Briefs from the Louisiana Legislature's regular session



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BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Louisiana's public high school students should have to take the same civics exam as immigrants who seek U.S. citizenship, the Senate Education Committee decided Thursday.

The bill (House Bill 34), sponsored by Sen. Patrick Cortez, R-Lafayette, was approved without objection and now moves to the full Senate for consideration.

Proponents of the bill said they have interacted with high school students who have an appalling lack of knowledge about U.S. government and history. Requiring them to take the citizenship test could help remedy that, they said.

Initially, the bill contained a provision that would have prevented students from graduating if they didn't pass the test. But that requirement was stripped out by the committee after education associations objected.

Ray Green, a concerned citizen who testified in favor of the initial bill, said he was upset that the graduation requirement was taken out of the bill.

"If you say 'if you don't pass this test you won't graduate,' now you've got some motivation," Green told the committee. "If it doesn't make any difference, then why do it? Throw it in the trash and forget it."

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A package of proposals to tighten the state's film tax credit program, seeking to cut down on the fraud cases that have generated headlines across south Louisiana, won easy passage Thursday from the Senate.

"They're merely housekeeping measures to make sure we close loopholes and ferret out fraud," said Sen. J.P. Morrell, D-New Orleans, the bills' sponsor.

The bills would bolster auditing and verification of expenses claimed toward the tax credit, would place stricter limits on certain expenses deemed eligible for the credit and would add new requirements for brokers who sell the tax credits.

The five proposals (Senate Bills 98, 100, 101, 103 and 105) move next to the House for debate.

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Online:

Louisiana Legislature: www.legis.la.gov

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The Associated Press

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