AM Newscall 06/30/2020

The special session ends at 6 PM today and lawmakers are still scrambling to pass a tort reform bill aimed at lowering auto insurance rates. Matt Doyle has more.

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With a current balance of less than $500 million, the Louisiana Workforce Commission indicates the state’s unemployment trust fund is on course to run dry in about 14 weeks. Kevin Barnhart has the story.

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The US Supreme Court overturns a 2014 Louisiana law requiring abortion clinics to have admitting privileges. Matt Doyle has reaction from a local advocate and a Congressman…

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The special session ends at 6 PM today and a number of tort reform bills aimed at lowering auto insurance rates are still working their way through the process. Publisher Jeremy Alford says there are two bills making real traction, one by the House Speaker, and the other by a Mandeville freshman.

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House Speaker Clay Shexnayder’s bill, which is less expansive than legislation vetoed by Governor Edwards, is in conference committee.

Alford says one of the most interesting new developments is a bill by Mandeville freshman Representative Richard Nelson that includes traditional items like a lower jury trial threshold, but also…

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Democrats in the Senate have rejected most proposed tort bills, but they have shown support for Nelson’s bill.

Alford says today is the conclusion of a battle between the Governor and legislative Republicans over lawsuit reform that’s taken up a lot of oxygen dating back to the regular session.

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The Louisiana Workforce Commission reports over half of the money in the state’s unemployment trust fund has been spent during the coronavirus pandemic.   LWC Executive Director Ava Dejoie says there is growing concern the fund, which was at one time just one billion dollars, will run dry within 14 weeks

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From March 22nd through June 26th, Dejoie says the state has paid out $3.5 billion in unemployment benefits, with most of that being federal dollars from the CARES Act.

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Currently, most unemployed workers are receiving $247 weekly from state funds and $600 weekly from the CARES Act funding, but those federal dollars are set to expire at the end of July.

If the fund goes empty, out of work residents would still receive unemployment. Dejoie says several states have already run out of unemployment money and if it happens to Louisiana, the state will borrow money from the feds like the other states.

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A new report from the CDC indicates pregnant women are more likely to experience symptoms or even be hospitalized after contracting COVID-19.  LSU Health New Orleans Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology assistant professor Dr. Rebekah Gee says pregnant women are no more likely to die from the virus.

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The study looked at 325,000 women ages 15 to 44 who had tested positive for COVID-19 and of those, 8,200 were pregnant.  The death rate was .2% in both pregnant and nonpregnant women.

Gee says pregnant women are 5.4 times more likely to be hospitalized and nearly twice as likely to be put on a ventilator, adding to the importance of spread mitigation efforts.

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A 29-year-old pregnant woman in Baton Rouge died of COVID-19 last week, but doctors were able to deliver her child that was not due until October.

Gee says expecting mothers should talk to their healthcare providers about best practices and rely on others when possible to avoid exposure.

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Louisiana abortion clinics will not have to have admitting privileges after the US Supreme Court strikes down a state law passed in 2014

Congressman Mike Johnson, who served as co-counsel for the state when the law was argued before a federal judge, says the law was designed to protect women from unsafe abortion procedures.

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But Louisiana Coalition for Reproductive Freedom Executive Committee member Katrina Rodgers says it’s obvious the law was an attempt to shutter abortion clinics.

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If the law had been upheld two of the state’s three clinics would have closed due to not having the privileges. Opponents of the law say hospitals discriminate against abortion providers when it comes to admitting privileges.

Civil Rights attorney S.Mandisa Moore-O’Neal says the law ping-ponged around the courts for years before this decision. She says the ruling makes it clear requiring privileges is an undue burden.

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Johnson says he fears this ruling will lead to legal challenges against other abortion regulations.

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