Legislators Preparing for Final Two Weeks of Session

by | May 20, 2024 | Legislative Advocacy

Home » Legislators Preparing for Final Two Weeks of Session

With two weeks left in the 2024 Regular Session, the House and Senate are rapidly approving the session’s most widely supported legislation in order to clear their calendars for bigger-ticket debates, including the state budget and capital outlay bills and legislation calling for a limited constitutional convention. Several 1A-supported measures advanced at the Capitol last week as legislators worked through long lists of bills on their respective floors, including legislation to expand the reach of the M.J. Foster Promise Program, strengthen computer science education, address Louisiana’s healthcare workforce shortage, and more.

Legislators have until June 3 to handle business before adjournment. Read on for a recap of week 10 and a look ahead at week 11.





M.J. Foster Promise Program
1A is supporting two measures that extend the reach of the M.J. Foster Promise Program, which provides financial aid for Louisianans to earn credentials that align with high-demand jobs in industries like healthcare, information technology, and manufacturing:

Funding – Legislation authored by Senate Education Chairman Sen. Rick Edmonds, SB 272, increases the annual funding cap for the M.J. Foster Promise Program, which is subject to appropriation by the Legislature each year. SB 272 increases the annual funding cap legislators may appropriate for the program from $10.5 million to $40 million, providing increased capacity to serve Louisianans seeking training to enter the workforce.

SB 272 passed the House on 5/14 and now heads to the Governor’s desk.

Access – Rep. Paula Davis brought HB 728 back to Senate Education last week after the bill was deferred in its initial hearing. In its original form, HB 728 would have changed eligibility rules for the M.J. Foster Promise Program to allow the formerly incarcerated to access the program and to lower the qualifying age from 21 to 17. A compromise amendment was added in Senate Education after resistance from committee members on the provisions allowing access to individuals that have been convicted of a violent crime. Committee amendments remove access to the program for the formerly incarcerated and shift to a phased-in approach to lowering the age of eligibility to 17.

HB 728 was reported favorably as amended by Senate Education on 5/16 and now heads to the Senate floor.


Computer Science Education
One of 1A’s priority bills is approaching the finish line, HB 264 by Rep. Hughes, entitled the “Computer Science Education Advancement Act of 2024.” HB 264 would make computer science a high school graduation requirement, as well as a qualification requirement for the Taylor Opportunity Program for Students (TOPS), to be fully implemented by the graduating class of 2030. Computer science is changing every industry, and computing jobs are among the highest-wage and highest-demand careers nationally. Louisiana currently lags behind our southern neighbors with only 35% of our high schools offering foundational computer science courses, compared to 78% in Mississippi, 95% in Alabama, and 99% in Arkansas.

HB 264 will better align Louisiana’s high school curricula with our peers and set students up for success in high-wage, high-demand computing occupations. The bill was approved by the Senate unanimously on 5/13 and now heads to the Governor’s desk.

Check out more state-specific computer science education statistics at Code.org. 


Literacy and Numeracy
Two 1A-supported measures seeking to boost reading and math competency among K-12 students, HB 244 by Rep. Hughes and HB 267 by Rep. Carver, were reported favorably by Senate Education last week. These bills build on the success of the Steve Carter Literacy Tutoring Program and place a renewed focus on numeracy skills among Louisiana’s students.

HB 244 renames the Steve Carter Literacy Tutoring Program to the “Steve Carter Education Program,” and expands services provided to include math tutoring. The bill also extends the availability of the program, originally only open to students in grades K-5, to students through grade 12, and increases the per-student funding available from $1,000 to $1,500.

HB 267 requires the Louisiana Department of Education (DOE) to develop or select and provide screeners in order to measure the foundational numeracy of K-3 public school students. Public schools would administer DOE’s screeners three times during the school year and provide interventions and support to students identified as having numeracy skills below grade level.

Both bills were reported favorably by Senate Education on 5/15 and now head to Senate Finance. 


Occupational Licensing
Also on the 1A priority list is HB 716 by Rep. Owen. Entitled the “Welcome Home Act,” HB 716 would provide for universal recognition of occupational licenses for individuals moving into our state from elsewhere in the country. HB 716 provides for a recognition process that would grant an occupational license or certification to an individual moving to Louisiana if certain criteria are met, including that the individual is in good standing with the state they’re coming from.

The Institute for Justice reports that nearly one in five American workers are affected by occupational licensing and 20 other states have enacted their own version of universal license recognition, including neighboring Mississippi. 1A supports HB 716 to reduce barriers to employment and make it easier for professionals to relocate to Louisiana or for those who have left to come back home.

