Louisiana’s 2021 regular legislative session adjourned June 10 and, due to your tremendous grassroots advocacy, legislators passed many significant bills that will forever positively impact children and families in Louisiana. Your 14,343 legislative contacts encouraged legislators to support bills dealing with early literacy, mandatory kindergarten, small group learning pods, and the elimination of fees and taxes in the juvenile justice system.
The Stand for Children Louisiana team could not have been nearly as successful without your efforts and advocacy. Every single email is important, and the following legislative summary illustrates the power of our teamwork. And finally, many thanks to the legislators who brought innovative and courageous legislation forward for consideration – we appreciate your service.
2021 REGULAR LEGISLATIVE SESSION WRAP UP
HB 216/ACT 123 (Rep. Royce Duplessis) – This law eliminates fees and taxes on juveniles in the juvenile justice system. By eliminating the collection of fees and taxes by Office of Juvenile Justice employees, they can instead focus on rehabilitation and restitution. Eliminating fees and taxes from juveniles will put a major dent in the School to Prison pipeline. Stand strongly supported the legislation which was signed into law by the Governor with an effective date of 6/10/21.
HB 324 (Rep. Stephanie Hilferty) – HB 324 would have prohibited corporal punishment in public elementary and secondary schools. Stand supported the bill, but it failed on the House floor by a narrow vote.
HB 352 (Rep. Valarie Hodges) – This bill would have mandated specific instruction in American history and civics for K-8 students in public schools. Stand opposed this bill because BESE has the constitutional responsibility for education, with legislative oversight. Additionally, BESE is currently undergoing a Social Studies content standards review and is in the middle of studying and revising social studies standards already. The bill passed the House and Senate but died in conference committee.
HB 416 (Rep. Valarie Hodges) – This bill would have mandated instruction in WWII and the Holocaust every year in grades 9-12. Stand opposed this bill for the same reasons as HB 352. It passed the House but died in the Senate.
HB 421/ACT 400 (Rep. Julie Emerson) – This legislation will allow local school districts and other local education agencies to establish small learning communities within public schools called Learning Pods. These Pods could be created for specific purposes such as technical or skilled training, or foreign language immersion. They could be blended learning, meaning a combination of virtual and in-school instruction. The concept allows for tremendous innovation. Stand strongly supported the legislation which was signed into law by the Governor with an effective date of 6/16/21.
HB 564 (Rep. Ray Garofalo) – Arguably the most contentious bill of the session, HB 564 would have prohibited the “training” of students and employees on divisive concepts that primarily deal with concepts related to race and sex. Stand opposed this bill. Rep. Garofalo voluntarily deferred it in committee but major concepts within the bill were amended several times onto other legislation. Ongoing dispute over HB 564 ultimately led to the Speaker of the House removing Rep. Garofalo as Chair of the House Education Committee.
HB 604 (Rep. Ted James) – This “Clean Slate” bill would have aligned Louisiana with other states that have no-cost, government-initiated, automatic expungement of criminal records after a certain time period. The bill passed the House but was amended in the Senate Judiciary C Committee. The amendments added a large fiscal note to the bill, which caused it to be referred to the Senate Finance Committee. Unfortunately, HB 604 died in the Finance Committee. As amended, HB 604 did not meet its original intent and was not a bill that could be supported by the Clean Slate Coalition. The Coalition will continue to work with partners to bring a bill next session that can accomplish all its major goals and get enough bipartisan support to pass. In the meantime, if anyone needs assistance with the expungement process, the nonprofit group Justice & Accountability Center of Louisiana (jaclouisiana.org) hosts free expungement clinics.
HR 202 (Rep. Valarie Hodges) – This resolution was an urge and request that certain topics related to American history and world history be included in state content standards and curricula for public schools. Stand opposed it as it appeared to be an effort to keep HB 352, also by Rep. Hodges, alive. It was introduced the last day of session and did not receive the required two-thirds vote necessary to allow it to be heard.
HB 32/ACT 5 (Rep. Larry Selders) – This law increases the number of higher education credits certain inmates may earn while serving a sentence and increases the diminutive credit an inmate may earn toward reduction of the projected good time parole supervision date. Stand supported this legislation which was signed into law by the Governorwith an effective date of 8/1/21.
HB 46/ACT 252 (Rep. Ted James) – This bill shortens the length of time defendants may be held in custody without being charged with a crime. Stand supported the legislation which was signed into law by the Governor with an effective date of 1/1/22.
HCR 11 (Rep. Jason Hughes) – This bill requests BESE to develop a plan for providing school literacy coaches for K-2nd grade students identified as needing additional support and improvement. Stand supported this bill, which passed both the House and Senate and was sent to the Secretary of State.
SB 10/ACT 386 (Sen. Cleo Fields) – This bill will make kindergarten mandatory and change the current age to begin school from 7 to 5 years old. Stand strongly supported this bill and believes that early learning is critical to obtain a proper foundation for reading as well as other academic subjects. The bill allows kindergarten to be taught via home school. Stand strongly supported the legislation which was signed into law by the Governor with an effective date of 6/16/21.
SB 216/ACT 108 (Sen. Robert Mills) – This law provides that K-3 teachers who teach reading and certain administrators receive professional development in the science of reading. Student reading scores have been in decline for several years and ensuring that teachers have access to the latest research in the best methods to teach reading is an important component to reversing that trend. Stand strongly supported the legislation which was signed by the Governor with an effective date of 6/4/21.
SB 222 (Sen. Sharon Hewitt) – This legislation provides a framework for a comprehensive early literacy initiative. It passed both the Senate and the House and was signed into law by the Governor with an effective date of 8/1/21.
SCR 2 (Sen. Cleo Fields) – This resolution encompasses the $3.9 billion (Minimum Foundation Program) MFP, the state’s formula to finance schools. It includes an $800 pay raise for certificated staff and $400 for support personnel. It passed both the Senate and the House and was sent to the Secretary of State.
SCR 18 (Sen. Cleo Fields) – This resolution requests the Department of Education study the feasibility of banning the use of corporal punishment in public schools. Stand supports this legislation. SCR 18 passed the Senate and was sent to the Secretary of State.
SR 250 (Sen. Jay Morris) – This resolution was a last day of session attempt to mandate curricula that was contained in failed bills HB 352 and HB 416. Stand opposed this resolution, which was an urge and request that certain topics related to American history and world history be included in state content standards and curricula for public schools. The resolution died on the subject to call calendar.
We always enjoy the opportunity to host members and families at the legislature. It is such a wonderful opportunity to visit the Capitol, talk about the legislative process, and chat with legislators. This year, we used Lobby Day to talk about Governor Pinchback and our state’s history, explore the rotunda, enjoy lunch, and watch the House conduct its business. We were even recognized from the House Floor while we sat in the balcony!
WE'RE NEVER DONE
Our work is never done. To support our education & criminal justice advocacy work so we can pursue more wins for students and families, please click here. Thank you!