Louisiana’s unemployment insurance system is supposed to protect workers who lose their job through no fault of their own by providing support to help make ends meet while they look for work or retrain for a new occupation. But a proposal that advanced out of a legislative committee on Thursday would reduce the amount of time people can collect benefits – from 26 weeks to as little as 12 weeks – and change the benefit calculation formula when the state unemployment rate is at 5% or less, with benefits decreasing as the unemployment rate increases. The Times Picayune | Baton Rouge Advocate’s James Finn reports

Only when the unemployment rate rises above 8.5% would workers be able to claim benefits for the maximum 20 weeks. … Christina LeBlanc, a policy analyst for the pro-worker nonprofit Invest in Louisiana, previously the Louisiana Budget Project, said the proposed system would disproportionately harm rural parishes whose unemployment rates fall below the state’s overall percentage of unemployed people. East Carroll Parish, for example, has an unemployment rate of 9.8%, according to LeBlanc.

The House Labor and Industrial Relations Committee also approved a bill eliminating mandatory lunch breaks for child workers. Rep. Roger Wilder’s proposal would make it easier for the Smoothie King stores he owns and other businesses to operate. 

An historic expansion of the Child Tax Credit helped cut America’s child poverty rate nearly in half in 2021. But these historic gains were wiped when Congress refused to renew the credit. Fortunately, and somewhat surprisingly, the U.S. House voted overwhelmingly in January for a bill that would extend and expand the federal Child Tax Credit. But that legislation remains stalled in the Senate where members oppose the measure on principle and for overtly political reasons. The Times Picayune | Baton Rouge Advocate editorial board urges the Senate to stop toying with the Child Tax Credit. 

We say that it’s past time for our nation’s leaders to stop playing petty political games with a measure that can make a huge difference in the lives of so many American children. Low-income families use this money to buy food and other basics, helping them get a leg up. We call on Louisiana Sens. John Kennedy and Bill Cassidy not to let this bill fall prey to partisan sniping. Instead, they should follow the common-sense lead of Speaker Johnson. Our state’s parents are watching.

An estimated 316,000 Louisiana children from low-income families would benefit from an expansion of the federal Child Tax Credit, according to recent analysis from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

Gov. Jeff Landry is moving quickly to consolidate power in his office and dismantle laws and institutions that could stand in his way. Less than six months into his first term, Landry is pushing to rush through an overhaul of the state constitution and gut public records laws that could hold him and the Legislature accountable. Gambit’s Clancy DuBos explains that time is running out for people to oppose Landry’s blatant power grab: 

As a candidate for governor, Landry never highlighted any plan to overhaul the constitution or gut public records laws. Nor did he discuss any plan to consolidate virtually all power in his office. Instead, he talked about how much he loved Louisiana and its people, and he promised to reduce crime.  It was all a lie. What Landry really loves is power. What he plans to reduce is transparency. He can still be stopped — if citizens call their lawmakers and tell them to vote against anti-transparency bills, drive-by constitutional rewrites, and any bills that put more power into the governor’s hands. Time is short, folks. If you don’t speak up now, you’ll deserve every ounce of corrupt, secretive, authoritarian governance that Jeff Landry gives you.

Join the Power Coalition for Equity and Justice for a webinar on Friday, April 19 at 10 a.m. to learn more about a constitutional convention and its impacts. Register here

The emissions from fossil fuel companies contribute to climate change and the more frequent extreme weather events it causes. An emerging field of science could determine how much financial responsibility oil companies bear for the  damage caused by hurricanes, floods and other disasters. Stateline’s Alex Brown reports

When a flood or wildfire hits, researchers in “attribution science” run computer models to help determine whether the disaster was caused or intensified by climate change. … Lawmakers in Vermont and four other blue states have proposed “climate Superfund” bills, which would create funds to pay for recovery from climate disasters and preparation for sea level rise and other adaptation measures. Oil and coal companies would pay into those funds based on the percentage of emissions they’ve caused over a set period. 

Louisiana has experienced 97 natural disasters with losses exceeding $1 billion each since 1980. In total, the Pelican State has lost $304 billion from extreme weather events over the last 40 years, the third-highest amount in the nation. Unfortunately, many state leaders pay little attention to combatting – or sometimes even acknowledging the existence of – climate change. 

12.2% – Percentage of Louisiana bridges that need repairs. This is nearly twice the national average of 6.8%. In total, the Pelican State has 3,149 bridges in need of repair. (Source: Department of Transportation via Axios New Orleans)