- Associated Press - Monday, May 5, 2014

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - A New Orleans lawmaker is proposing to ban the Louisiana High School Athletic Association from using the Superdome for athletic activities unless the organization allows a Ugandan refugee to compete in high school football next school year.

The House discussed the measure by Rep. Neil Abramson, D-New Orleans, that seeks to pressure the association to let a student play high school football despite being too old under the LHSAA rules.

Lawmakers didn’t vote on the proposal (House Bill 1276) because Abramson said he hopes the organization will agree to compromise on the issue.

Abramson said LHSAA should let the student compete out of a sense of justice. The student is a refugee from Uganda whose father was killed. He will be turning 19 over the summer, making him ineligible to play under LHSAA rules.

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The Senate’s budget committee has stalled a proposal that would give Emergency Medical Service workers the same monthly supplement that local law enforcement officers and firefighters receive from the state.

Sen. J.P. Morrell, D-New Orleans, has proposed a constitutional amendment that would add full-time EMS workers to the list to receive a $500 monthly paycheck from the state on top of their local salaries.

The proposal (Senate Bill 285) would cost at least $3.7 million a year and likely more, depending on how many EMS workers qualified, according to legislative fiscal analysts.

“This sends a message to EMS that we hold them as a priority,” Morrell told the Senate Finance Committee.

The committee didn’t vote on the proposal, but simply held it without action Monday amid concerns about the price tag.

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The House budget committee refused to increase the budget for the state’s judiciary next year, but backed a $6 million increase to spending plans for the House, Senate and other legislative agencies.

Justice Marcus Clark urged the House Appropriations Committee to fund the Louisiana Supreme Court’s full $179 million budget request for the 2014-15 fiscal year, saying the $11 million increase was needed to cover increased retirement costs and other obligations.

“I wish our revenue were to the point that we were not struggling,” Appropriations Chairman Jim Fannin, R-Jonesboro, told the justice.

Then with the backing of committee members, Fannin stripped $11 million from the judicial budget bill (House Bill 1095), leaving the courts with a standstill $168 million spending plan for next year.

The measure, which was advanced to the full House without objection, will finance the operations of many state courts, including the Louisiana Supreme Court, in the new year that begins July 1.

But the committee didn’t make similar reductions to the legislative spending plan, instead agreeing to a bill that would boost spending on legislative agencies by $6 million next year.

The budget to finance the House, Senate and other legislative agencies would grow to $98.4 million next year, under the proposal (House Bill 1194). That’s a more than 6 percent increase above this year’s $92.5 million legislative budget.

House Speaker Chuck Kleckley, R-Lake Charles, said the new dollars were needed to cover the increased costs of retirement and employee benefits, using the same argument that had failed to sway the committee only moments earlier on the judicial budget.

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Online:

Louisiana Legislature: www.legis.la.gov


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