio show and discussed several topics, including his potential run for president, Common Core and other key topics. Check out our… Continue reading →

Analysis: Sen. Mary Landrieu now a relic of disappearing group in South -- the white, moderate Democrat in elected office

Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., hugs Orleans Parish Poll Commissioner Janice Nigholson, left, as she arrives to vote in her runoff election against Rep. Bill Cassidy, R-La., in New Orleans, Saturday, Dec. 6, 2014. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

If the outcome of the U.S. Senate race was determined by most hours and hardest work put into the campaign trail, Mary Landrieu would have won by a landslide. But that was never the point in Louisiana's runoff election. Landrieu, a third-term Democrat, traveled the state tirelessly before the runoff a week ago, talking herself hoarse in pursuit of… Continue reading →

Sen. David Vitter's turnaround on Common Core renews debate on volatile topic

Advocate staff photo by PATRICK DENNIS -- U.S. Sen. David Vitter

Republican U.S. Sen. David Vitter’s turnaround on Common Core — he now opposes the standards — has reignited debate on the volatile topic four months before legislative arguments begin in earnest. Many opponents of the overhaul concede that 2015 likely is the last best chance to shelve the new guidelines in reading, writing and… Continue reading →