Tuesday, Sept. 24

Tuesday, Sept. 24

Jindal rethinks support for rigorous education standards; Louisiana health-care “marketplace” lacks vendors; Internet sales tax bill receives support from key Republican; and The unluckiest man in New Orleans. 60 percent – The percent of arrests for marijuana that are African American, despite the fact that blacks account for only 32 percent of Louisiana’s population (Source: Bill Quigley)

Jindal rethinks support for rigorous education standards
Under fire from Tea Party activists, Gov. Bobby Jindal on Monday backtracked on his previous support of voluntary K-12 educational standards, called Common Core, already adopted by Louisiana and 44 other states. Jindal told The Advocate that he shares the concerns raised by a state lawmaker who wants to drop the standards, and said he does not support “a national or federalized curriculum.” The Common Core State Standards for English and math were developed at the state level by teachers and school administrators. The standards are set to take effect in Louisiana in the 2014-15 school year. The governor had previously been a strong proponent of the more rigorous standards. But recent attacks from far right groups and commentators like Glenn Beck have caused some politicians to rethink their support. For example, Florida Gov. Rick Scott, announced Monday that his state is withdrawing from a consortium of states working to develop benchmark tests. Still, more mainstream conservatives like former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush continue to support Common Core.

Louisiana health-care “marketplace” lacks vendors
Four companies have signed up to offer health coverage through a new insurance “marketplace” that’s scheduled to launch Oct. 1 as part of the new federal Affordable Care Act. Only two of those companies – Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana and the Louisiana Health Care Cooperative – will write policies throughout the state, Insurance Commissioner Jim Donelon told the Press Club of Baton Rouge on Monday. The other two companies will write policies in select geographic areas. The federal government will operate Louisiana’s marketplace, previously called an “exchange,” after state officials rejected an opportunity to mange their own. The marketplace is scheduled to begin accepting applications next week. Even with such limited choices for consumers, Donelon said the complexity of the health law is “mind-boggling” and that most people won’t have enough information to make informed decisions.

Internet sales tax bill receives support from key Republican
Many governors, state legislators and Main Street business owners spent years lobbying Congress to pass the Marketplace Fairness Act, a bill that would require online retailers to collect sales. Currently, online retailers must only collect sales taxes if they have a physical presence in a state. Not only would the law allow states to realize $23 billion in uncollected taxes (more than $808 million in Louisiana), but it would also even the playing field for many storefront retailers that are forced to collect sales taxes. After the Senate approved the measure on a bipartisan 69-27 vote in May, it stalled in the House Judiciary Committee under a skeptical chairman Bob Goodlatte, R-Va. Now, the bill appears to have new life after Goodlatte announced last week that he is willing to consider the bill as long as it makes the tax collections simple and inexpensive, particularly for small Internet sellers; imposes no new taxes on consumers; and includes protection of consumer information.

The unluckiest man in New Orleans
As states around the country are moving to legalize – or at least decriminalize – the use of marijuana, mere possession can still get you hard time in Louisiana, the world leader in putting people behind bars. In the case of Corey Ladd, a half-ounce of pot earned him 20 years in the big house, thanks to prior drug convictions. As Loyola University law professor Bill Quigley points out, “Louisiana arrests about 13,000 people per year for marijuana, 60% of them African Americans. Over 84 percent were for possession only. While Louisiana’s population is 32 percent black, 60 percent of arrests for marijuana are African American making it the 9th most discriminatory state nationwide.

60 percent – The percent of arrests for marijuana that are African American, despite the fact that blacks account for only 32 percent of Louisiana’s population (Source: Bill Quigley)