Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Move to call constitutional convention “dangerous”; Another newspaper opposes special deal for nursing homes; JP Morgan Chase donates $1 million to WISE fund; State releases school report cards; and Louisiana Progress hosts event on voter suppression

Move to call constitutional convention “dangerous”

A push by “arch-conservative groups” to call a federal constitutional convention is on the move in dozens of states. According to some counts, 24 of the needed 34 states have already passed resolutions calling for a convention. But as Center on Budget and Policy Priorities President Robert Greenstein writes in the Washington Post:


The implications are enormous. At stake, potentially, are the freedoms we take for granted under the Bill of Rights; the powers of the president, Congress and the courts; and the policies the government can or cannot pursue. Conventioneers could alter absolutely anything about the way the United States is governed.


Advocates of a convention aim to arbitrarily cap federal spending and put new supermajority requirements in the Constitution that would make it immensely more difficult for Congress to govern, especially in times of emergency. They claim a convention could be restricted to only consider these topics. Yet, as Greenstein notes, what issues the convention would consider and how much of the Constitution it would seek to rewrite are a mystery.  That means that under a convention, anything goes. There are no rules, guideposts or procedures in any of these areas.


Conservative jurists, including Antonin Scalia, agree with Greenstein. But not the Louisiana Legislature, which passed a resolution last spring calling for a convention.


Another newspaper opposes special deal for nursing homes

The New Orleans Times-Picayune is the latest major news outlet to come out against constitutional amendments 1 and 2 on the Nov. 4 ballot. The amendments would threaten the state’s ability to fund higher education, home-care services for the elderly and people with disabilities by giving special constitutional protections to powerful institutional health-care providers such as nursing homes and hospitals.


State policy and individual families are moving away from institutional care for the elderly, but this amendment would prevent the (Medicaid) trust fund’s resources from being used for home-based care and support services.


For anyone scoring at home, these special-interest amendments are also being opposed by the editor of the Baton Rouge Business Report, the Council for a Better Louisiana, the Baton Rouge Advocate and the Lafayette Daily Advertiser.  The only real supporters appear to be the industries that stand to benefit financially if the are approved.


JP Morgan Chase donates $1 million to WISE fund

To help address Louisiana’s looming shortage of skilled workers—80,000 over the next decade, according to the Workforce Commission—Gov. Bobby Jindal administration pushed for the creation of the $40 million Workforce and Innovation for a Stronger Economy (WISE) fund earlier this year. But to access the fund, higher education leaders have to secure a 20 percent “match” donation from the private sector. On Tuesday, the Louisiana Community and Technical College System (LCTCS) received the first donation – $1 million from JP Morgan Chase bank, reports the Shreveport Times.


Workforce training through WISE will be specifically provided in high-demand, high-wage industries across the state such as welding, pipefitting technology, electrical, advanced manufacturing, petroleum technology and process technology.


The $1 million private donation means community colleges will now have access to an additional $4 million. Unfortunately, that amounts to little compared with the deep cuts that have savaged higher education over the last five years. Louisiana has slashed per student support more than any other states, even as tuition has spiked.


State releases school report cards

The Department of Education released its annual school reports cards yesterday. Out of 1,300 schools graded, the number who received an A increased to 241 from 187 last year, reports the Associated Press. On the other hand, 104 schools received an F and 268 received a D grade. has a searchable database where readers can search for their local school and district.


Louisiana Progress hosts event on voter suppression
Tomorrow at 7 p.m., Louisiana Progress will host Jim Crow Tactics: Voting and Not Voting in Louisiana at the LSU African American Cultural Center, moderated by Jim Engster. The forum will feature panelists Chris Tyson, Associate Professor of Law at LSU Law Center; Dr. Roland Mitchell, Associate Professor of Higher Education at LSU; Alfreda Tillman Bester, General Counsel for NAACP Louisiana; and State Representative Patricia Haynes Smith. The panelists will discuss their expert opinions regarding the effect of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Shelby v. Holder, gerrymandering, and how the legacies of race discrimination in voting continue to have consequences for Louisiana today.


Number of the Day:

80,000—Shortage of skilled workers needed across Louisiana over the next decade (Source: Louisiana Workforce Commission)