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Louisiana editorial roundup

December 27, 2018

Recent editorials from Louisiana newspapers:

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Dec. 26

NOLA.com/The Times-Picayune on ways to make Louisiana better in 2019:

Louisiana is a beautiful and fascinating place to live, but it is also has its flaws. Here is the Latitude by NOLA.com team’s wish list to make our community and state better in 2019. We’ll be advocating for these changes throughout the year — and hoping for a Super Bowl win, too.

Voluntary no-buy gun registry for people with mental illness

After her mother died from a self-inflicted gunshot in June, New Orleans artist Katrina Brees looked for a way to prevent other families from losing a loved one. She is urging the Legislature to pass a law like the one in Washington state that allows people who feel they are a threat to themselves or others to voluntarily put themselves on a no-buy list for guns. That should be an easy law for everyone to get behind.

Money for a Civil Rights Museum in New Orleans

The Southern Christian Leadership Conference was created in New Orleans. The Freedom Riders who left Washington on an integrated bus in 1961 were headed to New Orleans. The photo of Ruby Bridges walking into William Frantz Elementary School is one of the most iconic images of the civil rights era. And yet, almost 20 years after the Legislature approved legislation for a Civil Rights Museum in New Orleans, there is nothing. Gov. John Bel Edwards, the Legislature, Mayor LaToya Cantrell and other leaders must change that in 2019.

Clean and dependable drinking water in New Orleans

Enough with the boil water advisories. The Sewerage & Water Board must stabilize its power source and get all its pumps and turbines working - no matter how cold it is. Executive director Ghassan Korban also needs to make sure only employees who are willing to actually do their jobs are on duty at pumping stations. New Orleanians shouldn’t have to worry about employees going AWOL, as two did in November during a pressure drop that led to a boil water advisory.

Get a grip on carbon emissions

Louisiana faces great peril from global warming. Our coastline has been eroding for decades, and we are racing to stop the erosion. Rising seas are working against us. Yet our congressional delegation is ignoring the federal government’s role in curbing emissions. Every elected official from South Louisiana, from parish councils to the Legislature to the U.S. Capitol, must be committed to reducing emissions to help save our coast.

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CIT training for every law enforcement officer in Louisiana

After years of funding cuts for mental health services in Louisiana, police officers are dealing with more and more calls for people in emotional crisis. These calls are risky for officers and for the people in distress. Crisis Intervention Team training gives officers the best chance of defusing volatile situations. Only about half of parishes have CIT training programs. NOPD has trained about 40 percent of its officers on a voluntary basis. That is a good start, but every officer needs to be trained.

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Expand foster care for all children in Louisiana to age 21

In May, the Legislature approved continuing foster services for some children after they turn 18. To be eligible, youngsters are supposed to be attending high school or working toward an equivalent degree. That is an important change, but it leaves some children out and doesn’t include family court oversight. To truly give these children the support they need to succeed on their own, lawmakers should change the law to let all of them stay under foster care until age 21. That is what Texas does, with some services continuing to age 25.

A serious investment in early childhood education

The city of New Orleans has put up some money to create quality preschool, but the need is much greater. The city’s $750,000 is helping provide childcare and education to 50 youngsters, but 571 children were on the waiting list this fall. The problem isn’t only in New Orleans. There is a need for quality early childhood education statewide, but the Legislature hasn’t invested in young children. That must change.

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Another Super Bowl title for the Saints

Yeah, you right. We are calling it. The Saints are going to the Super Bowl in Atlanta and coming home with the Lombardi.

Online: https://www.nola.com/

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Dec. 26

The Lake Charles American Press on domestic violence:

When public officials in Louisiana sit down to map out their plans for 2019, they need to make domestic violence one of their highest priorities. The Violence Policy Center, using the latest figures available from 2016, ranks Louisiana second in the nation for the rate of women killed by men.

The center has been conducting its domestic violence study for 21 years and Louisiana’s rate of men killing women has remained consistently well above the national average, according to a report in The Advocate.

