Capitol Access

  • Hosted by Wallis Watkins

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

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The number of people infected with coronavirus in Louisiana continues to rise. 

State health officials identified multiple cases on Tuesday, one day after the first case was detected in the state.

Mardi Gras has finally arrived, and people all across Louisiana are celebrating — from Galliano to Shreveport and everywhere in between.

The weeks of revelry leading up to Fat Tuesday aren't just a good time — they're a major economic driver for the state. 

For this Mardi Gras edition of Capitol Access, Lt. Gov. Billy Nungesser discusses the impact carnival season has on the Louisiana tourism industry.

Louisianans have a love-hate relationship with water.

Our state's waterways are the source of so much of our culture and commerce. But as rainfall increases and storms intensify, once historic flooding events are becoming commonplace. 

Last week, Governor John Bel Edwards debuted his $32 billion dollar budget proposal for the upcoming fiscal year. Unsurprisingly, the second-term governor’s plan highlighted new investments in education. 

Gov. John Bel Edwards debuted a $32 billion state budget proposal Friday, but ongoing disputes between the administration and Republican lawmakers over how much money the state has to spend looms large over the start of this year’s negotiations.

Paul Braun/WRKF

Governor John Bel Edwards and top Republican lawmakers will start the 2020 legislative session locked in a familiar standoff.

On Friday, the Revenue Estimating Conference, or REC, couldn't agree to update the state's official revenue projections. That means the governor's executive budget would have to be based on last year's estimate — about $100 million less than economists expect the state to have in the coming fiscal year.

Tort reform, was a huge issue in last year's elections, and is a key policy goal Republicans now that they have strengthened their majorities in the Louisiana Legislature. 

The GOP pitches tort reform as a silver bullet to reduce Louisiana's car insurance rates-- the second highest in the nation. Critics say it wouldn't.

The debate is playing out as a political tug-of-war between trial lawyers and the business lobby, two of the state's most influential special interests.

Last week, the 72nd Louisiana Legislature convened for the first time, electing new leaders in a brief organizational session.

After months of backroom negotiations, they settled on Clay Schexnayder, R-Gonzales, for Speaker of the House and Page Cortez, R-Lafayette, as Senate President.

Both positions were hotly contested behind closed doors, but things boiled over in the Speaker's race.

Democrat John Bel Edwards officially began his second term as Louisiana Governor Monday, taking his oath of office on the Capitol steps.

A drizzling rain fell over the crowd for much of the morning. Still, hundreds filled the capitol lawn to witness the ceremony. 

The Louisiana Legislature is days away from the start of a new term. Monday morning, lawmakers will gavel in the 2020 Organizational Session.

Once, everyone is sworn in, lawmakers will set committees and, most notably, elect new leaders.

Campaigns for Speaker of the House and Senate President are fought outside of the public eye and have been underway for months.

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