1. RIP Prince
Prince Rogers Nelson died Thursday, April 21 at his Paisley Park home in Minnesota. New Orleans musicians, at press time, organized a memorial parade and concert at 5:30 p.m. Monday, April 25 at Ooh Poo Pah Doo Bar in Treme. The Prytania Theatre screens Prince's 1984 classic Purple Rain at 10 p.m. Friday, April 29-Sunday, May 1 (DJ Soul Sister hosts the Friday screening). Pagoda Cafe also screens the film at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, April 27. AMC Palace 20 screens it through April 28.
2. Edwards: Work training required for food stamps
Unemployed people receiving Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits, or food stamps, must receive workforce training, according to Gov. John Bel Edwards. Edwards issued an executive order April 21 requiring unemployed, able-bodied childless adults to sign up with the state's workforce training programs before receiving benefits.
"We are striking the right balance as we move Louisiana forward," Edwards said.
3. Quote of the week: Polite on Danziger
"As the son and brother of police officers, I know all too well that serving as an officer is perhaps the most complex and difficult job in our society. At the same time, when individuals ignore their oath of office, and instead violate the civil rights of the public they are sworn to serve, they will be held accountable." — U.S. Attorney Kenneth Polite, following the sentencing of five former New Orleans Police Department officers who pleaded guilty April 20 to the deadly shootings of six people on the Danziger Bridge in the days after Hurricane Katrina, as well as the ensuing cover up.
Former officers Robert Faulcon was sentenced to 12 years in prison, Kenneth Bowen and Robert Gisevius were sentenced to 10 years, Anthony Villavaso was sentenced to seven years, and Arthur Kaufman was sentenced to three years.
4. Pastor Protection Act passes
The Louisiana House of Representatives approved a measure from state Rep. Mike Johnson, R-Bossier City, that proponents claim would "protect" clergy and religious groups from having to perform or participate in same-sex marriages. Proponents of the bill couldn't point to any specific cases (following the U.S. Supreme Court's decision allowing same-sex marriages nationwide) in which clergy were forced to perform such marriages. Protections for clergy already exist under the First Amendment. House members passed HB 597 by a vote of 80-18 after more than an hour of debate April 19. State Rep. Rick Edmonds urged the House to "support our pastors" who feel "threatened."
State Rep. Helena Moreno, D-New Orleans, voted against the bill but convinced her colleagues to add an amendment as a "reaffirmation of Louisiana's tradition of tolerance." The amendment reads, in part, "Nothing contained in this part shall be construed or applied in derogation of Louisiana's tradition of tolerance of all people." The House also adopted an amendment by Rep. Katrina Jackson, D-Monroe, ensuring the measure "shall not apply to the heterosexual marriage of an interracial couple."
5. Senate approves 420 on 4/20
State Sen. Fred Mills, R-Parks, had a happy 4/20. Mills passed his medical marijuana expansion measure through the Louisiana Senate on April 20 on his second try after it failed there on April 19. The measure extends his 2015 law that creates an infrastructure for medical marijuana in Louisiana by significantly adding to the list of diseases that doctors can treat with the drug, including HIV/AIDS, cancer, muscular dystrophy and multiple sclerosis, among others.
The bill also changes language from "prescription" to "recommendation," which allows doctors to skirt the DEA's classification of marijuana as a Schedule I drug (the bill would change back to "prescription" if it moved to Schedule II). State universities have until Sept. 1 to decide whether they'll grow and process pot for medical use.
The measure failed 19-16 on April 19 but was brought back up on April 20 and passed by a vote of 21-16. Mills picked up votes from Sens. Troy Brown of Napoleonville and J.P. Morrell of New Orleans, who were both absent on the first try. The measure now heads to the House.
6. Bike-sharing coming to New Orleans?
New Orleans officials hope to launch a bicycle-sharing program in 2017. City officials issued requests for proposals (due June 1) for a privately funded bike-share program installed in hubs throughout the city, where people can pick up and "rent" a bike at one rack and park it at another. The city expects to choose an operator by June 23.
"The City of New Orleans is ready to support a bicycle share system that meets resident, worker and visitor mobility needs," Landrieu said. "This is an opportunity for a world-class partner to introduce and fund a transformational and equitable resource for our city."
7. Essence gets Puffy
The 2016 Essence Festival added three more performers to its lineup — rising star Andra Day, rapper Common and hip-hop kingpin Puff Daddy. The festival is July 1-3 at the Superdome. Single-night tickets start at $50, weekend passes start at $130.50.
Maxwell closes out the main stage on Friday, July 1, Mariah Carey headlines Saturday, July 2, and Kendrick Lamar returns to headline Essence on its final night, Sunday, July 3. Other performers include Leon Bridges, Ciara, New Edition and many others.
8. Animal welfare
bills in Lege
Two measures to require the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries to adopt rules to control the importation of exotic cats as pets have failed in the state Legislature. House Bill 999, by state Rep. Chris Leopold, R-Belle Chasse, was withdrawn April 21, and House Bill 1084 from state Rep. Jerome "Zee" Zeringue, R-Houma, failed April 21 by a vote of 35-41.
On the canine front, Senate Bill 337 by state Sen. Danny Martiny, R-Metairie, would require Louisiana pet stores to sell dogs that only come from breeders licensed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Senate Bill 402 by state Sen. J.P. Morrell, D-New Orleans, would prohibit tethering a dog during a National Weather Service warning.
New Orleans has extended its deadline — again — for contractor bids for removing four controversial Confederate monuments. The city is accepting proposals through May 23. The city still must wait for the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals to rule on an appeal by a group that is fighting the city's plan to remove the monuments.
10. Ask the gov
Gov. John Bel Edwards had his first monthly radio show April 19. He took questions from callers, many of whom worried about budget cuts to state programs. Calling the cuts "widespread and deeper than you want them to be," Edwards added, "There's just not enough money to fund what we all believe to be important programs."
The show (reminiscent of former Gov. Mike Foster's "Live Mike" call-in show) will air the third week of the month, and the next installment will be Wednesday, May 18 from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. Have a question? Listeners can tune in at gov.louisiana.gov, or on the Louisiana Radio Network (www.louisianaradionetwork.com).