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The latest school shooting, this time at Santa Fe High School, has reignited the conversation around gun regulations. In response to the Parkland massacre, several bills were introduced in Louisiana that targeted firearms, but all were struck down. New Orleans Senator Troy Carter, who introduced several gun bills this year, says he hopes the legislature will come around on gun control.

“We had opportunities this session to address some of this. Hopefully people will start to understand that this is not anti-second amendment, this is about saving lives.”

Carter introduced three gun control bills. One that would restrict assault rifle sales to those over the age of 21, another that would track ammo sales, and a final bill that banned bump stocks. He says despite a lack of support in the capital this year, he’ll be reintroducing them next year.

“I fully intend to bring all three and maybe even others forward to what I hope will be a bipartisan approach to sensible gun measures.”

The New Orleans Democrat says for any gun control legislation to gain traction, one organization in particular is going to have to get behind it.

“You can support the second amendment while still protecting life. The NRA is at the top iof that argument and they can really weigh in in a big way. They can still protect their members while still protecting lives.”

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If you had to pick a game this weekend in which the LSU Tigers would get blown out, it would have been Friday, because Auburn was throwing one of the best college baseball pitchers in the country.
 
That turned out to be the game LSU won and they were blown out on Thursday and Saturday. 


Saturday's game was an ugly performance by LSU's pitching staff as they allowed four home runs, 16 hits in a 14-5 defeat.  
 
Auburn's Will Holland hit two of those dingers, both were two-run shots. For the weekend, the sophomore from Georgia was 10-of-14, with two home runs, four doubles and six runs driven in. 
 
Edouard Julien and Luke Jarvis each drove in four runs in the rout. 
 
AJ Labas started on the mound for LSU. He gave up four runs in three innings. Devin Fontenot's miserable second half of the season continued as he was tagged for five runs to raise his ERA to 5.62. 
 
Matthew Beck allowed three runs and Clay Moffit gave up two more. 
 
The Tigers hit two home runs as Nick Coomes and Nick Webre each hit solo shots. Beau Jordan had a two-run single. 
 
LSU finishes the regular season with a record of 33-23, 15-15 in the SEC. 
 
They are the 8-seed in the SEC Tournament they'll play a single elimination game on Tuesday at 4:30.  
 

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Ohio State graduate transfer QB Joe Burrow is LSU bound. Burrow made his decision known on Friday and he’ll compete with three other quarterbacks to be the starter this fall. Matt Moscona, the host of "After Further Review" on ESPN Radio in Baton Rouge and New Orleans, says Burrow has a skill set the others on LSU’s roster do not have.


"At 6-3, 210 pounds, 21-years-old, with the big arm, he's physically bigger than Justin McMillan, he's probably what they hope what Myles Brennan can grow into and he's a very different prospect from Lowell Narcisse, who is very raw," said Moscona. 
 
But is Burrow the answer to LSU’s problems at quarterback? Moscona says Head Coach Ed Orgeron is taking a calculated risk with Burrow. 
 
"Burrow hasn't done anything of significance, so they are kind of hoping, like every LSU fan is that he can grab a hold of this roster and make this team his and give    LSU something they haven't had in a decade and that is a dynamic player at quarterback," said Moscona. 
 
Burrow spent the past three seasons at Ohio State as a back-up. He graduated, which allows him to play this fall, with two years of eligibility left. Moscona says history shows LSU has had some success with transfer quarterbacks, Zach Mettenberger and Danny Etling, are two examples.
 
"Burrow wouldn't be in Baton Rouge if he didn't feel like he was gonna end up starting week 1 against Miami," said Moscona.  
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Summertime is the most active season for door-to-door sales, and State Fire Marshal Butch Browning reminds everyone to be wary of home security sales fraud. Dale Meredith of Cottonport recounted his story of how a salesman saw the ADT sign outside his home, and proceeded to impersonate an ADT official who claimed to be there to replace his panel. After coming in to take a look around the house…

“He had gotten on the telephone and said I’m calling to have it set up and scheduled and I said you need to get off that telephone I’m not authorizing the changing of nothing.”

Better Business Bureau Southwest Louisiana President Carmen Million says home security installation and sales ranks among one of the most problematic and reported industries in the country.

“Of the 3,500 business categories we tracked in 2017 home security sales ranks in the top 25 for the most numbers of complaints.”

