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Louisiana State Capitol

Today in The Rundown: Welcome back from Mardi Gras and dive into The Rundown for news on flood recovery, medical marijuana, speed traps, teacher pay and more issues in Louisiana politics today. 

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The Countdown…

Days until the start of the legislative session: 27

Days until election day: 214

The News

ICYMI: The number of Louisiana towns, villages and small cities in which fines make up at least half their revenues is on the rise. The Advocate dives into why that's happening:

LA Flood: More than two and a half years after floods devastated Baton Rouge and surrounding areas, a Denham Springs couple is suing the federal government that hasn't yet fixed an issue that has prevented aid that counts as a "duplication of benefits."

Congress: Sen. Bill Cassidy will meet with HUD Secretary Ben Carson later this week to press him on why his agency's delaying the duplication of benefits resolution.

Corrections: Trial is underway for Nate Cain — legendary Louisiana jailer Burl Cain's son who is facing federal charges for spending thousands of taxpayer dollars on personal items, including guns, high-end technology and even a new house he was trying to build quietly on prison property.

Education: Just ahead of the 2019 legislative session early childhood education issues are increasingly winning attention, including the news that those who teach and care for the youngest students are paid an average of $8.95 per hour.

Teacher pay: Leaders of a new group called Raise Up Teachers said Monday it plans to urge the Louisiana Legislature to approve teacher pay hikes but more professional development and other improvements are also needed.

LA Lege: The Louisiana Legislature is convening again in five weeks, and while the focus of the 2019 regular session will be on finances, legislators also have been prefiling bills that address other issues, such as raising the legal age to smoke, loosening the homestead tax exemption and criminalizing being a jerk behind the wheel.

St. George: Gov. John Bel Edwards has decided that the vote whether to create a new city in East Baton Rouge Parish will be held in October, when voters also cast ballots in statewide and legislative races.

Medical marijuana: Gov. John Bel Edwards wants the Department of Agriculture and LSU to come together to expedite the state's medical marijuana program.

Jobs: IBM has scrapped plans for a customer contact center in Baton Rouge, nearly two years after first unveiling the potential project at the same time the tech giant was being granted an extension of time by the state to fill 800 jobs on a separate project.

LA Gov: As expected, the Louisiana Democratic Party has officially endorsed Gov. Edwards' re-election bid.

Berry belt, no more? Ponchatoula still holds the title of Louisiana's strawberry capital, but the sweet fruit's future here looks less than rosy.

Hazing: Max Gruver's family and other anti-hazing advocates are calling on LSU to release findings from a recent investigation into how university officials handled complaints about the Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity received well before nine DKE members were accused of serious crimes.

Economy: Louisiana’s natural gas production has quietly rebounded to its highest point since 2012, as drillers return to north Louisiana with billions in capital investments and new drilling techniques that have made the Haynesville shale basin profitable again.

Tourism: How many people visit New Orleans each year? The answer varies:

Women in Politics: The International Women's Day last week prompted bipartisan praise for record numbers of female politicians, but Louisiana continues to lag. (Related: LSU's Reilly Center for Media & Public Affairs host its Spring 2019 Breaux Symposium Wednesday on "Politicking While Female")

Incentives: The Orleans Parish tax assessor says a planned convention center hotel in New Orleans won't qualify for a lucrative tax exemption, complicating plans for the project.

ICYMI: U.S. House Minority Whip Steve Scalise is leading the charge against a freshman Minnesota congresswoman accused of anti-Semitism.

Bookmark it: As always, catch up on all the Louisiana politics news straight from The Advocate:

Happening today

  • House Administration of Criminal Justice meets at 9 a.m. in Room 6. The panel will discuss the future of the death penalty in Louisiana.
  • Advisory Council on Heroin and Opioid Prevention and Education meets at 1 p.m. in the Bienville Building.
  • BESE Administration and Finance Committee meets at 9 a.m. in the Claiborne Building. Gov. John Bel Edwards and first lady Donna Edwards are scheduled to attend.

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