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Capitol Views: Bill to reduce EBR school board membership gets second life PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, May 08 2014 - 12:59 pm

By: Business Report



Less than 24 hours after the House rejected legislation to reduce the size of the East Baton Rouge Parish School Board, the Senate Education Committee approved its upper chamber counterpart today and gave the policy idea a second life. Yet even if the full Senate provides the same favor to SB 672 by Sen. Bodi White, R-Central, it still has to survive the House, which fell four votes shy Wednesday of passing HB 1178 by Rep. Dalton Honoré, D-Baton Rouge. White's proposal—which is supported by BRAC—would reduce the size of the board from 11 members to nine. In a move that could help the bill navigate through the rest of the session, White added an amendment that would make the resulting state law null and void if the school board adopts its own policy to lessen its membership by nine or fewer by Aug. 1. White said the school board is currently working on such a plan, adding: "They're still trying to figure out if it should be nine or seven, I think." He said the drop is justified because the student population is declining in the parish and communities have formed their own school systems over the years outside of the East Baton Rouge framework. The bill picked up only two nay votes following the committee's hearing and was opposed by Louisiana's statewide teachers' unions.

—The Senate Education Committee also passed today SB 343 by Sen. Jack Donahue, R-Mandeville, a constitutional amendment that would allow university management boards to set their own tuition and fees. If the bill can garner a two-thirds vote from both chambers and be accepted by voters on the November ballot, lawmakers would never again have to vote on a tuition increase bill. That would track how most all other states handle the issue. "The Legislature would be removed from the process," Donahue said. Barry Erwin, president of the Council for a Better Louisiana, said the change would give universities more flexibility in dealing with funding cuts from the state, which have become the norm. "I really don't think you're going to see institutions going way out of line in terms of market rates with tuition with this," Erwin said. With three opposing votes, the proposed constitutional amendment now moves to the full Senate.

(John Maginnis and Jeremy Alford will publish Capitol Views each afternoon on Daily Report PMthrough the end of the legislative session. The report is also available to subscribers Registration is available on the homepage.)

Louisiana Public Broadcasting is providing a daily video update featuring highlights of the session, which you can see beginning at 6 p.m. here.