Gov. Jeff Landry’s administration believes it has found a novel solution to help shore up the state’s finances ahead of next year’s fiscal cliff. In a deal set to be announced Monday, Louisiana has agreed to put up $450 million in cash to help former President Donald Trump pay his civil verdicts. In exchange, the state will receive a 15% stake in Truth Social, Trump’s social media company whose stock took off last week after its initial public offering. The deal came together quickly last week in a series of high-level meetings led by Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, and Landry confidante Shane Guidry. The Advocate has the scoop:

“This is a win-win for Louisiana taxpayers and for our dear leader” Landry said. “Louisiana gets to help its favorite president get out of a totally unfair and completely temporary financial crisis, which is the least we can do. And in exchange we get in on the ground floor of a can’t-miss investment opportunity.” Commissioner of Administration Taylor Barras said he expects Louisiana’s investment will grow to the point where the money can help mitigate the $559 million fiscal cliff, and that there might even be enough money left to pay for some tax cuts.   

The deal still has to win approval from the State Bond Commission, which is considered a formality. Treasurer John Fleming said the plan fits perfectly with his top priority, which is to stop the state from investing in companies that score highly on environmental and societal responsibility metrics. “I can’t think of anything less woke than Truth Social,” Fleming said. 

Gov. Jeff Landry and his legislative allies recently bulldozed through facts on their way to reversing historic and effective criminal justice reforms. Now the governor wants to use these same lawmakers, along with 27 of his own appointees, to rewrite Louisiana’s constitution. The American Press’ Jim Beam explains how the this approach is a far departure from the process for Louisiana’s last constitutional convention:

Jeremy Alford of LaPolitics Weekly collaborated with former House Speaker E.L. “Bubba” Henry, who chaired the 1973 convention, to write a history of the convention.  The bill creating the constitutional convention called for 132 delegates — not legislators but 105 individuals elected from the state’s House districts and 27 appointed by the governor.  The convention opened on Jan. 5, 1973, and the delegates had until Jan. 4, 1974, to submit a new constitution to then-Gov. Edwin W. Edwards. … However, if a convention is approved, delegates should definitely be elected like they were in 1972.

LSU said its decision to allow a private developer to finance, build and own a new on-campus arena meant no public dollars would be used during the process to replace the aging Pete Maravich Assembly Center. But a recently created economic development district that is located on and around the university’s campus can create new taxes, without voter approval, and spend the revenue on projects within its boundaries, such as a new arena. The Advocate | The Times-Picayune’s Lara Nicholson and Andrea Gallo report on the unusual structure of the district:

“Any time you’re dealing with taxes, but the person paying the tax doesn’t have the privilege of knowing the details — everything about it sounds like we’re going back to before there was law, constitution, fairness and equity,” said Councilwoman Chauna Banks, the sole dissenter on the vote to support the arena deal. “I’ve just never seen anything like it.” LSU attorneys have denied public records requests from The Advocate | The Times-Picayune seeking details about the solicitation of proposals and the two developers in the running for the project. 

Nicholson and Gallo explain how LSU’s EDD was structured in a way to consolidate power with the school’s president and his or her appointees and exclude Baton Rouge elected officials and voters:

In most cases where the Legislature created a district in East Baton Rouge Parish, at least one board member was appointed by the mayor-president, the council or both. “Usually when there’s an EDD, they allow multiple factions of stakeholders to have input,” Banks said. “It’s never where one person … they’re the sole person choosing the board. None of it sounds right and none of it sounds good.” … [state Sen. Cleo] Fields said in a recent interview that he intentionally carved out residential areas, including student housing, from the district to remove the need for a local vote.

A recent report from Lift Louisiana explained how Louisiana’s near-total ban on abortions is causing severe health risks for pregnant women. The upending of standard medical procedures and delayed regular care has made Louisiana – a state that already has unacceptable high maternal mortality rates – an even deadlier place for new mothers. The Advocate | The Times-Picayune’s Stephanie Grace explains how the state’s draconian abortion laws also make the state a less-desirable place for medical workers: 

And — again, as predicted — practitioners are wrestling with the painful decision of whether practicing in this state is worth it. … “Fewer people will want to practice here, and fewer people will want to come here to train. [The bans are] going to be driving away a number of really strong clinicians who are dedicated to taking care of really vulnerable populations,” one doctor told researchers. “I think it’s going to leave our populations in Louisiana further disadvantaged and experiencing more harm.” Sounds like it already is.

1.2 million – Number of homes that could be powered by wind turbines in new locations proposed off the coast of Louisiana and Texas. (Source: U.S. Department of Interior via The Advocate | The Times-Picayune)