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Louisiana Chamber of Commerce holds annual Legislative Appreciation Luncheon

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Louisiana Chamber of Commerce holds annual Legislative Appreciation Luncheon


ALEXANDRIA, La. (KALB) – On July 10, the Central Louisiana Chamber of Commerce held its annual Legislative Appreciation Luncheon, granting state lawmakers the opportunity to make their voices heard by chamber members.

There was a total of 11 speakers, including several key members of the Central Louisiana Legislative Delegation, such as State Senators Glen Womack, Mike Reese, John “Jay” Morris III and State Representative Jason Dewitt.

2024 has been busy year for the legislature, which saw two special sessions along with a regular legislative session. KALB spoke with a few of the lawmakers in attendance, who gave their thoughts on the outcomes of their work.

“So, I think this year’s sessions, because there were three of them, were somewhat difficult, and I think we passed some good legislation,” said State Senator Jay Luneau, (D) District 22.

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Many lawmakers expressed feelings of accomplishment alongside exhaustion and burnout from the legislative year, yet some lawmakers stated their concerns over the law which mandates the postage of the Ten Commandments in all state-funded schools in Louisiana.

“So I don’t particularly have a problem with posting the 10 Commandments in the school. I think the Ten Commandments should be taught at home and in church. I think that’s the basis where children will be able to understand them, however, I have concerns that it’s probably unconstitutional.”

However, State Representative Gabe Firment said he did not believe the law would be controversial, echoing thoughts similar to Governor Landry’s.

“Look I didn’t think that was the least bit controversial. Quite frankly there was not that much debate in the legislature because it just makes sense.”

According to Senator Luneau, lawmakers still have work to do in various areas. In particular, Cenla lawmakers must continue to work on the issues presented to them. He cited the ongoing construction of the Sugar House Road Extension as an example of ways lawmakers are hoping to drive additional economic traffic to the region.

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Louisiana sees marginal gain in English LEAP scores, stagnant for math and science scores

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Louisiana sees marginal gain in English LEAP scores, stagnant for math and science scores


NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) – School leaders have touted the latest batch of newly released LEAP scores, while advocates said there is still much work to be done.

Louisiana saw minor improvements in student English test scores in 2024, while scores for math and science mostly stayed the same.

For grades 3-8, about 43 percent of students statewide achieved “mastery” in the English language arts test, a marginal improvement year-over-year. For the same grade levels, about 31 percent of students statewide achieved mastery in the math test, while about 28.5 percent of students achieved mastery in the science test.

“Mastery” is the state standard for proficiency.

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The return to nearly pre-pandemic English scores was noteworthy for education leaders, who pointed to efforts to increase literacy among younger populations.

“Following consecutive years of improvement, these latest scores show students holding steady,” said Louisiana State Superintendent of Education Dr. Cade Brumley. “With a need to see increased outcomes, however, these numbers substantiate our recent aggressive efforts to simply let teachers teach, provide students with high-dosage tutoring, refresh our school accountability model, and expand options for students to access high-quality schools.”

The 2024 LEAP scores can be found here.

The Coronavirus pandemic was a major disrupter for school systems nationwide, with school leaders acknowledging recovery is still a work in progress.

“The latest LEAP data released today is encouraging, with overall performance holding steady in line with recent achievement gains. With improvement confirmed in early grades, Louisiana’s emphasis on literacy initiatives and fundamental skills development is beginning to bear fruit,” said Ronnie Morris, President of the Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education.

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“The availability and accessibility of quality K-12 options is a strength of Louisiana’s system, in which families are empowered to provide the best learning environment for their children.”

About 36 percent of high school students achieved mastery across all subjects (English I, English II, Algebra I, Geometry, U.S. History and Biology).

“People have different learning styles, and we’re teaching to one, which is mostly lecture. The things we already know to do, we need to implement them. We just need to implement best practices,” said Ashana Bigard, a parent of two children in the Orleans Parish education system and a longtime education advocate.

“I know everybody’s going to focus on the one percent growth but considering how much money was poured into the system overall, there definitely needs to be more growth.”

Bigard said the results are not consistent with the amount of state and federal dollars that has been poured into education since the pandemic.

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“We do have a lot of good teachers, we do have a lot of good people trying very hard, but they don’t have the resources,” she said. “We don’t have the small class sizes. We don’t have the books.”

But education researchers note there is a nationwide trend of low-test scores.

