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New Orleans Attorney Profiles 2015
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Scrutiny raised on outside voter registration groups

Louisiana residents have several options for registering to vote. They can fill out a form on the secretary of state’s website; sign up when they get their driver’s licenses or renew their car tags; mail in registration cards; or sign up in person at local libraries, schools and public assistance agencies, among other outlets. But a task… Continue reading →

Maintenance at LSU severely lacking after years of budget cuts

Advocate staff photo by TRAVIS SPRADLING --Planks of plywood cover bad sections of floor in the basement at LSU's  Middleton Library, where deferred maintenance means dealing with bad conditions from water leaks and floor issues. Shelves are stored at right, in a section not being used for archived materials.

When it rains outside Middleton Library on LSU’s campus, it rains inside, too. A group of employees with offices in the basement know to bring their rain boots in heavy storms because the water creeps downward, penetrating the walls, dripping through the ceiling lights and pooling around their feet as they walk around their office space.… Continue reading →

Gov. John Bel Edwards sets special session for Feb. 14; see proclamation's details

Advocate staff photo by BILL FEIG -- As Louisiana Building and Trades Council president Robert "Tiger" Hammond, left, watches, Gov. John Bel Edwards, right, makes a point while speaking at the Louisiana State Building Construction Trades Council Annual Convention.

Louisiana legislators will be heading back to Baton Rouge on Feb. 14 to try to fix a $750 million shortfall in the state budget — just four months before the fiscal year ends. Gov. John Bel Edwards on Friday issued the proclamation calling the Legislature into a special session to try to cobble together a… Continue reading →

Louisiana delegation responds to Obama’s oil tax proposal

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama wants oil companies to pay a $10 fee for every barrel of oil to help fund investments in clean transportation that fight climate change. Republican members of Louisiana’s Congressional delegation condemned the plan. House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, R-Jefferson, swiftly deemed Obama’s proposal as “dead on arrival.” “The… Continue reading →

Thomas Galligan new LSU Law Center chief

The next leader of LSU’s Paul M. Hebert Law Center will be Thomas Galligan Jr., who serves as president of Colby-Sawyer College in New Hampshire and will be returning to Baton Rouge after having taught at the campus 18 years ago. Galligan was named dean of the LSU Law Center on Thursday and will start July 1.… Continue reading →

Louisiana school vouchers cripple academic achievement, national report says

Advocate staff file photo by BRYAN TUCK -- School buses parked outside a school in Lafayette.

One of former Gov. Bobby Jindal’s signature education laws is actually hurting student achievement, according to a national report that is sparking controversy. Louisiana students who get state-financed vouchers to attend private schools suffer more academically than if they had remained in a troubled public school, says a review done for the National… Continue reading →

Gov. John Bel Edwards orders state to drop anti-Common Core lawsuit

Gov. John Bel Edwards directed the state Thursday to drop a federal lawsuit challenging Common Core that was pushed by former Gov. Bobby Jindal. Edwards also ordered the termination of a $475,000 state contract to handle the legal challenge held by the law firm of Alexandria attorney Jimmy Faircloth, a former Jindal aide. The governor, in… Continue reading →

Governor keeps juvenile justice, financial agency leaders

Gov. John Bel Edwards is keeping his predecessor’s picks to lead Louisiana’s juvenile corrections office and the state’s financial regulatory agency. The governor announced Wednesday he is reappointing Mary Livers as deputy secretary for the Office of Juvenile Justice and John Ducrest as commissioner of the Office of Financial Institutions. Livers was appointed to the position… Continue reading →

Gov. John Bel Edwards to builders union, 'I never once — not one time — tried to distance myself from labor'

Advocate staff photo by BILL FEIG -- As Louisiana Building and Trades Council president Robert "Tiger" Hammond, left, watches, Gov. John Bel Edwards, right, makes a point while speaking at the Louisiana State Building Construction Trades Council Annual Convention.

Gov. John Bel Edwards is openly embracing the labor groups that helped elect him last fall, vowing to them that he won’t turn his back now that he’s in office. “I never once — not one time — tried to distance myself from labor while I was running for governor in this state that is supposed to… Continue reading →

Area legislators make pleas for road work

Baton Rouge area lawmakers made pleas Wednesday for scarce road and bridge money during one in a series of public hearings on Louisiana’s transportation needs. The House and Senate transportation committees heard from lawmakers who represent the capital region — District 61 — as well as other elected officials and rank-and-file citizens. Shawn Wilson, secretary for… Continue reading →

State says St. Joseph’s brown drinking water is safe

Despite some parallels with Flint, Mich., the brown water flowing from the taps in the northeast Louisiana town of St. Joseph is safe, a state health officer said Wednesday. “Their complaints certainly have risen because of Flint, but it’s not a lead issue; it’s an iron issue, which is not a health issue. But it’s obviously not… Continue reading →

Gov. John Bel Edwards answers teachers' questions at town hall-style meeting

Advocate staff photo by PATRICK DENNIS --Governor John Bel Edwards speaks during a forum hosted by Louisiana Association of Educators -- teachers and other public school employees sounding off on their education needs.