Browning says report any suspicious sales activity, and offered four tips to avoid door-to-door sales fraud.

“Always remember that you don’t have to invite that salesman into your home. Always ask for ID. Read everything. Finally, don’t give in to that high pressure sale.”

Browning says the state receives 25 complaints a month about door to door sales fraud.

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As anticipated state legislators ended the regular session early, but a 28-billion dollar budget approved by lawmakers this week was vetoed by Governor John Bel Edwards.
 
Edwards told reporters during a Friday night press conference that the legislature can do better. 


The spending plan sent to the governor's office contained deep cuts to higher education, TOPS, social services and public safety. 
 
He's bringing legislators back to the State Capitol on Tuesday for a special session to approve tax bills that can generate the necessary revenue to stave off the deep budget cuts. 
 
Edwards said he would support bills that keep a portion of the expiring one-cent sales tax, while getting rid of some sales tax exemptions. 
 
The regular session ended just before 9 PM on Friday night as several lawmakers spent much of the day behind closed doors trying to reach an agreement on legislation that would extend the state's contract with Harrah's New Orleans for 30 years. 
 
But a deal could not be reached and it's unclear if legislators will try again next year. There's still six years left on the current deal.  

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Latest job numbers show that more Louisiana residents are employed than ever before. According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, just over two-million people were employed last month, an increase of 47,000 from the previous April.

Executive Director of the Louisiana Workforce Commission, Ava Dejoie, says certain sectors of Louisiana’s economy continue to do well.

“Construction, education, and healthcare. And leisure and hospitality as well”.

The state’s unemployment rate fell nearly one-percent from April of 2017 to April 2018. Dejoie says education and health services added 78-hundred jobs for the year, while leisure and hospitality gained 67-hundred jobs.

 “We’ve been very focused on our training programs, on apprenticeship programs. We’ve had great announcements from economic development”.

Dejoie says the leisure and hospitality industry, along with technology and construction helped New Orleans gain 29-hundred jobs in the past month. Houma’s job numbers remained steady over the last month, but she says there’s been a 500-percent job gain in that market over the year.

“We are doing all sorts of training programs. For example down in Houma, we have an alignment training program going on that those participants will go to work immediately in the energy sector”.
  

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The on-line restaurant delivery service Waitr based in Lake Charles, has been sold to a Texas Billionaire, Tilman Fertitta, for 308 million dollars. Waitr was founded in 2015 and has grown to over 30 metro areas from Texas to South Carolina.

Chris Meaux is the company’s founder and will continue as chairman of the board of directors.

 “It’s going to make us a public company, and it’s going to allow us access to the capitol that we need to continue to really build our business”. 

Meaux says the added infusion of cash will help the company grow.

“I think this deal makes it, it’s really great because it allows us to continue to build our company in Louisiana”.

Last year an investment group lead by Saints QB Drew Brees pumped 10 million into the company. This buy out will, according to Meaux will also make the company prosper.

 “This is going to allow us to do some things that improves the customer experience. We want to make sure we reduce the time it takes to deliver orders. We want to make sure that when orders are delivered that they’re delivered accurately”. 


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The regular session is coming to a close with a special session set for Tuesday. The session was marked by partisan gridlock, but a notable piece of legislation to pass was a bill allowing riverboats to expand on land. Political Analyst Bernie Pinsonant says the chances of any further gaming legislation making headway next year is slim.
 

“Gambling next year will be tough to get out of the legislature. They will all be in what’s called reelection mode. Anything that’s controversial, they are going to avoid like the plague”. 
 
 The “Hail Mary” of the session, New Orleans Senator JP Morrell’s unanimous juries constitutional amendment, found surprising success and is on its way to the November ballot. The bill would require a unanimous jury verdict in criminal trials. Pinsonat says it’s success will hinge on who shows up to the ballot box in fall.

“That depends on turn out, Republicans tend to vote against it, Democrats tend to vote for it. So if the right republicans outvote democrats then it would fail”.

Wage related bills, such as equal pay for women, pay secrecy, and a minimum wage hike all failed to pass the legislature. Pinsonat says proponents will have a wait a few years before having a realistic shot at the progressive legislation.

“Most if not all die in the house, I don’t see any change in that especially next year. Maybe 2020, a new legislature if it’s more moderate or more democratic these may pass”.

