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By Minden Press-Herald  - May 24, 2023

BATON ROUGE, LA – Senate Majority Leader Sharon Hewitt’s SB163, known as the “Back to Basics in Math Bill”, advanced out of the House Education Committee. Hewitt’s bill will provide 4th through 8th grade math teachers with additional support in teaching mathematics by building on foundational math skills. Louisiana 4th graders currently rank 40th in the nation, according to NAEP, for math scores and 8th graders rank 44th. The bill aims to dramatically increase these rankings by going back to basic principles in teaching math. 

“It is unacceptable as a parent and grandparent that our kids rank near the bottom in math” Hewitt said. “My bill is a common sense approach that goes back to the basics of teaching math, the same math that I learned growing up in the Lake Charles school system and used while earning my engineering degree from LSU.” 

This proposed law is a critical step in ensuring that students in public schools receive high-quality math education. By improving the foundational numeracy skills of teachers, students will be better prepared for success in math and other subjects. This bill, along with Hewitt’s past legislation, continues to show why she is the “Louisiana Leader in Education.”

Senator Hewitt testifies on the Senate floor on Senate Bill 163.
State of Louisiana in red

>>> Louisiana's Hewitt promises to shut down coastal lawsuits

>>> State Senator Sharon Hewitt looking to bring bold leadership to governor's seat

>>> Gubernatorial candidate and Lake Charles native Sharon Hewitt shares her vision

by: Shannon Heckt | BRProud

BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) – As the fentanyl crisis in the state continues to grow, one of the many bills filed this legislative session looks to increase the penalties for people who are running makeshift labs in their homes and spreading the drug.

SB49 by state Sen. Sharon Hewitt, who is also running for governor, has been widely supported on both sides of the aisle.

The bill increases the punishments for the first, second and third offenses of running a clandestine laboratory. Under the bill, the first offense is 10-40 years, 10 of those years are not allowed parole, probation or a suspension of sentence. It also makes the fine $50,000. The second offense is 30-40 years and a $500,000 fine. Third and subsequent offenses are 99 years in prison and a $500,000 fine.

The labs could include basic things like blenders, pill presses, and other tools to cut fentanyl and be sold under a different name. Some of the doses are proving to be fatal or people are unaware fentanyl has been put into the drug they are buying.

“It takes very little equipment and they’re taking fentanyl and cutting it, you know, so that it only takes a little bit of fentanyl and any of these prescription drugs to be deadly,” Hewitt said.

These labs are becoming more common as the East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff’s Office is seeing. Since January of 2022, there have been over 340 fentanyl-related deaths in the parish. 

“All of that fentanyl that they were using was recut or reprocessed here in Baton Rouge. When we receive fentanyl as a community from source cities, most times it’s processed in these home labs,” said EBRSO Capt. Tanner Jenkins.

Hewitt said as she tours the state for her campaign, fentanyl is an issue that impacts people everywhere she goes. She hopes this move will be successful as they saw with increasing the penalties around heroin in the state.

“I will have literally at least one person either stand up publicly in that meeting or maybe speak to me privately afterwards with tears running down their cheeks because they lost a son or granddaughter or a nephew or a neighbor that they were close to to fentanyl overdoses,” Hewitt said.

Other bills moving through the session are taking aim at dealers and other penalties. This bill just has one more stop on the House floor before it’s sent to the governor’s desk.

Read the complete article on BRProud

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>>> Louisiana's Hewitt promises to shut down coastal lawsuits

>>> State Senator Sharon Hewitt looking to bring bold leadership to governor's seat

>>> Gubernatorial candidate and Lake Charles native Sharon Hewitt shares her vision

BATON ROUGE, LA – The Louisiana Senate voted in favor of Senate Majority Leader Sharon Hewitt’s SB 113, known as the “Fortified Roof” bill. The legislation is aimed at lowering insurance costs for Louisiana.

The “Fortified Roof” Bill requires insurers to provide discounts and other adjustments to reduce insurance premiums. These lower insurance rates shall be offered to homeowners who build or retrofit their roofing structures to comply with the State Uniform Construction Code or the fortified home or commercial standards created by the Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety. The reduced insurance premiums shall be actuarially justified.

