The East Baton Rouge Parish School Board had a choice on Thursday: Whether to grant a $3.7 million tax break to one of the world’s largest, most profitable corporations, or require ExxonMobil to pay property taxes on a new, $75 million investment that will create no new permanent jobs. In a 7-2 vote, the board bowed to the petrochemical giant, despite pushback from local education leaders, teachers, parents and students. WBRZ-TV reports:
“Who’s benefiting from this exemption, especially from the school board perspective? It’s not the students who have long bus rides on un-air conditioned buses. It’s not the teachers who are well below the southern average pay scale. It’s not the parents who have to take off of work to make sure their kids get on the bus or take them to school or in a lot of cases buy resources for their child’s education in the classroom,” Edgar Cage with Together Baton Rouge said.
Reality check: A 2016 executive order from Gov. John Bel Edwards gave local taxing authorities the right to approve or deny tax breaks under Louisiana’s lucrative Industrial Tax Exemption Program. All too often, local governments grant the tax breaks or refuse to even debate the issue.
Latest on clemency fight
Lawyers representing death row inmates seeking commutation to life sentences say a deal that greatly reduced the number of clemency requests was reached with attorneys chosen by Attorney General Jeff Landry, who is a plaintiff in the case, after he fired a lawyer on the state pardon board. A Baton Rouge judge dealt a blow to Landry on Thursday by disqualifying his legal team from defending him in a lawsuit challenging the deal. The Times-Picayune |Baton Rouge Advocate’s Matt Bruce reports:
Calling it a “problematic” and inappropriate “end-around” maneuver, District Judge Richard “Chip” Moore found that Landry violated state statutes last month when he fired an attorney previously assigned to represent the Louisiana Board of Pardons and Committee on Parole in ongoing litigation tied to dozens of death penalty clemency petitions. …Moore ruled the governor-elect had a conflict of interest when he made the swap and ordered Sher Garner to step down from defending the Board of Pardons in a lawsuit that death penalty abolitionist Brent Malone filed earlier this month against Landry and the review board.
A setback on redistricting
The U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday denied two emergency requests to start the process of determining a new congressional map for Louisiana. U.S. District Judge Kelly Dick ruled in June that the Louisiana Legislature’s proposed congressional map violated the Voting Rights Act and ordered lawmakers to draw boundaries that more accurately reflected the state’s Black population. But earlier this month, judges from the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, in a rare move, abruptly canceled a hearing to begin that process. The Hill’s Zach Schonfeld reports:
The plaintiffs — Black voters, the NAACP Louisiana State Conference and Power Coalition for Equity and Justice — then filed emergency appeals at the Supreme Court, calling the panel’s ruling “extraordinary” and urging the justices to stay it. The plaintiffs warned that staying out of the case would raise the possibility that an illegal map would be used for the 2024 elections. “The motions panel usurped the appellate process and asserted unprecedented control of the district court’s ordinary docket management decisions, including whether and when to set a case for trial and whether and when to hold a hearing regarding a remedy for what the district court had already preliminarily enjoined as a likely violation of Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act,” one group of plaintiffs wrote.
Louisiana is a bad place to be a woman
Three Louisiana cities are among the worst places in the country for women, according to a recent report from WalletHub. Shreveport, New Orleans and Baton Rouge ranked 178, 173 and 160, respectively, out of 182 cities nationwide. The Times-Picayune |Baton Rouge Advocate’s Kasey Bubnash reports:
WalletHub, a self-described “personal finance company” that aims to help consumers make educated financial decisions, graded the nation’s 150 most populated cities and at least two of the most populous cities in each state using a set of 15 criteria, including median income, unemployment rates, poverty rates, insured rates, women-owned businesses and life expectancy at birth among women. WalletHub also looked at abortion laws, the prevalence of rape victimization against women and several other health care factors. … With Louisiana’s unusually high infant and maternal mortality rates, strict anti-abortion laws and widespread poverty among women, it’s not hard to see why three major cities in the state would rank so low on the list.
Publishing note: The Daily Dime is taking a hiatus on Monday and Tuesday of next week for staff development.
Number of the Day
$23,968 – The average annual premium for employer-sponsored health insurance in 2023 for family coverage. The average annual family premium increased by 7% over the last year. (Source: KFF 2023 Employer Health Benefits Survey)