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Jun 21, 2010 4:05 PM by Melissa Canone

Session Ends: A Glance at What Passed and Failed

The Louisiana Legislature's regular session reaches its end
Monday. Hundreds of bills passed and failed. As always, the biggest
money issues were left unresolved until the final days. A look at
how things fared:
WHAT BILLS PASSED:
-BUDGET: Plans to rebalance this year's budget, which had a
nearly $600 million deficit, and to chart $26 billion in spending
for the upcoming 2010-11 fiscal year. Cuts will be levied on most
state agencies, including the Medicaid program for the poor,
education programs, charity hospitals, higher education boards,
college agricultural centers, social services and parks.
-ELECTIONS: Overhaul of the congressional primary system,
returning the state to an open primary system that allows all
candidates, regardless of party, to run against each other on the
same primary ballot. The rules will change beginning with the 2012
elections.
-DRIVER'S LICENSE: Repeal of a $15 increase in the price of a
Louisiana driver's license. Gov. Bobby Jindal has signed the bill.
-TEACHERS: Revamp of the state's teacher evaluation process that
will grade public school and charter school teachers partially
based on student test scores, tying at least half of a teacher's
review to student performance data. Jindal has signed the bill.
-EDUCATION WAIVERS: Proposal to let public schools waive state
education laws and regulations superintendents believe impede their
ability to improve performance, allowing schools to function more
like charter schools. A teachers union plans to file a lawsuit
seeking to block the bill.
-HEALTH CARE: A largely symbolic bill registering Louisiana's
objection to President Barack Obama's signature health care revamp,
declaring that no one in the state can be required to have health
insurance or be required to pay a penalty if they refuse to carry
insurance. The issue ultimately will be decided in federal court.
-COLLEGE TUITION: A proposal to let Louisiana's public colleges
raise their tuition up to 10 percent a year if the schools to agree
to work on performance improvements, like increasing admission
standards, improving graduation rates and boosting efforts to get
students into jobs.
-ABORTION: Several proposals to add new regulations on abortion,
including a ban on doctors receiving medical malpractice coverage
when performing elective abortions not required to save a mother's
life. Other bills will require women seeking abortions to get an
ultrasound, prohibit coverage for elective abortions in the
insurance purchasing pools set up by the federal health overhaul
and give the state health secretary broader discretion to revoke
abortion clinic licenses.
-CRIME: Ban on "cyberbullying" that prohibits harassing or
intimidating someone under the age of 18 by text message, e-mail or
posts on social networking sites like Facebook. Ban on an herbal
mixture sold as incense, but that gives a marijuana-like high when
smoked. Creation of the crime of "participation in cockfighting."
-CELL PHONES: Bill that makes texting while driving a primary
offense so police can stop anyone they observe texting at the
wheel. Jindal has signed the bill.
-GUNS IN CHURCH: Bid to allow concealed weapons to be carried
inside churches, if pastors agree.
-SEAFOOD: Creation of a program to market and certify Louisiana
wild-caught shrimp. Any product falsely sold as Louisiana shrimp
will be removed from the market. Jindal has signed the bill.
-CHINESE DRYWALL: Ban on insurance companies canceling or
refusing to renew coverage for homeowners who have found corrosive
Chinese drywall in their homes.
-RETIREMENT: A reworking of the statewide retirement programs
for new hires beginning Jan. 1, to cut Louisiana's retirement
costs.
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WHAT BILLS FAILED:
-TOPS: Annual attempt to cap the scholarships available in the
state's free college tuition program called TOPS.
-COLLEGES: Merger of the four-year public college boards. A
separate bill that defines board roles, but steers clear of a
merger won final passage instead.
-SMOKING: Attempt to ban smoking in Louisiana bars and casinos.
-GAY ADOPTION: Proposal to let gay or unmarried couples adopt
children together.
-SEX EDUCATION: Requirement that all Louisiana public schools
teach sex education to students.
-PUBLIC RECORDS: The opening of most records in the governor's
office to public scrutiny. A separate bill requiring the governor
to open and preserve records related to the Gulf oil spill passed.
-LAW CLINICS: Bill aimed at shuttering or seriously hobbling the
Tulane Environmental Law Clinic.
-EDUCATION: Proposal to make the state's education
superintendent elected, rather than appointed; and requirement that
public school students maintain at least a "C" average to play
sports on school teams.
-CHARITY HOSPITAL: Attempt to move LSU's medical school to Baton
Rouge from New Orleans.
-LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR: Abolition of the lieutenant governor's
office and a separate measure to strip the lieutenant governor of
his responsibilities over museums, state parks and tourism.
-TERM LIMITS: Term limits for statewide elected officials
(besides the governor who's already term-limited), judges, district
attorneys and sheriffs.
-WELFARE: Mandatory drug testing for welfare recipients.
-DRUG OFFENSES: Attempt to stamp driver's licenses with the
orange words "drug offender" for anyone twice convicted of felony
drug crimes.
-MARDI GRAS LIABILITY: Proposal to shield Mardi Gras
float-builders from some liability claims for accidents on the
parade route.
-TAXES: Repeal of Louisiana's severance tax on oil and gas
production and replacement with a processing tax.
-ODDS AND ENDS: Prohibitions on hand-held cell phone use while
driving, saggy pants that show underwear, the sale of energy drinks
in Louisiana to children under the age of 16 and the cameras that
take photos of speeders and drivers who run red lights.

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