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Cassidy's plan for family leave, Louisiana fall elections, Landrieu on CNN, medical marijuana to hit the shelves, and Gene's Po-Boys says goodbye. Here's what you need to know in New Orleans this week.

Cassidy's plan for family leave: Let parents receive child tax credits in advance

U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La., released a plan last week that front-loads child tax credits. The plan would give new parents an option to receive $5,000 in child tax credits upfront — and then receive smaller credits over the next decade to make up the difference in what they eventually would have gotten.

Cassidy and co-sponsor U.S. Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Az., are touting the proposal as the first bipartisan paid parental leave plan. The plan does not grant additional money to parents. Instead, it gives parents the option of the same amount of cash in a lump sum.

Immediately following the birth of a child or the adoption of a child under age 6, families who opt into the proposal would receive $5,000 and then get $1,500 a year from the tax credit for 10 years afterward. The parents could use the money to take time off work or pay for child care. Cassidy and Sinema said the plan would give families flexibility and options.

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Under the proposal, new parents who make less than a certain income level would not be able to get the full $5,000 in advance but could get enough money upfront to cover their wages for 12 weeks. That amount would be deducted from the tax credit over the next 15 years.

Federal law mandates employers who have more than 50 employees within a 75-mile radius give employees who have worked a minimum of 1,250 hours in the current year (around 26 hours a week) 12 weeks of unpaid leave to care for newborn children or sick family members.

Most American workers have access to unpaid family leave, but fewer than one-fifth of private-sector employees are offered paid family leave.

Cassidy had hinted at the announcement of this proposal for months but details were slim leading up to the announcement last week.

The plan differs from Republican proposals that would allow a parent to draw from his or her future Social Security benefits to pay for leave and from a Democratic proposal by U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York that would fund leave through a payroll tax.

By not drawing from Social Security or by adding an additional tax on workers, supporters of the Cassidy-Sinema plan hope it will provide an opportunity for Democrats and Republicans to find common ground on the issue — without raising taxes.

Efforts to implement a Louisiana-based family leave policy failed in the state Legislature last spring. Among Louisiana residents, support for a national policy is nearly universal, with 82 percent of residents supporting a national paid family and medical leave policy, according to a 2018 poll by consulting firm GBA Strategies. — KAYLEE POCHE

Qualifying for fall elections this week

Will Mike Yenni run again for Jefferson Parish president? Who will run in Louisiana’s 79th House district to replace Rep. Julie Stokes, who last week announced she would not seek re-election? Will there be any surprises in the governor’s race? We’ll know by 4:30 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 8.

Candidates who wish to qualify for the statewide offices in the fall elections must file paperwork with Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin’s office Aug. 6 through 8. Those who want to run for legislative seats or the many parish offices up for grabs can qualify at their local parish clerk of court’s offices.

In order to vote in the fall elections, Louisiana citizens must register in person or by mail by Sept. 11 — or online by Sept. 21 at Early voting for the Oct. 12 primary will begin Sept. 28 and end Oct. 5. Any runoff elections will be held Nov. 16. — KEVIN ALLMAN & CLANCY DuBOS

Landrieu joins CNN as political commentator

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Former Mayor Mitch Landrieu joins CNN's political team.

Last week's Democratic presidential debates, hosted by CNN, featured a familiar face on the panel of pundits discussing debate performances — that of former New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu, who joined the news network as a political commentator.

One year ago, Landrieu had demurred in an interview when asked if President Donald Trump was a racist. His view seems to have changed a bit. "Racist behavior like the President's has been relegated to people like [former Alabama Gov.] George Wallace," Landrieu tweeted just before the July 30 debate began. "Today the Pres. looks like Wallace, just in a nicer tie. Whether he's done it intentionally or not, it's not good to have a president speaking this way.”

Landrieu had kinder words for one of the lowest-polling candidates — author and motivational speaker Marianne Williamson, who during the debate called for $500 billion in economic reparations be paid to the descendants of black slaves, calling it "a debt which must be paid.”

