The 2021 legislative session started Monday, April 14, and the first week primarily dealt with issues as varied as taxes and how they’re collected to the legalization of medical marijuana in a non-distilled form. The money committees, namely Senate Finance and House Appropriations, mainly heard from agency leaders who explained their budget requests for next fiscal year.
A few highlights from the first week of legislative session:
- The Commissioner of Higher Education appeared in House Appropriations and some Representatives expressed concerns that 59% of students who receive TOPS awards are from families with annual household incomes of $70,000 or higher. TOPS is designed to be merit-based rather than need-based, but some believe that the data that shows that students from lower income families tend to struggle more academically than their more affluent peers, which makes TOPS a harder to reach goal for the less wealthy. Currently, about 60,000 students are receiving TOPS at an annual cost of $321 million to the state.
- On the Senate side of the capitol, the State Superintendent of Education was in the Finance Committee discussing the proposed $3.9 billion MFP for next year. During the presentation, the committee chair, Senator Bodi White, brought up the $4 billion in additional federal dollars the state will receive for public education and his concern that this money not be “squandered.” Senator White said the Legislature will want to know how the money is spent.
This week the activity will intensify. On Wednesday, the Senate Education Committee will meet for the first time. On Thursday, the House Committee on Administration of Criminal Justice will meet at 8:30 a.m. to begin consideration of a criminal justice reform package. At 9:00 a.m. on the same day, the House Education Committee will meet. Agendas may be viewed and committee hearings may be live streamed at https://legis.la.gov/.
Did you know? Just ten contacts from constituents can convince a legislator to vote a certain way.
We’ll inform you as Stand Louisiana’s priority bills are scheduled, and hope that you will want to get involved to impact their outcome.