“Homeowners and business owners in Louisiana are tired of seeing their property insurance rates increase. In some cases, private insurance is not even obtainable,” Hewitt said. “This is common sense and I urge my colleagues to join me in supporting Louisiana homeowners and their families.” 

Rates will continue to increase if insurance providers keep leaving the state. This bill will not only reduce rate premiums for homeowners and business owners, but will incentivize insurance companies to do business in Louisiana by reducing the risk of catastrophic damages due to roofing issues during major weather events.

Click here to read the full article on Lobservateur

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>>> Louisiana's Hewitt promises to shut down coastal lawsuits

>>> State Senator Sharon Hewitt looking to bring bold leadership to governor's seat

>>> Gubernatorial candidate and Lake Charles native Sharon Hewitt shares her vision

BATON ROUGE, LA -The Louisiana Senate passed SB 49, known as the “Clandestine Labs” bill.

Senate Majority Leader Sharon  Hewitt’s bill sets higher penalties for those convicted of creating or operating a clandestine lab for the unlawful manufacturing of fentanyl, carfentanil, or a mixture or substance containing a detectable amount of fentanyl, carfentanil, or its analogues.

“These criminals who are operating illegal labs to produce deadly drugs are responsible for the deaths of our youth and for putting our brave law enforcement officers and first responders at risk,” declared Hewitt. “We cannot stand idly by and watch as our communities are destroyed by this epidemic. This legislation is a stern warning to those who engage in the manufacture of counterfeit pills containing fentanyl or carfentanil: we will not tolerate your actions, and you will be punished to the full extent of the law.”

Increased penalties for those convicted will increase from five to fifteen years in prison with up to a $25,000 fine to the following:  

First-time offenders will face imprisonment at hard labor for 10 years to 40 years, of which at least 10 years will be without the possibility of parole, probation, or suspension of sentence. Additionally, the offender may be fined up to $50,000.

Second-time offenders will face imprisonment at hard labor for 30 years to 40 years, of which at least 10 years will be without the possibility of parole, probation, or suspension of sentence. Additionally, the offender may be fined up to $500,000.

Third-time offenders will be imprisoned for life, or 99 years, to be served without benefit of parole, probation, or suspension of sentence, and may be fined up to $500,000.

Click here to read the full article on Lobservateur

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>>> Louisiana's Hewitt promises to shut down coastal lawsuits

>>> State Senator Sharon Hewitt looking to bring bold leadership to governor's seat

>>> Gubernatorial candidate and Lake Charles native Sharon Hewitt shares her vision

By Victor Skinner | The Center Square contributor

(The Center Square) — The Committee on Senate and Governmental Affairs has approved legislation sponsored by Sen. Sharon Hewitt, a Republican candidate for governor, to establish rules for virtual public meetings.

Senate Bill 201 "basically provides a comprehensive framework that establishes the requirements for public entities to meet remotely via electronic means outside of a gubernatorial declared disaster or state of emergency," Hewitt told the committee, which she chairs.

The Slidell Republican explained video conferencing during the pandemic revealed many benefits of remote meetings, including increased government transparency, increased participation and reduced travel costs, and opportunities for disabled citizens to take part, either as a citizen or board member.

A legislative task force for remote operations held numerous public hearings over the last year to develop rules and regulations to leverage those advantages while ensuring in-person meetings for local boards and those making decisions involving significant spending or public impact, she said.

That work culminated with Senate Bill 201, which requires local public bodies to always meet in person, while allowing boards that are "beyond a regional scope" to hold a third of meetings remotely. The legislation would prohibit back-to-back remote meetings.

The bill includes some exceptions requiring in-person meetings for certain statewide boards with far-reaching spending and policy powers, including the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, Board of Regents, Board of Ethics, the State Civil Service Commission, the board for Louisiana Citizens insurance, the Board of Commerce and Industry, and the Board of Supervisors for state universities.

SB201 also provides an exception for statewide bodies dealing with disability issues to always meet remotely, and stipulates disabled citizens "shall be given an opportunity to participate in a meeting via electronic means at both the local and statewide meetings," either as a board member or citizen, Hewitt said.

"It will be up to the public bodies to adopt rules around how they’re going to do that," she said.

