Our Views: If children could vote

If kids could vote, would that be better or worse for democracy under adults? We don’t know the answer to that question, but we do know one thing: If kids could vote, the Legislature would not be in the process of abolishing the Department of Children and Family Services, merging it with another agency. Why are … Continue reading →

Our Views: A tribute to America

If many of the 32,000 runners who competed in the Boston Marathon were from other countries, most were Americans, and all represented a glorious rebuke to the terrorists who killed and maimed with bombs at the marathon last year. The finish line is a ways off in the prosecution of the surviving immigrant accused of … Continue reading →

Letter: Limiting lanes adds problems

The three east-west thoroughfares in Baton Rouge’s inner city that reach downtown are Florida Boulevard, which extends farther east; North Boulevard, dead-ending at Foster Drive; and Government Street, connecting with Independence Boulevard to Wooddale Boulevard. The primary objective, as is with any main artery, is to accommodate heavy traffic through the city. The plan … Continue reading →

Columnist James Gill a finalist for national journalism award

James Gill

Advocate columnist James Gill was named Wednesday as a finalist for a national journalism prize. Gill was one of 12 finalists for the MOLLY National Journalism Prize, established by The Texas Observer to recognize works that focus on civil liberties and social justice. The award is named in honor of Molly Ivins, who built a national following … Continue reading →

Our Views: Take money for coverage

If every part of the shaky state budget deserves close scrutiny, the biggest single problem might be the health care financing that is almost daily the source of more bad news in the State Capitol. The state recently got basically a $307 million demand letter from the U.S. government, based on spending that federal officials feel … Continue reading →

Letter: Abortion issue centers on the ending of human life

Susan Estrich’s commentary in the recent Advocate contains many phrases or terms that are worth debating, including the termination of a life as a “medical procedure.” I will focus only on the last word in the article, in which she laments how “cruel” it is for any restrictions at all to stand in the way of any … Continue reading →

Inside Report: Gun program aims to stop child deaths

Louisiana ranks second in the nation in accidental gun deaths, behind only Alaska, so Baton Rouge law enforcement officials are trying to combat the problem by providing children with information about guns and by using an unusual prop, a watermelon. Officers use a Shoot Tank, and it’s been hauled all over the state … Continue reading →

Our Views: Don’t gut storm reforms

Nearly nine years have passed since Hurricane Katrina laid waste to four-fifths of New Orleans, prompting the city’s residents to join hands to demand more from a feckless and indifferent government. One turbocharged civic effort was led by Ruthie Frierson, a real estate agent and grandmother, who pulled together a coalition that washed away a bloated … Continue reading →

Letter: Taxpayers come first

State. Rep. Ted James said recently that “it’s hard” to face 45 lobbyists, “a wall of opposition” to payday loan reform. The House Commerce Committee members did not seem to find it difficult to face down the wall of Together Louisiana and AARP volunteers who were at the Capitol daily to represent the taxpayers, who pay these representatives … Continue reading →

Stephanie Grace: Lawmakers fail test of common sense

Advocate staff photo by MATTHEW HINTON-- Stephanie Grace

The proposed repeal of Louisiana’s crimes against nature law really should have been a simple administrative fix. The law, as everyone knows, can’t be enforced because the U.S. Supreme Court deemed bans on specific sexual activities between consenting adults unconstitutional. That makes the portion of the measure criminalizing oral and anal sex the legal equivalent of clutter. … Continue reading →

Inside Report: Bats make school gym their own

Nature has ways of reminding us, both big and small, that humans do not have as much control over our environment as we would like to think. In a more and more urban and wired society, exposure to wildlife gets carried conveniently into our lives through a television screen or handheld device. … Continue reading →

Our Views: Fair play for loans

Amid a deluge of lobbying from national payday lending operations, the Legislature in both chambers has shown a reluctance to tighten the sky-high interest rates and fees paid by customers of the short-term loan outlets. But there remains a sensible reform that can be adopted, and it is before the Senate. We urge lawmakers to strengthen … Continue reading →

Our Views: Wait for federal wage

That key votes on a proposed increase in Louisiana’s minimum wage were so close shows how politically popular the issue is. The House’s labor committee voted 10-6 against a proposal by Alexandria Rep. Herbert Dixon to make $8.25 per hour the minimum wage by next year. Then, lawmakers voted 9-5 to reject New Orleans Rep. Jared … Continue reading →

Letter: Legislators should read Bible on poor

In a Legislature that’s considering making the Holy Bible Louisiana’s official book, it seems legislators have yet to learn what the good book says about treatment of the poor and usury. Echoing God’s message in Exodus 3: 7-8, “I hear the cry of my people,” Representative James urged his colleagues to hear the cry of … Continue reading →

Louisiana Spotlight: Jindal at odds with education leader White

Superintendent of Education John White got his job with the backing of Gov. Bobby Jindal, but two years later, the men are increasingly at odds and appear to be drifting further apart on education policy. The rift centers on Louisiana’s shift to Common Core standards, and comes largely because Jindal did an about-face, moving from strident supporter … Continue reading →

