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New Orleans Attorney Profiles 2015
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State backing for new Baton Rouge Children’s Hospital sought in Legislature

The Jindal administration last week backed a $20 million commitment toward construction of a new children’s hospital in south Baton Rouge. If approved, the money would be the state’s contribution toward a $200 million facility dedicated to the medical needs of youth, which is on the drawing boards at Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center.… Continue reading →

Louisiana may have been overpaid in tobacco settlement, $17 million too much

In addition to the state’s other fiscal problems, Louisiana now may have to repay, in short order, millions of dollars received in error from a multibillion-dollar settlement with cigarette manufacturers. In a letter delivered late Thursday, Attorney General Buddy Caldwell informed top state officials that because of an accounting error, Louisiana was overpaid and may be on… Continue reading →

Days after LSU’s credit outlook lowered, national investors pull out of bond sale for campus projects

Advocate Photo by MARK BALLARD -- State Treasurer John N. Kennedy

Updated at 1:28 p.m. — Funding for new residence halls at LSU has been threatened amid a state budget crisis that has put Louisiana colleges and universities at risk of deep cuts in the coming year. National investors pulled out of a large portion of a $114 million bond deal, citing concerns over LSU’s financial outlook, state Treasurer John Kennedy said.… Continue reading →

Centers for Medicare, Medicaid Services denies LSU hospital financing deal again

The federal health agency has once again rejected use of advance lease payment financing on LSU hospital privatization deals. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, called CMS, denied a state appeal in a letter issued Tuesday, but released by Jindal administration officials late Thursday. The state health agency had asked CMS to reconsider its disallowance… Continue reading →

Gubernatorial candidates all tout commitment to transparency during PAR forum

Advocate staff photo by BILL FEIG -- John Bel Edwards, left, chats with moderator Robert Travis Scott, President of PAR, center, as Jay Dardenne, right shakes hands with a well wisher, prior to the start. The Public Affairs Research Council of Louisiana hosted the four major candidates for governor in a forum at the Crowne Plaza. The candidates are: Scott Angelle, Public Service Commissioner (R), Jay Dardenne, Lt. Governor (R), John Bel Edwards, State Representative (D) and David Vitter, U.S. Senator (R) who was not in attendance and had his answers to the questions prerecorded and shown on a projection screen.

The four major candidates running for Louisiana governor this year say, if elected, their administrations would be more open than Gov. Bobby Jindal’s has been. Jindal, who can’t seek re-election because of a term limit, also campaigned on a transparency platform in 2007, but Public Service Commissioner Scott Angelle, U.S. Sen. David Vitter, Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne,… Continue reading →

Bobby Jindal: Budget plan still 'a lot of moving parts,' TOPS continues to be a priority

Advocate staff photo by PATRICK DENNIS -- Gov. Bobby Jindal answers media questions in an informal setting in his office Thursday.

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal threatened to veto the entire state budget if it relies on what he views as a “tax increase” — including one that depends on a temporary suspension of some tax credits. “I’ve told the Legislature that I will veto the budget if it is balanced using revenues from tax increases,” he told reporters… Continue reading →

Bobby Jindal's New York Times editorial: Opposes gay marriage, seeks to protect businesses from forced ceremonies

Gov. Bobby Jindal, R-La., shakes hands after speaking at the Republican Leadership Summit Saturday, April 18, 2015, in Nashua, N.H. (AP Photo/Jim Cole)

Bobby Jindal reaffirms his stance on same-sex marriage and urges corporations opposing him to "Save your breath," in an editorial he wrote for the New York Times. Jindal clarifies what the 2010 Religious Freedom Restoration Act was for and plans to push forward in this legislative session with the "Marriage and Conscience Act".… Continue reading →

Legislation would raise revenues for Louisiana hospitals

Louisiana House leadership filed legislation late Wednesday setting in motion a voter-approved plan that allows Louisiana hospitals to assess fees on themselves to attract more federal dollars for patient care. But there’s a caveat. The new assessment is conditioned on expansion of Medicaid coverage. The state’s hospitals, like other groups that rely on government health care… Continue reading →

Louisiana lawmakers on House labor committee kill pay equity bill

Two bills aimed at making sure women earn pay equal to their male peers were shot down Wednesday by lawmakers — ensuring, advocates say, that Louisiana will continue to have the worst pay gap between men and women in the nation. The Louisiana House labor committee voted 9-5 against the proposals after a contentious hearing.… Continue reading →

Legislation reining in costs of TOPS scholarship program clears Senate panel

Advocate Photo by MARK BALLARD -- State Sen. Jack Donahue, R-Mandeville, and Phyllis Taylor, chairman and president of the New Orleans-based Patrick F. Taylor Foundation, testified Wednesday for legislation that would rein in the cost of the popular TOPs award, which pays college and university tuition for qualified students. Though Taylor, whose late husband founded the Taylor Opportunity Program for Students, supports the changes, Gov. Bobby Jindal opposes the bill.

Legislation that would create a mechanism for reining in the cost of Louisiana’s generous TOPS scholarship program won approval from a key Senate committee on Wednesday. Despite opposition from Gov. Bobby Jindal, the full Senate will now weigh Senate Bill 48, which seeks to establish a base amount that students can receive through the Taylor… Continue reading →

Senate Finance approves first revenue-raising measure: bill to repeal business inventory tax

Advocate Photo by MARK BALLARD -- Senate President John Alario, right, listens Wednesday to testimony about repealing Louisiana's inventory tax in the Senate Finance Committee. State Sens Fred Mills, R-St. Martinville, right to left, Gregory Tarver, D-Shreveport, and Bodi White, R-Central, are members of the committee.

