The Louisiana State Capitol in Baton Rouge. (Photo by Brianna Paciorka, NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune)

Today in The Rundown: Gov. Edwards has named a new Health secretary; the BP oil spill may have been even worse than thought; educators ask the Louisiana Legislature to consider funds for student mental health; and everything else you need to know in Louisiana politics today.

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The Countdown…

Days until the 2020 regular session begins: 25

Days until the Louisiana Democratic presidential primary: 56

Days until the regular session must end: 109

Days until the Presidential election and Congressional/Senate primary: 268

Days until the Congressional/Senate runoff (if needed): 296

The News...

Health care: Courtney Phillips, who had roles in the Blanco and Jindal administrations before becoming Texas' top health official, is returning to Louisiana to replace Dr. Rebekah Gee as Health secretary in the Edwards administration. http://bit.ly/2ULZVUB

LAGOP: Add the Louisiana GOP to the growing chorus of loyal Trump supporters who have taken aim at U.S. Sen. Mitt Romney in recent days over his chilly relationship with the Republican president: The Louisiana Republican State Central Committee unanimously agreed by voice vote to censure the Utah senator on Saturday. http://bit.ly/39C7a5Z

GOP: A lot of current and former political leaders from across south Louisiana gathered this week to remember former St. Tammany Parish President Pat Brister as a tenacious, caring advocate for her parish and, in the words of U.S. Sen. John Kennedy, "the original steel magnolia." http://bit.ly/2Hh4n5J

Environment: Oil from the 2010 BP Deepwater Horizon disaster may have spread much farther than initially thought, possibly reaching as far as Texas and the Florida Keys, a new study suggests. http://bit.ly/2SE9MZX

LALege: Louisiana's top legislative leaders told business leaders they want to tilt the state’s legal system in favor of businesses by restricting liability lawsuits, but they also want to work with Gov. John Bel Edwards to avoid his veto pen. http://bit.ly/31RloNi

State budget: Teachers are surprised, disappointed and a little irate that Gov. John Bel Edwards omitted a state pay raise for educators in his $32 billion spending plan for the budget that begins July 1. http://bit.ly/2SSXkpB

2020 Dems: More than a dozen members of the Louisiana Legislative Black Caucus are backing former Vice President Joe Biden's presidential campaign. http://bit.ly/31IFDwD

Clergy abuse: The Saints and the Archdiocese of New Orleans are opposing a court motion for the city’s daily newspaper and its three major television stations to be allowed access to a hearing next week about whether emails between the archdiocese and executives of the NFL team should remain under seal. http://bit.ly/2SDrMDO

Related: Saints owner Gayle Benson’s sudden and forceful statement Monday that none of her donations to New Orleans’ archdiocese had financed clergy abuse settlements came just days after attorneys for an alleged victim subpoenaed financial records from her charitable foundation. http://bit.ly/2OPuGEt

Waterways: The Army Corps of Engineers will spend $85.35 million this year to begin deepening parts of the Mississippi River navigation channel between Baton Rouge and the river's mouth to 50 feet, 5 feet deeper than at present. President Trump's 2021 budget proposal would add even more money for the river but it doesn't include funding for other projects. http://bit.ly/3buCXHx

Campaign finance: Here's where members of the Louisiana delegation stand at the end of 2019. http://bit.ly/38pdy07

JBE: Gov. John Bel Edwards met with President Donald Trump at the White House this week. Details: http://bit.ly/2OHEY9C

Education: As the Legislature prepares to convene next month, Orleans Parish school officials want lawmakers to focus on students in need of mental health services because of exposure to trauma. http://bit.ly/39tqD8x

Wildlife: A U.S. district judge has dismissed a lawsuit challenging the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's 2016 decision to remove the Louisiana black bear from the federal list of endangered and threatened wildlife. http://bit.ly/2UKB8QK

Impeachment: Three Louisiana Republicans were among those who Trump praised at the White House during celebratory address after his impeachment acquittal. http://bit.ly/2H1jzE1

New Orleans: In the wake of public calls for more accountability in light of the Hard Rock Hotel's deadly collapse, New Orleans City Council members are considering fining city contractors who violate local, state and federal laws concerning workers' safety and wages. http://bit.ly/3byFh0h

Air quality: St. John residents are upset over the EPA's plans to change air monitoring around the Denka Performance Elastomer plant. http://bit.ly/38pzyYB

Jefferson Parish: A sweeping reorganization plan that would close four schools in Jefferson Parish is drawing opposition in Westwego and Kenner, where some parents and public officials say the move would erase important cultural landmarks and hurt children's education. http://bit.ly/2OPG17E

Coming up...

  • LaSTEM Advisory Council meets at 10 a.m. today at the Claiborne Building.
  • Louisiana Sales and Use Tax Commission for Remote Sellers meets at 11 a.m. today at the LaSalle Building. 

Governor's schedule

  • At 10 a.m. Gov. John Bel Edwards will deliver remarks at Clara's Little Lambs Early Learning Center in New Orleans in recognition of Louisiana Early Childhood Education Week.

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Elizabeth Crisp is The Advocate’s Washington, D.C. correspondent and author of The Rundown.

Tips, comments or suggestions? Send your feedback to

ecrisp@theadvocate.com or @elizabethcrisp on Twitter.

Email Elizabeth Crisp at ecrisp@theadvocate.com and follow on Twitter, @elizabethcrisp.