This weekend marked 50 years since Louisiana voters ratified the state constitution. Now Gov. Jeff Landry is calling for a two-week constitutional convention to rewrite the founding charter once again – and he wants the work to happen during the chaotic final weeks of the legislative session. Invest in Louisiana Executive Director Jan Moller, writing for the Louisiana Illuminator, explains the numerous threats that this rushed process poses to the state of Louisiana and its people. 

The convention itself lasted a whole year – from January 1973 to January 1974 – with delegates sometimes meeting five days a week. Landry, by contrast, wants all this business wrapped up in just TWO weeks, starting May 20. People can disagree on whether the constitution should be overhauled – which provisions should stay and what should go. But a process this important shouldn’t be rushed through in two weeks, with no election mandate and no opportunity for the public to weigh in by picking delegates. An undertaking this important deserves at least as much time, scrutiny and public input as the last time.

Babies in Louisiana are twice as likely to die before their first birthday as children in other states, and Black babies in Louisiana experience more than twice the infant mortality rate as white babies. A slew of bills working their way through the state Legislature aim to reduce these high numbers of preventable deaths. The Times Picayune | Baton Rouge Advocate’s Andrea Gallo reports

The slate of bills at the Legislature would ensure newborn home visits for families on Medicaid and require insurers to pay for remote monitoring to allow patients to send in blood pressure and vital signs from home between appointments. Other legislation would increase payments to physicians who provide obstetric and gynecological care to Medicaid patients. “The research is there: Our moms are dying, our babies are dying, you see the cost,” said Frankie Robertson, a consultant with the Amandla Group who represents several maternal health groups. “We’re not asking for more money; we’re asking for the budget to be redistributed to save lives.”

Houses with fortified roofs are more likely to sustain hurricane-force winds, and have been hailed as a key part of the solution to Louisiana’s property insurance crisis. So far, however, Gov. Jeff Landry and Insurance Commissioner Tim Temple intend to put less money into the Louisiana Fortify Homes program than last year, and there’s no requirement for insurance companies to offer discounts for policyholders with fortified roofs. As The Times Picayune | Baton Rouge Advocate’s Sam Karlin and Sophie Kasakove explain, many people are not getting the financial relief they expected once their new roofs are up. 

Records obtained by The Times-Picayune and The Advocate show the discounts offered by Louisiana insurers vary widely. An analysis of the filings from some of the state’s top insurers show most offer a discount of between 15% and 30% on the wind and hail portion of the premium. That means the total premium would decrease by less, though in coastal areas, the wind and hail premium often comprises the vast majority of the policy. Meanwhile, several of the few insurers that are actively writing new policies in south Louisiana, like CURE, offer discounts of only 5%, making it unlikely that homeowners would recoup the costs of a fortified roof.

Sen. Royce Duplessis’ Senate Bill 484 would mandate a minimum discount of 20% for homeowners that install a fortified roof, and addresses concerns that recent program changes could leave the state’s poorest residents behind

Insurance Commissioner Tim Temple supports the fortified roof program but is opposed to a mandated discount, part of a broader free-market philosophy. Temple said he expects discounts to grow once insurers get more data on how fortified roofs perform.

Fossil-fuel companies can pay to shape coursework for students and influence decisions on which research projects advance at Louisiana’s flagship university. LSU outlined the specific conditions in a boilerplate document it sent to students and oil and gas companies last year. Sara Sneath reports for The Lens :

Records show that after Shell donated $25 million in 2022 to LSU to create the Institute for Energy Innovation, the university gave the fossil-fuel corporation license to influence research and coursework for the university’s new concentration in carbon capture, use, and storage. Afterward, LSU’s fundraising entity, called the LSU Foundation, used this partnership as a model to shop around to members of the Louisiana Chemical Association, such as ExxonMobil, Air Products, and CF Industries, which have proposed carbon-capture projects in Louisiana. 

There’s anxiety from allowing fossil-fuel companies, many who have spent years lying about the existence of climate change, to determine the best ways to reduce carbon emissions. 

After The Lens asked her to review LSU communication on the matter, [the Center for International Environmental Law’s Jane] Patton said she suspected that fossil-fuel companies have had a say in what does and doesn’t get studied in relation to risky endeavors, like carbon capture, which involves chemically stripping carbon dioxide from industrial emissions and piping it underground. 

Programming note

Dollar store workers are rising up to demand safety in the workplace! Join us for a virtual panel on Tuesday, April 23, at 12 p.m. to hear how workers are mobilizing across the South and what you can do to support this struggle. Click here to register

220% – Increased odds of Black death row inmates experiencing botched lethal injection executions compared to their white counterparts. (Source: Reprieve)