WRKF

Wallis Watkins

Reporter

Wallis Watkins is a Baton Rouge native. She received her Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Philosophy from Louisiana State University in 2013. Soon after, she joined WRKF as an intern and is now reporting on politics for Capitol Access.

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Louisiana’s higher education leaders recently boosted the goals of postsecondary education in the state. By 2030, they want 60% of Louisiana’s adults to have earned some sort of college degree or certificate.  To hit that target, the state’s colleges and universities will need to double the number of credentials awarded each year.

On this week's Capitol Access, Jim Henderson, president of the University of Louisiana System, discusses what it will take to get there.

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It’s been nearly a year since trade tensions between China and the U.S. began escalating. Since then, both countries have introduced several rounds of tariffs, hitting multiple industries in Louisiana.

On this week's Capitol Access, Greg Upton, an assistant research professor at LSU’s Center for Energy Studies, discusses the impact in Louisiana so far. 

Wallis Watkins / WRKF

A three-day celebration of the life of Kathleen Babineaux Blanco begins Thursday in Baton Rouge.

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Every seat in the Louisiana Legislature is up for election this October. A third of those races have already been decided, as candidates went unopposed.

Stephanie Landry

Louisiana's first female governor, Kathleen Blanco, passed away Sunday, August 18, after a battle with cancer.

Blanco was 76. She had been diagnosed with her second round of cancer in 2017 and died at a Lafayette hospice center she entered earlier this year.

Blanco served as governor from 2004 to 2008, choosing not to run for a second term after having led the state through Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, which devastated the region.  

Wallis Watkins

The call to rewrite Louisiana’s constitution, adopted in 1974, has been growing over the last few years. But inside the Capitol, lawmakers haven’t been able to get enough support to approve a constitutional convention. The non-partisan Public Affairs Research Council (PAR) of Louisiana published a report recently, calling the state's constitution one of the major issues in this year’s gubernatorial and legislative races.

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A new law will take effect in August establishing a minimum age for marriage in Louisiana.

In order to get married, a person must be at least 16 years old — an age limit the state previously hasn’t had. Any 16 and 17-year-olds will have to have both parental and judicial consent and can’t marry anyone more than three years older.

On this week's Capitol Access, Morgan Lamandre, legal director with Sexual Trauma Awareness and Response (STAR), discusses the new law and how it moved through the Legislature.

Wallis Watkins

In his State of the Union address earlier this year, President Trump announced plans to eliminate the spread of new HIV cases in the U.S. by 2030. The initiative will focus on 48 areas across the country seeing the majority of new HIV cases, including East Baton Rouge and Orleans parishes.

The first round of funding was recently announced and sends $1.5 million to East Baton Rouge Parish.

On this week's Capitol Access, Dr. Alexander Billioux, Assistant Secretary of Louisiana's Office of Public Health, talks about what the investment could mean for HIV care in the state. 

Nearly two years after the death of LSU student Maxwell Gruver, a jury in Baton Rouge found Matthew Naquin guilty of negligent homicide Wednesday.

Gruver, of Roswell, GA, was beginning his first year at LSU and pledging the Phi Delta Theta fraternity when he died of alcohol poisoning stemming from a hazing ritual. Gruver’s blood alcohol content was 0.495%, well over the Louisiana’s legal driving limit of 0.08%.

Wallis Watkins

As Hurricane Barry was developing in the Gulf of Mexico, so was the race for governor in Louisiana. In light of the storm, Governor John Bel Edwards officially postponed a campaign bus tour across the state. And one of his opponents, Republican congressman Ralph Abraham, followed suit, putting his campaign on pause.

But the lines between natural disasters and politics can be delicate in Louisiana.

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