Several of Gov. Jeff Landry’s key priorities remain in limbo as the Legislature heads into the final week of its 90-day lawmaking session. The governor’s most controversial goal is a rewrite of Louisiana’s constitution. While the House has passed enabling legislation for a constitutional convention, their counterparts in the Senate have another plan. The Times-Picayune | Baton Rouge Advocate’s capitol team provides an overview of the top undecided issues:

Senators are planning to pass a resolution to create a select committee to take testimony during June and July on the necessary changes, and then have that committee make recommendations on changes to the constitution. The Senate would then hold a brief special session to convene a constitutional convention that would begin on Aug. 1, with all 144 legislators and 27 Landry appointees serving as delegates. 

A proposal to subsidize private school tuition with public tax dollars is scheduled for final passage in the House on Monday. Rick Edmonds’ Senate Bill 313 will need to go back to the Senate for approval after the House added amendments last week.

Landry and other supporters say the so-called education savings accounts give parents more school choices for their children. Critics have warned of the potential huge cost, and that forced the bill sponsor, Sen. Rick Edmonds, R-Baton Rouge, to not allow ESAs to expand until money is shown to be available.

Lawmakers also need to finalize the state budget. The Senate Finance Committee last week added millions of dollars to the budget bills – money that became available when revenue projections were recently boosted. 

The Senate will finalize the state’s spending plan for the coming fiscal year. On Wednesday, the Senate Finance Committee amended the plan passed by the House, restoring $24 million that had been cut from early childhood programs. The panel also filled a $24 million gap in K-12 educational funding and added money for teacher stipends.

The session must end no later than 6 p.m. on Monday, but legislative leaders have said they could wrap things up by Friday. 

Gov. Jeff Landry has vetoed a bill by Sen. Royce Duplessis aimed at eliminating “food deserts” in Louisiana. The Pelican State has some of the highest rates of food insecurity in the nation, with 1 in 7 residents living in a food desert, according to the Louisiana Food Bank Association. Baton Rouge’s WBRZ reports

The House and Senate overwhelmingly approved Senate Bill 287, which would have established grant or loan programs among qualified non-profit groups or local banks. The public-private partnerships would have been subject to competitive bidding. Under the proposal, the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry would “establish a financing program that provides grants and loans to health food retailers that increase access to fresh fruits and vegetables and other affordable healthy food in underserved communities.”

Landry has not posted any veto messages publicly as is required by state law. 

The surging costs of homeowners insurance is forcing more Americans to forgo coverage. Twelve percent of homeowners had no insurance in 2022, up from just 5 percent in 2019, according to estimates from the Insurance Information Institute. The Washington Post’s Patrick Cooley reports on this risky new normal:

Experts say this trend is driven by the escalating threat of climate change — which has forced insurers to make larger and larger payouts — and skyrocketing housing prices. Both trends are pushing the cost of policies up. On average, home insurance policies rose 11.3 percent in 2023, according to S&P Global. Compounding the problem, some insurance providers, driven by rising payouts, are pulling out of disaster-prone areas — leaving former policyholders with fewer and more expensive alternatives.

Many Louisiana residents with homeowners coverage were still exposed to exorbitant and unexpected costs when their insurers failed to live up to their financial obligations after Hurricane Ida. But as the Times Picayune | Baton Rouge Advocate’s Sam Karlin explains, Insurance Commissioner Tim Temple is applying a lighter regulatory touch than his predecessor: 

The Department of Insurance investigated some of the companies accused of bad business practices after Ida, and finalized three of those probes in recent months. Though the agency found two of the three companies failed to pay claims on time in nearly a quarter of cases, Insurance Commissioner Tim Temple’s office said it does not intend to penalize the companies with fines. … It remains unclear whether any other companies that may have lowballed claims or simply refused to pay them after Ida will face punishment. 

When states invest in education, especially public schools, the children being educated in those schools are more likely to graduate and have higher lifetime earnings. That’s the takeaway from a new study from the National Bureau of Economic Research that looked into Jim Crow-era policies in Mississippi. The study compared the outcomes of Black students who lived in majority-white districts that benefited from increased state funding to Black students from similar demographic backgrounds who lived in areas with less financial support. 

We find that local educational spending had large impacts on Black enrollment rates, as reported in the 1940 census, with Black educational attainment increasing in marginal spending. Finally, we link the 1940 and 2000 censuses to show that Black children exposed to higher levels of school expenditures had significantly more completed schooling and higher income late in life.

10% – Estimated percentage of overall national electric generation capacity of solar energy by the end of summer. Solar power is increasing nationwide and will help keep power on during the intense heat of the summer months. (Source: Federal Energy Regulatory Commission via States Newsroom)