 

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The founder of the Cajun Navy 2016, Jon Bridgers of Walker, has been arrested on contractor fraud accusations. His lawyer Philip House says Bridgers insists it’s a contractual dispute wrought with miscommunication with a homeowner, who is rebuilding following the August flood of 2016.

Mr. Bridgers obviously informed the homeowner long before he got started on the job that it was going to take some amount of time because he had other jobs, and of course he’s involved with the Cajun Navy and these other issues”.

Bridgers was booked on one count of residential contractor fraud and released on a 10-thousand dollar bond. According to the arrest report, Bridgers agreed to repair a home in East Baton Rouge Parish in October 2016 for 47-thousand dollars, but never finished the work. House says this is a miscommunication, not fraud.

“It was a contractual dispute, there was some issues. It was being resolved and at the last second it was just the insistence of the homeowner that they no longer wanted to negotiate amicably to try to resolve the issue”.

Bridgers was invited to Washington D.C. for President Donald Trump’s first State of the Union Address. House says the dispute with the homeowner got out of hand.

“He said that there was money owed on the job, they negotiated, they came to an amount, and he attempted to tender that amount and the homeowner refused it”.

Below is a statement from Jon Bridgers regarding the case.

My entire life I’ve built a reputation of being a man of my word. The reports you read in the media are NOT telling the whole story. Let me be clear: I did not defraud anyone.

The situation at hand is the result of miscommunication, not fraud. I attempted to amicably resolve what is a contractual dispute.

Since August of 2016 I have humbly sacrificed countless hours helping neighbors and communities in need whether in Louisiana, Texas or Florida. The Cajun Navy is a nationwide movement and I’m proud to play a small part.

My focus remains on the work the Cajun Navy is doing every day to be prepared to respond to the next disaster, wherever it may be. Your prayers are appreciated.

John Bridgers, Sr.

 

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The Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development is reporting an emergency roadwork project on the new Mississippi River Bridge. The Eastbound inside lane will be closed from Friday at 7 p.m. to noon on Sunday. The Westbound inside lane will be closed from 9:30 P.M. Friday to 9:30 A.M. Saturday. Rodney Mallett is with DOTD.

“We expect some significant delays as we make these emergency repairs at the approach slabs there on the Mississippi River bridge.”

The 50-year-old plus bridge is in dire need of replacing some on-ramp concrete.

“It’s more than fifty years old, so this concrete roadway has reached the end of its life. It’s something just has to be done to avoid a real catastrophic incident.”

Mallett says they are trying to get the word out for travelers who use the bridge.

“The average daily traffic on that bridge is more than 100,000, so it is going to funnel down to one lane. We expect significant delays and we have the message boards across the state, those big dynamic message boards, and we are going to have them all lit up.”

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LSU's problems on the road continued on Thursday night as Tigers starting pitcher Zach Hess suffered through a four-run 2nd inning and that was the difference in an 11-4 loss to the Auburn Tigers.
 
Hess lasted three innings, giving up five runs on six hits. The "Wild Thing" walked three and hit a batter. 


Hess has not won a start since April 13th and his ERA climbed to 4.65. 
 
Reliever Cam Sanders couldn't hold Auburn down either. The Thibodaux native gave up three more runs in 2.1 innings. 
 
John Kodros was touched up for two runs and Trent Vietmeier gave up one run.  
 
Auburn lead-off hitter Will Holland led the way as he went 4-for-4 with two doubles, two runs scored and 2 RBIs. 
 
LSU had eight hits. Austin Bain had a two-run double, when the Auburn center fielder lost the ball in the dusk. 
 
Jake Slaughter continued his recent hot hitting with a two-run homer just over the monster in left field in the 6th inning.  
 
LSU is now 32-22 overall, 14-14 in the SEC and 3-13 on the road.  
 
LSU will look to even up the series on Friday night and they'll face one of the best pitchers in college baseball. Casey Mize is 9-3 with a 2.73 ERA. Freshman Ma'Khail Hilliard will look to bounce back from a rough performance last weekend against Alabama. First pitch is at 6 PM.  

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The Legislature passed a budget that fully funds the Department of Health, but reduces nine state agencies budgets by 24 percent, slashes higher ed spending, and cuts TOPS to 70 percent coverage. The jury is still out on whether the governor will veto the plan, but if he approves the plan, but if he authorizes it House Appropriations Chairman Cameron Henry says it won’t be “imaginary”.