Gov. John Bel Edwards said Tuesday night he aims to keep state aid for public schools at current levels amid Louisiana’s budget crisis. Edwards’ comments mark his most definitive statement on the issue since some education officials started sounding alarms that basic aid for schools might be cut for the first time in decades. The dollars… Continue reading →

Voter registration deadline is today for presidential primary

Advocate staff photo by PATRICK DENNIS --Katie Bell, 23, changes her voter registration from Ouachita Parish to East Baton Rouge Parish at the Registrar of Voters Office in City Hall Tuesday as clerk Pat Fugler assists. Bell said she will be voting for the first time in the upcoming elections. The deadline for registering or changing party affiliation is Wednesday at 4:30pm. Voters can do that at City Hall, the Coursey and Baker locations as well as online.

Louisiana voters who want to take part in the March 5 presidential primaries have through Wednesday to decide whether they will do so as Republicans or Democrats. The presidential preference primary is a rare closed election in Louisiana in which only registered Republicans can vote in the GOP primary and only registered Democrats will… Continue reading →

Records: Inside look at Bobby Jindal’s unsuccessful presidential campaign, its $1.4M price tag

Bobby Jindal

Former Gov. Bobby Jindal spent more than $1.4 million on his five-month campaign for president before ending 2015 with no money left in the bank but also no campaign debt, new records show. Jindal’s presidential campaign filed its termination documents with the Federal Elections Commission on Sunday — the FEC’s most recent financial disclosure deadline. Jindal, who… Continue reading →

Jay Dardenne: 'Unprecedented, dramatic, profound changes' needed to plug massive budget hole

Advocate staff photo by PATRICK DENNIS -- Incoming Commissioner of the Division of Administration Jay Dardenne discusses the current budget crisis in Louisiana during a press conference Wednesday.

Gov. John Bel Edwards’ administration is preparing a spending plan in the coming weeks that will include draconian cuts to government services, along with a nonbinding letter that recommends revenue measures to offset some of those reductions should legislators choose. Commissioner of Administration Jay Dardenne, the governor’s chief budget architect, said Monday he couldn’t yet specify what… Continue reading →

1 in 5 Common Core standards should be changed, educators say

Educators reviewing the Common Core academic standards will recommend that one in five be changed, leaders of the effort said Monday. The reviews, which stem from a law enacted last year, is being done by three subcommittees. A fourth group, called the Standards Review Committee, will likely take a vote on the recommendations on Tuesday in… Continue reading →

VA chief misspent thousands, audit says

Since 2013, employees at the state department charged with caring for and honoring the state’s military veterans were found to have misspent thousands of dollars and failed to report alleged crimes against veterans, according to an investigative report released Monday by the Louisiana legislative auditor and the State Inspector General’s Office. Former Veterans Affairs Secretary David LaCerte,… Continue reading →

St. Helena superintendent cries foul on state-issued report cards

Louisiana’s annual report cards for public schools unfairly penalizes small rural school districts, St. Helena Parish School District Superintendent Kelli Joseph said Monday. The district, which is regularly among the lowest-scoring statewide, issued a 16-page report on Sunday in which Joseph and a researcher spelled out their concerns. The report says changes in state-issued school performance… Continue reading →

Special report: Governor pledges to ease burden on students, but no clear path to that goal

Advocate staff photo by TRAVIS SPRADLING -- Louisiana Gov-Elect John Bel Edwards gives the commencement address at the Fall Commencement of Southern University and A&M College in Baton Rouge on Dec. 11, 2015.

In his successful run for governor, John Bel Edwards promised to reverse at least some of the damage done to higher education in Louisiana over the past eight years. Bobby Jindal cut direct state aid to universities by 53 percent, and the schools dramatically increased tuition and fees to fill most of the gap. For… Continue reading →

Gov. John Bel Edwards ‘disappointed,’ says House committee lineup based on partisan, D.C.-style politics

Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards Friday blasted House Speaker Taylor Barras’ decisions on who will lead and serve on House committees. Edwards said Democrats are under-represented in the mix of committee leaders, the rosters are akin to partisan, Washington, D.C.-style politics and the makeup of the committees is “not consistent” with what Barras told him beforehand.… Continue reading →