WRKF

Paul Braun

Capitol Reporter

Paul Braun is WRKF's reporter for Capitol Access, our series of reporting on state politics, government, and the people shaping Louisiana's state policy.

Ways to Connect

Jim Bowen / Flickr

First responders have extinguished a fire inside ExxonMobil’s sprawling Baton Rouge refinery complex that caused concern among area residents and bathed the night sky in an orange glow that was visible for miles.

DCJOHN / FLICKR (CC BY 2.0)

Last week, Governor John Bel Edwards debuted his $32 billion dollar budget proposal for the upcoming fiscal year. Unsurprisingly, the second-term governor’s plan highlighted new investments in education. 

Elizabeth Garner / LSU Manship School News Service

Gov. John Bel Edwards debuted a $32 billion state budget proposal Friday, but ongoing disputes between the administration and Republican lawmakers over how much money the state has to spend looms large over the start of this year’s negotiations.

Environmental Integrity Project

A Louisiana refinery is one of 10 across the country that is releasing excessive levels benzene into nearby communities, according to a report from the Environmental Integrity Project, the Louisiana Bucket Brigade and other environmental groups.

Chalmette Refining recorded the eighth-highest emission levels of cancer-causing gas in the nation. 

Commissioner of Administration Jay Dardenne, House Speaker Clay Schexnayder and Senate President Page Cortez prepare for a meeting of the Revenue Estimating Conference on Jan. 31, 2020
Paul Braun / WRKF

Governor John Bel Edwards and top Republican lawmakers will start the 2020 legislative session locked in a familiar standoff.

On Friday, the Revenue Estimating Conference, or REC, couldn’t agree to update the state's official revenue projections. That means the governor’s executive budget would have to be based on last year’s estimate — about $100 million less than economists expect the state to have in the coming fiscal year.

The New Orleans Saints are facing increased scrutiny for their alleged coordination with the Archdiocese of New Orleans after recent court filings said team executives helped the Church with damage control surrounding accusations of clergy sexual abuse.

Last week, the Associated Press reported that lawyers for the Saints were attempting to conceal hundreds of emails between the team and Archdiocese from public view.

Lauren Heffker / LSU Manship School News Service

Tort reform, was a huge issue in last year's elections, and is a key policy goal Republicans now that they have strengthened their majorities in the Louisiana Legislature. 

The GOP pitches tort reform as a silver bullet to reduce Louisiana's car insurance rates-- the second highest in the nation. Critics say it wouldn't.

The debate is playing out as a political tug-of-war between trial lawyers and the business lobby, two of the state's most influential special interests.

Wallis Watkins / WRKF

The suicide of an inmate at the East Baton Rouge Parish Prison is raising concerns among prison reform advocates and some city-parish officials about the quality of mental health services available inside to parish jail.

Wallis Watkins / WRKF

Last week, the 72nd Louisiana Legislature convened for the first time, electing new leaders in a brief organizational session.

After months of backroom negotiations, they settled on Clay Schexnayder, R-Gonzales, for Speaker of the House and Page Cortez, R-Lafayette, as Senate President.

Both positions were hotly contested behind closed doors, but things boiled over in the Speaker's race.

Paul Braun / WRKF

Democrat John Bel Edwards officially began his second term as Louisiana Governor Monday, taking his oath of office on the Capitol steps.

A drizzling rain fell over the crowd for much of the morning. Still, hundreds filled the capitol lawn to witness the ceremony. 

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