BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) – The 2022 Louisiana Legislative Session has come to a close after passing a historic budget and a number of tense social policies.

Once-in-a-lifetime investments shined through the $39-billion budget. The governor signed off on the budget without many line-item vetoes. The biggest investments are going towards the Mississippi River and Calcasieu River bridges.

“This is where we start making those really crucial investments to make sure that people know that we have our house in order,” Gov. Edwards said.

K-12 teachers will also be getting a 15-hundred dollar raise – and higher education faculty will get a 5% raise. Lawmakers feel they were responsible with their spending of the extra money they have in the bank. Everyone tried to remain mindful of a possible fiscal cliff down the road.

But the legislature was embattled by national social fights that led to some tense moments over the last few months. There were several tense debates on topics from abortion, to gun control, to critical race theory and vaccines. Only a few of those bills are on their way to the governor, where he will make the final decision.

A notable bill by Sen. Katrina Jackson criminalizes doctors for performing abortions should Roe v. Wade be overturned by the Supreme Court. The White House released a statement on the bill saying:

The Louisiana legislature has taken the latest step in a growing attack against the fundamental freedoms of Americans. Louisiana’s extreme bill will criminalize abortion with no exceptions for rape or incest and punish reproductive healthcare professionals with up to ten years in prison. The President is committed to protecting the constitutional rights of Americans afforded by Roe for nearly 50 years, and ensuring that women can make their own choices about their lives, bodies, and families. An overwhelming majority of the American people agree and reject these kinds of radical measures.”

The anti-abortion governor responded to the passage of the bill stating there are already laws on the books from 2006 that do not have those exceptions and this bill does not change it in his opinion.

“I believe Senator Jackson’s bill was an effort to reconcile all of those various enactments so that you had more consistency and less of a problem in terms of different definitions, different penalties, different things like that. Quite frankly, the White House got this wrong today,” Gov. Edwards said.

Sen. Rick Ward of Port Allen signed off for his final session and emphasized the importance of working together. He served in the Senate for just over 10 years and is leaving for a private-sector job. He talked about how the legislature can work together to accomplish big things.

“It’s important we all remember there is nothing in this building we accomplish alone. We have to have the majority of both bodies working together to accomplish [things],” Sen. Ward said.

Edwards said he will not be signing the ban on transgender athletes but will allow it to become law based on the recent votes on both sides of the aisle. He is still against the bill and said it is discriminatory against that vulnerable population.

He will also be calling a special session in a few days to address the court order to draw a new congressional map to include a second majority-minority district. The court said they must draw a new map by June 20.

Speaker of the House Clay Schexnayder released this statement at the end of the session:

“While this session came with significant challenges, we finished successfully by balancing the budget and ensuring no one-time money was spent on recurring expenses while funding education, healthcare, and critical infrastructure projects. 

We placed an emphasis on prioritizing families, taxpayers, and job creators over government expansion to make it easier to start a business and raise a family right here in Louisiana.

We looked at specific infrastructure projects across Louisiana that needed attention and funded significant portions of those projects, including the Mississippi River Bridge in Baton Rouge, the Lake Charles Bridge, I-49, rural road and water programs, and broadband development throughout the state. 

During this legislative session, we were able to add specific trigger language to Louisiana law that will end abortion in Louisiana pending the Supreme Court overturning Roe V. Wade, as well as passing legislation that protects female athletes in high school and college by requiring only biological females participate in female sports.

We stopped new taxes on business from kicking in by stabilizing the unemployment trust fund, invested in proven technical career training programs, and passed a new school choice program for students falling behind in school or with special needs.

Every year of this term we’ve accomplished what people said could not be done and we’re not done yet.”

The Democratic Caucus wrapped up with this statement:

“House Democrats delivered for families in the 2022 legislative session and helped move Louisiana forward. Democrats authored legislation to lower the cost of insulin, help hurricane victims deal with their insurance companies and landlords, reform our criminal justice system, and help rural communities and small businesses. We also used our influence on the budget-making process to provide teachers and support staff with a pay raise, invest in higher education at historic levels, and deliver more than $300 million in programs and projects to improve the quality of life in our districts. And while our legislation was focused on kitchen-table issues, we also fought back against attempts by others to push Louisiana into the embarrassing culture wars, and we stood up for the most vulnerable among us. There is more we need to do to improve education, raise wages, and protect our civil rights—but this session proved that Democrats are doing the work and pulling our state forward.”