The enabling legislation for Gov. Jeff Landry’s scheme to rewrite Louisiana’s constitution is scheduled for debate on the House floor on Tuesday. Lawmakers added an amendment to House Bill 800 last week that purports to protect the state’s funding formula for public schools and homestead exemption from tampering. While that deal – and other jockeying – may be enough to secure the two-thirds supermajority needed for the bill to clear the House, there’s no guarantee that those protections will be kept once a convention starts. The Times Picayune | Baton Rouge Advocate’s Clancy DuBos explains

Delegates at the 1973 constitutional convention completely ignored their enabling legislation, according to publisher Jeremy Alford, whose book, “The Last Constitution,” chronicled that historic rewrite. (Disclosure: I edited Alford’s book, but I have no financial interest in its sales.) The same could happen if Landry convinces lawmakers to meet as delegates this year. Which means the homestead exemption, K-12 education funding and every other protected political fiefdom could still be on the cutting table. Something tells me Landry knows that, which may explain his willingness to compromise. For now.

Lawmakers have provided scant details about what they actually want to do in a convention. Something Like the Truth’s Bob Mann explains the reason for the murky process:

What Landry, [House Speaker Phillip] DeVillier, and others have in mind is clearly problematic or they’d be showing it to us. But to do so now risks losing the votes they need to call the convention. So it is better to hide their real intentions and spring them on delegates after the convention is authorized. 

The Louisiana Illuminator’s Julie O’Donoghue explains that backers of a constitutional rewrite might push for a convention to be held in July or August, instead of the final two weeks of the legislative session.

Decades of “business friendly” policies in Southern states, such as corporate tax incentives, low regulation and low wages, have failed to benefit workers in the region and reduce poverty rates. A new report from the Economic Policy Institute question the economic model that still governs the Southern economy and explains the evolution of its racist roots: 

The Southern economic development model is designed to enable businesses to extract labor from large pools of workers as cheaply as possible. Businesses in the South have particularly sought the labor of Black and brown Southerners. … The racist roots of this model have been obscured in favor of a more acceptable “pro-business” narrative. The pro-business narrative suggests that low wages, low taxes, anti-union policies, a weak safety net, and limited regulation on businesses creates a “rising tide that lifts all boats.”

The result of this model is that many Southerners find less security when they lose their jobs and face bigger barriers when they seek to organize.  

 Data show that of the 10 states with the lowest maximum weekly UI benefit amounts, seven—Mississippi ($235), Alabama ($275), Florida ($275), Louisiana ($275), Tennessee ($275), South Carolina ($326), and North Carolina ($350)—are in the South (The Century Foundation 2023). … Crucially, advocates of the Southern economic development model vociferously oppose unions and other collective actions in which workers band together—especially across racial, ethnic, and immigration statuses. 

Proposals are working their way through the Louisiana Legislature that make it harder to form and operate unions and reduce the amount of time people can collect unemployment benefits.  Invest in Louisiana’s Christina LeBlanc pushes back on the harmful targeting of unemployment benefits.

Woman’s Hospital in Baton Rouge is participating in a study to determine the positive effects that doulas can have on new moms and their babies. The effort is part of a $2.5 million grant from the National Institutes of Health, and will provide 300 women with doula coverage and measure it against a control group that receives care without a doula. The Times Picayune | Baton Rouge Advocate’s Andrea Gallo explains how the study can potentially boost the efforts to improve Louisiana’s unacceptable high infant and maternal mortality rates. 

The two outcomes are linked: pregnant women who struggle with hypertension, diabetes or other problems are more prone to have babies who are born early or with low birthweight. Those are the leading causes of infant death in Louisiana, where babies are 65% more likely to die from those conditions than in the rest of the country. Lawmakers this year are considering two bills, Senate Bill 142 and House Bill 702, which would require that Medicaid cover doulas for pregnant patients. The state enacted a law last year that required private health insurance plans to cover doula care.

Social Security and Medicare face insolvency in a little more than a decade unless tax increases or benefit cuts are used to address their shortfall. While a hot job market has improved the two popular programs’ financial health, they still face long-term problems that must be addressed. The Washington Post’s Jacob Bogage and Julie Zauzmer Weil report

The trustees for the massive retirement programs project that Social Security will be insolvent by 2035, and Medicare by 2036, which would force benefit cuts. That’s better than many experts had expected, though — last year, federal actuaries said the programs could go belly-up sooner. … . But that improvement may not last and can’t change an overall bleak picture, the trustees said, and Congress still must act to stabilize the programs to prevent cutting off benefits from tens of millions of seniors or plunging the nation into insurmountable debt.

Invest in Louisiana (formerly Louisiana Budget Project) is participating in GiveNOLA Day TODAY! GiveNOLA Day is a 24-hour fundraising event hosted by the Greater New Orleans Foundation. Your gift to Invest supports a dedicated staff of researchers, advocates and communicators who help drive real policy change at the state Capitol. Please visit our donation page to give a one-time donation 

12.8% – Average effective tax rate for America’s largest, most profitable corporations after the Trump tax cut law went into effect in 2017. This has resulted in these corporations paying $240 billion less in taxes. (Source: Economic Policy Institute