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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

Senate Majority Leader Sharon Hewitt's Louisiana Senate Bill 201 is a comprehensive framework that lays out the requirements for public entities to hold remote meetings via electronic means. The bill seeks to accomplish three things:

The bill replaces the current piecemeal approach of individual board and commissions seeking permission one-by-one and creates a standard operating procedure. It is the product of the efforts of the Task Force on Remote Operations of Public Entities, which conducted numerous public hearings and generated recommendations for legislation after examining and discussing relevant issues.

Requirements for Statewide Public Bodies

The bill applies to public bodies as defined in R.S. 42:13(A)(3), which excludes the legislature. There is a primary distinction between remote meetings for local and statewide public bodies. While those classified as local bodies will always be required to meet in person, statewide bodies will be allowed a prescribed number of remote meetings if they meet the bill's criteria, which are listed below:

Some statewide bodies whose primary focus is dealing with disability issues will be allowed to hold unlimited remote meetings. These statewide bodies include:

The Legislative Auditor will audit the policies and practices of statewide public bodies and advisory councils to ensure compliance with the law.

Provisions for Conducting Remote Meetings

Below are a list of the provisions that must be met in order to conduct remote meetings. This is a summary and not an exhaustive list. Please also refer to the bill for additional information and to make sure requirements are met.

Anchor Location

All remote meetings shall originate from a physical anchor location. The anchor location is the public location where the entity normally holds in-person meetings or a location specifically equipped with technology for remote meetings. Any member of the public entity or public at-large may participate in person at the anchor location.

Disability Access

All board or commission member and members of the public with an ADA-recognized disability shall be afforded an opportunity to participate remotely. This includes a minimum of audio participation and video participation when feasible.

Public Participation

All remote meetings shall be recorded and made available to the public in an online archive located on the entity's website. Additionally, all remote meetings shall be conducted with a mechanism to receive public comment.

Meeting Notice and Materials

All meeting notice's shall include information about all participation options. Additionally, all meeting materials that are available to physically present members of the public shall also be made available online in real-time as they are introduced.

Technical Requirements and Difficulties

Cameras shall be required to be turned on at all times during remote meetings except during executive session. Also, all votes taken in the meeting shall be done by roll call vote. If a problem occurs that causes the meeting to no longer be visible or audible to the public, the meeting shall be recessed until the problem is resolved. If the problem is not resolved in two hours or less, the meeting shall be adjourned.

In Conclusion

In summary, the Louisiana Senate Bill 201 aims to modernize the public sector by creating a standard operating procedure for remote meetings. This bill seeks to increase transparency and participation while providing more opportunities for disabled citizens to participate in government. It also outlines provisions for conducting remote meetings to ensure accessibility, public participation, and to ensure technical requirements are met. This is a summary of the bill provided for interested parties and may not list all the legal requirements. To find out more information, please read the bill on the Louisiana Legislature website.

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

Sharon Hewitt for Governor Logo


BATON ROUGE, LA - The Senate and Governmental Affairs Committee today approved SB 201, sponsored by Majority Leader Sharon Hewitt, who also chairs the committee. The bill establishes guidelines for a statewide board, commission, or advisory council to provide remote access for the public to participate in the meetings.

If passed, the legislation provides for teleconference or videoconference access to Louisianans who would not otherwise be able to attend these meetings. 

“This legislation provides a mechanism for public comment and participation for Louisianans who may not be able to attend meetings.” Sharon said. “Giving access to those who may have a disability or lack the means to travel will go a long way to restoring people's faith in their government.” 

In addition, statewide public bodies that meet a minimum of six times per year will be allowed to hold some meetings remotely, improving the participation rate of board members who travel longer distances to attend in-person meetings.  The proposed law also authorizes the La. Commission for the Deaf, La. Developmental Disabilities Council, and state and regional advisory councils of the Office for Citizens with Developmental Disabilities to conduct any meeting via electronic means. 

Senator Hewitt expressed gratitude over the favorable committee vote on her proposed legislation and is looking forward to the debate before the full Senate that will take place at a later date.

Bill - 201


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

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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.

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

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