Our Views: Easter offers world hope

The Easter story, the happy ending in a tale of brutal crucifixion, suggests that there’s a powerful answer to the pain and evil that have touched the world throughout human history. That’s why the Easter narrative can resonate not only with Christians, but in secular society, too. Any story of hope is needed now more than ever, as … Continue reading →

Our Views: Avoid lines at airports

If ever there was a case of Louisiana lawmakers being stuck on stupid, it is in the bizarre opposition to a new driver’s license that will meet federal standards. Why stupid? Because Louisiana has refused to adopt a standard license, current licenses will eventually not be accepted for airline travel. That is an unacceptable economic cost, … Continue reading →

Stephanie Grace: Common Core support aligns with election bids

Advocate staff photo by MATTHEW HINTON-- Stephanie Grace

One way to gauge how quickly the politics surrounding Common Core have changed is to track Gov. Bobby Jindal’s journey from full support to abandonment to opposition so strong that he’s willing to entertain an end-run around his own allies in the Legislature, on the state education board and in the education department. Another entirely … Continue reading →

Quin Hillyer: Don’t fall for Obamacare’s Medicaid bait

Quin Hillyer

Louisiana’s editorial boards and other opinion leaders all seem to agree that Gov. Bobby Jindal is wrong to reject the Medicaid expansion offered by Obamacare. But Jindal is right. Obamacare’s Medicaid offerings glitter like fool’s gold. Before doing the math, let’s study some history. It’s not just that President Barack Obama has broken almost every … Continue reading →

Our Views: High life in politics

Politicians are human beings, and surely some of them can be forgiven if they cling to their offices in the state House and Senate as much for the fine dining and high life of Baton Rouge compared with, say, Shongaloo. Terrible, then, what has happened over the past few years to those politicians who treasure the … Continue reading →

Letter: Let river return to natural state

I received the trial lawyers’ “Big Oil Bailout” slick flier in the mail about 12 days ago. My response was simply, “bovine excrement.” The coastal erosion is occurring in the Mississippi Delta, while new islands are forming in Vermilion Bay, and the coast is growing. The difference is the Mississippi River is being dredged … Continue reading →

Letter: McAllister squandered good will

A screen grab from a surveillance video shows U.S. Rep. Vance McAllister in a passionate embrace with a woman identified as an aide.

I do hope that Vince Bowers had his tongue planted firmly in his cheek when he wrote his recent letter. If so, I have to agree with him that “infidelity” and “asking for forgiveness,” if not valued in our Louisiana politicians, are at least expected. It is unfortunate that what most shake their heads … Continue reading →

Our Views: On rights and sense

Maybe it’s a trifle early, but can we declare something of an outbreak of common sense on the issue of gun rights in Louisiana? We say that because of two sensible decisions recently in the Legislature, which has, too often, shown a desire for guns galore in places where firearms are dangerous. The Senate rightly … Continue reading →

Our Views: An old idea, still wrong

It’s back-to-the-future time in the Legislature again, with lawmakers debating a proposal to undo a key goal of education reformers of a generation ago: appointment of a professionally qualified state superintendent of education. That was a major battle after years of scandals involving superintendents of education who were elected statewide. As Louisiana faced the challenge of … Continue reading →

Letter: Lafayette chamber providing leadership on key issues

In the past few months, leaders of the Greater Lafayette Chamber of Commerce have spoken with hundreds of business leaders throughout Acadiana and asked what role they envisioned the chamber playing in our community and region. The answer was clear: an organization that can provide intelligent leadership on key business issues. This desire for more impactful … Continue reading →

Stephanie Grace: Bill eliminates board’s independence

Advocate staff photo by MATTHEW HINTON-- Stephanie Grace

Picture, if you will, a hypothetical Louisiana governor. He or she might be a good, responsible, public steward. Or the person could be a corrupt hack, determined to sell the state out to the highest bidder. Or maybe, just maybe, the governor in question is driven far more by his or her national ambitions than … Continue reading →

Inside Report: Commissioner pay in question

There’s a bill winding its way through the Legislature right now that could go a long way in determining how strong a candidate Louisiana is able to attract to oversee the state’s higher education institutions. It comes down to money. More specifically, how far the state Board of Regents, Louisiana’s higher education policy … Continue reading →

Our Views: Stick with the cause

What could be stranger than Gov. Bobby Jindal throwing in with teacher unions to oppose one of the primary conservative goals in education policy over the past two decades? Strange but true, and bad for the state and its children’s futures. The flash point has been the so-called Common Core academic standards, and the tests … Continue reading →

Letter: Lawmakers failed to help state’s poor

Poor people have no representation in the Louisiana Legislature as evidenced by its failure to place a cap on the cost of payday loans. The Legislature would prefer to spend time debating “high” priority issues such as whether the American paint or the Shaggy mane pony should be named the official state horse. Most … Continue reading →