While not commenting on reparations specifically, Landrieu said on CNN's "New Day," "She made you pay attention to her last night. Race is a festering wound for this country, hatred and bigotry. And it's gonna continue to cripple us unless we actually walk through it. I think she addressed it in a very thoughtful, forthright way that I think translated to a lot of people in the country."

Landrieu's name had been discussed as a potential presidential candidate in 2020, particularly after the publication of his well-received memoir "In the Shadow of Statues," but in February he seemed to rule out a run for good, saying, "I never say never, but at this point in time I don’t think I’m going to do it. ... The field’s getting filled up. I think the Democrats have a lot of great candidates.” — KEVIN ALLMAN

Medical marijuana in Louisiana here at last

Patients who have been more than patient with state agriculture regulators will be rewarded this week when medical cannabis finally hits the shelves of select pharmacies across the state. Regulators cleared medical marijuana for distribution last week after completing tests on random samples of marijuana tincture produced by LSU in conjunction with its contractor, GB Sciences Louisiana.

Agriculture Commissioner Mike Strain said the agency tested the product for homogeneity, potency and contamination. Final clearance came after a string of delays in the program. Lawmakers first authorized the drug for medicinal use in 2015 and tweaked regulations in 2016.

John Davis, head of GB Sciences Louisiana, said he anticipates between 5,000 and 10,000 patients will seek the drug initially, though in the coming years the state’s market could mature to between 100,000 and 150,000 patients. He said he will hold back some inventory in the beginning to make sure he can replenish the supplies of pharmacies that run out.

“All the final products are packaged, labeled and boxed, and they’re ready to be delivered to the pharmacies,” Davis said.

The product will be sold in tincture form, with three formulations of the drug sold in 30-milliliter bottles. The prices at Capitol Wellness Solutions, the Baton Rouge-area marijuana pharmacy, will be in the $90 range for one formulation, around $130 for another and nearly $200 for a bottle of the “THC rich” formulation, said owner Randy Mire. The most expensive formulation will include the highest level of THC, the compound in marijuana that elicits psychoactive effects.

A medical cannabis dosing paper distributed by GB Sciences recommends patients receiving the THC rich formulation take 0.25 milliliters of the tincture once a day for a week, ramping up dosing if the desired relief is not achieved.

According to the Louisiana Board of Medical Examiners, 84 doctors have active therapeutic marijuana licenses, allowing them to “recommend” the drug to patients. Patients with intractable pain, cancer, AIDS, cachexia, seizure disorders, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, spasticity, severe muscle spasms, Parkinson’s disease, glaucoma, PTSD, autism spectrum disorder, Crohn’s disease and muscular dystrophy will have access to the drug. — SAM KARLIN | THE NEW ORLEANS ADVOCATE

Ain’t dere no more: Gene’s Po-Boys

At press time, the iconic Gene’s Po-Boys shop in the Faubourg Marigny was set to close its doors for good Aug. 4, an employee of the store confirmed to Gambit. Gene's originally was set to close at the end of July.

The bright pink building at the corner of Elysian Fields and St. Claude avenues has been a staple in the Faubourg Marigny since 1968. In recent years Gene’s has become a popular fixture. In 2018, Gene’s was featured in an episode of "The Simpsons" as well as in Drake’s “In My Feelings” music video, and photos of Beyonce and Jay-Z patronizing Gene’s went viral. News of the closing was picked up by the Associated Press.

The property was listed for sale for around $5 million in February. Store owner Eugene Theriot told The Advocate in June the building has since been sold with plans to turn the space into condominiums.

The neighborhood around Gene's has gentrified rapidly in recent years, with the terminus of the new Rampart Street streetcar now in front of Gene's. In May 2018, an upscale Robert Fresh Market opened on the site of the former Schwegmann Market (which had stood empty since Hurricane Katrina and the levee failures), and a Starbucks now occupies a corner facing Mags 940 and The Phoenix bars. — KAYLEE POCHE