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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
MARCH 29, 2005
CONTACT: BRENDA HODGE
SENATE OFFICE OF
COMMUNICATION
PHONE: 225-342-9737

STATE SENATORS TO GET HEAD START ON WORK
OF 2005 REGULAR LEGISLATIVE SESSION

SENATE "FOCUS FORUM" TO EXAMINE KEY SESSION ISSUES

State senators are setting aside two days this week, away from the State Capitol and the routine operations of their district offices, to focus on major issues facing them in the 2005 regular legislative session which begins April 25th. During the Focus Forum, set for March 31st and April 1st at The Bluffs in West Feliciana Parish, senators will direct their time and energies to an intensive examination of key issues in education, economic development, juvenile justice, coastal erosion, fiscal policy and more.

"This is a great opportunity for the members of the Senate to develop a broad, working knowledge of major issues facing legislators in Louisiana," Senate President Don Hines (D-Bunkie) said. "The Focus Forum is designed to be a kind of ‘crash course’ to help members prepare for the upcoming session and to promote an exchange of ideas on how to approach those issues."

Over the two days, senators will hear from state agency experts and representatives of Governor Blanco’s administration on such issues as the federal No Child Left Behind Act and its effect on Louisiana schools; the status of the state’s economic development effort and proposed changes in the state’s economic development initiatives; higher education’s information and learning technology programs and the LambdaRail project; juvenile justice reform programs and state budget issues. Members will also learn more about programs and initiatives at the Pennington Biomedical Research Center and the state’s coastal erosion, protection and restoration efforts.

"Most of the members of the Senate are planning to attend and I am pleased that there is that level of interest in this effort. We held a similar series of meetings several years ago that were very productive and resulted in meaningful bi-partisan legislation in the area of corrections reform. I believe this year’s effort will be equally as productive," Senate President Hines said.

The public and representatives of the news media are welcome to attend the Focus Forum. While, the discussion format and time constraints will not allow for public testimony at the forum, those interested may submit written materials to the Senate for distribution to the members. Additional opportunities for public testimony will be available when the regular senate committee meetings on the key issues are scheduled. A complete agenda for the Focus Forum is attached.

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SENATE FOCUS FORUM - 2005
AGENDA

Thursday, March 31
Morning Session
9:00-10:15 Education - No Child Left Behind and Related Issues

Dr. Robin Jarvis, Assistant Superintendent, Office of Student and School Performance, State Department of Education

Steve J. Theriot, Legislative Auditor
10:15-10:30 Break
10:30-11:00 LONI and LambdaRail

Mike Abbiatti, Associate Commissioner of Higher Education for Information and Learning Technology

11:00-11:30 Department of Economic Development Initiatives
Adam Knapp, Office of the Secretary

Fran Gladden, Grants Director, Grant Services, Office of Business Development

11:30-Noon World Trade Opportunities
Senator Walter Boasso
Noon-1:00 Lunch
Afternoon Session
1:00-1:45 Coastal Erosion, Protection, and Restoration

Randy Hanchey, Deputy Secretary, Department of Natural Resources

Sidney Coffee, Executive Assistant to the Governor for Coastal Activities

1:45-2:15 2005 Legislative Session - Procedure and Processes
Glenn Koepp, Secretary of the Senate
2:15-2:30 Break
2:30-3:15 Juvenile Justice Reform and Issues

Simon Gonsoulin, Assistant Secretary, Office of Youth Development

3:15-4:15 Administration presentation on 2005 Issues

Rochelle Dugas, Legislative Director, Office of the Governor

Andy Kopplin, Chief of Staff, Office of the Governor

4:15-4:30 Housing Initiatives

Helena Cunningham, President, Louisiana Housing Finance Agency

Friday, April 1
Final Session
9:00-10:15 Pennington Biomedical Research Center initiatives
Dr. Claude Bouchard, Executive Director
10:15-10:30 Break
10:30-11:15 Executive Budget 05-06
Jean Vandal, Deputy Commissioner of Administration
11:15-Noon Fiscal Presentation
Senate Fiscal Services staff
Adjourn

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