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Gov. Edwards signs La. GOP's $300M small business aid plan

Edwards had wanted to steer most federal assistance to local government agencies to reimburse coronavirus-related expenses.
Credit: AP
Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards makes remarks and answers questions during a news conference about the state's COVID-19 situation, the effects of tropical storm Cristobal, special session legislative action and recent protests in Louisiana after the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody, and movement toward police reforms Monday, June 8, 2020, at the Governor's Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness in Baton Rouge, La. (Travis Spradling/The Advocate via AP, Pool)

BATON ROUGE, La. — Gov. John Bel Edwards has signed a Republican-crafted plan to spend $300 million in federal coronavirus aid to help small businesses recover from the outbreak. 

The dollars come from direct federal aid allocated to Louisiana by Congress to respond to the COVID-19 disease. Edwards intended to steer about $811 million of the federal assistance to local government agencies to reimburse them for virus-related expenses. 

Republican state lawmakers chose to divvy that money up differently. They carved out $300 million for small business grants and used the remaining $511 million for municipalities. 

The Democratic governor announced Monday that he signed the measure. Treasurer John Schroder will manage the business grant program.

As of last Friday, Edwards has vetoed eight bills passed by Louisiana lawmakers in their regular session. 

The vetoes issued Friday struck down the business lobby’s top priority, a measure to scale back damage claims against insurance companies in car accident lawsuits. 

The Democratic governor said the bill didn’t include a commitment to lower insurance rates as supporters promised. GOP lawmakers are trying to pass a similar measure in the ongoing special session. 

Edwards said he’s willing to continue negotiations. 

Edwards also scrapped bills that would have given lawmakers more oversight of state contracts and would have enacted new restrictions on ads from lawyers promising big paydays by suing businesses.

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