Lawmakers to tackle budget, controversial issues in session
BATON ROUGE - Lawmakers slogged through rainy traffic and higher security to gavel in what's going to be a crucial legislative session in Louisiana.
Legislators must figure out how to plug a $1.6 billion budget hole which threatens to hobble or even cripple higher education and healthcare in the state.
The 2015 session was gavelled in at noon. Governor Bobby Jindal will deliver a joint address later this afternoon, and has positioned his plans to end Common Core education standards in the state as a priority. According to the Associated Press, he will use his speech defend his refusal to raise taxes in order to cover the budget shortfall, which he proposed filling by eliminating certain tax breaks.
Lawmakers filed more than 1,000 bills ahead of the session, including measures to legalize marijuana, put more restrictions on abortions in the state, and enhance the state's religious freedoms law along similar lines as controversial legislation passed in Arkansas and Indiana.
"The first couple days will be sort of easy," said State Representative, Darrell Ourso. "Then of course as we move into the 60 day session, the last few will be very difficult and very grueling, especially with a $1.6 billion dollar shortfall. "
A new $5 million security system deployed at the capitol already caused headaches for one lawmaker. Rep. Paul Hollis (R-Covington) said two pylons punched into the front of his car when he was driving through the parking lot. Hollis told the AP he hit his windshield and cut his wrist, shaking him up but not seriously injuring him.
Continue to check out WBRZ.com for all of the latest news on the legislative session.