A bill seeking to ban transgender Louisianans from using public bathrooms that align with their gender identity would jeopardize $14 million in federal funding for domestic violence shelters. Rep. Roger Wilder’s House Bill 608, which advanced out of the House Committee on Civil Law and Procedure on Monday, runs afoul of federal regulations and is similar to other “bathroom bills” around the country that have targeted the trans community. The Times PIcayune | Baton Rouge Advocate’s Meghan Friedmann reports:

HB 608 would “put domestic violence shelters out of business in Louisiana,” testified Kim Sport of United Against Domestic Violence. Such shelters in Louisiana get approximately $14 million, or 90% of their operating budget, from federal grants, added Mariah Wineski, executive director of the Louisiana Coalition Against Domestic Violence. Federal regulations require that those shelters screen clients based on their gender identity, she said. The bill would put shelters out of compliance with those rules, she said, and the shelters could lose their funding.

Gov. Jeff Landry’s executive budget already recommends a $7 million cut for domestic violence shelters in the state. 

The Louisiana House approved legislation on Tuesday that would eventually provide all families, regardless of income, with taxpayer-financed savings accounts that could be used to pay for private or online school. The debate on House Bill 745 lasted more than three hours and received scrutiny from lawmakers on both sides of the aisle who questioned the accountability and admission standards of private schools receiving public tax dollars and the huge cost of the program. The Times Picayune | Baton Rouge Advocate’s Patrick Wall reports:  

“I’m concerned that this bill is going to hurt public schools,” said Rep. Ed Larvadain, III, D-Alexandria. “The cost will be so high it will be astronomical.” A few Republicans also expressed concerns about the potential impact on public schools, especially in poor rural areas. Rep. Gabe Firment, R-Pollock, said the schools in his district rely heavily on state funding, which would be reduced if students use ESAs to switch to private schools. “The way I look at it,” he said, “it will be more harmful for rural districts or poor districts that lose students than maybe some of the more affluent districts.”

The House and Senate had nearly identical ESA bills. But as the Louisiana Illuminator’s Greg LaRose and Julie O’Donoghue report, members of the Senate Finance Committee are considering several changes to the upper chamber’s version, including allowing home-school students to receive public tax dollars for tuition. 

Sen. Katrina Jackson-Andrews, D-Monroe, wants to require any public school that accepts ESA money to use the same standardized test as public schools when measuring transfer student progress. In Emerson’s bill, private schools are allowed to use a test that matches their curriculum. …  Sen. Glen Womack, R- Harrisonburg, has proposed adding language similar to what Emerson placed on her bill, making ESAs contingent on legislative funding. He also wants a survey conducted in each parish to determine how many students might qualify for the program. Its results would be due Dec. 1.

The Senate Finance Committee will not vote on the proposed changes until next week. 

Louisiana has long been one of the most dangerous states in which to be born or give birth to a child, and the Legislature has not done nearly enough to address the high number of preventable maternal and infant deaths in the state. New laws by Sen. Regina Barrow and Rep. Matthew Willard have added doula and midwife coverage, but there hasn’t been a full commitment from the entire Legislature to invest the time, money and resources needed to address the crisis. A Times Picayune | Baton Rouge Advocate editorial reports that several bills working their way through the chambers aim to change that: 

So we’re glad to see that, this session, the Legislature is considering a number of bills aimed at making childbearing less dangerous. … These proposals are among those supported by a broad coalition that includes the March of Dimes, the Louisiana Public Health Institute, the Louisiana Partnership for Children & Families, the New Orleans Health Department and other organizations. We’re encouraged that several of these bills have made it through the initial committee process with little pushback, and hope that lawmakers unite to prioritize this vital cause.

A few hundred non-tenured Tulane University faculty members are seeking to form a union in order to obtain better benefits and job security and address significant pay disparities, among other things. The group sent a letter last week to the university’s president, Michael Fitts, asking for voluntary recognition. But the faculty members received no response and have now started the process of holding elections to form a union. The Lens’ Katy Reckdahl reports:

In the letter to Fitts, the union’s members also summarized their work: teaching classes; supporting students’ intellectual, professional, and emotional growth; elevating the university’s research profile; and supporting extracurricular activities. “Yet our treatment at Tulane often does not match the value we bring to the university — a discrepancy that catalyzed the formation of our organization, the Tulane Workers United.” 

Gov. Jeff Landry wants to use the Legislature – along with 27 of his hand-picked appointees – in a rushed effort to overhaul the state constitution. Join the Power Coalition for Equity and Justice for a webinar on Thursday, April 11 at 4 p.m. to learn more about a constitutional convention and its impacts. Register here

30 million – Number of borrowers that could benefit from President Joe Biden’s new plan for student loan forgiveness. (CBS News)