As 2018 comes to an end, Louisiana finally could be close to budget stability and the state has dropped from its spot as the nation’s top jailer. In addition, New Orleans saw its first woman mayor sworn into office and celebrated 300 years of existence.

Those were some of the top 10 stories of the year. Also this year, the #MeToo movement snared former Secretary of State Tom Schedler, and a Louisiana teacher was handcuffed and briefly jailed after asking about teacher pay during a school board meeting.

A look at the top 10 stories of 2018:

BUDGET STABILITY

After a decade of upheaval, Gov. John Bel Edwards and the Legislature this year came up with a seven-year tax deal that might finally offer budget stability in Louisiana. The 0.45 percent sales tax approved in a special session will expire in mid-2025. It was a partial renewal of an expiring, temporary 1 percent sales tax. Several sales tax breaks for people and companies also will be scaled back during the period.

CRIMINAL JUSTICE

Louisiana drops from its spot as the nation’s top jailer after criminal sentencing law changes passed in 2017 took hold. The changes expanded probation and parole opportunities and reduced sentences, mainly for nonviolent offenders. Oklahoma now has the country’s highest incarceration rate. Voters also approved a move to require unanimous juries, rejecting a decades-old law that allowed people to be sent to prison by 11-1 or 10-2 verdicts.

SEXUAL HARASSMENT

Secretary of State Tom Schedler resigned in May amid a sexual harassment scandal, the highest official in Louisiana to be felled since the #MeToo movement began. A lawsuit filed in February alleged Schedler harassed a female employee for years and punished her when she rebuffed advances. Schedler has maintained the pair had a consensual sexual relationship. The woman’s lawyer denied that. Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin, Schedler’s top aide moved into the job and then won a special election to fill the remaining year of Schedler’s term.

TEACHER HANDCUFFED

A Louisiana teacher was handcuffed and briefly jailed after asking about teacher pay during a school board meeting in January. The board president had ruled Deyshia Hargrave out of order, saying the public comment period was for comments, not questions. Hargrave’s removal from the board meeting and rough, video-recorded arrest sparked outrage. Hargrave was speaking out against giving the superintendent a $30,000 raise when teachers had gone years without a salary increase.

NEW ORLEANS FIRST FEMALE MAYOR

New Orleans welcomed its first female mayor since the city was founded 300 years ago. LaToya Cantrell was sworn into office May 7, succeeding term-limited fellow Democrat Mitch Landrieu. She was elected in November 2017. Cantrell was previously a member of the City Council.

300TH ANNIVERSARY

Throughout the year, New Orleans celebrated its 300th anniversary. Highlights of the celebration included visits of old style, tall-mast sailing ships and a visit by King Felipe the VI and Queen Letizia of Spain. Other tri-centennial events included the Prospect.4 art exhibition; the Krewe of Rex Mardi Gras procession themed on New Orleans’ history and a New Orleans Museum of Art exhibition showcasing the Duke of Orleans’ collection.

CLERGY ABUSE-LOUISIANA

The Archdiocese of New Orleans in November released a list of 57 priests and other clergy who it says faced credible child sex abuse allegations — the first such list to be released in Louisiana. The archdiocese says those under its control have been removed from the clergy or are dead. Elsewhere in the country, authorities in at least a dozen states have opened investigations, and federal prosecutors have launched a statewide probe in Pennsylvania.

VOTING MACHINE CONTRACT

Louisiana’s plan to replace 10,000 voting machines and upgrade voting security stalled . The governor’s administration voided a deal with Dominion Voting Systems in October, after the state’s chief procurement officer said the secretary of state’s office mishandled the bid process. Dominion disagreed but decided not to dispute the matter in court. New voting machines aren’t expected to be in place by the 2019 election.

ENTERGY NEW ORLEANS

Amid an intense debate over the construction of a new power plant in New Orleans, the utility giant Entergy says some people who appeared at City Council meetings to support the plant were paid to do so. Entergy said a subcontractor recruited and compensated them and Entergy did not authorize the payments or know about them until it investigated allegations that paid actors were among supporters at some public meetings. A City Council investigation determined Entergy “knew or should have known” about the paid plant supporters. The City Council approved the power station.