Other provisions of the bill spell out rules boards must follow for remote meetings. They include offering an anchor location for the public to attend in person, rules for public participation, required recording and archiving of meetings, making meeting materials available online in real time, meeting notification requirements, and required roll call votes.

The bill also stipulates that remote meetings that experience technical difficulties must be halted and can be recessed for up to two hours to fix the issue, then adjured and rescheduled if the problem is not resolved.

SB201 further tasks the Louisiana Legislative Auditor with reviewing implementation of the legislation to recommend improvements.

Numerous disability rights advocates testified or submitted cards in support of the bill, which was also backed by the Public Affairs Research Council of Louisiana.

"This is a sea change or at least the start of a sea change in how we do public meetings," PAR President Steven Procopio said.

Procopio noted that the intent behind the bill is to avoid a patchwork of different virtual meeting rules for hundreds of different commissions and boards.

"I really appreciate trying to get everything under one roof," he said.

Procopio explained that citizens became more engaged through virtual meetings during the pandemic, and SB201 will ensure that continues.

"Under COVID, citizens got used to a lot more access to their public meetings, they were able to see things online and participate," he said. "I think once they got involved, they don’t want to lose that."

There was no opposition to the bill, which now moves to the Senate floor.

Read the complete article on The Center Square.

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>>> Louisiana's Hewitt promises to shut down coastal lawsuits

>>> State Senator Sharon Hewitt looking to bring bold leadership to governor's seat

>>> Gubernatorial candidate and Lake Charles native Sharon Hewitt shares her vision

The drug is responsible for a growing number of overdose deaths, about 93% in St. Tammany Parish.

By Paul Murphy | WWL TV

ST. TAMMANY PARISH, La. — A Northshore state lawmaker is seeking up to life in prison for criminals convicted of manufacturing fentanyl. 

The drug is responsible for a growing number of overdose deaths, about 93% in St. Tammany Parish. 

Last month, 8 people in the parish died in just 12 days after taking the drug.

Last year, 140 people died in St. Tammany from fentanyl poisoning. 

This year, the parish is on pace to double that number. 

“Doing the math, 2 to 3 a week at least,” St. Tammany Coroner Dr. Charles Preston said. “It seems like every overdose death certificate I’m signing now has fentanyl on it.” 

"We’re seeing fentanyl-laced in just about everything, marijuana, all types of different pills from Adderall, Xanax, Percocet,” St. Tammany Sheriff’s Office Major Danny Culpepper said. What we’re also seeing is the amount. The smallest amount can kill.” 

Tuesday – Senator Sharon Hewitt, R-Slidell, who is also running for governor, announced she has filed a bill for the upcoming legislative session that seeks to crack down on the illegal manufacturing of the deadly drug. 

“I believe this legislation is going to send a message to those criminals that we don’t want your labs in Louisiana,” Hewitt said. “It’s time to pack up and get out of our neighborhoods.” 

Right now, manufacturing a controlled dangerous substance in Louisiana can result in a 5-to-15-year prison sentence. 

Under Hewitt’s bill, if you’re caught cooking up fentanyl or combining it with other drugs, you could face a minimum of 10 and up to 40 years in prison. 

A second conviction could get you no less than 30 and up to 40 years. Three strikes and you’re out. A third conviction carries a mandatory 99-year jail sentence. 

“As far as I’m concerned, I would like it to be two strikes and you’re out when it comes to fentanyl,” St. Tammany District Attorney Warren Montgomery said. “Hopefully we can drive down the supply of fentanyl and save lives.” 

The new penalties for fentanyl would also include up to $500,000 in fines.

Senator Hewitt’s bill goes after the drug manufacturer, but she says she is co-authoring another piece of legislation with Rep. Debbie Villio, R-Kenner, that proposes similar strict penalties against people who deal fentanyl. 

The bill is expected to be discussed during the upcoming legislative session which starts next month. It can be read here.

State Senator Sharon Hewitt (photo by Rodrick Anderson/American Press)

LAKE CHARLES—Three of seven candidates running for the office of governor spoke Thursday morning to Louisiana School Board Association members about their views on public education. A fourth candidate appeared via video (Landry). The candidates — state Sen. Sharon Hewitt, Attorney General Jeff Landry, attorney Hunter Lundy and state Rep. Richard Nelson — appeared during the association’s annual convention, held this year at Golden Nugget Casino Resort.

