Carmody got his bill, which would require a public vote before a Confederate monument or statute is removed, approved in the House after contentious debate. Members of the Legislative Black Caucus walked out on the vote.
But the bill was assigned to the Senate and Governmental Affairs Committee, which is chaired by Sen. Karen Carter Peterson, a black Democrat from New Orleans.
She decided to combine Carmody’s bill with another bill introduced by Sen. Beth Mizell, a Republican from Franklinton. Her bill would have required legislative approval before any Confederate monument or statute was removed.
Carter said the bills were similar and held a hearing on both at the same time. The hearing lasted five hours and touched on the themes of democracy, civil war history, and slavery.
Supporters of the two bills were unable to persuade the majority-Democrat committee that Louisiana needs laws aimed at protecting symbols that many said were painful reminders of racial inequality.
In the end, the committee voted 4-2 to kill both bills. Three black Democrats from New Orleans and Sen. Greg Tarver of Shreveport provided the majority to defer the bills.
The Taylor Opportunity Program for Students, commonly known as TOPS, is in good shape for next year.
It has been fully funded by the Legislature. It was funded at only 70% for the 2016-2017 year. The popular college scholarship program serves more than 50,000 qualifying students.
In another development, the criteria for students to receive TOPS is staying the same for the time being. A bill introduced by Rep. Franklin Foil, R-Baton Rouge, would have changed the GPA requirement.
To qualify for TOPS, a student must have a GPA of 2.5. Foil’s bill would have increased that to 2.75. However, facing tough opposition in the Senate, Foil has pulled his House Bill 117.