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Louisiana Public Square - 2019

Cultivating Food Security | November 2019 | Louisiana Public Square

A Loyola University report says Louisiana has the second highest rate of food insecurity in the country. Eighty-three percent of parishes contain communities designated as “food deserts” by the U.S. Department of Agriculture – severely lacking access to a variety of affordable, healthy foods. When grocery stores aren’t located in a neighborhood, food purchases often take place at more expensive convenience stores. In addition, there’s a significant correlation between the lack of access to food markets and obesity. Obesity-related healthcare already costs the state an estimated $2.9 billion. So, how is Louisiana addressing its food insecurity situation? What role do community gardens and mobile markets play in the solution? And, what can be done to recruit grocery stores to areas that need them the most? Louisiana Public Square brings together stakeholders and advocates to explore these issues and more on “Cultivating Food Security” Wednesday, November 27 at 7pm on LPB and in New Orleans on WLAE.

Tariff Tensions | October 2019 | Louisiana Public Square

Last year, the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas released a study that ranked Louisiana among the top three states most vulnerable in a U.S. trade war with China. Who are Louisiana winners and losers in the trade wars? And what is the end game for the conflict? Louisiana Public Square travels to Alexandria.

Resetting Louisiana | September 2019 | Louisiana Public Square

On October 12, Louisiana voters will be choosing the Governor, the Attorney General, Secretary of State and all 144 members of the legislature. Also on the ballot will be openings on the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education which sets policies for nearly 720,000 public school students statewide. Since the issues emphasized during an election tend to shape the priorities of those elected, this campaign season the Council for a Better Louisiana; Public Affairs Research Council of Louisiana and the Committee of 100 have joined together to highlight ways to renew the state through their RESET initiative. This month, Louisiana Public Square explores the RESET agenda for improving state finances, education, transportation and public safety on “Resetting Louisiana” Thursday, September 26 at 8pm following LPB’s live Gubernatorial Debate.

Engaging Louisiana | August 2019 | Louisiana Public Square

A recent poll of Louisiana voters finds that 45 percent say that the state is on the wrong track and getting worse. Yet, turnout for the last gubernatorial race was significantly lower than the 2018 national midterms. In October, voters will be choosing not only the governor, but state legislators…nearly forty percent​ whose seats were term-limited this year. So, how can Louisianans be encouraged to be more active in the political process? How will new lawmakers gain much-needed institutional knowledge? What influence do lobbyists have in legislative affairs? And what are the state’s most pressing issues and how should they be addressed?

Youth & Guns | July 2019 | Louisiana Public Square

Louisiana leads the country in the rate of young people murdered through gun violence. Black youth are 14 times more likely to die at the hands of a gun than white teens. Additionally, the state has the second highest rate of children, aged 17 and younger, who are unintentionally shot. Why are Louisiana’s younger residents so vulnerable to gun violence? How does exposure to this violence affect their physical and mental well-being? What is the state doing to help confront the issue and where do gaps remain?

Legislative Wrap 2019 | June 2019 | Louisiana Public Square

Teacher pay raises. A boost to the minimum wage. Legalizing sports betting. Advancing or abolishing Louisiana’s death penalty? These were some of the major issues considered over the course of the legislature’s 2019 Regular Session that began in April. For the first four months of the year, Louisiana Public Square thoroughly examined these topics through thoughtful conversation among stakeholders on both sides. This month, Louisiana Public Square takes a look back at the issues that made headlines and how each fared at the state capitol.

Sinking Louisiana | May 2019 | Louisiana Public Square

Many scientists argue we are nearing a tipping point to save the coast, which demands “connecting the dots,” significant investment and a change in priorities. Louisiana Public Square, in partnership with public radio station WWNO, brings together coastal stakeholders, NGOs, researchers and industry leaders to explore strategies that reduce coastal land loss and protect lives. This program is made possible in part through funding from WNET and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

The Penalty of Death | April 2019 | Louisiana Public Square

Louisiana Public Square brings together proponents and opponents of capital punishment to explore the debate.

What are the Odds? Sports Betting in Louisiana | March 2019 | Louisiana Public Square

Last May, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a law prohibiting sports betting in all states but Nevada. Efforts in the legislature to allow sports gaming in Louisiana failed in 2018. This session will see a renewed push by lawmakers to allow sports betting with some supporting dedicating proceeds to early childhood education. What are the pros and cons of legalizing sports gaming? How would it be implemented in Louisiana? How much revenue could state government hope to see? And what are the challenges of dedicating another revenue stream? Louisiana Public Square looks for answers to these questions and more on “What are the Odds? Sports Betting in Louisiana” airing Wednesday, March 27 at 7pm on LPB and in New Orleans on WLAE.

Beyond the Minimum Wage | February 2019 | Louisiana Public Square

Louisiana has the third highest poverty rate in the country. This year Governor John Bel Edwards will attempt once again to raise the minimum wage for Louisiana workers. His goal is $8.50 an hour phased in over two years. But is raising the minimum wage the answer to helping Louisiana residents get out of poverty? Or does the solution involve something more? Large numbers of high wage jobs go unfilled because employers can’t find qualified applicants. Nearly 55% of Louisiana adults lack a college degree or postsecondary credential. What is the state doing to train and further educate its citizens to obtain the skills to get a well-paying job? What programs are working and what challenges remain? Louisiana Public Square looks for answers on “Beyond the Minimum Wage” Wednesday, February 27 at 7 p.m. on LPB HD.

The Value of Teachers | January 2019 | Louisiana Public Square

Louisiana public school teachers returning to the classroom in January, may see a pay increase on the horizon. Governor John Bel Edwards says his top priority for the 2019 legislative session is funding a teacher pay raise. Educators in the South earn an average of $50,955 annually, In Louisiana, the average is $49,745. But, some teacher advocates already are complaining that the Governor’s proposed $1,000 bump in pay is too low. So, what is an adequate raise? How will a salary increase and teacher retirement costs be funded? Should support staff be included in the mix? And what can local communities expect in exchange for higher teacher pay? Louisiana Public Square looks for answers to these questions and more on “The Value of Teachers” Wednesday, January 23 at 7pm on LPB and in New Orleans on WLAE. (Program recording Wednesday, January 16.) The panelists are: - Sen. Conrad Appel, R-Metairie; Senate Education Committee - Michael Faulk, Louisiana Association of School Superintendents - Debbie Meaux, Louisiana Association of Educators - Donald Songy, Senior Policy Advisor to Governor John Bel Edwards Beth Courtney, LPB CEO, and Barry Erwin, president of the Council for A Better Louisiana, will host.

Louisiana Public Square

Louisiana Public Square is LPB’s monthly public affairs program. It provides citizens a forum to voice their opinions and concerns about issues affecting Louisiana to leading experts and key decision makers. LPB has received state and national recognition for the series and we are proud that it serves as a model for other stations around the country. One of the primary goals of Louisiana Public Square is to allow different points of view to be expressed and heard. Oftentimes we have seen attitudinal changes of discussion participants after being exposed to other opinions on the program. (You can track these changes in attitude at our surveys link.)

One of the key features of this format is the depth and insightfulness of the discussion and questions generated in the crucible of citizen deliberations on a small group level. These queries are informed by not only the background material, but by the give-and-take dynamic of an open forum, skillfully moderated so that all are encouraged to speak their mind.

Louisiana Public Square evolved from the deliberative democracy concept of the MacNeil/Lehrer Productions’ By The People initiative. The goal is to encourage civic engagement and civil discourse – the foundations of a strong democracy.