“People ask me all the time, ‘Why are you running?’ Well, our two sons went to out-of-state colleges, they’re working for companies out of state and they will probably never move back to Louisiana because there weren’t opportunities here for them,” Hewitt said. “What I want is a Louisiana where our families want to work here, and live here and retire here. Our sons were born and raised here and it breaks my heart that there aren’t opportunities here for them in Louisiana. As governor, I’m going to change that.”

The Lake Charles native and Barbe High School graduate said she has five areas she wants to focus on if elected governor — creating a world-class education system rich in technology to build “the workforce of tomorrow”; growing the economy with strong infrastructure and a tax system that “respects your hard-earned tax dollars”; affordable and reliable insurance and energy; safer neighborhoods and communities; and protecting personal freedoms. Hewitt said Senate Bill 222, which she sponsored, passed two years ago and goes into effect next year.

“This bill establishes for the first time in state history a uniform way of reporting how well students are reading,” she said. “We’re going to be checking that three times a year and there will be processes in place and opportunities for parents to know how well their children are reading. We are also teaching students who are studying higher education in higher education institutions the science of reading so they are ready to hit the ground running when they come into your school systems. These are all things are actually happening.” Hewitt said by the end of her first term as governor, all kindergarten through third grade students will be reading.

She also vowed to bring computer science courses to every grade level to get Louisiana students ready for the global economy. “Louisiana students are getting left behind,” she said. “Louisiana is 49th in the percentage of high schools offering a computer science class. To show you how much of an opportunity we are missing, last year in Louisiana we had 5,441 job openings per month in the computer field, and we only had 568 graduates in computer science. We have tremendous opportunities and yet we’re not filling the pipeline.”   Hewitt also said she supports education savings accounts. “I am an advocate for public schools; I’m a product of public schools, my kids are, my mom was a teacher. That’s always where my priority is going to be,” she said. “But for those children that do not succeed in a public school environment, I do believe we should give them options. It’s important to give parents choices, and parents options.”

Click here to read the full article on Lobservateur

>> Senator Hewitt creates Louisiana STEM initiative

>> Gubernatorial candidate and Lake Charles native Sharon Hewitt shares her vision

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Decision puts her at odds with GOP-endorsed gubernatorial foe Landry

By Victor Skinner | The Center Square contributor

Sen. Bret Allain, R-Franklin, left, chairman of the Senate Revenue and Fiscal Affairs Committee, talks with Sen. Sharon Hewitt, R-Slidell, and Sen. Patrick McMath, R-Covington, during opening day of the Louisiana legislative session in Baton Rouge, La. in 2021. AP Photo / Gerald Herbert

(The Center Square) — Louisiana Republican gubernatorial candidate Sen. Sharon Hewitt is promising to shut down all coastal litigation involving alleged damage from energy companies.

"On my first day in office, I will instruct my Secretary of Natural Resources to immediately pause all coastal litigation," Hewitt, the Senate majority leader, told the Louisiana Oil and Gas Association in Lake Charles on Monday. "I will not allow baseless litigation to be weaponized against the oil industry, holding producers to made-up standards fabricated to enrich trial lawyers. I will not do it."

Hewitt's comments follow a decision by officials at the Department of Natural Resources in late October to override the objections of local leaders to sign onto a proposed $100 million settlement with Freeport-McMoRan on behalf of four parishes that refused.

The settlement involves one of 43 ongoing lawsuits from coastal parishes that allege more than 200 energy companies damaged the coastline by creating canals and other development, despite federal permits authorizing the work.

The Freeport-McMoRan settlement would require the company to pay $23.5 million over the next two decades to fund coastal restoration projects, while the remainder of the money would be funneled into an environmental credit scheme that critics have likened to a political slush fund.

Councilmen in multiple parishes have criticized the proposed settlement, alleging the trial attorneys behind it stand to reap millions from the deal.

The pro-energy Grow Louisiana Coalition has worked to urge parishes to reject the settlement, as well, pointing to $435 million the oil and gas industry has contributed to coastal work since 2017.

