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  • Jackson’s anti-abortion bill moves forward; Edwards says he will sign ‘heartbeat’ bill

    During his monthly radio show, Gov. John Bel Edwards said he will sign a bill banning abortions after the detection of a fetal heartbeat, if the legislation arrives on his desk.

    Lawmakers are nearing the final passage of a another bill that would ask voters to rewrite the state constitution to ensure it offers no protections for the procedure. The constitutional change could ban the procedure as early as six weeks of pregnancy.

    The Senate voted 31-4  for the proposal by Democratic Rep. Katrina Jackson, of Monroe, asking voters to add language into the state constitution declaring that it doesn’t protect abortion rights. The proposal has been called the ” “Love Life Amendment” by one group and as anti-abortion legislation by others. The House already has approved it, but must take another vote to send it to the fall ballot. As it is written now, if the bill moves forward to voters, the ballot will read:

    “Do you support an amendment to add a provision to the Louisiana Constitution stating that nothing in the constitution shall secure or protect a right to abortion or require the funding of abortion?”

    It will ensure that state courts cannot establish a “right to abortion” or the tax funding of abortion in Louisiana.

    The heart-beat bill legislation is sponsored by state Sen. John Milkovich, one of several measures that lawmakers are advancing to add new restrictions on abortion. It would come into play if the U.S. Supreme Court ever reverses the Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion. “We believe children are a gift from God,” said Milkovich, a Democrat from Keithville. He said his proposal provides that “once a heartbeat is detected, the baby can’t be killed.”

    The bill still needs approval by the House. If enacted into law, it would ban abortions after a fetal heartbeat can be detected, usually around six weeks into pregnancy. Similar laws have been passed in several other states this year, including Kentucky, Georgia, Mississippi, and Ohio.

    “My inclination is to sign it,” said Edwards. “It’s consistent with my unblemished pro-life record in my years as a legislator and governor,” he said earlier this month.

    While the national Democratic platform is clear in its support for legal abortion, Edwards said on his radio show that his views align with many members of his party in Louisiana.FV6FJOXZP5AJBIULJYG5E4U6JY

    “I know that for many in the national party, on the national scene, that’s not a good fit. But I will tell you, here in Louisiana, I speak and meet with Democrats who are pro-life every single day,” he said, according to the Associated Press.

     

    Feature photo (c) Associated Press.

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  • $4 million to go to Southern University’s science and engineering building

    Entergy has partnered with Southern University and A&M College to further support their mutual commitment to developing engineering talent for the future. A $2 million grant to Southern University from Entergy and the Entergy Charitable Foundation will support classroom and lab infrastructure improvements, as well as curriculum and faculty professional development for the university’s engineering program. During today’s grant press conference, Gov. John Bel Edwards announced a $2 million match.

    This multi-year initiative will focus on enhancing Southern’s engineering curriculum and staff development as well as state of the art improvements to labs and classrooms to enable students to obtain hands-on experience.  In addition, the grant will also fund the creation of internship and mentoring programs to enhance and strengthen the relationship between Entergy and Southern University.

    “As a national leader in educating minority and women engineers and STEM professionals, Southern University is an ideal partner for Entergy to continue to build on our investments in growing a diverse workforce,” said Leo Denault, Entergy chairman and chief executive officer. “Entergy has a long history of working with universities within the Gulf South to develop the professional and technical employees that can support the continued economic development across the region as well as Entergy’s internal long-term workforce needs.”

    Entergy has an extensive track record of supporting the communities it serves, and the company believes that reinvesting in these cities and neighborhoods will enhance the quality of life for everyone. Entergy also works to attract talented, diverse employees through its college recruiting efforts and relationships with minority professional organizations. Having contributed more than $2.3 million over the past five years to historically black colleges and universities in the company’s service territory, Entergy hopes to continue to play a key role in keeping talented graduates employed in our region.

    41513676_2123512174326507_7127266127679324160_n“When we invest in our students, we are investing in their future and the future of Louisiana,” said Gov. John Bel Edwards. “As career opportunities continue to grow in the STEM fields, it is necessary that we prepare our students to meet the needs of employers and be competitive in the global market, which is exactly what Southern University is doing while also ensuring African-American students receive the high quality education necessary for developing a diverse workforce. The long standing partnership between Entergy and Southern University is a successful blueprint for both industry and higher education.”