“We’re basically back to where we were pre-pandemic, and that’s a lot better than most states can say, so that’s a plus,” said Douglas Harris, chair of the economics department at Tulane University and director of the Education Research Alliance for New Orleans.

“We still see improvement after years of continuous improvement, that’s like unusual. You don’t usually see states improving consistently over time, even to a small degree,” he said. “You’ve got the high absence rate, you’ve got students more stuck on their phones, mental health issues, and I think teaching has become less attractive.”

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Louisiana’s role in NASA’s upcoming moon mission; Baton Rouge painter on the relationship between art and health

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Louisiana’s role in NASA’s upcoming moon mission; Baton Rouge painter on the relationship between art and health


The push to unionize auto plants in the South appears to have lost momentum. This comes after a big loss in May when workers at a Mercedes factory rejected joining the United Auto Workers.

Stephan Bisaha of the Gulf States Newsroom visited the UAW’s campaign in Montgomery, Alabama to learn why it’s so hard to unionize in the Deep South.

Last week, the large core of the Artemis II moon rocket left an assembling facility in Michoud, Louisiana and headed for the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. This is just the latest journey for the rocket, which is set to launch into space late next year.

NASA engineer Chandler Sheuermann tells us about this upcoming mission to the moon, what will make the launch historic, and Louisiana’s role in assembling the rocket.

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This weekend, hundreds of artists from across the country will work on a single project aimed at exploring how artists can help build healthier communities. Their aim is to explore how art can improve the overall health and well-being of communities.

One of the participating locations in this nationwide project is in Baton Rouge. Mike Weary, artist-in-residence at the Arts Council for Greater Baton Rouge tells us about the city’s involvement and what he sees in the relationship between art and health.

Today’s episode of Louisiana Considered was hosted by Adam Vos. Our managing producer is Alana Schreiber; our contributing producers are Matt Bloom and Adam Vos; we receive production and technical support from Garrett Pittman and our assistant producer, Aubry Procell.

You can listen to Louisiana Considered Monday through Friday at noon  and 7:00 p.m. It’s available on Spotify, Google Play, and wherever you get your podcasts. 

Louisiana Considered wants to hear from you! Please fill out our pitch line to let us know what kinds of story ideas you have for our show. And while you’re at it, fill out our listener survey! We want to keep bringing you the kinds of conversations you’d like to listen to.

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Louisiana Considered is made possible with support from our listeners. Thank you!





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Louisiana Businessman to Pay $1.3M Fine for Neglecting Elderly Residents During Ida

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Louisiana Businessman to Pay .3M Fine for Neglecting Elderly Residents During Ida


A Louisiana businessman who sent more than 800 elderly residents from his seven nursing homes to ride out Hurricane Ida in a crowded, ill-equipped warehouse pleaded no contest to 15 criminal counts Monday and was sentenced to three years of probation.

Bob Dean Jr. also must pay more than $358,000 in restitution to the state health department and more than $1 million as a monetary penalty, but state Attorney General Liz Murrill expressed frustration in a news release that Dean didn’t get any prison time.

“We asked specifically that he be sentenced to a minimum of 5 years in prison, and not be given only probation. I respect our judicial system and that the judge has the ultimate discretion over the appropriate sentence, but I remain of the opinion that Dean should be serving prison time,” her statement said.

Dean, 70, owned seven nursing homes in New Orleans and southeast Louisiana. As Ida approached, Dean moved hundreds of residents into a building in the town of Independence, roughly 70 miles (110 kilometers) northwest of New Orleans.

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Authorities said conditions at the warehouse deteriorated rapidly after the powerful storm hit on Aug. 29, 2021. They found ill and elderly bedridden people on mattresses on the wet floor, some crying for help, some lying in their own waste. Civil suits against Dean’s corporation said the ceiling leaked and toilets overflowed at the sweltering warehouse, and there was too little food and water.

Within days after the storm hit, the state reported the deaths of seven of the evacuees, five of them classified as storm-related.

By the time Dean was arrested on state charges in June 2022, he had lost state licenses and federal funding for his nursing homes.

According to Murrill, Dean pleaded no contest to eight counts of cruelty to the infirmed, two counts of obstruction of justice and five counts of Medicaid fraud. Judge Brian Abels sentenced Dean to a total of 20 years in prison, but deferred the sentences in favor of three years of probation. The plea was entered in Tangipahoa, north of New Orleans.

Defendants who plead no contest do not admit guilt but elect not to defend against the charges. They are then subject to being convicted and punished as if there had been a guilty plea.

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