Too many insurance companies operating in Louisiana have failed to live up to their financial obligations in recent years. Insurance Commissioner Tim Temple, unlike his predecessor, does not plan to penalize these companies for their delays, according to recent reporting by The Times Picayune | Baton Rouge Advocate. Gov. Jeff Landry and state lawmakers also recently approved a Temple-backed bill that gives companies even more time to pay claims needed for customers to rebuild after natural disasters. A Times Picayune | Baton Rouge Advocate editorial explains the state’s ‘market friendly’ approach to insurance can’t be void of oversight:

The insurance reform package signed into law earlier this month gave companies much of what they were seeking, including an end to the popular rule that insurers couldn’t drop policyholders after three years. If Louisiana homeowners are being asked to bear the burden of these changes until the market brings better conditions, they need to know that the Department of Insurance will at least be an aggressive watchdog on the industry if it doesn’t live up to its part of the bargain. Right now, what they are seeing is not encouraging.

Louisiana public schools will be allowed to use “edu-tainment” videos produced by a right-wing nonprofit organization as part of their social studies curriculum, state Education Superintendent Cade Brumley announced this week. The Times Picayune | Baton Rouge Advocate’s Patrick Wall explains why the decision to allow videos from PragerU is so controversial: 

The children’s videos have faced blowback from historians and educators, who say PragerU places conservative values before historical accuracy. In one controversial video for students in grades 3-5, an animated Christopher Columbus tells two time-traveling children that they should not judge slavery in his time by modern-day standards, adding that “being taken as a slave is better than being killed, no?” In another, the children meet Frederick Douglass, the formerly enslaved abolitionist, who defends the Founding Fathers’ stance on slavery.

Use of the videos is voluntary, and educators don’t have to participate:

Jacob Newsom, a social studies teacher at St. Amant High School, a public school in Ascension Parish, said he watched several PragerU Kids vidoes and found them filled with “historical revisionism and slanted perspectives.” “It’s not anything other than propaganda disguised as educational content,” he said, adding that he will not use the materials with his students.

Partisan influence in public education has increased under Brumley. The superintendent bowed to pressure from right-wing activists pushing for the removal of social and emotional learning standards for young children, and mothballed a policy that has increased the number of high-schoolers applying for financial aid for college. Louisiana is also poised to become the first state to require the display of the Ten Commandments in state classrooms. 

Louisiana’s high rates of poverty and poor levels of education attainment make it an unattractive place for many people and employers. But Louisiana needlessly gives away millions of tax dollars to corporations that could be used to address these issues. Mary Anne Mushatt, in a letter to the Times-Picayune | Baton Rouge Advocate, explains why this strategy hasn’t been effective: 

Just think what Louisiana could be if everyone paid their fair share. We could have robust rural health care, renewed infrastructure for roads, clean water and rebuilt sanitation systems. We may never get to these lofty goals because what industry doesn’t pay for, we citizens have to pick up the slack. Let’s hope our elected officials listen to the data that show what truly brings new businesses to our state to employ our people — great schools, clean air, water and land, and accessible, quality health providers.

States across the country are kicking people off their Medicaid rolls, a process sparked by the end of pandemic-era coverage protections. But the vast majority of Louisianans who have lost coverage were dropped for procedural reasons, not because they were ineligible. A new report from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities explains how states can leverage information from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program to renew Medicaid eligibility: 

Any state can implement strategies to maximize the use of SNAP data to determine Medicaid eligibility, regardless of whether it has integrated or separate administration of SNAP and Medicaid. Integrated states may find it easier to rely on specific SNAP income data, since Medicaid eligibility is in the same system and the coding is shared. States with separate systems may find it easier to rely on ELE and the Targeted Enrollment State Plan option, since these approaches only require Medicaid to access the total income calculated by SNAP.

186,000 – Minimum number of abandoned oil and gas wells in Louisiana. These wells could pose safety risks to the burgeoning, but unproven, carbon capture industry state leaders are embracing. (Source: Verite News)