Gov. Edwards holds news conference to discuss end of regular session

RAW: Gov. Edwards holds news conference to discuss end of regular session

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Gov. John Bel Edwards addressed the media around 6 p.m. Monday, discussing the end of the regular session and looking ahead at what is needed to be done in the second special session.

Lawmakers wrapped up their regular session at 6 p.m. Monday and already got back to work 30 minutes later for the second special session. Lawmakers have been at the State Capitol since the first special session started in February.

In the 2016 regular session, Edwards signed over 300 bills into law out of the 1,600 bills that lawmakers filed for consideration. That includes an expansion of access to medical marijuana, changes to the TOPS program and 'Blue Lives Matter' bill, which is a first of its kind.

The House and Senate advanced a budget for next year featuring deep cuts to TOPS and the partnership hospitals.

Lawmakers voted in favor of the plan late Sunday evening after a conference committee consisting of members from both chambers spent several hours Sunday working behind the scenes on the budget.

Edwards called for the second special session on Friday, May 27 to fix the $600 million budget shortfall that remains for the next fiscal year that starts on July 1. The budget gap was originally at $1.9 billion before the first special session.

To fill the budget gap, lawmakers are being asked to look at measures to raise revenue, make changes to tax brackets, and address certain tax credits as well as make some changes to issues that came up at the end of the first special session.

The second special session will run from Monday night until midnight on Thursday, June 23.

The first special session started on Sunday, February, 14 and went up until days before the regular session, which started on Monday, March 14.

Both special sessions had to be called to address the budget crisis because, by law, taxes can not be handled in this year's regular session.

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