Correction: Legislative Notes story



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BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — In a story May 13 about a sexual assault reporting bill passed by the Louisiana Senate, The Associated Press reported erroneously that the entire bill would take effect when lawmakers find a way to pay for it. Only the student survey about sexual assault would be on hold until funding is available, not the other provisions in the bill.

A corrected version of the story is below:

Briefs from the Louisiana Legislature's regular session

Briefs from the annual regular session of the Louisiana Legislature

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — A $3.6 billion public school financing formula that would boost spending by $78 million next year started moving forward in the Legislature, gaining approval Wednesday from the House Education Committee.

The formula was devised by Superintendent of Education John White and the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education. Lawmakers can only approve or reject the formula BESE sends them.

The proposal for the 2015-16 school year includes several increases: $34 million required for expected student enrollment growth; $36 million for a 1.4 percent inflationary increase for school districts; and $8 million in new spending for students with disabilities and for students taking "dual enrollment" college courses and career education classes.

It's $44 million larger than Gov. Bobby Jindal's recommendation, so lawmakers would need to add more money to next year's budget to cover the cost.

The education committee approved the proposal (House Concurrent Resolution 18) sponsored by Committee Chairman Steve Carter, R-Baton Rouge, without objection. It heads next to the Appropriations Committee for review.

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Public colleges, universities and police departments could face stricter guidelines when it comes to investigating and reporting sexual assault under a bill passed by the Senate on Wednesday.

The measure, sponsored by Sen. J.P. Morrell, D-New Orleans, passed on a 39-0 vote and now heads to the House. It is one piece of a broader package of bills that supporters say will improve the way authorities handle sexual assaults.

The bill would require schools and police to jointly develop guidelines for investigating and reporting sexual assaults. Currently there are none, Morrell said. It would also require colleges and universities to survey students to develop a better idea of on-campus attitudes toward sexual assault. Student rape victims would be directed to a "confidential adviser" who could help them find services or report a crime to police.

The student survey provision would take effect only when funding is available to cover the survey costs.

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A bill that would have required polluters to send air quality alerts to those living near industrial plants was shelved Wednesday amid opposition from business groups.

Before debate in a House environmental committee was cut off by the bill's sponsor, several people who live near a plant described their complaints.

"Raw sewer," is how Martha Huckabay described the smell near her home in St. Rose, a smell she blamed on the nearby Shell plant.

She said in 2012 her family grew sick after the plant emitted a particularly fowl blast of air and her 4-year-old son Dawson had to be hospitalized.

Rep. Kenny Cox, D-Natchitoches, envisioned a monitoring system that would have sent smartphone alerts to those who live nearby. Cox said his bill (House Bill 590) would have been a safety net for people who "live along the fence line."

Each plant would have paid for their monitoring systems, he said.

"This is not about stopping any business from doing business," said Cox, who pulled the bill. He later said he lacked votes to get the bill approved.

After the hearing, Jim Harris, a lobbyist for Louisiana Ammonia Producers, said he wasn't opposed to reporting air quality conditions to those who live near a plant. He said plants already send emissions reports to the Environmental Protection Agency and the state Department of Environmental Quality.

"What they are looking for is additional monitoring. I don't think they've thought through that," Harris said. "We're talking a lot of money."

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The House narrowly agreed to let many Louisiana drivers get a state vehicle inspection every five years, despite safety concerns raised by opponents.

Lawmakers voted 58-33 Wednesday for the measure (House Bill 564) by Rep. Richard Burford, R-Stonewall, which would lengthen the current inspection requirement from two years to five years for any vehicle that is seven years old or newer.

"They don't do any inspections in 32 states at all," Burford said.

"Well, maybe they got it wrong," said Rep. Sam Jones, D-Franklin, who voted against the bill.

The proposal moves next to the Senate for consideration. If approved by the full Legislature, it would take effect Sept. 1.

Burford's bill would keep the inspection fee at $10 for each year the sticker is in effect — $50 for five years. Local parishes also add charges to the price.

Annual inspections would still be required in parishes with auto emission problems that have been cited by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The five-year inspection also would not apply to commercial vehicles and student transportation vehicles like school buses.

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Online:

Louisiana Legislature: www.legis.la.gov

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

The Associated Press

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