Tag Archives: gov edwards

Legislature Calls Itself into Session

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The Louisiana legislature called themselves into a special session that began on September 28 and which will end by October 27. The September 21 Proclamation lists 70 topics to be addressed, including items for replenishing Louisiana’s Unemployment Trust Fund, addressing COVID-19 recovery efforts, supporting communities impacted by Hurricane Laura, and possible funding of certain devastated school systems.

However, at the top of the list are items about the expanded powers of government under emergency conditions.

The first topic relates to “…legislative procedures, powers, duties, and authority pursuant to the Louisiana Health Emergency Powers Act…” The second item refers to ” … the power and authority of executive branch officers and agencies.”

Gov. Edwards immediately voiced his concerns in a September 21 statement.

“At a time when our state is dealing with the COVID-19 health emergency, hurricanes,
and one severe weather event after another, I am concerned that the Legislature has
again called themselves into a month-long session with an agenda of 70 items. This
session will occur at a time when the public will again be restricted in their access to the
State Capitol and their ability to give needed public input.

“From the beginning of this emergency, I have relied on public health experts and the
White House Coronavirus Task Force to guide Louisiana’s response to this historic
emergency. Further, this response has been in line with the measures taken by our
neighboring states that have unfortunately also been enormously impacted by COVID19.

“Put simply, the measures we have taken in Louisiana are working and we are making
significant progress. However, to abandon these efforts in defiance of the unanimous
advice of the public health experts and the Trump administration would seriously
jeopardize the lives of our people and the gains we have made. Further, it is important
to remember our work in containing COVID19 is far from done, as Louisiana still has the
highest number of per capita infections in the country.

“I am hopeful that the Legislative leadership will significantly narrow the scope and the
duration of this session so that they can do the work they deem necessary, while at the
same time working in a bipartisan and cooperative manner to address our
significant challenges in an honest and transparent manner. Louisianans have come
too far to have all of our effective and lifesaving work upended.”

In a September 28 editorial, The Advocate warned, “As with some of the other
budgetary items on the expansive menu, it’s too soon to say if the body can make
intelligent decisions when so many things, really almost everything, is in flux.

“Further, legislators should remind themselves that interfering with the complex
machinery of emergency declarations means that lawmakers will be taking responsibility upon themselves, individually and as a body, in a situation where there is no pleasant alternative, only a choice among bad options.”

Regarding the special session, proposed measures have been submitted and are being reviewed this month. The Louisiana State Board of Examiners of Psychologists did not submit a new copy of their legislation, which they proposed earlier this year in the
regular session. Sources indicate that the board is working on that legislation for 2021.

Very few bills have to do with psychology since the topics for the session are narrowed
to emergency events. However, House Bill 33 and Senate Bill 12, which are duplicates,
relate to emergency counseling in healthcare facilities.

Present law defines “mental health support personnel” to include psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, and volunteer crisis counseling groups.

The proposed law provides that the Louisiana Department of Health may include the availability of no-cost or reduced-cost counseling or mental health support services offered by members of the clergy, religious organizations, or other nonprofit organizations when providing information about and referrals to mental health support personnel to address the psychological responses to the public health emergency.

The proposed law requires that, during the COVID-19 public health emergency or any
other contagious or infectious disease for which a state of public health emergency
has been declared, an inpatient healthcare facility provide patient or resident access
to members of the clergy for prayer, mental health support or religious counseling, the sacraments of Holy Communion, Anointing of the Sick, and Last Rites, and other such customary religious services that would normally be offered to patients or residents if the healthcare facility was not subject to a declaration of a state of public health
emergency.

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U21 Parishes in FEMA Disaster Area Governor Renews Emergency Status from Hurricane Laura

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Gov. Edwards renewed his State-of-Emergency proclamation on
September 18, authorizing the Governor’s office of Homeland
Security and Emergency Preparedness to continue to undertake all
activities authorized to assist in recovery from Hurricane Laura.

The proclamation prohibits price gouging and allows the Secretary
of the Department of Health to establish protocols and policies for
certain facilities to receive evacuated residents at nursing facilities.
Certain regulations are suspended and schools are allowed to
substitute online instruction.

The proclamation also provides for unemployment compensation
for some of those directly affected by flooding or due to the inability
to get to their worksite in a disaster parish.

The proclamation also authorizes all departments and agencies as
officers of the state to cooperate in actions that may be helpful in
dealing with the effects of this weather event.

On September 13, FEMA approved three additional Louisiana parishes for Individual
Assistance due to Hurricane Laura, bringing the total number of parishes where residents are eligible for aid to 21.

Federal FEMA assistance can include grants for temporary housing and home repairs, low-cost loans for uninsured property loss and other programs to help people and businesses recover from Hurricane Laura.

People who sustained losses in the designated parishes of Acadia, Allen, Beauregard,
Caddo, Calcasieu, Cameron, Grant, Jackson, Jefferson Davis, LaSalle, Lincoln, Morehouse, Natchitoches, Ouachita, Rapides, Sabine, St. Landry Vermilion, Vernon, Winn and Union.

Some additional parishes are still under review.

Individuals can apply for assistance. Register online at http://www.DisasterAssistance.gov or by calling 1-800-621-FEMA.

“People all across Louisiana were impacted when Hurricane Laura brought its strong winds ashore, knocking out power and causing massive destruction,” said the Governor.

Hurricane Laura made landfall in Cameron Parish on Thursday, August 27, with 150 mph sustained winds.

Laura was one of the strongest hurricanes to hit the United States and the worse storm for Louisiana since the 1856 “Last Island Hurricane.”

Twenty-six deaths have been attributed to Hurricane Laura. Property damages have been estimated at approximately $9 billion.

If some you know needs shelter, text LASHELTER to 898-211 for information about where to go or call 211.

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Gov Edwards Signs State Budget

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State Agency Heads Directed to Prepare for Possible Mid-Year Budget Cuts
Gov. Edwards Signs State Budget to Preserve Critical Funding During the Covid-19 Pandemic

Baton Rouge – On July 8, Gov. John Bel Edwards announced that he has signed the
state’s budget for the FY 20-21 operating year, preserving funding for critical health
care, workforce and education services that are needed during the pandemic, especially
as new COVID-19 cases rise again as school systems prepare to return to campus
in the fall, according to the press release from the Governor’s office.

Additionally, the Governor Edwards has ordered cabinet agencies to prepare for possible mid-year budget cuts by sequestering at least 10 percent of their budgets, which he also recommends for the judicial and legislative branches.

He will also issue an executive order to freeze hiring of state employees.

“Right now our budget is in a far better shape than we could have hoped just three
months ago, with funding for critical services in place as we continue to respond to the
COVID-19 pandemic and see case counts as well as hospitalizations rising,” he said.

“I have directed state agencies to prepare for possible mid-year cuts and, we will continue working with the Legislature to make any adjustments that may be necessary this fall,” Gov. Edwards said. “While there are cuts in the budget, federal CARES act funding allowed us to avoid making them even more catastrophic. In addition, we were able to invest CARES act funding into programs for local governments, aid to businesses and direct payments to essential front line workers.”

The Governor also vetoed language that cancelled meritr aises for classified state employees

Gov. Edwards vetoed a provision that impermissibly delayed pay raises for classified state employees and other provisions that sequestered funds appropriated to the executive branch, but not funds appropriated to the legislative and judicial branches.
He also vetoed more than $9 million in
new spending, as well as a provision
contrary to Centers for Medicare and
Medicaid Services guidelines that would
negatively impact the Louisiana
Department of Health and require the
expenditure of more than $10 million of
state general fund plus $32 million of
federal funds.

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