Speculate no more. The Democratic candidate that garnered much speculation about whether he would jump into the race has announced. Now former Louisiana Transportation Secretary Shawn Wilson, a Democrat, recently stepped down from the top position at DOTD and officially announced his candidacy for the top job in the state. Governor John Bel Edwards endorsed Shawn Wilson's campaign for Louisiana governor, saying, "the longtime transportation official will bridge partisan divides and has the government know-how to confront the state's many challenges."
On the Republican side, Baton Rouge Congressman Garret Graves ended any talk on whether he would enter the race to replace Gov. John Bel Edwards. It seems that House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., recently naming Graves chair of the Elected Leadership Committee and to a seat on the House Republican Steering Committee was too good to pass up – and good for Louisiana too. Congressman Graves announced that he’s keeping his DC job, buthis interview quote raised questions as to who he could be referring to considering Rep. Nelson is the youngest announced candidate—“In the coming days, the field for governor will brighten. And Louisiana will have a generational opportunity to write America’s greatest comeback story”.
Following Graves announcement that he would be keeping his job in DC, Stephen Waguespack stepped down from his role as president of the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry (LABI) and announced his candidacy. The only other person who had previously stated that he was considering a run depending on what Congressman Graves would do is term-limited Speaker Clay Schexnayder. It’s now unclear if Schexnayder is still eyeing the top spot now that Stephen Waguespack has jumped into the race.
The race already has four declared Republican candidates: Attorney General Jeff Landry, State Treasurer John Schroder, state Sen. Sharon Hewitt, R-Slidell, and state Rep. Richard Nelson, R-Mandeville. Lake Charles businessman Hunter Lundy has also said he will run as a political independent.
To date, 129 House bills and 32 Senate bills have been filed.
The 2023 regular legislative session begins on April 10th and adjourns no later than 6pm on June 8, 2023.
The annual report on the impact of the arts is out from the National Endowment for the Arts and U.S. Department of Commerce. New Data Show Economic Activity of the U.S. Arts & Cultural Sector in 2021. The analysis finds that while the total economic value added by arts and cultural industries grew by 13.7 percent from 2020-2021, several core arts industries did not return to pre-pandemic production levels. The report states, “This group includes independent artists (as an industry), performing arts organizations (e.g., theater, dance, and opera companies, music groups; and circuses), and arts-related construction, among many others.” According to the new data,
The Congressional Budget Office recently issued a letter making clear that efforts to balance the federal budget in 10 years would require extremely draconian cuts to federal spending programs. The letter was requested by two Senate Committee Chairs to pre-empt Republican rhetoric about the budget. Spending Reductions That Would Balance the Budget in 2033, Letter to Senators Whitehouse and Wyden, Congressional Budget Office, Mar. 14, 2023.
There’s still much speculation since our last gubernatorial update. Two major candidates who might join the Louisiana governor’s race said they still aren’t ready to announce whether they are launching a campaign; however, Louisiana Transportation Secretary Shawn Wilson, a Democrat, is rumored to be stepping down from the top position at DOTD and is expected to officially announce his candidacy this month. Two-term incumbent Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards is term-limited and can't run again. U.S. Rep. Garret Graves, R-Baton Rouge, said he hasn’t made up his mind yet over whether he will run for governor, but he recently met privately with Attorney General and gubernatorial candidate Jeff Landry (at Landry’s request). According to LA Politics, Graves “mainly wanted to be very transparent about a few issues and establish clarity between them. Both would agree it was a positive meeting.” Read more here.
To date, 55 House bills and 19 Senate bills have been filed. So far, the only bill currently pertaining to the nonprofit sector is HB 46 by State Representative Jason Hughes. Hughes' bill "Restricts eligibility of nonprofit organizations for property tax exemptions for residential property found to endanger public health or safety." If two-thirds of the members of both houses of the Louisiana State Legislature vote in the affirmative, a legislatively referred constitutional amendment can be placed on a statewide ballot. If the ballot initiative is approved by a simple majority, it becomes part of the constitution within twenty days of the election, unless the amendment itself has a different effective date provided within its provisions.Click here to keep up with House and Senate prefiled bills.
March is the first month in three years that Louisiana Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) recipients will receive their regular benefit amount without the pandemic-related extra benefits they have received since March 2020. SNAP households received their final round of extra benefits (also known as Emergency Allotments) in February, following passage of the federal Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2023, which ended funding for these benefits. SNAP emergency allotments had allowed households to receive the maximum SNAP benefit amount for their household size, with a minimum supplemental allotment of $95. With the extra benefits coming to an end, the Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) is encouraging SNAP households to report any changes in their household size, income and/or expenses, as certain changes could result in an increase to their regular benefit amount. SNAP households with unmet food needs are also encouraged to reach out to organizations like LA 211, food banks, and religious organizations to see what other assistance might be available to them. Read more here.
Senators Lankford (R-OK) and Coons (D-DE) reintroduced their universal charitable (non-itemizer) deduction bill. The legislation, S. 566, would enable non-itemizers to deduct charitable donations of up to 1/3rd of the standard deduction, about $4,600/individual and $9,200/couple. In addition to Senators Lankford and Coons, the following have signed on as cosponsors (alpha by state): Marco Rubio (R-FL), Raphael Warnock (D-GA), Susan Collins (R-ME), Gary Peters (D-MI), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), Maggie Hasson and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), and Tim Scott (R-SC). Last Congress’ bill sponsor, Rep. Pappas (D-NH), is on board, but the coalition is still seeking a Republican lead sponsor. Read more here.
The U.S. Supreme Court recently issued an opinion finding that a worker with annual compensation of more than $200,000 was eligible for overtime pay under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) because he wasn’t paid on a salary basis. FLSA requires employers, including nonprofits, to pay their employees at least $7.25 per hour and to pay employees one-and-one-half times their regular rate of pay when they work more than 40 hours in a workweek. Read more here.
Six months before the qualifying period for this fall’s governor’s race, Louisiana Democrats have not announced candidate for any statewide office yet – other than a little-known teacher in LaSalle Parish who is running for governor after winning only 2% of the vote in a state Senate race four years ago. Shawn Wilson, the well-regarded secretary of Transportation under Gov. John Bel Edwards, appears likely to run for governor while State party chair Katie Bernhardt now says she will not run for governor this year after some recent controversy over a TV campaign ad. Read more state election news here.
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