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Days Before Session, NELA Legislators Preview Their Bills

With one weekend away from the state legislative session that will last until June, a dozen reverends and pastors, members of the community and local legislators gathered at Mt. Zion Baptist Church in Monroe on Friday to pray over guidance for the state.
MONROE/WEST MONROE -- With one weekend away from the state legislative session that will last until June, a dozen reverends and pastors, members of the community and local legislators gathered at Mt. Zion Baptist Church in Monroe on Friday to pray over guidance for the state.

"Give wisdom, that you give counsel, Lord, that you would cause the men and women that serve in this capacity to be such wise stewards, God," said Rev. Mark Foster with the Pentecostals of the Twin Cities Church in West Monroe.

Local senators and representatives said there's a lot of bills to consider and approve this year.

Even Governor Bobby Jindal made a stop at White's Ferry Road Church of Christ in West Monroe to outline his goals.

"Our three priorities in the session will be, first, workforce training to help grow our economy. Secondly, to crack down on human trafficking. Finally, we continue to be interested in our state in tort reform to help make this state a better place to create jobs," said. Gov. Jindal.

Just to name a few specific bills, District 35's Senator Bob Kostelka is proposing a bill that will allow concealed guns carried by the right people into restaurants.

"A police officer who is off-duty can't carry his weapon in there and, of course, neither can people who have concealed handgun permits and my bill would simply allow that to happen," said Kostelka (R).

Two abortion bills come from District 15's Rep. Frank Hoffmann and District's 16's Rep. Katrina Jackson.
Hoffmann's will prevent any abortion agency from instructing or providing materials to schools.

"There are a lot of issues, too, with organizations that would be supporting that and the type of things they'd be encouraging kids," said Hoffmann (R). "It just doesn't make sense. If they're involved in abortions, they just don't need to be in our schools."

Jackson's is set to bring more sanitary standards to abortion clinics and protect women from unsafe abortions.

It proposes requiring abortion providers to have admitting privileges within 30 miles of a local hospital, among other requirements.

"It also looks at physician and giving proper information on what drugs they're going to administer during the inducement of pregnancy to actually perform the abortion," Jackson (D) said.

Governor Jindal is taking both Hoffmann's and Jackson's bills into his Governor's Package of bills.

"As you can see, there's bipartisan support in our state to protect this culture of innocent life," he said. "These bills are going to build upon the work of these last six years to protect the unborn."

With education being a big subject this session, local superintendents have issues they want addressed.

"The primary concerns I have are like the ACT counting a fourth of the high schools grades and making everyone take it. Letter grades, during this transition period, I don't think we should have them. I know there are bills for both of those," said Ouachita Parish Schools Superintendent, Dr. Bob Webber.

District 33's Senator Mike Walsworth said his bill will focus on early education.

"Making sure that we have quality early childhood education in this state. That's going to be where our future is," said Walsworth (R).

Many of the legislators said they are flying down to Baton Rouge over the weekend.

The session begins Monday.

KTVE/KARD will keep you up-to-date on the decisions made on these bills and more.
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