Low-income Louisiana households will receive an extra $120 in food assistance per child this summer after the state announced on Wednesday that it will accept federal cash available through the new Summer EBT program. The decision unlocks up to $71 million in federal funding, and marks a reversal of an earlier decision by Gov. Jeff Landry’s administration. It comes after pressure from the Legislature, led by Landry’s hand-picked legislative leaders. The Times Picayune | Baton Rouge Advocate’s Tyler Bridges reports:

… House and Senate leaders met Tuesday with (Department of Children and Family Services Secretary David) Matlock in the office of Senate President Cameron Henry, R-Metairie. “I said to them that there was no reason not to do the program,” Henry said he told Matlock, adding that he wanted them to provide a solution. DCFS officials said they had worked through the weekend to come up with a bureaucratic fix, (House Appropriations Committee Chairman Jack) McFarland said. … [House Speaker Phillip] DeVillier heard from grocery store owners in his district that wanted the children to have the money so they could spend it in their stores.

The decision is expected to affect 450,000 children in a state with the second-highest rate of food insecurity in the country. 

The backers of the proposed constitutional convention say they don’t want to touch Louisiana’s homestead exemption and the state’s funding formula for public schools if lawmakers meet later this month to rewrite the state’s foundational charter. An amendment added to the convention’s enabling legislation also would bar outside money from funding the convention. A vote on the bill is scheduled for Tuesday, as House leaders try to secure the two-thirds supermajority needed for passage. As The Times Picayune | Baton Rouge Advocate’s Tyler Bridges explains, Senate leaders remain skeptical about the scheme:

Senate President Cameron Henry continued to raise questions about Landry’s plan, saying in an interview that senators would prefer to have the constitutional convention begin in August since they have until Aug. 23 to pass the proposition in time for the Nov. 5 ballot. The Senate would take up the bill only after it passes the House. … Asked about the House decision to carve out the homestead exemption and the state K-12 funding known as the MFP, Henry said it might win the support of some senators but said once Landry and legislative leaders say they won’t move certain items out of the constitution, “you open the floodgates to others.”

While legislators are inclined to protect the homestead exemption and public school funding, they have been silent about the state’s sales tax exemptions for groceries, prescription drugs and home utilities, which is also protected in the constitution. 

Nine states have enacted laws to weaken child labor protections since 2022, and at least 16 more (including Louisiana) are considering copycat proposals. The state House recently approved a bill eliminating mandatory lunch breaks for child workers. The New York Times’ Jamelle Bouie explains how this rollback of labor laws is the price we pay for having upper-class legislators: 

There is partisan control, of course — Republicans are leading the assault on labor laws — but there is also the class composition of our state legislatures. Out of more than 7,300 state legislators in the country, 116 — or 1.6 percent of the total — currently work or last worked in manual labor, the service industry or clerical or union jobs, according to a recent study conducted by Nicholas Carnes and Eric Hansen, political scientists at Duke University and Loyola University Chicago. By contrast, about 50 percent of U.S. workers hold jobs in one of those fields.

Louisiana was one of 10 states that had zero state legislators with working-class backgrounds. 

The students who start college this fall will be the first class since the U.S. Supreme Court ended affirmative action. Research suggests the high court’s decision will reduce admission of Black, Indigenous and other people of color, or BIPOC students. While affirmative action has ended, the damaging effects of our country’s history of systemic racism has not. If policies that sought to remedy education inequities in higher education admissions are eliminated, then more work needs to be done to break down education barriers earlier in a BIPOC student’s life. Route Fifty’s Bryan J. Cook and Sarah Rosen Wartell explain

(T)he gaps in reading and math persist at age 9 and age 13. This makes it difficult for many BIPOC students to take advantage of college preparatory courses like Advanced Placement classes, if their high school even offers them (40% of high-poverty schools do not). Additionally, many of these students lack counselors to advise them on their academic choices. These persistent inequities across K-12 education put many BIPOC students at a distinct disadvantage when applying to four-year colleges and universities, particularly highly selective schools that rely heavily on such measures as standardized test scores and college preparatory class participation when deciding which students to admit.

450,000 – Number of low-income Louisiana children that will benefit from the summer EBT program. (Source: The Times Picayune | Baton Rouge Advocate)