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Local issues remain intact after session

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BATON ROUGE - Lawmakers are now back home after concluding a busy, but relatively quiet, legislative session that may be best remembered for what failed as opposed to what passed.

Three months ago lawmakers on both sides of the aisle had East Baton Rouge issues in their crosshairs, from St. George incorporation efforts to education revamps.

"Session did not end the way it started," said Jeremy Alford, a political journalist. "It started with a bang, ended with a whimper."

Fast forward three months and we're right back where we started. A bill targeted at giving more power to principals in the East Baton Rouge school system made it close to passage, but ultimately failed big on the House floor.

"The more legislators understood what was in the bill, the less votes this thing got," said Dr. Albert Samuels, a political professor at Southern University. "And it only got 31 votes. (A) crushing defeat."

Those behind the St. George incorporation efforts said the measure, SB 636, wasn't the best, but called it a good compromise to deal with public schools in East Baton Rouge.

"A lot of people got behind that bill and it was a baby step in the right direction to education reform," said Lionel Rainey, a spokesperson for the committee to Incorporate St. George.

Bills focused on undermining the St. George drive by putting a deadline on the time allowed for petition signatures to be collected and a moratorium on incorporations altogether also came up. They were defeated as well.

The organizers of St. George said they hope to turn in their petition signatures soon. They would not disclose how many people have signed for the required 18,000 signatures.



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