Quick hits: Louisiana news briefs

By David Jacobs | The Center Square

Almost half of Louisiana legislators voted 100 percent with business lobby, LABI scorecard shows

The Louisiana Association of Business and Industry says 69 Louisiana legislators, almost half of the total, voted with LABI 100 percent of the time during both of this year’s sessions.

Lawmakers who voted in lockstep with LABI include Senate President Page Cortez. All of them are Republicans.

Another 20 legislators voted with LABI at least 90 percent of the time, including House Speaker Clay Schexnayder. Rep. Francis Thompson of Delhi was the only Democrat in this group.

Eight additional legislators voted with LABI at least 80 percent of the time, including three Democrats and independent Rep. Joe Marino of Gretna.

UL-Lafayette economist predicts slow growth in second half of the year

Louisiana’s economy is expected to rebound in the second half of 2020, but more slowly than the rest of the nation and not enough to make up for losses in the first half of the year, according to an economic activity forecast by UL-Lafayette economist Gary Wagner.

Wagner projects Louisiana’s economy will be about 7 percent smaller at the end of 2020 than it was at the end of last year.

Every metropolitan statistical area is expected to experience positive job growth in the second half of 2020. The Baton Rouge region is projected to experience the strongest job growth in the state in the coming quarters.

Gov. Edwards sets goal to reduce state’s greenhouse gas emissions 26 percent by 2025

Gov. John Bel Edwards on Wednesday signed two executive orders meant to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and enhance coastal resilience. He noted that rising seas caused by climate change are a particular threat to Louisiana.

“We are the canary in the coal mine,” he said. “We absolutely have to do our part.”

As previously announced in February, Edwards is establishing a task force to study and make recommendations to reduce emissions economy-wide, while calling for agencies throughout state government to integrate the state’s coastal master plan into their decision-making under the leadership of the state’s first “chief resilience officer.” Officials hope to slash net emissions by 26-28 percent by 2025 and by 100 percent by 2050.

The federal government offers tax incentives to secure carbon rather than releasing it into the atmosphere, and Louisiana’s geology could make the state the “Saudi Arabia of carbon storage,” Edwards said.

“Louisiana has long been a global leader in energy production, and this task force presents an opportunity to show the world that energy production and environmental stewardship go hand in hand,” said Lori Leblanc, interim president of the Louisiana Mid-Continent Oil and Gas Association.

State book festival canceled

The Louisiana Center for the Book in the State Library of Louisiana on Wednesday announced the cancellation of the 2020 Louisiana Book Festival due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The 2020 Louisiana Book Festival, a free event that state officials say attracts more than 20,000 people to downtown Baton Rouge, was scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 31.

“We know the Louisiana Book Festival is a big part of the fall season and not having it will be disappointing to many,” Lt. Governor Billy Nungesser said. “But my office is committed to doing our part to keep our community safe by putting the health and safety of the public and our employees at the forefront in making decisions.”

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