- Associated Press - Wednesday, June 3, 2015

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - Lawmakers want the public to get more information about Louisiana’s safe haven law that allows a parent to relinquish a baby up until they’re two months old.

With a 39-0 vote Wednesday, the Senate gave final passage to a bill (House Bill 603) by Rep. Tom Willmott, R-Kenner, requiring the state social services department to develop an annual and public information plan to increase awareness about the law. The bill spells out what the plan should contain and requires annual reporting to lawmakers about the effort.

“We haven’t done a great job of making sure the information is out there,” said Sen. Dan Claitor, R-Baton Rouge, who handled the bill in the Senate.

Under the safe haven law, parents who are unable to care for a newborn can leave the child at any designated facility instead of abandoning the child in an unsafe environment. Louisiana’s designated facilities include any licensed hospital, public health unit, emergency medical service provider, medical clinic, fire or police station or pregnancy crisis center.

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Louisiana should allow high-performing public school districts in the state to take over management of low-performing schools outside of their districts, the full Legislature has agreed.

A bill by Sen. Ben Nevers, D-Bogalusa, will allow school boards to enter into such agreements if the higher-performing school system has received a letter grade of “C” or higher for the past two years in the state’s grading system for public school districts.

The measure (Senate Bill 129) received final passage with a 70-25 House vote and moves to the governor’s desk.

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In other legislative action:

-Both the House and Senate have gone on the record as supporting the rights of Louisiana’s students to voluntarily gather for prayer. With a 98-0 vote, the House agreed to the Senate-backed measure (Senate Concurrent Resolution 69) by Sen. Gerald Long, R-Winnfield. The resolution, which doesn’t have the force of law, says the Legislature supports voluntary prayer in public schools and the right to assemble for “religious expression.” It doesn’t give preference to any particular religion.

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Online:

Louisiana Legislature: www.legis.la.gov

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