"The number one reason is it's better to work with the oil and gas industry in south Louisiana than to work against it," Marc Ehrhardt previously told The Center Square.

Research from the Pelican Institute shows the state lost 2,000 jobs in the two years after the coastal lawsuits were first filed in 2013, resulting in $70 million in lost wages. The policy group estimates between $43 million and $113 million in annual economic losses since the lawsuits were filed, which equates to a $22.6 million loss for state and local governments for schools, roads and other infrastructure.

Before becoming a lawmaker, Hewitt worked for Shell for two decades, initially on an offshore drilling rig in the Gulf of Mexico before working her way up to a high-ranking executive charged with overseeing hundreds of employees and billions in deep water assets.

In Lake Charles, the Slidell Republican called for an in-depth review of any allegations by the DNR's long standing regulatory and administrative enforcement authority.

"We know that over the last 40 years, DNR has issued hundreds, if not thousands, of citations for violations of our coastal laws and regulations," she said. "Unlike these lawsuits, DNR has never sued or cited anyone for things that took place before any laws or regulations were in place. We don't have ex post facto laws in Louisiana — it's a violation of the most basic principles of our legal system. True violations should be handled through citations, in accordance with DNR regulations and state law."

Hewitt's position on the coastal litigation stands in contrast to her Republican competition for governor, Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry, who in 2021 signed off on the Freeport-McMoRan settlement.

Read the full story at The Center Square.

By Jeff Palermo - Louisiana Radio Network

State lawmakers have approved legislation that sets up a 45-million dollar incentive fund that will be used to bring more insurance companies to Louisiana that will offer homeowners coverage. Senate Insurance Chairman Kirk Talbot says the goal is to reduce the number of Citizens Property Insurance policyholders who face a 63-percent rate hike this year.

“People need help, we need to respond and we are here to solve problems, in my opinion we need to pass this bill and give relief to people who need it,” said Talbot.

The bill passed on a 37-to-1 vote in the Senate on Friday. Bossier City Senator Barrow Peacock was the lone no vote as he questioned whether the incentive fund would actually lead to more insurers who can supply homeowners coverage.

“Why would any insurance company want to take on a risk of a policy in Citizen or in the coastal parishes two months before hurricane season starts,” said Peacock.

Slidell Senator Sharon Hewitt says this is not the silver bullet to Louisiana’s insurance crisis and lawmakers will need to continue to address the problem even more in the regular session that starts in April.

“So that Louisiana is a place where insurance companies want to work and where are families and businesses can afford the insurance they need to be successful,” said Hewitt.

Senator Sharon Hewitt takes to the Senate floor: "Rising Insurance costs is one of the biggest problems we face in Louisiana today."

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By Crystal Stevenson

LAKE CHARLES, La (American Press) - Lake Charles native and Barbe High School graduate Sharon Hewitt said she brings a different set of skills to the table in her race for Louisiana’s next governor.

The Republican state senator, who is based in Slidell and represents District 1, spoke with the American Press editorial board via phone to share her vision of what the state could become under her leadership.

“I come from an energy background and no one is going to navigate the energy business and protect energy jobs better than I will,” she said. “I have a legislative background; not everyone in the race has served in the Legislature. I’ve been on the finance committee. I know the budget, I know where the money is, I know which agencies are performing well and which ones have challenges and what the opportunities are to correct those. I’ve been a volunteer for many years. I’ve been the PTA president more times than I can count and received the National Lifetime PTA Achievement Award because of the work that I did, which has been very consistent with my legislative work — focusing on technology jobs, better curriculum and higher standards for our students.”

As a wife, mother and now grandmother, Hewitt said she understands the difficulties families are facing with balancing their budgets when they’re looking at $5 now for a dozen eggs. “Families are having to walk away from their homes because they can’t afford it,” she said. “The high cost of insurance, mortgages, interest rates, flood insurance, I understand all that and I understand the heartache when your sons move away from the state of Louisiana after being born and raised here because they can’t find opportunities in Louisiana in their chosen fields.” Hewitt said all of those things have helped prepare her to lead the state.

“I bring a different set of skills and I think it’s exactly the set of skills Louisiana needs at this point in our history.”


