FILE - Louisiana State Capitol

The Louisiana State Capitol in Baton Rouge, La.

Former lawmaker returns to state House

Former state legislator Brett Geymann is returning to the Louisiana House of Representatives after no one else signed up to run for the vacant seat in District 35.

Geymann, a Lake Charles Republican, previously held the seat for 12 years before reaching his term limit in 2016. He came to be known as one of the leaders of a group of “fiscal hawks” who wanted to restrain state spending.

“Many challenges lie ahead for our state, from Hurricane Laura recovery to the continued COVID-19 response,” Geymann said. “Our nation and state are divided like never before. It's time for responsible leaders to stand up and go to work.”

The District 35 seat opened up after Republican Stephen Dwight stepped down after winning an election to become Calcasieu Parish district attorney.

Louisiana Supreme Court freezes new trials over COVID-19 concerns

The Louisiana Supreme Court on Monday ordered no new civil or criminal jury trials should begin before March 1 because concerns about COVID-19.

Trials that are in progress may continue to conclusion at the discretion of the local court. The order does not suspend other types of in-person proceedings, including grand jury proceedings.

“Given the public health concerns and the necessity of taking action to slow the spread of the disease, the continuances occasioned by Section 1 of this Order serve the ends of justice and outweigh the best interest of the public and the defendant in a speedy trial,” the order reads in part. “Therefore, the time periods of such continuance shall be excluded from speedy trial computations pursuant to law, including but not limited to those set forth in the Louisiana Code of Criminal Procedure and the Louisiana Children’s Code, and presumptively constitute just cause.”

Attorneys general, including Landry, request update on opioid progress

Attorneys general from 48 states and territories, including Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry, are requesting a progress report about how the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has utilized new authorities Congress granted the agency in 2018 to combat opioid abuse.

The coalition’s letter seeks clarification of how the FDA is using and plans to use powers granted under the Substance Use-Disorder Prevention that Promotes Opioid Recovery and Treatment for Patients and Communities Act. Those provisions include safer opioid packaging and disposal features, research and issuance of new regulations on nonaddictive alternatives to opioids, and guidelines for opioid prescribing.

“In the last few months, the top concern in America’s healthcare industry has been mitigating the devastation caused by the COVID-19 outbreak,” the letter reads in part. “However, while COVID-19 deserves the attention it is receiving, the raging opioid epidemic must also be addressed.”

Gov. Edwards’ staff member tests positive for COVID-19

A member of Gov. John Bel Edwards’ staff has tested positive for COVID-19, the governor’s office announced Monday, the second such announcement in a week.

The person is at home in isolation, as called for in federal and state public health guidelines. The person did not have close contact with Edwards, the governor’s office said.

The administration said Jan. 4 a staff member tested positive over the New Year’s holiday, while two additional staff members who came in contact with the person went into quarantine.

Staff Reporter

David Jacobs is a Baton Rouge-based award-winning journalist who has written about government, politics, business and culture in Louisiana for almost 15 years. He joined The Center Square in 2018.