Louisiana State University

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Prohibiting Louisiana State University classes from starting before 10 a.m. would be one option studied to reduce traffic issues in a city under legislation that a state House of Representatives panel has approved.

News outlets report the measure cleared the House Transportation Committee without objection Tuesday and now goes to the full House. Under it, staggered work hours for major Baton Rouge employers, including state agencies, and encouraging businesses to allow employees to work from home would also be studied.

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The House-approved Max Gruver Act is sailing through the legislative process, passing out of a Senate Judiciary Committee without objection this morning. It calls for tougher penalties for those convicted of hazing. Police say Gruver died after an alcohol induced hazing incident last September at LSU. Lafayette Representative Nancy Landry authors the bill.

 

East Baton Rouge District Attorney Hillar Moore testified in favor of the legislation which makes it a felony to commit hazing.

 

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An LSU Public Policy Research Lab survey finds a majority of Louisiana residents support two of Governor John Bel Edwards’ major policy issues – criminal justice reform and Medicaid expansion. Of those surveyed, 61-percent say they support the sweeping changes made last year. LSU’s Dr. Mike Henderson says there seems to be support on changing the state’s sentencing laws, because over half of the respondents believe the system is not fair, especially African-Americans.

 

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LSU Engineering students have built a special wheelchair, designed for cruising beaches, in response to an inspiring essay from a girl with muscular dystrophy. Cheslyn Simpson of Plaquemine loves beaches, but is wheelchair bound. Blaize Vansickel from Livingston Parish says it’s technology for a better quality of life.

 

Vansickel says that the wheelchair will "give her (Simpson) autonomy."

 

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A bill seeking to make major changes to TOPS faced opposition from LSU students. The Senate Education Committee defeated the measure to make TOPS a flat four-thousand dollar annual award and provide additional stipends for students who perform well on the ACT. LSU Student Body Vice President Rachel Campbell says the proposed legislation would force some LSU students to leave the state.

 

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A bill that increases the penalty for hazing by increasing fines and jail time goes before the House Criminal Justice Committee today. Three students responsible for the suspected hazing death of LSU student Maxwell Gruver were indicted last week and the maximum penalty they face is a 100 dollar fine and up to 30 days in jail. Lafayette Representative Nancy Landry says it’s not enough.

 

Landry says, "It's just a slap on the wrist. By increasing the penalty, we'll send a message to people who engage in this kind of activity that this is a crime."

 

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46 percent of LSU Health New Orleans graduating medical students participating in the National Resident Match Program this year chose to remain in Louisiana. That is down from 49 percent staying in state last year and 64-percent in 2012. Dr. Steve Nelson says it’s a trend that could cost Louisiana some great doctors.

 

Nelson says that if these students leave, "there's a large likelihood" that they won't return to Louisiana. 

 

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Ten people were arrested in the alleged hazing death of LSU student Maxwell Gruver, but only four of the young men were indicted by an East Baton Rouge grand jury. At the time of the arrests, Matthew Naquin was the only one charged with negligent homicide, and the grand jury found enough evidence to indict him on that charge. Loyola University Law Professor Dane Ciolino.

 

Ciolino says, "It's going to go to trial, likely a jury trial in district court... It's one that will likely go on for several months."

 

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Springtime is acceptance letter season for most college bound high school students, and the state’s budget uncertainty is causing many to rethink whether they want to attend school in Louisiana. LSU president F. King Alexander is calling on legislators to find a budget solution that funds higher ed and TOPS by the end of the February special session.

 

Alexander says there was a noticeable impact the last time the state failed to properly fund TOPS in a timely manner.

 

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Lafayette Representative Nancy Landry is proposing a bill that would substantially increase legal penalties for campus hazing related incidents, in response to the 2017 death of LSU student Maxwell Gruver. Hazing is currently covered by education statues, and not criminal statues, and carries a fine of 100 dollars or less, plus a possible 30 days in jail. Landry’s bill would change that.

 

Under the proposed legislation, if the incident involves serious injuries, or death, the penalty would escalate to 10,000 dollars and five years in jail.

 

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