TOM BENSON DEATH

The longtime owner of the New Orleans Saints died in March at age 90. After an acrimonious family split over control of Benson’s fortune, his third wife, Gayle, inherited complete control of the Saints and Pelicans, which Benson bought in 2012. Under Benson’s ownership, the NFL team achieved its first winning seasons and a Super Bowl championship.

FILE - In this Jan. 11, 2018, file photo, teachers bow their heads in prayer at the start of a rally for school teacher Deyshia Hargrave, who was arrested while speaking against the superintendent's pay raise at an education board meeting earlier this week, in Abbeville, La. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert, File)
FILE – In this Jan. 11, 2018, file photo, teachers bow their heads in prayer at the start of a rally for school teacher Deyshia Hargrave, who was arrested while speaking against the superintendent’s pay raise at an education board meeting earlier this week, in Abbeville, La. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert, File)
FILE - In this March 14, 2018, file photo, Louisiana Secretary of State Tom Schedler, accused in a lawsuit of sexually harassing one of his employees, speaks at a press conference, in Baton Rouge, La. (AP Photo/Melinda Deslatte, File)
FILE – In this March 14, 2018, file photo, Louisiana Secretary of State Tom Schedler, accused in a lawsuit of sexually harassing one of his employees, speaks at a press conference, in Baton Rouge, La. (AP Photo/Melinda Deslatte, File)
FILE - In this March 27, 2018, file photo, Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry approaches the lectern to speak, to report his office's findings, that there were no state criminal charges to be prosecuted against Baton Rouge Police Department officers Blane Salamoni and Howie Lake II, who were involved in the fatal shooting of Alton Sterling, a black man, in July 2016 outside a convenience store. (Travis Spradling/The Advocate via AP, File)
FILE – In this March 27, 2018, file photo, Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry approaches the lectern to speak, to report his office’s findings, that there were no state criminal charges to be prosecuted against Baton Rouge Police Department officers Blane Salamoni and Howie Lake II, who were involved in the fatal shooting of Alton Sterling, a black man, in July 2016 outside a convenience store. (Travis Spradling/The Advocate via AP, File)
FILE - In this Jan. 11, 2018, file photo, Deyshia Hargrave, a Vermilion Parish school teacher who was arrested while speaking against the superintendent's pay raise at an education board meeting, speaks at a rally in her support in Abbeville, La. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert, File)
FILE – In this Jan. 11, 2018, file photo, Deyshia Hargrave, a Vermilion Parish school teacher who was arrested while speaking against the superintendent’s pay raise at an education board meeting, speaks at a rally in her support in Abbeville, La. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert, File)
FILE - In this May 7, 2018, file photo, New Orleans Mayor Latoya Cantrell, second from left, poses for a photo in front of a statue of Louis Armstrong while leading a second-line parade after her inauguration in New Orleans. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert, File)
FILE – In this May 7, 2018, file photo, New Orleans Mayor Latoya Cantrell, second from left, poses for a photo in front of a statue of Louis Armstrong while leading a second-line parade after her inauguration in New Orleans. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert, File)
FILE - In this June 15, 2018, file photo, King Felipe VI and Queen Letizia of Spain walk from the Cabildo to St. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert, File)
FILE – In this June 15, 2018, file photo, King Felipe VI and Queen Letizia of Spain walk from the Cabildo to St. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert, File)
FILE - In this file photo still image taken from body camera video provided by the Baton Rouge Police Department, officers Blane Salamoni and Howie Lake II confront Alton Sterling during a struggle outside the Triple S Food Mart in Baton Rouge, La. (Baton Rouge Police Department via AP, File)
FILE – In this file photo still image taken from body camera video provided by the Baton Rouge Police Department, officers Blane Salamoni and Howie Lake II confront Alton Sterling during a struggle outside the Triple S Food Mart in Baton Rouge, La. (Baton Rouge Police Department via AP, File)

Source: The Associated Press