Louisiana lawmakers convened the two-month regular session at noon Monday and will consider hundreds of bills, none more pressing than HB1, the state’s roughly $25 billion budget. With a $1.6 billion budget shortfall for the upcoming fiscal year, legislators will consider a wide variety of budget-plugging measures including a controversial plan by Gov. Bobby Jindal to sell some of the state’s prisons to private corporations.

Because we’re in an odd-numbered year, this is technically a “fiscal” session in which state finances are at the fore. But each lawmaker is allowed to file a handful of non-fiscal and locally focused bills, and this year’s session has its typical share of oddball legislation on tap. Among them, a so-called “birther” bill that would require presidential candidates to present an official birth certificate in order to be on the ballot in Louisiana — part of the feeding frenzy of tacit racism attendant to the opposition to President Barack Obama and a bill which Gov. Bobby Jindal has said he will sign if it clears the Legislature. Lawmakers will also consider a bill co-sponsored by Lafayette Democrat Rickey Hardy that would require recipients of state welfare to submit to random drug tests. Other bills would place greater restrictions on abortions and address illegal immigration — the usual red meat legislation popular in red state capitols.

For more, The Times-Picayune has a clearinghouse of stories and opinion pieces from other media sources related to the session. Read it here.


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