Monday, 02 May 2011 16:04

Louisiana Gov. Jindal: SUNO, UNO Merger Committee Hearings, Legislation Update

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 Governor Bobby Jindal held a media briefing today to highlight bills in the Governor’s legislative package that are starting to advance through the legislative process. The bills expected to be heard in committees this week include legislation to merge SUNO and UNO, build on last year’s GRAD Act and to crack down on sex offenders.


In Senate Revenue and Fiscal Affairs today, there is a Governor’s legislative package bill for encouraging business investment – SB 134 –scheduled for a committee vote.


SB 134 by Senator Dan Claitor renews and enhances the Technology Commercialization Credit and Jobs Program.The Technology Commercialization Credit and Jobs Program provides a 40 percent refundable tax credit for companies that invest in the commercialization of Louisiana technology and a six percent payroll rebate for the creation of new, direct jobs. This bill extends the program for another six years and converts the refundable tax credits for technology commercialization expenses to rebates, in order to deliver the incentive more quickly to companies.


On Wednesday, in the House Criminal Justice Committee, four of the Governor’s bills to crack down on crime are scheduled for a vote.


HB 49 by Representative Walt Leger will crack down on human trafficking by equalizing the punishment for the person who helps the human trafficker with the punishment for the person who is actually engaged in the human trafficking.  Also, this legislation will expand the type of actions that put a criminal under the human trafficking statutes, including the advertisement of a child for sexual purposes.


HB 55 by Representative Ledricka Thierry will target sex offender use of social media.The legislation will do this by first criminalizing the accessing or using social networking websites, chat rooms or peer-to-peer networks by sex offenders who had a previous felony sex offense conviction that involved or was facilitated by the use of a computer or a device with Internet capability. Secondly, it criminalizes the contacting of a minor through the use a of a social networking website, chat room, electronic mail, instant messenger or any device with Internet capability by sex offenders who had a previous sex offense against a minor that involved or was facilitated by the use of a computer or device with Internet capability.


HB 86 by Representative Bodi White will equalize the penalties for sexually abusing a physically or mentally infirm victim or a person over the age of 65 with the penalties for sexually abusing a child under the age of 13. This bill will increase the penalty from 10 years to a minimum of 25 years in prison.


HB 131 by Representative Ricky Templet will work to ensure compliance with sex offender laws.The legislation will make it a violation of a sex offender’s registration if they fail to get a driver’s license or ID card with “sex offender” labeled on it, are in possession of identification that is altered with the intent to defraud or if they are in possession of counterfeit identification. 


On Wednesday, the House Education Committee will take up bills to merge SUNO and UNO as well as legislation to build on last year’s GRAD Act. These bills include HB 537 and HB 549 by Speaker Jim Tucker. On Thursday, the Senate Education Committee will take up the senate companion bills to merge SUNO and UNO and build on the GRAD Act (SB 183 by Senator Conrad Appel and SB 537 by Senate President Joel Chaisson).


HB 537 by Speaker Jim Tucker merges SUNO and UNO to improve performance for New Orleans students.UNO has a six-year graduation rate of 21 percent while SUNO graduates just eight percent of students in that same time period. Additionally, SUNO campuses are in use less than 50 percent of the time while nearby Delgado Community College struggles with overcrowding.


This initiative merges the UNO and SUNO into a single accredited four-year university within the University of Louisiana System: the University of Louisiana at New Orleans (ULNO). Candidates who are ready for a four-year degree would choose one of two colleges within this university:

  • A selective research college, focused on key scientific and technical programs to meet workforce needs, and housing the university’s graduate programs
  • A traditional four-year undergraduate college with complementary programs


The legislation enters ULNO into a collaborative agreement with nearby Delgado Community College to provide developmental education and counseling to under-prepared students who need additional help on

track to a four-year degree. This program would be run on the ULNO campus, providing a four-year experience with two-year programming. The legislation also creates a single access point for all students by placing in the same building on the ULNO campus co-administered admissions, financial aid, and counseling. This ensures the proper placement of students based on their academic readiness and provides the necessary support services to facilitate successful program completion.


HB 549 by Speaker Jim Tucker will enact a GRAD Act 2.0 to build on higher education accountabilities and reforms enacted in 2010.This legislation strengthens GRAD Act contracts negotiated between the Board of Regents and each institution in fall 2010 by prioritizing the key Student Success metrics—graduation rates, retention rates, and percent completers—and making them required for successful performance on contract targets. It also grants operational autonomies in purchasing, personnel, facilities, and investment in a three-tiered structure based on performance. Capacity to manage these autonomies would be determined by the Division of Administration.


In House Health and Welfare Committee on Wednesday, the Governor’s legislative package bill - HB 586 by Rep. Frank Hoffman – is scheduled for a vote.HB 586 is important to protect the rights of women and to ensure they are fully aware of the options available to them when considering an abortion.

(Jindal Press Release)



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