Weather Cuts Week Five Short

by | Apr 15, 2024 | Legislative Advocacy

Home » Weather Cuts Week Five Short

Legislators held another abbreviated week at the Capitol, this time due to weather. One top 1A priority, legislation to revamp Louisiana Economic Development, was delayed as a result and is now expected to be heard in Senate Commerce in the coming days. Despite shorter hours last week, 1A-supported legislation to better align Louisiana’s workforce development efforts cleared the Senate, and bills to change M.J. Foster Promise Program eligibility requirements and create education savings accounts (ESA) for Louisiana students cleared the House.

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



Workforce Readiness
One of 1A’s priority bills this session, SB 293 by Senator Edmonds, focuses on workforce development in Louisiana by emphasizing coordination among various agencies to address the state’s workforce needs and economic development goals. The goal of the bill is to provide a single point of contact on business workforce solutions, the Louisiana Workforce Commission (LWC). LWC Secretary Susana Schowen is a proven leader on business workforce solutions, and this legislation will ensure Louisiana’s workforce strategies are best positioned to foster economic success for our citizens and industries.

SB 293 passed the Senate by a vote of 37-0 on 4/9 and now heads to the House.


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 heard in House Appropriations 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.

Testimony was taken on both bills, but Rep. Hughes and Rep. Carver held off on calling a vote on either bill as legislators await the latest Revenue Estimating Conference (REC) projections. The REC’s April 17 forecast will provide House Appropriations a better understanding of the amount of state funds available to allocate to new programs.


M.J. Foster Promise Program
Rep. Paula Davis has introduced HB 728, a bill to change eligibility rules for 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. HB 728 lowers the qualifying age for the program from 21 to 17 and allows individuals convicted of violent crimes to access the program. The bill garnered widespread support in its initial committee hearing earlier in the session and on the House floor last week, as it provides an avenue for opportunity youth and ex-offenders to access training to help deter involvement in the criminal justice system.

HB 728 passed the House by a vote of 98-4 on 4/10 and now heads to Senate Education.


Education Savings Accounts
House Ways and Means Chair Rep. Julie Emerson presented her legislation to create the LA GATOR Scholarship Program, HB 745, to the full House on Monday, 4/8. LA GATOR is a universal education scholarship account (ESA) program for K-12 students that would function through state-supervised savings accounts that allow parents to direct state per-pupil funding to a variety of educational services, including tutoring, private school tuition, online programs, and more. Parents participating in the program must agree to provide instruction in English language arts, math, social studies, and science, at minimum. The bill also specifies that higher amounts of funding be directed toward low-income families.

Rep. Emerson opted not to limit her colleagues’ time or questions on the House floor, resulting in a robust debate on the merits of the bill. Following nearly three hours of Q&A, HB 745 passed by a bipartisan vote of 72-32 and now heads across the Capitol to Senate Education.





Expect a heavy committee schedule this week as legislators gear up to hear a lengthy list of bills originally scheduled to be considered last week, including 1A-supported legislation to revamp Louisiana Economic Development (LED), address Louisiana’s property insurance crisis, and make early childhood data more accessible.


LED Restructure Bill Rescheduled
Senate Commerce Chair Sen. Beth Mizell’s legislation to implement a reorganization of Louisiana Economic Development (LED), SB 494, was rescheduled following last week’s weather and is now expected to be considered in Senate Commerce this week. 1A is supporting SB 494 to strengthen LED as a business-first, best-in-class economic development agency.

The bill makes key changes that modernize LED’s organizational structure and operations and remove burdensome regulations constraining the department’s ability to function proactively and keep pace with the business sector. Key provisions of SB 494 include:

  • Creating the Louisiana Economic Development Partnership (LEDP), a board led by 11 highly-qualified private-sector members representing a cross-section of Louisiana’s key industries:
    • 9 gubernatorial appointments
    • 1 appointment by the Speaker of the House
    • 1 appointment by the President of the Senate
    • LED Secretary, as a non-voting member
  • Requiring LED to develop a long-range economic development plan and a comprehensive strategic plan with the advice and consultation of the LEDP
  • Allowing LED to establish a 501(c)3 corporation to support economic development
  • Redesigning membership of the Louisiana Economic Development Corporation (LEDC) board to add more economic development and business oversight
  • Requiring a plan to seek federal, private, and other grant funds to support economic growth


Insurance Reform
Key legislation to address Louisiana’s insurance crisis continues to move through the Legislature, including bills supported by the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry (LABI) and the Louisiana Department of Insurance (LDI).

Scheduled for House Insurance 4/17:

  • SB 323 by Sen. Talbot – promotes good faith and fair dealing in the property insurance claims process in effort to make Louisiana a more attractive place for insurers to write policies. The bill would provide for clear rights and timelines for both the insured and the insurer, encouraging swift claims resolutions and reducing the possibility of litigation


M.J. Foster Promise Program Funding
1A is supporting legislation authored by Senate Education Chairman Sen. Rick Edmonds, SB 272, which would increase the annual funding cap for the M.J. Foster Promise Program. The program provides financial aid for Louisianans to earn credentials that align with high-demand jobs in industries like healthcare, information technology, and manufacturing. SB 272 would increase the annual funding cap for the program from $10.5 million to $40 million, providing increased capacity to serve Louisianans seeking training to enter the workforce.

SB 272 was reported favorably as amended by Senate Education on 4/8 and is scheduled for consideration in the Senate on 4/15.


Early Childhood Data
Senate Education Chairman Sen. Rick Edmonds has authored legislation, SB 433, to require the Louisiana Department of Education (LDOE) to establish an Early Childhood Education Data Dashboard to display certain data online. SB 433 requires the dashboard contain several data points, to be collected and updated on a quarterly basis, including but not limited to:

  • Number of children enrolled in each publicly funded early care and education program arranged by provider type, parish, age of children, and number of children on waitlists
  • Status of Child Care Assistance Program applications, including the number of applications approved and rejected with an explanation of each status, and if applicable, the total number of families on the waitlist
  • Number of children served in publicly funded early care and education programs compared to the number of estimated overall in-need population
  • Quality rating or performance profile data for each provider and aggregated to show parish-wide and statewide quality trends over time

The bill requires the dashboard to be fully implemented and accessible by August 1, 2026. 1A supports SB 433 to provide the public with a clear picture of early care and education needs across the state. The bill is expected to be rescheduled for Senate Education this week.


Constitutional Convention
Last week, House and Governmental Affairs Chairman Rep. Beau Beaullieu announced that this Tuesday, 4/16, his committee will hear public comment on his legislation calling for a Constitutional Convention to rewrite Louisiana’s overly complex governing document, HB 800.

The bill calls for a Convention of 171 delegates, comprised of the 144 members of the Legislature and 27 delegates appointed by the Governor, to convene on May 20, 2024, to begin framing a new Constitution for the State. Delegates would have authority to frame a new constitution under the directive that they determine the provisions of the constitution that constitute the fundamental and foundational law of the state that should remain in the constitution and remove any provisions that should instead be placed in statute.

Chairman Beaullieu clarified that it is not the Committee’s intention to vote on the bill during the 4/16 hearing, but instead to provide ample opportunity for the public and fellow legislators to ask questions and provide input prior to an initial committee vote on the measure.


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.