    “Our ongoing partnership with Southern University is an example of how industries and universities can work together to advance common goals,” said Phillip May, president and CEO of Entergy Louisiana. “Entergy Louisiana’s diverse and talented workforce includes some of the best and brightest engineers. We are committed to supporting programs that will help develop and enhance the next generation of engineering innovators.”

    “Southern University is one of the top producers of African-American engineers in the state of Louisiana and beyond,” said Ray L. Belton, Southern University System president. “This partnership with Entergy will ensure that we not only continue this great legacy, but that we also expand opportunities so that students are poised to make valuable contributions to our global society through STEM disciplines.”

    Take a look at the event gallery here.

     

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    COMMENTARY: Special session, what it brings

    I had the good fortunate of being a part of the Together Louisiana that was invited to set in the balcony and hear firsthand the (Governor John Bel Edwards’) speech as he opened the special session on Sunday, Feb. 14. We were of course in the House of Representatives and watched as they talked with each other hugged and seemed glad to be there. I watched the new legislators including the one from my hometown as they tried to figure out just what to do and who to engage with. It was amazing how many of them are seated close together. Finally the speaker opened the house and had read into the minutes certain pieces of information that no one on the floor paid any attention to, I guess because it was only formality. Then the speaker sent a group of four to announce to the senate that the house had convened and he sent a group of four to announce to the governor that the house had convened. It became evident that the senate had done the same thing because a group of four came and announced that the senate had convened.

    Finally at five the governor arrived with the members from the senate and house as part of his escort team. The colors were presented and an excellent rendition of the Stars Spangled Banner was sung a Capella by a member of the staff.

    The governor began his speech, now it seems as if he has presented in my opinion a bleak state of affairs for Louisiana. He also presented his proposals for alleviating the deficit. His plan does include cutting (160 million) and of course raising additional revenue.

    On my way to the capital, I was walking behind a lady carrying a sign and of course I asked her what the sign was for and she said it had to do with the waivers parents had gotten for disabled children that Governor Edwards wanted to do away with. Then she made the off comment, I wish he had not gotten elected. She set in the balcony where our group set and I wondered if after she heard the speech if she still felt the same. I hope not. It became perfectly clear to me that we have had so many tricks over the last eight years to balance the budget that now the time has come to really reckon with the deficit. No one wants a tax increase, but as I look at the situation I can live with the one cent. I can also live with the tobacco and alcohol taxes especially if they bring in enough revenue to fix the budget.

    I remember last year when the past administration talked about the tax credit for college students and how that credit that brought in no dollars would balance the budget and how the presidents of all the universities with Ph.D. degrees would go along with that particular smoke and mirror screen. I understand the politics of the agreement, because I know the governor could have put pressure on the various boards to get rid of those presidents who did not agree, but for the life of me I still don’t understand how they felt that the universities would have any additional revenue, even an illiterate person could see through that disaster.
    I watched as the governor made his speech who clapped and of course who did not. It was amazing to watch especially the elected state level officials setting behind the podium and there lack of applause. It was also amazing to watch the members of the legislature as some and an awful lot of them chose to not clap even when he mentioned the couple who needed health insurance and had them stand. It was amazing to also watch when the mother of a disabled child stood who had a wavier for her child and who needed the help. I took note of those I knew who were so inclined to dismiss the governor’s plan to balance the budget.

    Now here is where it is interesting, after his speech, one legislator said he cut 160 million that is not meeting us half way, what he did not offer was his solution, just criticism. The governor asked for help and for other options. It also baffled me that one of the great opponents of the Jindal mess was the state treasure who now thinks that we don’t need additional revenue. He must know some of us remember when he was the biggest critic of the Jindal smoke and mirrors.

    So, I wrote before that I caught the breeze of change, after Gov. Edwards’ speech, I am willing to do whatever the governor needs to balance this great mess we are in and hope the legislators will remember they are elected by the people to do what the people want and that the people elected John Bel Edwards overwhelmingly.

    By Linda M. Johnson
    Plaquemine, LA

    Linda Johnson is a former Louisiana BESE representative.

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