Trust me. That was the message given Wednesday by the Louisiana Senate Finance Committee to skeptical local government leaders when the panel overwhelmingly approved the first revenue-raising measure of the 2015 session, a repeal of the state’s business inventory tax. Sheriffs, parish presidents, assessors, police jurors and school system superintendents all testified against Senate Bill… Continue reading →

Steve Gleason bill sponsored by U.S. Sen. David Vitter advances in Senate

Steve Gleason, right, a former Saints special teams standout who was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, demonstrates the newest technology for Team Gleason House, a residence he is creating for people with ALS and multiple sclerosis on Jan. 17. A former Baltimore Ravens player, O.J. Brigance, is also battling ALS.

Washington — The U.S. Senate unanimously approved a bill Wednesday sponsored by Sen. David Vitter, R-La., and named for former New Orleans Saints football player Steve Gleason that liberalizes federal funding for speech-generating devices for the disabled.

In January 2011, Gleason was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, a degenerative nerve condition also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease for the New York… Continue reading →

Southern University supporters rally at Capitol; senator: 'Absolutely important' school maintained in Louisiana

Advocate staff photo by BILL FEIG -- The Human Jukebox performs at the beginning of the Southern University Day rally on the State Capitol steps. Students, alumni and administrators were there.

Nearly 300 supporters of Southern University packed the State Capitol steps on Wednesday, rallying for their school and hoping to send a message to Louisiana legislators. Jevante Myers, a sophomore from Opelousas, said he came out to the “We Are Southern” rally because he’s worried that with the threat of budget cuts, the university could be “shut… Continue reading →

Lawsuit: Bobby Jindal administration illegally implemented changes to Louisiana-operated health insurance program

A lawsuit filed in state court claims the Jindal administration illegally implemented changes to the state-operated health insurance program. The lawsuit also alleges poor financial management by the state Office of Group Benefits, which provides coverage to about 230,000 state employees, teachers, retirees and their dependents. Six of the affected Group Benefits members want the… Continue reading →

Ratings for LSU credit outlook lowered from positive to stable

Moody’s Investors Service has lowered LSU’s credit outlook from positive to stable. “This puts our flagship university one step away from a negative outlook which could result in a downgrade for LSU’s credit rating. We don’t want that to happen,” Louisiana Treasurer John Kennedy said in a statement. “Years of slashing state funding for our public colleges… Continue reading →

Got an opinion about traffic between the bridge and I-10/I-12 split? DOTD wants to hear from you

The state is launching two surveys as part of a feasibility study on possible improvements between the Interstate 10 bridge and the I-10/12 split, officials said Wednesday. Sherri LeBas, secretary for the state Department of Transportation, said the reviews should be finished by the spring of 2016. One of the surveys will be online. The… Continue reading →

Why Common Core opponents passed out red crawfish dolls to Louisiana lawmakers today

Advocate Photo by MARK BALLARD -- Amy Lemoine, left, and Desiree Hanvy, both of Lafayette, count out stuffed crawfish Wednesday in the House Speaker's Office prior to distributing them each representative and senator to make a point about their issues with Common Core. (Legislative procedures require approval from the Speaker of the House before anything can be placed on the chamber desks of lawmakers.)

Not to be outdone by pink unicorns, Common Core opponents Wednesday distributed stuffed red crawfish to state lawmakers in arguing that the academic standards are riddled with problems. “Our campaign is that crawfish are real and so are the problems with Common Core,” said Amy Lemoine, who lives in Lafayette. “Parents across the… Continue reading →

With budget cuts threatening service reductions, LSU partnership hospitals lobby for funding

The private managers of LSU hospitals talked Tuesday night of successes since their takeover as they lobbied for legislative help in coming up with nearly $600 million to fund operations. The newly-created Alliance of Partnership Hospitals took its case to the state Senate Health and Welfare Committee, with hospital officials talking about the dire consequences of failure… Continue reading →

Defining rape, sexual assault crimes would be altered under House Bill 139

Louisiana lawmakers are considering whether to change the terms used to describe the crime of sexual assault. Authorities currently use “simple rape”, “forcible rape” and “aggravated rape” to describe the varying degrees of sexual assault charges. Under House Bill 139 backed by the House criminal justice committee Tuesday, those terms would be changed to third-degree rape,… Continue reading →

Nursing home industry's resistence to privatization stalls bidding process to Gov. Bobby Jindal's Medicaid long-term care plan

Louisiana’s nursing home industry is trying to exempt itself from the final phase of Gov. Bobby Jindal’s Medicaid privatization. The industry’s objection is stalling release of initial steps in the bidding process — called request for proposals or RFP — that would seek a private company to take over management of long-term care programs for the… Continue reading →

Louisiana law that critics say allows teaching of creationism targeted for repeal again in Legislature

After four straight years of defeats, a bid to repeal the Louisiana Science Education Act is back on the legislative agenda Wednesday. The law, which breezed through the Legislature in 2008, was touted as a way to promote wide-open discussions in public school classrooms, especially on evolution. But critics have complained since then that… Continue reading →

Louisiana Senate to try again on inventory tax repeal

Legislative leaders on Tuesday turned to Plan B on how to raise revenue for next year after vigorous lobbying by local government officials derailed their initial plan on Monday before the state Senate tax-writing committee. The new approach calls for the spending committee — Senate Finance — on Wednesday to hear the main revenue-generating measure, which as before… Continue reading →