Trump visits New Orleans for a fundraiser with Republican businessmen, the Louisiana Senate passes a bill that would make abortion illegal once a heartbeat is detected in the fetus, Nyx announces its first-ever summer parade, Mayor Cantrell and City Council spar over homelessness policy. Here's what you need to know in New Orleans this week.

Trump comes to New Orleans this week for fundraiser

President Donald Trump will spend much of the day in Louisiana May 14, with a stop in Cameron Parish at a liquefied natural gas plant before traveling to New Orleans later for a high-dollar fundraiser hosted by shipbuilder Boysie Bollinger and developer Joe Canizaro, both Republican businessmen.

A copy of the fundraising invitation obtained by The New Orleans Advocate indicated the lowest-priced tickets were $2,800, with $35,000 buying a photo with Trump and $100,000 donations garnering “roundtable” access to Trump. The location of the fundraiser was not revealed to the public.

At the Cameron Parish appearance in the town of Hackberry, on the Texas-Louisiana border, Trump is set to discuss American jobs related to the energy industry, according to the White House. U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy, a Republican and chairman of the Energy and Natural Resources Subcommittee on Energy, issued a statement saying, “I thank President Trump for his commitment to unleashing American energy and supporting Louisiana energy workers.” — KEVIN ALLMAN

ERA ratification fails badly in state Senate vote

A push for Louisiana to become the final state needed to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) is on its last legs after the state Senate voted 9-26 last week against the amendment, with some dissenters expressing fear it would expand abortion in the state.

The 1972 amendment — which has been ratified by 37 of the 38 states needed for it to become part of the U.S. Constitution — would grant women legal protections. It states that “equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex.”

In an interview with Gambit, state Sen. JP Morrell, D-New Orleans, who sponsored the bill, said he expected the abortion argument to come up in the Senate floor debate.

“I'm sure they have placeholder people who will make the same arguments, and I look forward to kind of diffusing them one by one,” Morrell said. “Will it ultimately lead to us being successful? No, but I think it serves a purpose of having a debate for the public to see these kinds of crazy arguments that have existed for 40 years and no longer have any basis.

“They’ll see they're still being utilized by lobbyists, by business interests and by politicians who are tone-deaf,” he added.

Morrell made a motion to reconsider the amendment at a later date, and a House version of the bill by Rep. Robby Carter, D-Amite, is still pending in the House Civil Law and Procedure committee.

Louisiana Right to Life (LARTL), which opposed the amendment, released a statement following the vote, praising the floor statements of state Sen. Beth Mizell, R-Franklinton. "Senator Mizell’s clarifications amidst an often misunderstood issue was essential to defending life today,” LARTL Executive Director Ben Clapper said. “Mizell is a model of a successful pro-life woman leader for Louisiana."

The Louisiana Democratic Party released a statement against the decision.

“I’m disheartened by my colleagues’ decision to not pass the [ERA] through the Senate,” said Sen. Karen Carter Peterson, D-New Orleans, who chairs the Louisiana Democratic Party. “Louisiana had the chance to make history, protect women from discrimination and take an important step toward equality in our state and nation. Unfortunately, we failed.” — KAYLEE POCHE

Louisiana Senate passes ‘fetal heartbeat’ bill

The state Senate last week passed a bill that would ban abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected, around the sixth week of pregnancy — before many women know they are pregnant. The vote was 31-5. The measure now goes to the House.

State Sen. John Milkovich, D-Shreveport, brought the bill to the floor, stating, as he has before, that he is in favor of banning all abortions.

The only discussion of the bill came from Sen. Karen Carter Peterson, D-New Orleans, who asked Milkovich if he was against killing any human with a heartbeat, in what seemed to be a reference to his support of the death penalty. “In your bill, you are suggesting that a human being exists at that point you just described,” Peterson said. “If it’s a human and they have a heartbeat, you’re not for killing them?”

Milkovich initially agreed, but then modified his position, saying he was against killing “an unborn baby with a heartbeat.”

Peterson’s comments came after a bill failed that would have put abolishing the death penalty on the ballot in November 2020, coinciding with the presidential election. Milkovich, along with 24 other senators, voted against that bill. Peterson and 12 other senators voted for it.

Milkovich amended his bill to include a provision requiring a doctor performing an abortion to check for a fetal heartbeat. At the recommendation of the attorney general’s office, a trigger was added to the bill that would make it contingent on court approval of a similar law that was passed by Mississippi in March. Milkovich said he was against the trigger. “I really wanted it to be effective upon enactment,” he said.

Louisiana Right to Life released a statement supporting the addition, stating it would allow the state to focus on defending its current abortion restrictions in court.

