A bill nearing final passage in the state Legislature would make it harder for some Louisiana families to put food on the table during hard economic times. Senate Bill 195 by Sen. Blake Miguez, which is scheduled for debate in the House Committee on Health and Welfare on Wednesday, would block the state Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) from seeking or accepting certain waivers related to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP. A new issue brief from Invest in Louisiana’s Sissy Phleger explains why this legislation will drive up hunger: 

The latest version of SB195 would block DCFS from using the safety valves built into SNAP work requirements, no matter the circumstances. The bill has seen significant changes since it was first introduced, but the bill is still bad for Louisiana. SB 195 locks Louisiana into burdensome, confusing, and time-consuming paperwork requirements that will not lead to increased employment. … SB 195 could cause eligible people to lose their food benefits while a state agency sorts out implementation.   The additional burdens of complying with the time-limit requirement could drive some SNAP participants to give up on obtaining benefits, even when they are eligible.  

The Louisiana House advanced Gov. Jeff Landry’s plan to rewrite Louisiana’s constitution on Tuesday. Lawmakers pushed back the start date of a convention, which was previously scheduled to occur in the final two weeks of the legislative session, to August. While the revised timeline may help House Bill 800 gain support from the Senate, there are still no details about what constitutional changes Landry is seeking. The Louisiana Illuminator’s Julie O’Donoghue reports

That’s created an information vacuum for legislators, who have been left to guess what might be on the chopping block. In interviews, advocates and legislators have speculated that Landry and convention supporters might be interested in weakening collective bargaining provisions, local government authority, and levee board governance. Constitutionally-protected tax breaks that lower the cost of food, residential utilities and prescription drugs for residents may also be on the chopping block, according to advocacy groups.

If supporters believe a convention can wrap up in two weeks, it means they almost certainly know exactly what they want to change in the current constitution. The Times Picayune | Baton Rouge Advocate’s Tyler Bridges explains this fear among convention opponents: 

Landry has said he wants to begin to phase out the state income tax next year, although he hasn’t said how he would make up the huge revenue loss. Rep. Wilford Carter, D-Lake Charles, said he believes that Landry has already written a new constitution with the Pelican Institute for Public Policy, a libertarian-minded group, and the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry. “Who’s plan is it?” Carter asked. “It’s not the people’s plan.”

Gov. Jeff Landry signed bills on Tuesday that would let insurance companies drop longtime customers, raise rates more often and give more time to pay claims after disasters. The package of bills is part of Insurance Commissioner Tim Temple’s approach to solving the state’s insurance crisis that focuses on industry-friendly policies that weaken consumer protections. The Times Picayune | Baton Rouge Advocate’s Sam Karlin reports on the frustration among consumers and their advocates: 

Andreanecia Morris, head of HousingNOLA, said her organization delivered a petition to Landry asking him to veto the bills. Morris said the Legislature should focus on lowering the costs of Citizens and building stronger homes to mitigate the increasing risks from climate change, which is driving tumult in insurance markets around the world. “We think this is nowhere near good enough to address this crisis,” Morris said, adding the insurance industry was being given “corporate welfare.”

Lawmakers have shelved proposals that would have paused higher premiums for customers of the state’s insurer of last resort and required public hearings on private home insurers’ profits. 

A federal three-judge panel has ordered the Louisiana Legislature to redraw a new congressional map by June 3. The U.S. Western District panel’s order follows its earlier rejection of Louisiana’s new congressional map that added a second-Black majority House district. That 2-1 decision ruled the new map was unconstitutional because it focused solely on race. But as the Louisiana Illuminator’s Piper Hutchinson explains, there’s uncertainty on whether legislators can comply with the order:

It’s unclear if there is a bill in the current legislative session that could be amended to include the new congressional maps. The deadline to file new legislation passed in early April. Any amendments have to be germane to the bill, and the only congressional redistricting bill was withdrawn shortly after it was filed in early April. Several other bills would redistrict the Legislature and Louisiana Supreme Court, but such substantive amendments could be ruled as irrelevant to the bill.

The court said it would create a new congressional map on June 4 if lawmakers are unable to create their own. 

40% – Percentage of the nonelderly adult Medicaid population that experienced a substance use or mental health disorder in 2020. (Source: KFF)