“Assuming tis not vetoed by the governor it will become law. During a special session if members chose to raise additional revenue then we will do a supplemental bill to backfill some of these agencies that have been reduced but this bill is law.”

Democrats have raged against the budget, calling it immoral, and calling on lawmakers to reject any budget until a special session arrives that can plug a 648 million dollar shortfall. But Henry says the state has to work with the money it has available, and prioritize.

“We have to use the money we have to cover the priorities and providing services to the elderly is obviously something the members want to do and feel is a priority.”

The governor has called for a special session next week to replace expiring sales tax revenues at the heart of the budget struggle. Henry says Republicans are potentially open to revenue proposals, but they’re back from the voters over the weekend.

“It really depends on the appetite of our constituents on how much money they want to raise. If they get push back on fully funding higher education or TOPs, then maybe members will be inclined to raise some revenue.”

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The House has sent a 28-billion dollar budget to Governor John Bel Edwards, that fully funds healthcare, but slashes higher ed, funding for state agencies, and cuts TOPS by 30%. But it's likely the governor will not sign the spending plan of the cuts just mentioned.

House Appropriations Chairman Cameron Henry says the budget they approved identifies what programs need to be funded with revenue raised in a special session. 
“We have members that are having heartburn voting for a tax one way or another. They can be able to go back and say I’m going to raise a quarter of a penny, whatever mechanism we want to do, to cover TOPS, to cover higher ed, to cover department of children and family services.”
 
Democratic Caucus Chairman Robert Johnson attempted to table the budget bill, because he calls the cuts included immoral. Johnson argued the legislature should wait until the special session, where revenue could be raised to fill the 648 million dollar budget gap to complete a budget. 
 
“We need to raise the money, put the money back into the budget, fund our priorities, and then pass a budget, not pass a budget that is so disingenuous.”  

Johnson says the budget passed is not feasible, and does not reflect a spending plan that the state could operate on.

“We will not solve a real problem with pretend budgets and pretend solutions.”

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Three anti-hazing bills are on their way to the governor’s desk following last fall’s death of LSU freshman Max Gruver. The house voted 88 to 1 in favor of final passage of house bill 78 otherwise known as the Max Gruver Act. East Baton Rouge Parish District Attorney Hillar Moore testified in favor of the measure to give the current laws more teeth.


“We are just excited about the opportunity to meet with the governor and have the governor sign the bill into law, I think it’s one that is really necessary and I think this stature is really comprehensive and is going to set Louisiana up as the top standard in the nation for hazing violations.”

Moore says a companion bill to force mandatory education for university fraternities and sororities should help stop dangerous hazing.

“Hopefully it will be an educational tool that we can use to educate students and university people.”

Moore contends that the new law holds principals at the national level accountable for problems at the chapters.

“Part of this bill subjects the principles of fraternities either locally and nationally if they knew about this and took no action or covered it up.”

In the new bill, hazing that does not result in a death will still cost one thousand dollars and six months in jail.

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It’s been a record breaking week of intense heat, that’s turned the usually tolerable Louisiana spring into a hot, soupy mess. State Climatologist Barry Keim says a high pressure system is camping just off the coast, leading to a historic scorcher that’s taken down long time state records.



 

“Yesterday we broke eleven temperature records across the state, on Tuesday we broke 33 daily temperature records, and on Monday we broke 41 records across the state.”

A cool front is moving over the area starting today, which Keim says will make things just a little more pleasant this weekend than they’ve been this week.

“I think that we get a little bit of a break. Right now it looks like those temperatures may be damped down a little bit more towards the low nineties, but it will still be uncomfortable, hot and humid, and to still take precautions.”

The unusual heat is peaking with summer right around the corner, leading to concerns that we could be in store for a second year in a row of record breaking heat, but Keim says this unusual weather phenomenon is not an indicator of any long term trends.

“When we have events like this, a lot of people want to read more into it than what’s actually there. But what’s happening now doesn’t really tell us a whole lot about how this summer will play out.”

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Governor John Bel Edwards addressed the recent US Supreme Court decision to allow sports betting outside of Nevada on his monthly talk radio show. 32 states have legislation in place to allow the activities, including Mississippi, but Louisiana shot down similar legislation this session. Edwards didn’t oppose the idea.

 
 
 
“Well certainly we should look at it because we obviously have gaming in Louisiana already, we have establishments that can do this.”

But don’t expect to see Senator Danny Martiny’s parish by parish legalization legislation to pop up again during the special session that starts next week.

