FILE - Louisiana Sen. Dan "Blade" Morrish and Rep. Nancy Landry

Sen. Dan "Blade" Morrish, R-Jennings, chairman of a task force studying Louisiana's TOPS college tuition program, talks about the group's work, while Rep. Nancy Landry, R-Lafayette, listens in this 2018 AP file photo.

Three-term state rep leaving legislature to join secretary of state’s office

State Rep. Nancy Landry, a Lafayette Republican, is leaving the Louisiana Legislature to become chief of staff for Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin.

Landry, who chaired the House Education Committee, has reached her three-term limit and would not have been eligible to run for the seat again. Her successor will be chosen in the October primary and a November runoff if needed.

Landry previously had expressed interest in a different state job. She sought and obtained a state Board of Ethics release allowing her to seek the position of House clerk to replace the retiring Butch Speer.

Six parishes added to federal disaster declaration

The federal government has approved Gov. John Bel Edwards’ request to include six additional parishes in the federal emergency disaster declaration associated with Tropical Storm/Hurricane Barry: Allen, Beauregard, Catahoula, Concordia, Evangeline and Vernon. The declaration now includes 41 of the state's 64 parishes.

The affected parishes will be able to receive federal assistance as the amount of the damage is determined. Teams from the Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness are preparing to travel to the various parishes to assess storm damage, Edwards said.

State education commissioner tells Congress teacher preparation needs improvement

Louisiana Commissioner of Education John White testified before Congress Wednesday about teacher preparation efforts in Louisiana and the need for better federal support.

“If a teacher is ineffective after four years of preparation in a college of education funded by federal and state tax dollars, it should not be shame on him; it should be shame on us,” White said. “With high-quality preparation, we can end the tragic phenomenon of the hapless first-year teacher.”

In 2017, Louisiana began requiring a year of residency under state-certified mentors for all aspiring teachers, White said. In addition, eight rural districts are piloting alternative certification programs that include a year of mentorship, he said.

White urged Congress to consider supporting similar models nationwide with grants. His testimony was part of discussions about the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act, first established in 1965.

Request issued for new Mississippi River bridge planning

The Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development has begun seeking consultants to perform pre-construction work for a new Mississippi River bridge.

The estimated value of the contract is $5 million. State government has dedicated surplus dollars in that amount to the project. The bridge itself is expected to cost somewhere in the neighborhood of $1 billion and will likely be a toll bridge.

The work will include identifying a potential location, evaluating environmental impact, holding public meetings, estimating project costs and analyzing potential toll revenue.

Researchers say Louisiana is sinking

Louisiana is sinking at the rate of about 5 millimeters per year, according to the National Geodetic Survey and LSU’s Center for GeoInformatics.

Over the past three decades, the elevation of Baton Rouge, Lafayette, Hammond and Shreveport have remained virtually unchanged. Alexandria subsided 49 millimeters, Lake Charles sank 16 millimeters, and Ruston fell 9 millimeters. Some areas actually gained ground, such as Thibodaux (+7 millimeters) and Natchitoches (+17 millimeters).

“Changes in the absolute value of gravity at a location can be a result of uplift/subsidence, as well as variations in groundwater and tectonic motion,” said Cliff Mugnier, LSU Chief of Geodesy, which is a branch of mathematics dealing with the shape and area of the earth. “In a generally homogenous sedimentary basin such as Louisiana, it’s likely some combination of subsidence and groundwater.”

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.