Individual and corporate income taxes have already been reduced and the 0.45 sales tax increase of 2018 goes off the books in 2025. Hewitt said she plans to reduce taxes even more.

“What we did last year in the Legislature and with the constitutional amendment our citizens passed put our state on a path to get to zero state income tax,” she said. “Most people don’t even realize that that’s what we did. We lowered the tax bracket on personal income tax from 6 percent, 4 percent, 2 percent to 4.25 percent as the top bracket and the other two were adjusted down also. Then we put a trigger in the law that says in years of exceptional revenue — and it defines how that is determined — that we would automatically reduce the tax brackets down and they can never go back up. The idea and the goal and what people don’t seem to realize is we are committed in the state of Louisiana to getting to a zero state income tax.” She said legislation approved by lawmakers and voters to do just that kicks in this year.

“Personal state income tax is a $4 billion line item in the state budget; the state’s part of the budget is around $20 billion, the federal piece of it is $20 billion. A $4 billion hit to a $20 billion state-funded budget is a significant piece so we couldn’t do that in one fell swoop. We had to do it step by step in a prudent way.” Something else she’d like to fix if elected governor is the state’s complicated tax code.

“Part of the problem with political solutions is that you kind of just Band-Aid over what was previously bad tax policy and just keep Band-Aiding over it,” she said. “We really need to be able to take it to a clean slate. One of the solutions that has been talked about a lot that I support is holding a constitutional convention that allows you to basically look at all the different ways that we fund government and look at not only simplifying our tax code but also restructuring the relationship between state and local government in terms of how they are funded and how decisions are made. We need to be able to push more authority toward local governments and provide opportunities for them to raise their own revenue so that everything doesn’t have to funnel through Baton Rouge.” Hewitt said Louisiana’s tax code is complicated because the state generally has higher tax rates that are often offset to make the state more competitive with hundreds of tax exemptions and credits.

“What happens is when site selectors look at our state, compare us to other states and look for places to relocate businesses or establish a corporate headquarters, they put just a big question mark next to Louisiana when they’re trying to evaluate that company’s forward-looking tax liability because it’s so complicated and it’s very difficult to predict. We have to flip off the Band-Aids and look at all the different ways both state and local government is funded so that we can level the playing field a little bit and make our state more attractive to businesses and families.” Hewitt said the state has been spending a lot of one-time money on infrastructure and it’s something she would like to continue. “When you look at roads, bridges, ports and airports, our wish list and needs are not fully funded,” Hewitt said. “That’s a great way to invest one-time dollars because we have such a backlog and those things are creating jobs, which helps rev up the economic engine. I’d like to see some more investments in courts, and I’d like to see us focus on smaller, locally owned bridges.”

Hewitt said there are thousands of bridges around the state that need to be repaired or replaced before they get to the point that they’re unsafe and need to be shut down. Case in point: the Interstate 10/Calcasieu River bridge. “That bridge is important to me because I grew up in Lake Charles,” she said. “I’ve been driving on that bridge for a very long time. When I got my driver’s license, the crowning achievement on the last day of class was to drive over that bridge without having a heart attack.” She said there aren’t many routes to get across a body of water so bridge closures cause families and the trucking industry to make 30- or 40-mile detours to find alternate routes.


