Friday, June 6, 2014

Friday, June 6, 2014

Sentencing reform doesn’t get very far at Legislature; Number of structurally deficient bridges in Louisiana increases; Stephanie Grace: Good thing Legislature could have done less; and Bayou Health changes afoot. 14 percent — The proportion of Louisiana bridges that are structurally deficient, a 2 percent increase since 2007. (Source: Governing magazine)

Sentencing reform doesn’t get very far at Legislature
Members of the business community joined with faith-based groups and activists on the left and right in an effort to reform Louisiana’s draconian sentencing laws this session. But The Lens reports that the state’s powerful sheriffs and district attorneys made sure that most of the reforms went nowhere, and that the state continues to lock up nonviolent drug offenders at a higher rate than any other state.

“What we’ve learned is that pure lobbying is not sufficient,” said Pres Kabacoff, a prominent New Orleans developer who supported the measures to reduce incarceration. “You need a grassroots campaign that would educate the various constituencies. We have to go into communities between now and the next legislative session and educate them on how some of our practices waste money and human lives. We need to create an environment where people will want to take on sheriffs and DAs.”

Number of structurally deficient bridges in Louisiana increases
A bridge collapse in Minnesota killed 13 people in 2007, prompting many states to focus attention on upgrading their infrastructure. But Louisiana is one of nine states where the number of structurally deficient bridges has increased since that incident. Nola.com reports that Louisiana is one of “five of those nine states where the proportion of bridges that are deficient – 14 percent – are in the double digits.” Two of Louisiana’s neighbors, Texas and Mississippi, were cited in the study as having made the biggest improvements.

Stephanie Grace: Good thing Legislature could have done less
The 2014 Louisiana Legislature has received a lot of criticism for refusing to tackle the state’s major problems, but The Advocate’s Stephanie Grace approached her session review from a different angle, quoting the late John Maginnis: “’Overall, this Legislature could have done less, but they ran out of time,’ Maginnis wrote after the 2011 session, although the assessment resonates just as much today. … In other words, given what legislators did do this year, maybe it’s just as well that they didn’t accomplish more.”

Bayou Health changes afoot
One of the five private insurers providing coverage to Louisiana Medicaid recipients is buying another insurer in the Bayou Health Program, state health officials announced Thursday. Louisiana Healthcare Connections will buy out Community Health Solution of America’s contract, which will trigger a special enrollment period for those on the CHS plans. They will be given the choice between the remaining four providers.

Meanwhile, Robert Mann criticized Gov. Jindal’s decision to stick with the charity care system instead of expanding access to private, portable insurance options under the Affordable Care Act. “Indeed, Jindal is unwilling to do anything to affect the release of the citizens he’s holding in his special health care purgatory. He and his allies resisted all efforts to help them in the recent legislative session. That’s because these citizens are far more useful to him as prisoners in his quest for higher office, abundant proof that he hates Obamacare so much that he’s willing to punish 240,000 of his state’s citizens in order to make the point.”

14 percent — The proportion of Louisiana bridges that are structurally deficient, a 2 percent increase since 2007. (Source: Governing magazine)