(Photo: LABI President, Stephen Waguespack)
551 new laws take effect Friday in Louisiana (from @AP) #lalege m.apnews.com/ap/db_268748/c…
11:37am • 31 Jul 2014 • Ios
Elizabeth Crisp @elizabethcrisp
Scholarship established in John Maginnis’ name bit.ly/1nWJnmZ via @theadvocatebr politics blog #lalege #lsu
Ouachita Citizen @OuachitaCitizen
U.S. Rep. Vance McAllister misses 47 votes as congressman hannapub.com/ouachitacitize…
(Article from america.aljazeera.com)
A 2011 chemical mixing plant explosion in Louisiana is once again stirring up controversy as activists and residents say new information about tax incentives given by the state to the company that owned the plant, and a revelation that the plant did not pay a fine after its explosion, prove that the state has an all-too-cozy relationship with the oil and gas industry.
A story published this week by The Daily Advertiser newspaper in Lafayette, Louisiana, revisited the explosion in the rural community of New Iberia. The paper revealed that the then-owners of the plant, Multi-Chem, paid no fineto the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality (LDEQ), which routinely fines chemical, oil and gas companies for environmental damage caused by accidents.
The plant, which still goes by the name Multi-Chem but is now owned by Halliburton Co., mixes various chemicals for oil and gas industry processes, including the chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing. The Advertiser also revealed that once the plant was owned by Halliburton, it was promised $1.8 million in tax incentives by Louisiana Economic Development (LED) to assist in its expansion and relocation in nearby Vermilion Parish.
LABI CONCERNED WITH EPA STANDARDS
(LABI Press Release)
Louisiana manufacturers and residents could face significant economic consequences if the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) moves to lower its ground-level ozone standard later this year, according to a new study conducted byNERA Economic Consulting for the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry (LABI) and the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM).
The study finds that a new EPA ozone standard set at 60 parts per billion (ppb) – below the current standard that many states are still working to meet – could cost trillions of dollars. At these costs, a new ozone standard could be the most costly regulation in the nation’s history.
“New technologies in the manufacturing and energy sectors are making Louisiana more competitive for investment than ever before. We now employ more than 2 million people for the first time in our state’s history and that growth is only beginning, in large part thanks to a strong energy and manufacturing sector,” said LABI President Stephen Waguespack. “This rule would undermine our work to expand Louisiana’s economy and train a qualified workforce for the jobs of tomorrow.”
In Louisiana, a new federal ozone standard could put 117,000 job equivalents at risk annually and cost the state’s businesses $189 billion in added compliance costs, according to the study. A stricter ozone standard could also reduce U.S. Gross Domestic Product by as much as $3.4 trillion through 2040 and dramatically increase energy costs across all sectors.
• $53 billion in Gross State Product loss through 2040
• 116,983 fewer Louisiana jobs (or job equivalents) every year through 2040
• $189 billion increase in total compliance costs across all state sectors from 2017-2040
• $2,360 more paid by Louisiana households annually in the form of lost consumption
• Up to 32 percent increase in household natural gas prices and up to 15 percent increase in household electricity prices nationwide
• Estimated shutdown of 80 percent of Louisiana’s coal-fired generating capacity
“Manufacturing in the United States is making a comeback, and we’re reducing emissions at the same time, but tightening the current ozone standard to near unachievable levels would serve as a self-inflicted wound to the U.S. economy at the worst possible time,” said NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons.
With so much at stake for business, the manufacturing sector and consumers from new ozone requirements, LABI has joined forces with NAM to increase understanding of the issue and its impact through an educational campaign that will run through fall. To kick off the conversation, NAM has produced a new video discussing the creation, transport and regulation of ground-level ozone.
To read the executive summary of the study, click here. To read the full report, click here.