Hewitt said the best way to grow the state economy is to provide better and higher-paying jobs. “You reduce your taxes, you increase the high-paying jobs and the secret sauce to doing that is to have a more educated workforce — one that has the skills that the businesses in our state need,” she said. “When you have a company like Boeing tell me that they have 200 job openings that they cannot fill and they’re having to go to other states to fill those openings, that breaks my heart. We’re hearing those stories all around the state.” She said much of the work she has championed in the Legislature helps to address that, including establishing STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) centers around the state. “The job of these centers is to connect the dots between what are the skills industries in that area need to make sure that our educational institutions are aligned so that we are providing the skills that students in Louisiana need so they can go to work with Louisiana companies and stay right here in our home state and businesses don’t have to look elsewhere for the talent that they need,” she said. Hewitt said she’s done a lot of work in providing alternate pathways in high school for students to concurrently earn a high school diploma along with an industry-based certification, apprenticeship or two-year degree. “They can go directly into the workforce upon graduation from high school, in many cases making $60,000 a year starting salary,” she said. “These are things not like the traditional welding and air conditioning repair like it was back in my day, but things like Cloud computing and computer coding and nursing and EMT — the kinds of opportunities that are being made available in many of our high schools. We have to prepare our workforce for the technology needs of the global economy and I’ve focused a lot on computer science and computer coding in our schools.” She said in Louisiana, only 30 percent of high schools offer computer science courses. In the states surrounding Louisiana, that number is 90 percent. “We’re falling behind,” she said. “Whether our students go into technology fields or not, everybody needs a basic understanding of technology these days to just survive on an everyday basis.” Hewitt said she’s also passionate about literacy, citing half of Louisiana’s third-graders are reading below that grade level when they move on to fourth grade. “If we could do one thing and only one thing in education it should be to teach our kids to read,” she said. “We need to be acting like our hair’s on fire on this issue.” Louisiana State Superintendent of Education Cade Brumley said Hewitt’s Reading Education Savings Account Program legislation, which was passed last year, was the “most significant literacy bill in recent history.” The law creates an account for parents of students struggling to read to use to improve their child’s education outside of the public school system. Students who are not reading at grade level by second or third grade would be eligible for the accounts funded with the per-pupil state allotment for qualified education expenses, which include tuition, fees, textbooks, instructional or tutoring services, curriculum, and technological devices. She also championed a bill the year before that requires public schools to create and develop a literary assessment for every K-3 student. It would be given within the first 30 days from the beginning of school, and the results would tell teachers and principals the percentage of students reading below, at or above grade level. If a student is found to be below the reading level for that grade, the school would have to notify the parent or guardian in writing within 15 days. The school would also have to provide the parent or guardian mid-year and end-of-the-year updates as well as suggest tools to use at home to increase the student’s reading level. “Many times, parents are caught off guard and don’t realize their child is behind,” Hewitt said. “If you are not reading by the time you leave third grade, you are destined for a lifetime of challenges. We don’t teach reading in the fourth grade, we’re assuming you know how to read and now you’re reading for comprehension to learn science and social study. We’re doing a huge disservice to our readers by not getting them reading long before the third grade.” Hewitt said in the upcoming legislation, she plans to take on the math challenges students face. “Our students are not where they should be performing on math skills, either, because we’ve gotten away from the basics,” she said. “We’re not teaching the basic addition and multiplication facts, for example. I think it’s time for us to take education and say, ‘We’ve had enough. We can’t just keep tweaking around the edges. We have to be completely committed to getting our kids where they need to be so they can compete in a global economy.’ ”


Hewitt, who earned a mechanical engineering degree from LSU and went on to become one of the first female executives in a major oil and gas company, said no one will be a stronger advocate for oil and gas jobs in Louisiana than her. Before becoming a legislator, Hewitt took charge of Shell’s central deepwater assets situated in the Gulf of Mexico, a division of more than 160 employees with a budget in excess of a quarter of a billion dollars a year. In that position, she said she oversaw roughly 10 percent of the oil production in the United States and was trusted with managing billions of dollars in assets. “Shell was the No. 1 company on the Fortune 500 list when I was there,” she said. “I say that because I learned my leadership skills with some of the best leaders in the world. I learned ‘The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People’ from Stephen Covey himself. Not only was I given great opportunities for formal leadership training but also through the job that I was given and the opportunities that I had there. I started out as all new young engineers do on a drilling rig for a year. There weren’t women offshore. There were unique challenges because many people did not think that women belonged in the oil industry. Fast forward 20 years and I was managing Shell’s central deepwater Gulf of Mexico business.” Hewitt said her background makes her the best person to  help Louisiana navigate and open its doors to other energy businesses. “There’s tremendous interest in our state, certainly in LNG,” she said. “I’ve done a lot to help fund some of the research required for other energy businesses in our four-year institutions so that Louisiana will be well-positioned to be an energy leader in all aspects of energy. Oil and gas is not going away and I’m going to stand up for Louisiana in fighting those bad policies coming from the federal government that will hurt Louisiana and will hurt jobs. There’s nothing more important to our state than being energy independent and not dependent on those countries that are bad actors or not friends of the United States and no one can do that like the state of Louisiana.”

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