Mariah Wineski, executive director of the Louisiana Coalition Against Domestic Violence, said those numbers don’t include men killed by men, women killed by women and multiple offender and victim situations. Melanie Fields, chief domestic violence prosecutor in East Baton Rouge Parish, said men, Hispanics, the LGBTQ community and the wealthy underreport violence.

Domestic violence is defined as physical and sexual assault or other abusive behavior. However, it could also be threats, emotional and psychological abuse and the controlling of a partner’s finances. Experts believe there is also a public misconception of what abuse looks like.

Madeline Robertson of the Governor’s Office on Women’s Policy said some forms of domestic violence go unreported because they are not recognized as abuse.

District Attorney Hillar Moore III of East Baton Rouge Parish, said, “We’re trying to get a idea of how much is actually domestic violence-related.”

Moore talked about a major problem in dealing with domestic violence cases. His office estimates it receives dismissal requests for approximately 80 percent of domestic violence cases. He said many victims are either coerced into dropping the charges or are terrified of retaliation.

The district attorney’s office has a policy that requires any victim dropping charges to meet confidentially with a victim assistant coordinator behind closed doors to talk about the dismissal. In some cases there is enough evidence of abuse that victims don’t have to testify personally and face to face against their abusers.

Moore said domestic violence is both caused and compounded by the multitude of other problems the state faces. He mentioned the state’s poor rankings on education, poverty, racial issues and health care.

Education is the answer. Those involved in dealing with domestic violence should pool their knowledge and resources in order to come up with a successful program to curb this menace to our social fabric.

Online: https://www.americanpress.com/

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Dec. 23

The Courier of Houma on flood insurance:

One again, Congress has narrowly avoided letting the nation’s flood insurance program lapse. But it remains unclear whether the partial government shutdown that began Saturday will affect the National Flood Insurance Program.

The House and Senate, at the urging of Louisiana and other coastal lawmakers, scurried to pass a bill before the program was set to expire at midnight Friday. President Donald Trump signed the bill Friday night, just in the nick of time.

The latest maneuver is similar to the last — and dozens before it. Congress approved a short-term extension Dec. 6, a day before it was set to expire, in a deal that averted a partial government shutdown over the federal budget.

This time, disagreement over paying for Trump’s proposed wall at the U.S.-Mexico border kicked off a federal shutdown that started Saturday.

The good news is that flood insurance — an essential protection for thousands of homes across Terrebonne and Lafourche and more than 5 million nationwide — will remain in effect.

But the shutdown, while it’s under way, will likely have the same impact as letting the program lapse.

Insurance Journal noted that the office of U.S. Sen. John Kennedy, R-La., said nothing in the bill he co-sponsored to extend the program through May 31 changes the way FEMA administers the program during a shutdown.

“Based on the government’s response to previous shutdowns, payment of current claims by the National Flood Insurance Program will continue; however, the agency will stop issuing new and renewing existing flood policies,” Insurance Journal notes.

Numerous news stories and trade groups confirm that is how the federal government has handled flood insurance during past shutdowns.

Locally and nationwide, that means many people preparing to buy a house can expect delays. That’s because federal law requires anyone in a high-risk flood zone to have flood insurance before a lender can issue a mortgage. But the practical matter is everyone in Terrebonne and Lafourche, regardless of whether FEMA flood maps indicate you are in a high-risk flood zone, should have flood insurance.

In addition, residents whose insurance is nearing renewal face the uncertainty of going without flood insurance until the shutdown ends and the National Flood Insurance Program starts selling new policies again.

Obviously, this is unacceptable.

Two things need to happen:

Congress needs to stop passing short-term extensions and put the flood-insurance program on solid financial footing for the long term.

The shutdown needs to end quickly.

Anyone can help make that happen by calling his or her representatives in Congress. Here are their names and numbers: Kennedy, (202) 224-4623; Sen. Bill Cassidy, (202) 224-5824; Rep. Steve Scalise, (202) 225-3015; and Rep. Garret Graves, (202) 225-3901. You can also call the White House at 202-456-1111. All of their websites have forms that allow citizens to submit comments.

Tell lawmakers to stop messing with our flood insurance.

Online: www.houmatoday.com

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