Capitol Access

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Reports on Louisiana politics, government and the people shaping state policy.

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Bills that would raise standards for TOPS scholarship students narrowly passed their first test Thursday in the House Education committee. 

A Senate committee gave the first stamp of approval to a bill that would raise the purchasing age for assault rifles in Louisiana. 

The full House has approved a bill making hazing a felony in Louisiana when it results in serious bodily injury or death.

Right now, hazing is only a misdemeanor. 

Earlier this week, the full Senate rejected bills that would establish a state minimum wage and expand equal pay for women in Louisiana. On Thursday, a labor committee showed there's not much appetite for those policies in the House, either. 

Louisiana is currently facing a $700 million budget shortfall, but ended last year with a surplus.

Gov. John Bel Edwards presented his plan for how to spend that extra $120 million. 

Louisiana has a backlog of road and bridge projects worth nearly $14 billion. The state pays for its infrastructure needs through a gasoline tax of 20 cents per gallon, a rate that hasn't changed since 1989. 

As the country continues to grapple with how to protect against gun violence on school campuses, a handful of members in the Louisiana Legislature have introduced ideas of their own. 

These days, fewer state employees are spending their entire careers in government work. About 70 percent are expected to leave their job before they can earn full retirement. 

Two weeks into the regular legislative session, lawmakers continue to hear concerns from various departments over next year’s budget, like being unable to afford to house state inmates, or pay for Louisiana’s safety-net hospitals. 

Harrah's — by contract, the only land-based casino in New Orleans — is one step closer to extending its deal with the state of Louisiana.

The current contract is set to end in six years. But a bill brought by Speaker of the House Taylor Barras would give it another 30. In return, Harrah's has agreed to invest $350 million in its facility. 

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