JOHN WHITE DOES A LEAP
The Louisiana Department of Education announced today the number of college credits earned in 2014 by Louisiana students on Advanced Placement (AP®) exams increased by more than 1,250 credits over results in 2013 - the greatest increase in number of credits earned in state history. The gains represent an annual increase of 24.6 percent. Louisiana high school students scored high enough to earn college credit on 6,410 AP® exams in 2014, compared to 5,144 in 2013 and 4,112 in 2012. Credits earned by students who score a 3, 4, or 5 on the AP® exams are transferable to nearly any college in the nation and all colleges in Louisiana.
Overall participation in Advanced Placement courses also grew from 23,485 course enrollments in 2013 to 28,009 course enrollments in 2014. The percentage of students enrolled in the courses and taking the associated test has increased from 55 percent in 2012 to 76 percent in 2014.
In 2013, the College Board and the U.S. Department of Education hailed Louisiana's increase in qualifying scores of 3, 4, or 5, which saw the biggest gain of any state since 2011, increasing 35.1 percent over two years. Gains announced today will likely sustain the state's top position.
"These increases in Advanced Placement scores offer opportunities to students and teachers alike," said State Superintendent John White. "Studies show that even for students who pass the course but not the test, the benefits are lasting. Challenging coursework in high school is critical to college success."
"The College Board believes that all students who are academically prepared for AP® have the right to fulfill that potential," said Trevor Packer, Senior Vice President AP® and Instruction, College Board. "We applaud the efforts of the Louisiana Department of Education for ensuring that AP® courses are available and accessible, and for providing students with the supports they need to succeed. Results from the 2014 AP® Administration show these efforts are paying off: the number of students taking and succeeding on AP® exams this year increased by 35 percent and 20 percent respectively."
Expanding access to AP® courses, even among students who do not score 3 or higher, has been shown by studies to increase the likelihood of college completion. Studies show students who complete AP® coursework are:
• Better prepared for college-level work;
• More likely to continue their education beyond their freshman year in college;
• More likely to graduate within four to five years;
• Stand-outs in the college admissions process; and,
• More competitive in qualifying for scholarships.
To read these studies, please click here and here.
Louisiana has implemented a multi-faceted, comprehensive strategy to support Advanced Placement teachers and students by:
• Linking AP® results to school accountability by recognizing a passing AP® score (3 to 5) as the highest level of achievement earned by a cohort graduate, earning the maximum 150 points in the graduation index.
• Paying for test fees for all students taking AP® exams who meet the criteria for low-income students and for students taking exams new to their school, because every child should have the opportunity to succeed.
• Providing increased access to AP® courses through the MFP-funded Supplemental Course Academy.
• Providing funding for teachers and administrators taking part in summer AP® training, with more than 500 educators across the state participating this year.
• Creating incentives for students to take more rigorous AP® courses by giving courses approved by the state additional weight in the calculation of the GPA qualifying students for TOPS college scholarships.
In 2014-2015, the Louisiana Department of Education plans to enhance these strategies, disseminating letters to the parents or guardians of students demonstrating a high likelihood of AP® success based on results from the 2013 ACT PLAN® Assessment taken during sophomore year.
To support parents, students, and professional school counselors, the Louisiana Department of Education has also established a Statewide Counselor Assistance Center. The Counselor Assistance Center will help professional school counselors make sure students enroll in course offerings that are academically-appropriate, logistically-doable and keep students on track for on-time graduation.
