Louisiana News Briefs

By David Jacobs | The Center Square

Task force recommends closed primaries for Congress

A state task force voted Monday to recommend moving to closed party primaries but did not take a position on other elections.

Louisiana currently holds nonpartisan open primaries, when every candidate runs on the same ballot regardless of party in the first round. If someone gets more than half of the votes, they win in the first round. If not, the top two-vote getters move on to a runoff.

The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled congressional elections can’t be resolved before the national Election Day, which forced Louisiana to hold their primaries in November. Under the current system, when a Louisiana race isn’t resolved until December, the new member is elected a month after the rest of Congress, putting them behind on everything from hiring staff to making their case for committee assignments.

The task force recommendation will be considered by the Louisiana Legislature, which would have to approve any changes.

Two weeks remaining to apply for winter storm disaster unemployment assistance

The Louisiana Workforce Commission is reminding residents who were prevented from working by February’s severe winter storms and are not eligible for other unemployment benefits that the deadline to apply for disaster unemployment assistance is April 12.

Assistance is available to residents of Avoyelles, Bienville,  Bossier, Caddo, Calcasieu, Catahoula, Claiborne, Concordia, DeSoto, East Baton Rouge, Franklin, Grant, LaSalle,  Madison, Natchitoches, Ouachita, Rapides, Red River, Richland, Sabine, Webster, West Carroll and Winn parishes.

Details are available at the Louisiana Workforce Commission’s website.

Poll finds strong support for marijuana legalization

A new survey by JMC Analytics and Polling found 67% of Louisiana residents favor legalization of marijuana for medicinal and recreational uses, a 13-point increase compared with when JMC asked the same question last year.

Support was fairly consistent across the demographic and political spectrum, although people who are at least age 65 are much less likely to support legalization, pollster John Couvillon said. The Louisiana Association for Therapeutic Alternatives, which supports medical marijuana, engaged JMC to perform the survey, he said.

Recreational marijuana remains illegal in Louisiana. The state does have a medical marijuana program, but it does not include smoking raw marijuana.

Study: Women pay $68 more per year than men for auto insurance

Women in Louisiana on average pay $68 more than men annually for automobile insurance, according to research published by The Zebra, which calls itself “the nation’s leading insurance comparison site.”

Nationally, women pay on average 0.4%, or $6, more than men, according to the study. Men are riskier drivers and file more claims than women, but women are 37%-73% more prone to injury in car accidents, the firm said.

Seven states now ban gender as a rating factor in car insurance. Senate Bill 55 by state Sen. Jay Luneau, an Alexandria Democrat, would prohibit setting rates based on credit score, gender for drivers older than 25 and status as a widow or widower.