Search This Blog


Ten Commandments bill to present needed test

Despite protestations of opponents not quite up on things, as long as Louisiana treads carefully a bill working its way through the Legislature will have the practical effect of displaying a legal-paper-sized copy of the Ten Commandments in every public school classroom, and even some private school ones, from kindergarten on up and deemed constitutional.

HB 71 by Republican state Rep. Dodie Horton would mandate this. The bill states that they can use public funds or accept donated copies. Further, any private school that accepts state funds, which at present would be some nonpublic elementary and secondary education schools and perhaps even private colleges, would be subject to the same. The bill passed the House of Representatives with few dissenters and now moves along to the Senate.

Misperceptions about the issue abound. For one thing, two states already have such laws in place (and several others are considering these). Less demonstrative is North Dakota’s, now three years old, which simply states that local school boards can order this along with a display of other historical documents. In place for about a couple of decades, South Dakota’s leaves open in the public school system the authority to place a copy as long as it is not too conspicuous, giving the option the post other documents of cultural, legal, and historical significance as well.


Work needed on college pricing autonomy bill

On its surface a bill before the Louisiana Legislature that might aid higher education, HB 862, if not changed would backfire, if not undermine, in deliverance of quality tertiary education.

The bill, by Democrat state Rep. Jason Hughes, would grant institutions the ability to establish and raise fees and differential tuition, the former across the board and the latter for more expensive and/or high-demand programs. These could increase up to ten percent annually. This would relax the constitutional standard that legislative supermajorities only could raise these.

The strategy here rightly emphasizes that raising revenues for higher education must come from its consumers. While Louisiana higher education isn’t where it was a quarter-century ago when it had about the lowest tuition in the country and consequentially an enormous relative taxpayer subsidy to public colleges, the corrective measures that begun about 15 years ago to right the imbalance faltered in recent years. At present, the state still ranks only 30th among its brethren in average senior-level tuition charged – which overstates because around 28 percent of in-state undergraduates enjoy Taylor Opportunity Program for Scholars awards that pay for tuition and varying amounts of fees.


Bills challenge local govts, especially Bossier

A number of local governmental bodies and elected officials, especially from Bossier Parish, won’t be happy if a few bills addressing local government organization and actions pass into law this spring.

As always, the Legislature takes up matters that affect local governance, but this year such general bills would have greater impact on entities and politicians in Bossier than comparatively elsewhere. Of minor importance is HB 103 by Republican state Rep. Mike Johnson, which would mandate live broadcasting of meetings by bodies with jurisdictions of at least 25,000 people, but for municipalities just 10,000. It retains the requirement of archived audio or video or live transmission of meetings by any authority that can tax.

Bossier affected entities – the Bossier City Council, the Bossier Parish Police Jury, and the Bossier Parish School Board – already transmit live. But if the bill were to be amended to demand archived meetings available on the Internet, that could put entities into difficulty that do recordings but don’t currently make these available on a web site, such as the Bossier Levee District.


Landry on target with anthem respect request

Louisiana Republican Gov. Jeff Landry got it just right in his reaction to a controversy – somewhat chance in nature – over public universities’ responsibilities to have their athletes acknowledging affirmatively the country whose citizens are paying their way.

It all started when in a women’s basketball championship tournament game observers noticed the Louisiana State University squad wasn’t on the floor standing to respect the playing of the national anthem, while the opposition was. That absence had been typical of LSU for some time as its pregame routine as structured precluded that, but nobody really had paid attention to this before.

When national media began to publicize it, Landry weighed in that the state’s higher education governing boards should implement policies requiring scholarship athletes to stand respectfully during the anthem. He argued the least a university’s competitive athletes could do was respect the symbol under which Americans had sacrificed to protect the country and the ideas associated with its founding. He also asked the governing body for many intercollegiate competitions the National Collegiate Athletic Association to implement a rule like that.