Gov. Edwards focuses on education during opening remarks of legislative session

2020 Legislative Session starts amid news of state's first presumptive positive COVID-19 case

BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - Governor John Bel Edwards told Louisiana’s lawmakers he wants the legislature to make education a priority for the state during a speech on the first day of the 2020 Legislative Session Monday, March 9.

Edwards began his speech by announcing Louisiana has its first presumptive positive case of COVID-19, commonly known as the coronavirus.

State health officials are working to get the coronavirus cased confirmed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), according to Edwards.

Edwards said the patient with the presumptive positive case is from Jefferson Parish and is currently being treated in Orleans Parish.

FULL VIDEO: Gov. Edwards gives opening remarks on first day of 2020 Louisiana Legislative Session

The governor called on Louisiana’s lawmakers to work together during the session to approve his proposed budget, which makes new investments in the state’s educational programs.

The budget proposes to give $39 million for teacher pay raises. Edwards said the goal of his second term in office is to raise the average teacher’s pay to the southern regional average.

Edwards said he wants to make dual enrollment available for high school students statewide to raise the number of qualified job applicants in Louisiana.

The governor said he also wants to improve the state’s early childhood education program. Edwards said he proposed $25 million for early childhood education.

Lawmakers are expected to hear over 1,000 bills during the 2020 legislative session, as well as vote on the governor’s proposed budget. Four-hundred and sixteen Senate bills have been pre-filed, along with 704 House bills.

The House now has 45 new members (two former senators), while the Senate has 20 new members (ten former representatives).

Measures to be considered include everything from insurance reform to transportation funding to maternal welfare and public safety.

“In light of Governor Edwards’ comments during the joint address, I am more optimistic than ever that we will be able to work with the administration and the House of Representatives to bring about a safer, stronger Louisiana for generations to come,” said Senate President Page Cortez.

The regular legislative session ends June 1.

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