“In a two week concentrated session I wanted to focus on fixing the cliff and making sure we can have a reasonable budget for the year that starts July 1st.”

But Edwards did express some concerns about legislation he’s seen that would legalize the activity in Louisiana.

“We still don’t have all the rules necessary about how it would be implemented and how it will be taxed and I don’t believe at the end of the day that it will produce revenue for the next fiscal year.”

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Riverboat casinos were thrown a lifeline this week as legislation was passed that would allow the water based facilities to expand onto land. That has Boyd Gaming CEO Keith Smith, who owns Treasure Chest, Sam’s Town, and Amelia Belle, pretty excited. He says this could lead more investment in Louisiana facilities.

 

“We have opportunities to have more robust operations there, we’re optimistic.”

He says one casino in particular is looking very promising now that it’s allowed to expand on land.

“Especially at some place like Treasure Chest, where we have a very strong business that is on a three-story river boat and the ability then to do something much more compelling there and take advantage of the market is very significant.”

A separate piece of legislation that would have allowed casinos to have sports gambling was shot down.

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The Senate approved a bill that would renew the state's contract with Harrah’s New Orleans for at least 20 more years, contribute an additional 20-million dollars a year to the state's coffers, and they would provide an upfront payment of 40-million dollars, which would be divided between the state and the city.
 
Harrah's would also agree to build a 350-million dollar hotel, with new restaurants and entertainment space.
 
The bill escaped on a 21-16 vote, with many senators, including Winnfield Senator Gerald Long who said the process moved so fast that no one knew exactly what they were voting for. He says the Senate should’ve delayed the vote until analysts could review the fiscal note. 
 
"There is no sin in waiting, until we get enough information to make an intelligent decision, we don't have it now," said Long. 
 
Mandeville Senator Jack Donahue says the threats that Harrah's could leave if the state doesn’t act fast to renew the contract are troubling.
 
The measure heads back to the House to see if they agree to Senate changes with the legislation.

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A bill that would have allowed teachers to join students in prayer during school hours was gutted by the House after concerns were raised that it violated religious civil rights. The bill would have allowed the joint prayer to occur if all students present had a signed consent form from their parents.

 
Shreveport Rep. Alan Seabaugh says the old bill would have targeted religious minorities.

 “Let’s say you have 15 kids on a soccer team. 14 kids want the coach to lead them in prayer, one kid who’s an atheist, a muslim, or somebody who doesn’t. He is going to bullied, he’s going to be coerced into signing the consent form”.

Seabaugh proposed the amendment that radically altered the legislation, which now permits teachers to bow their head when students pray.

The Shreveport Republican says the old version of the bill was obviously unconstitutional, and would have led to successful challenges by organizations like the ACLU.

 “When they win your school district then has to pay their legal fees and costs, which is hundreds of thousands of dollars. And there is no doubt that they will win”.

But Ruston Representative Robert Shadoin, who sponsored the bill in the House, fiercely contested the amendment that altered the original bill, arguing that establishment clause that protects against state sponsored religious activity could be waived in this case.

 “Who says you can’t wave constitutional rights? We do it all the time with the fourth, fifth, and sixth amendment, all the time. So if you want to give parents the control of their children, defeat this amendment”.  

The bill heads back to the senate


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Governor John Bel Edwards held his monthly talk show, where he touched on a series of legislative topics, such as the 15 week abortion ban, a deal to renew Harrah’s state contract, and the surprise success of a unanimous jury bill. Edwards took the opportunity to reiterate his support for the 15 week abortion ban, a rarity for a prominent Democratic official.

 



 “That is who I am. It’s part of the Catholic Christian faith tradition that I have always been a member of, and so that’s just what you get with me”.  

The Governor praised efforts in the Legislature to improve a bill to renew Harrah’s contract, after the initial version came under heavy fire from statewide political officials. He says he’s still undecided on his support.

 “I just need to know that it’s a good deal and obviously the bill as it came out of Senate Judiciary B is a much better bill than when it left the house”.

Governor Edwards’ signature will not be needed to put a constitutional amendment requiring unanimous verdicts in felony trials, as the decision for final passage will be left up to the voters in November. Edwards says he hopes the people will put the item into law.

“If you look historically at the right to trial by jury as had to have been contemplated by the framers of our constitution, they meant the unanimous jury”.


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