FILE - Louisiana State Capitol

The Louisiana State Capitol in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

Louisiana considers establishing 'business court'

A lawmaker-led committee is considering if Louisiana needs a specialty court (or courts) focused on business matters and, if so, how it might work.

State Sen. Jack Donahue, who authored the resolution creating the task force, said the goal is to resolve complicated business litigation more quickly and predictably, hopefully improving the state’s business climate while easing the backlog at other courts.

At their first meeting Tuesday, task force members discussed a number of issues without coming to any conclusions, including what specific matters this type of court would address, if it would be optional or required for matters under its jurisdiction, and if a state constitutional amendment would be needed. The committee is supposed to be ready to make recommendations by February.

“I don’t have the answers,” Donahue said. “I don’t even know the questions.”

Louisiana’s uninsured rate falls

The proportion of Louisiana residents who don’t have health insurance fell to 8 percent in 2018, which is below the national rate of 8.9 percent, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Louisiana was one of 15 states to see a drop in the uninsured rate in 2018. Nationally, the uninsured rate increased from 2017 to 2018, according to the U.S. Census. In 2013, prior to Medicaid expansion in Louisiana, the Census Bureau reported Louisiana’s uninsured rate to be 16.6 percent, according to Gov. John Bel Edwards’ office.

There were 19,000 fewer uninsured Louisianans in 2018 compared to 2017. There are now more people with health insurance than at any point in the state’s history, according to the Census data cited by the governor's office.

Louisiana and Mississippi researchers to share $106 million vessel

A consortium led by the Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium and the University of Southern Mississippi has been awarded a four-year National Science Foundation cooperative agreement to operate one of three new $106 million Regional Class Research Vessels, state and federal officials announced Tuesday.

The National Science Foundation is expected to spend at least $318 million to build three new vessels, which are being constructed by Gulf Island Fabrication in Houma. The three ships will be operated by the Gulf RCRV Consortium (a partnership between LUMCON and USM), Oregon State University and the University of Rhode Island.

“Louisiana’s marine researchers cherish opportunities like this one, which can yield solutions to some of our most challenging issues, including hurricane tracking and offshore fishery expansion,” Commissioner of Higher Education Kim Hunter Reed said.

Staff Writer

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.