- Associated Press - Thursday, June 4, 2015

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - It could become easier for veterans to get a college degree in Louisiana, under a bill that has received final legislative passage.

The bill (House Bill 485) by Rep. Henry Burns, R-Haughton, will create a “Governor’s Military and Veteran Friendly Campus” designation for schools that meet a list of requirements intended to ease the transition to campus for students with a military background.

For veterans, the campus will be required to waive application fees, provide specialized orientation programs, offer priority class scheduling and adopt policies that allow for quick readmission after deployment, among other things.

The Board of Regents will handle the application review. The designation will apply for one year and will need to be renewed annually.

The House gave final passage to the bill with an 85-0 vote Thursday, sending the measure to Gov. Bobby Jindal, who was pushing the legislation and is expected to sign it into law.

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The Louisiana Legislature has approved a bill that will bar public and charter schools for suspending or expelling elementary school students for violating school uniform rules.

The bill (Senate Bill 54) sponsored by Sen. Sharon Weston Broome, D-Baton Rouge, was given final passage Thursday with a 53-36 House vote, the smallest number of votes it could receive to pass. It previously cleared the Senate and now goes to Gov. Bobby Jindal.

The measure was significantly scaled back from Broome’s initial proposal. That would have barred schools from expelling or suspending students in kindergarten through 3rd grade, unless their behavior posed “a threat to the safety or well-being” of others. That proposal was widely opposed by school districts and teachers.

Broome’s rewritten bill only applies to violations of school uniform rules and encompasses students in preschool through fifth grade. But the senator said she hopes it will start dialogue about the plight of children with behavioral issues.

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Public colleges, universities and police departments could face stricter guidelines when it comes to investigating and reporting sexual assault, under a bill nearing final legislative approval.

The measure (Senate Bill 255), sponsored by Sen. J.P. Morrell, D-New Orleans, was approved by the House on a 86-0 vote Thursday and now heads back to the Senate, which passed an earlier version of the bill, for a final vote.

It is one piece of a broader package of bills that supporters say will improve the way authorities handle sexual assaults.

The bill would require schools and police to jointly develop guidelines for investigating and reporting sexual assaults. Currently there are none, Morrell has said.

It would also require colleges and universities to survey students to develop a better idea of on-campus attitudes toward sexual assault. Student rape victims would be directed to a “confidential adviser” who could help them anonymously find services or report a crime to police.

The student survey provision would take effect only when funding is available to cover the survey costs.

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In other legislative action:

-Lawmakers have agreed to give the state’s Wildlife and Fisheries Commission the ability to rent out advertising space on department vehicles, boats and other property, as a way to help generate more money for the agency. The bill (House Bill 283) by Rep. Chris Leopold, R-Belle Chasse, received final passage with a 38-0 Senate vote and heads next to the governor.

-Public school systems will be required to promote an online homework assistance service offered through the state library and local libraries. The bill (Senate Bill 28) by Sen. Troy Brown, D-Napoleonville, won final legislative passage with a 90-0 vote from the House. It heads to the governor’s desk.

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Online:

Louisiana Legislature: www.legis.la.gov

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