“This provision allows our attorney general’s office to focus on its current defense of already existing pro-life laws in federal court,” the group’s statement said, referring to a 2014 law (which has not gone into effect) that would require abortion providers to have admitting privileges to a hospital within 30 miles of the clinic.

Six other states — Georgia, Iowa, North Dakota, Kentucky, Mississippi and Ohio — have passed similar “fetal heartbeat” bills, but none has gone into effect. The American Civil Liberties Union has vowed to fight several of them. — KAYLEE POCHE

Another eight-day Jazz Fest for 2020

It's way too early to know who's going to be playing at the 2020 edition of the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival. But one thing's for sure: The eight-day schedule set this year will continue. Jazz Fest organizers announced last week that the 51st annual Jazz Fest will take place April 23–26 and April 30–May 3.

As for the just-concluded festival — the 50th Jazz Fest — 475,000 fans passed through the gates at the Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots, according to Jazz Fest officials. — KEVIN ALLMAN

Nyx to launch summer parade

Mardi Gras in July? The all-female Krewe of Nyx announced last week that it will have a summer parade July 27. The krewe said the new parade would make Nyx the first Carnival organization to have two parades in a year.

The 8-year-old krewe has one of the largest memberships of any parading organization in Carnival history.

"The Krewe of Nyx has consistently raised the bar," Julie Lea, Nyx's founder and captain, said in a news release announcing the new parade. "We think it is a great way to bring additional revenue and tourism to the city during the summer."

The summer parade will begin on Elysian Fields in the Faubourg Marigny and roll down Decatur and Tchoupitoulas streets, through the French Quarter and CBD to Andrew Higgins Drive. The theme will be the 1970s, and instead of throwing its traditional hand-decorated purses, glittery children's sand shovels will be the summer parade's signature throw. — ADVOCATE STAFF REPORT

Cantrell, City Council at odds over homeless sweeps

Despite Mayor LaToya Cantrell's objections, the New Orleans City Council passed rules last week for clearing homeless camps, saying its goal was to better address homelessness in the city. But Cantrell staffers said the rules, which require the city to collect and report data on people living under bridges and in other public spaces, could make their jobs harder and could stigmatize vulnerable residents.
A Cantrell aide would not say if the mayor intends to veto the measure, which was approved unanimously. It would take five council votes to override a veto.  
“This ordinance does not criminalize homelessness, nor does it violate anyone’s constitutional rights,” said District A Councilman Joe Giarrusso, who sponsored the measure. “While (New Orleans police) may be on the scene, they are not leading these efforts.”
But city Health Department Director Jennifer Avegno said having rules that are “interpreted as restrictive” has caused backlash in other cities. “What we are asking is for time to sort it out and to get more areas of consensus,” she said.
The city conducts regular sweeps of the homeless camps frequently seen under the Pontchartrain Expressway and in other areas, which officials say can pose threats to public health.
Officials give the people living at those sites 24 hours' notice before carrying away items like tents, mattresses and other belongings. At times, city officials have agreed to store items for those who request it, though such requests have been infrequent.
UNITY of Greater New Orleans, which works to coordinate homeless services, has come along on sweeps in the past to collect information about those in need of shelter so it can connect them to housing and other resources. But the City Council’s rules will put the burden of data-gathering on the administration, requiring its staffers to report back to the council in detail on the extent and nature of homelessness in the city.
“You can’t manage what you don’t measure,” said Giarrusso.
The city would be required to store all personal property it collects and give people a period of time to come and retrieve it. Notices would be printed in English, Vietnamese and Spanish.
Some housing advocates opposed the measure, allowing Cantrell’s camp to claim it was not embraced by those most involved in serving the homeless.
“The ordinance will increase the amount of time and attention spent on removing homeless people’s possessions and moving homeless people around, neither of which will reduce homelessness,” said Joe Heeren-Mueller of UNITY.
Avegno said the city is ill-equipped to track data sought by the council such as the number of homeless pregnant women and the services they receive, and that attempting to do so would pull resources away from other priorities.
In a statement before the vote, Cantrell said homeless people “deserve to be treated with dignity and respect.”
“I do not support any efforts that distract from engaging and developing real solutions that meet people where they are and deal with the very real issues they are facing,” she added.
But Giarrusso and Councilmembers-At-Large Helena Moreno and Jason Williams claimed the new rules largely codify what the administration or other groups already have been doing.
It's the latest clash between Cantrell and the council. In recent months, they've also butted heads over a tax for senior citizen services and a recent shift in policies for city traffic cameras. — JESSICA WILLIAMS | THE NEW ORLEANS ADVOCATE