MARC MORIAL AND THE URBAN LEAGE
(Courtesy of New Orleans Agenda)
In a sign of the ongoing strength of the civil rights community and the Urban League Movement, more than 13,000 people joined us in Cincinnati last week during our 2014 National Urban League Conference for four power-packed days of diversity and dialogue about where we have been and where we are heading in our search for solutions to the pressing problems facing urban America. We also celebrated the 15th anniversary of the National Urban League Young Professionals, the 25th anniversary of our Youth Leadership Summit and the 10th anniversary of our Women of Power awards. Over the past 15 years, the Young Professionals have changed the trajectory of the Urban League Movement - producing strong, effective CEOs who are infusing a new energy and passionate leadership into our affiliates across the county. This year's Youth Leadership Summit was held at Cincinnati's Xavier University where 400 14-18 year-olds were exposed to the college experience and the important skills they will need for success in college, work and life. As a part of the National Urban League's investment in STEM, we teamed up with GE Aviation in a unique experience day for Youth Leadership Summit participants, titled STEM Rising: Uplifting STEM Learning through Aviation, where they had an opportunity to visit the GE Aviation campus and learn about aviation industry technologies and innovations, as well as developing their leadership and teamwork skills.
A highlight of the conference was Vice President Joe Biden's keynote address on Thursday, July 24 during which he noted the National Urban League's role in advancing civil rights and the many economic and social gains for African Americans since the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The Vice President also touted the Obama Administration's focus on job creation and infrastructure spending, quoting a National Urban League finding that "Every $1 billion in investment creates 30,000 jobs, 14 percent of which go to African-Americans." The Vice President echoed the National Urban League's opposition to recent attacks on voting rights, pointing out that, "This year alone, there were 83 initiatives in 29 states to limit access to the ballot box, in the name of preventing corruption where no corruption was found, in the name of preventing widespread fraud where none was occurring." He added, we should call it what it is - "an attempt to repress minority voting masquerading as an attempt to end corruption."
In addition to the Vice President's views, as a non-partisan organization, the National Urban League has always welcomed ideas and dialogue from across the entire political spectrum, and this year's conference attracted a number of notable voices who were eager to share their ideas and reach out to the African American community. U.S. Conference of Mayors President and Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson addressed conference attendees, noting that "Mayors don't have time to deal with the partisan bickering that goes back and forth between Democrats and Republicans. We're pragmatic, practical and problem-solvers, and we are with you in the trenches. We are your allies in the movement." During a session that immediately preceded the Vice President, seven mayors - Akron, OH Mayor Don Plusquellic; Columbia, SC Mayor Stephen Benjamin; Columbus, OH Mayor Michael Coleman; Denver, CO Mayor Michael Hancock; Gary, IN Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson; Jacksonville, FL Mayor Alvin Brown; and Memphis, TN Mayor AC Wharton, Jr. - participated on a panel that focused on strategies for addressing underemployment, including education and training, transportation, small business development, technology and innovation, and healthcare. The following day, Republican Senator Rand Paul made a strong argument for criminal justice reform, announcing legislation that eliminates any disparity between crack cocaine and powder cocaine, and revealing that he and Senator Cory Booker have teamed up on ideas to overhaul the criminal justice system, including legislation that expunges non-violent felonies from a person's record. While some of these ideas hold merit, there are many others that diverge from the interests of the Urban League Movement including opposition to a raise in the minimum wage and any support of voter ID laws. However, as I've previously stated, history has shown us a consistent truth - that it is only by talking, listening and reasoning together that we build trust, end stalemates and transform conflicts into solutions. We don't have to adopt every view that is presented to us, but we should never devolve to a place where we stop listening to - or worse - respecting each other.
Our 2014 Conference was a resounding success - thanks in large part to the support of our 94 affiliates in more than 300 communities across the nation, the people of Cincinnati who welcomed us with open arms and the dedicated and committed companies who provided their support, including our title sponsors, P&G, Toyota, and Western & Southern. Many lessons were gained during the course of our four days together, but perhaps the most important was the ongoing need for coalition-building to address the nation's many challenges. In order to build bridges to jobs and justice, we must first have meaningful dialogue that leads to action. As former Congressional Black Caucus member William Clay, Sr. famously said, "We have no permanent friends, no permanent enemies...just permanent interests." I hope our 2014 Conference was an example of the type of respectful and insightful exchange necessary to defend the permanent interests of urban America and lead to lasting change.