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Higher taxes, tuition increases and more on agenda for Louisiana lawmakers

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Written by : The Associated Press


BATON ROUGE — Weary lawmakers still smarting from angry battles over the drawing of their political districts return to the Louisiana Capitol today to take up the difficult task of balancing next year’s budget.

The two-month regular session will be packed with tough decisions on whether to sell state prisons, merge colleges and raise college tuition and where to cut state spending to close a $1.6 billion budget gap.

If those decisions weren’t tricky enough, lawmakers will consider a series of non-financial bills to ban abortion, place the Ten Commandments on capitol grounds and toughen immigration laws.

Also up for debate are perennial bills to ban smoking in casinos and bars, restrict cell phone use in cars and allow concealed handguns on college campuses.

Lawmakers have filed 841 bills so far for consideration in the regular legislative session. Some are arcane or only affect one municipality, while others are more sweeping or divisive.

Among the bills proposed are those that would:

»Spend nearly $25 billion on state agencies, services and programs in the fiscal year that begins July 1, while eliminating a $1.6 billion shortfall with a patch of one-time funds, cuts and other financing changes.

»Consolidate the historically black Southern University at New Orleans with the largely white University of New Orleans. The new college would be called the University of Louisiana at New Orleans and would be under the University of Louisiana System.

»Merge the governing boards of four-year universities into one management board.

»Raise tuition for college students.

»Loosen the rules for some colleges and universities, giving them exemptions from the job protections, purchasing provisions and construction rules that govern other state agencies.

»Redesign political district lines for the state House, state Senate, congressional seats and the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education.

»Raise the state’s cigarette tax.

»Give tax breaks to an array of businesses, including those in the digital media industry, those that grant high-paying jobs with benefits and those that develop software.

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»Give sales tax exemptions for breastfeeding items and for parish councils on aging.

»Boost the state’s property tax exemption for homeowners.

»Raise probation and parole fees.

»Put limits on the pay packages of higher education system presidents and public college leaders.

»Toughen Louisiana’s immigration laws.

»Open more records of the governor’s office to public scrutiny.

»Limit how much state spending can grow each year and make it tougher for lawmakers to use one-time money for continuing state government expenses.

»Ban abortion in Louisiana and make doctors who perform abortions and women who have them subject to feticide charges.

»Require President Barack Obama and other presidential candidates to prove their U.S. citizenship before their names can be included on a state ballot.

»Provide for the placement of a Ten Commandments monument at the Louisiana Capitol.

»Repeal a law that allows public school science teachers to use supplemental materials in their classrooms beyond state-approved textbooks.

»Prohibit discrimination based on sexual identification.

»Ban cellphone use while driving.

»Ban smoking in bars and casinos.

»Allow concealed weapons on college campuses.

»Require welfare recipients to be drug tested.

Written by demon53

April 25, 2011 at 6:38 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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