The chairwoman of the Louisiana democratic party blasts what Governor Jindal has done in office after he gave an address to lawmakers touting the need for more skilled workers. Karen Peterson says the state would be able to produce more grads, if Jindal had not cut funding for education in recent years.
"The investments have not been made in the last six years of this administration in K-12 education as it should have been. Neither has
in higher education, in fact we have decimated higher education under this administration."
Peterson says if the governor truly wants to improve this state, it would help if he was around to help pass some meaningful legislation.
"I suggest that he stay home and not be so much of a "roads scholar" r-o-a-d-s, roll up his sleeves and do the work of the people of this state."
Governor Bobby Jindal outlined his top priorities to lawmakers for the 2014 Legislative session that got underway today in Baton Rouge. Jindal says due to the growing industrial expansion in The Bayou State, they are proposing to increase higher education funding by over $141 million in next year's budget.
"To make sure that other Louisianians can continue to pursue their dreams right here at home and that others can move to this great state," Jindal said. "We need to make sure we're providing the training and the skilled workers that businesses need to continue to expand."
Jindal said they will also aggressively push legislation that would crack down on the horrific crime of human trafficking.
"Too many victims feel like they're voiceless," Jindal says. "We are going to work together to sound a loud message that help is on the way. And to those that dare to victimize our women and our children, they'd better not do it in the state of Louisiana."
Jindal also said he'll be working with lawmakers to make sure we have a predictable fair, legal environment in Louisiana.
He closed by telling the legislature he wants children and grandchildren in this state to have no doubt that Louisiana is a land of opportunity.
"That's the whole reason we're starting this session," says Jindal. "I look forward to working with you to make sure every child in Louisiana is able to pursue the American Dream in this great state."
The session will adjourn no later than 6pm on Monday June 2nd.
Authorities say a 32-year-old Anacoco man is facing seven counts of attempted second-degree murder after setting fire to a trailer following a domestic dispute.Major Marvin Hilton with the Vernon Parish Sheriff's office said James Aubery Moses was arrested early Sunday morning.
"A domestic disturbance is how it originated, the individual then made threats and later set a fire beneath the mobile home the residents were staying in"
Witnesses stated Moses and his spouse had an altercation earlier and that Moses had threatened the residents inside the home,later returning and setting fire to the trailer. Hilton says thankfully seven occupants inside the residence, which included three children were not injured in the fire.
Moses was also charged with criminal trespassing and aggravated arson.
Governor Jindal finished in 10th place in a 2016 republican presidential straw poll taken at the conclusion of the Conservative Political Action Committee conference. Jindal received 2-percent of the vote.
Political analyst Clancy Dubos says when it comes to the 2016 republican presidential primary, Jindal has not been able to put himself among a group first tier candidates like U-S Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie.
He says 2016 might not be the right time for Jindal to make a run at the White House.
"The good news for Governor Jindal is that he's still very young. He's going to be around for a long time. He might be planting seeds for a future run, when the others have played themselves out."
Jindal has been very critical of President Obama. Last Thursday at the CPAC conference, he called Obama the worst President of his lifetime. Dubos says if Jindal is seeking to gain the republican presidential primary in 2016, he should keep the attacks against the President coming.
One of the bills to be taken up in the session that begins today seeks to make a Bible at the Louisiana State Museum the official state book. House Bill 503 is by Shreveport Representative Thomas Carmody. Louisiana American Civil Liberties Executive Director Marjorie Esman says this is an attempt to embody discrimination into state law.
"And if the purpose of this bill is to say that Louisiana is not a welcoming place for anybody who doesn't have these narrow religious views, then it would accomplish that goal," Esman says.
The bill states the official state book of Louisiana would be the Holy Bible published by Johannes Prevel which is the oldest edition in the state.
Louisiana Family Forum Executive Gene Mills likes this legislation.
"It's the number one best seller of all time," Mills says. "They do call it a Good Book and in this case it happens to be oldest version of The Bible and the oldest book in the state of Louisiana. This is a vintage piece of history and heritage that is uniquely Louisiana's."
But Esman says that doesn't mean it should be written into law that this book becomes the official state book.
"There are probably books in the Louisiana State Museum that contain views that don't reflect our values," Esman said. "So that's pretext. This is a statement of religious discrimination."
Esman says Louisiana doesn't need a state book to begin with, much less one that points to a single religion. She also says the bill is a violation of the separation of church and state.
But Mills says that would not hold up in court.
"Each year we designate any number of things from trees, to birds, to fruits as state designations and I don't see how they think this brings some undo religious influence by recognizing the Bible in its historical capacity," Mills said.
The 2014 Legislative session kicks off today and so far it's shaping up to be a very interesting few months. Council for A Better Louisiana President Barry Erwin says on the education side of things, one of the major hot button issues will be the idea of changing the Common Core standards.
"Common Core has become a huge controversy in our state in a relatively recent amount of time and there are a number of bills that have been introduced to change it or get rid of it," Erin said.
Erwin also says he thinks that, like last year, there will be another fight between lawmakers and Governor Jindal over the budget. He says debate about reducing sentences for first time pot possession offenders will also be a big issue.
Erwin says in general you can expect to hear a lot of discussion about marijuana this session.
"Medical marijuana is really on the margin of that issue, but there will also be some efforts to look at criminal penalties for just small possession marijuana and those types of things," said Erwin. "Those issues possibly have more traction this time than we've seen in the past."
Erwin says you can expect the usual issues like abortion, medicaid expansion and gun control to be brought up but he doesn't think there will be much change on those fronts. Jindal doesn't seem to have a very aggressive agenda this year, but Erwin agrees with the Governor's main priorities in higher education and the workforce.
"The truth is with what's going on with industrial expansion in our state, workforce has to be a priority," Erwin said.
One politician wants to improve education for prisoners and save taxpayer money. Closing the Phelps Correctional Center in Calcasiu parish in 2012 was supposed to save the state 2.6 million dollars a year. But State Treasurer John Kennedy says taxpayers are not getting any value from an empty prison and he has an idea to change that. "Re-open Phelps and put a charter school in it for inmates...
"...so they can get their G.E.D., they can learn a vocation like welding or mechanics. And they also get values training. They learn how to work for living and how to follow rules."
Kennedy wants to reopen Phelps as a charter school for inmates which would bring jobs to the DeQuincy area. Kennedy notes a 2013 Rand Corporation study of 58 prison education programs which says every dollar spent on prison education saves four dollars in prison costs.
Kennedy says educating inmates increases the odds of them finding work after they are released instead of going back to crime. He says it's been done in other states with good results.
"So, a lot of the inmates that are getting out are able to find a job and don't commit any crimes and don't come back and it's worked in San Francisco, it's worked in Georgia, it's worked in Texas and it can work in Louisiana."
Kennedy is urging the Department of Corrections to re-open the Phelps Correctional Center as an inmate charter school.