HB 716 passed the Senate on 5/16 and now heads back to the House for concurrence with the Senate amendments.


Health Care Workforce
State Rep. Brach Myers has introduced HB 329, 1A-supported legislation pertaining to the state’s Health Care Employment Reinvestment Opportunity (HERO) Fund, which focuses on meeting the demand for nursing and allied health professionals in Louisiana. HB 329 creates a public-private partnership program within the HERO Fund to address critical healthcare workforce needs and broadens the types of programs able to be funded to include support for dual enrollment and pathway programs, strategies for healthcare organizations to increase career pathways and apprenticeships, and initiatives that raise awareness of and interest in a variety of healthcare occupations and reduce barriers to accessing related education programs.

HB 329 was reported favorably by Senate Finance on 5/13 is scheduled to be considered by the full Senate today, 5/20. Click below to read more from Rep. Myers.



Support for I-49 South
Senator Blake Miguez is leading a concurrent resolution, SCR 41, to urge the Department of Transportation and Development (DOTD) to expedite the process to complete the I-49 Lafayette Connector, calling the project “a critical transportation link that needs to be upgraded to interstate standards.” Senator Gerald Boudreaux and Senator Jean-Paul Coussan are co-authoring the measure, and all three Senators took to the floor last week to speak on the imperative to complete the project – watch their remarks below:

1A applauds Senators Miguez, Boudreaux, and Coussan for highlighting the critical need to complete the I-49 Lafayette Connector and its benefits to the entire State of Louisiana.


Education Savings Accounts
Legislation to create the LA GATOR Scholarship Program, SB 313 by Senate Education Chairman Rick Edmonds, was brought before the Senate again last week after it was initially returned to the calendar on May 8. LA GATOR is an education savings account (ESA) program for K-12 students that would function through state-supervised savings accounts allowing parents to direct state per-pupil funding to a variety of educational services, including private school or career or technical school tuition, online programs, instructional materials and more.

SB 313 authorizes the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) to develop the LA GATOR program, subject to appropriation of the Legislature. The bill further requires BESE to make recommendations on transitioning students currently using vouchers to the new ESA program. After a lengthy discussion in the Senate, amendments were made to more closely align the provisions of SB 313 with its companion bill in the House, HB 745 by Ways and Means Chair Julie Emerson, which garnered the votes needed to pass the House earlier in session.

SB 313 passed the Senate by a vote of 24-15 on 5/16 and now heads to House Education.


Carbon Capture and Storage
Two measures related to carbon capture and sequestration were reported favorably by Senate Natural Resources last Wednesday, 5/15 and now head for consideration in the full Senate:

  • HB 169 by Rep. Robby Carter – specifies that the $250,000 cap on the dollar amount of non-economic damages recoverable from accidents related to carbon sequestration applies per person rather than per occurrence
  • HB 516 by Rep. Mack – provides for regulation and emergency response related to carbon dioxide sequestration projects; the bill has been amended through the process to bring its provisions in line with existing Class VI permitting program requirements

1A is monitoring this and other related legislation and will oppose any measures seeking to limit the growth of carbon capture projects in Louisiana.




As we enter the final two weeks of session, 1A is tracking progress on several remaining priority measures moving through the legislative process.

1A-supported legislation scheduled for action in Week 11 includes:

  • HB 461 by Rep. Jackson – provides for temporary confidentiality of documents related to local and parish economic development projects (sched. for Senate 5/20)
  • SB 494 by Sen. Mizell – modernizes Louisiana Economic Development’s organizational structure and operations and removes burdensome regulations constraining the department’s ability to function proactively and keep pace with the business sector (sched. for House Commerce 5/20)
  • SB 293 by Sen. Edmonds – seeks to address Louisiana’s critical talent shortage by strategically aligning state workforce development programs and funding under a single point of contact, the Louisiana Workforce Commission (sched. for House 5/20)

Other 1A-supported measures await action:

  • HB 800 by Rep. Beaullieu – calls for a limited constitutional convention (pending Senate and Governmental Affairs)
  • SB 433 by Sen. Edmonds – requires the Louisiana Department of Education (LDOE) to establish an Early Childhood Education Data Dashboard to display certain data online (pending Senate Finance)



1A is tracking key legislation across three priority areas outlined in our 2024 Legislative Priorities:

  • Economic competitiveness
  • Talent development
  • Infrastructure investment

Be on the lookout for 1A legislative updates on these issues, and more, every Monday morning.