A Look At What Passed, Failed In The LA Legislative Session
BATON ROUGE (AP) — The 60-day regular session of the Louisiana Legislature ended Thursday.
A look at what passed and failed:
BUDGET: In the final hours of the session, lawmakers reached a deal over next year's $24 billion budget and how to close a $1.6 billion shortfall without devastating cuts to public colleges and health care services. The House and Senate passed a package of tax bills estimated to raise more than $700 million to help finance the spending plans, and they followed Gov. Bobby Jindal's parameters so the bills can escape his veto. They created a tax credit on paper that gives Jindal the ability to claim he didn't support a net tax increase.
COMMON CORE: Lawmakers reached a compromise in the dispute over Louisiana's use of the Common Core education standards. Under a package of three bills, a review of the English and math standards will be required, with public meetings, legislative oversight and an up-or-down decision from Louisiana's next governor. The education department will have limits on use of standardized testing questions from a multistate consortium tied to Common Core next school year. Jindal intends to sign the bills.
RELIGIOUS OBJECTIONS: Jindal's push to give special protections to people who oppose same-sex marriage stalled, rejected at its first stop by the House civil law committee amid resistance from tourism leaders and businesses. In response, the governor issued an executive order aimed at doing the same thing, albeit in a narrower fashion, but it's unclear if the order has any practical effect.
MEDICAID EXPANSION: Both the House and Senate health committees rejected proposals to expand Louisiana's Medicaid program to offer insurance coverage to the working poor, as allowed under the federal health care law. But lawmakers agreed to provide a financing mechanism to do the Medicaid expansion if Louisiana's next governor, to be elected this fall, is interested.
ABORTION: The Senate blocked a bill to prohibit "sex-selection" abortions based on gender. A constitutional amendment to declare that a fetus is a "human being from the moment of conception" never received a hearing.
MARIJUANA: Lawmakers approved a medical marijuana bill that could get pot to people suffering from cancer, glaucoma and a severe form of cerebral palsy, through a limited number of heavily regulated distributors. They also voted to lessen the penalties for simple marijuana possession. Jindal supports both bills.
PUBLIC RECORDS: Future governors' ability to keep documents hidden from the public will be much more limited, if Jindal agrees to a bill passed by lawmakers. It won't impact Jindal, but the governor hasn't said if he'll let the changes become law.
SEXUAL ASSAULT: Lawmakers agreed to ban hospitals from billing rape victims for their medical exams. Expenses not covered by insurance can be billed to a state crime victim's board, and unclaimed gambling winnings will cover those costs.
COLLEGE TUITION: Both the House and Senate agreed to put cost controls on the TOPS free college tuition program, to limit the growth of its price tag in future years and possibly cost students and parents more out of pocket. But it's unclear if Jindal, who opposed the bill, will let it become law. The House blocked efforts to give higher education management boards the ability to decide tuition rates for their campuses.
WORKER ISSUES: A Senate-backed equal pay proposal, outlining a course of legal action if a worker claims to be underpaid, was rejected by the House labor committee. A proposal to give all workers in Louisiana paid sick days was rejected by the Senate labor committee.
ODDS AND ENDS: A proposal to require police officers to wear body cameras was shelved by its sponsor. An effort to ban government payroll offices from automatically deducting union dues from public worker paychecks stalled in the House amid pushback from teachers, police officers and firefighters. A package of "judicial transparency" bills to require more disclosure of judicial contracts and court budgets failed to get out of a House committee.