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Ville Platte Senator Eric LaFleur bill would allow 19 and 20 year olds to purchase alcohol by themselves, if they pass a drinking responsibility class and have their parents’ consent. LaFleur says binge drinking by young adults is a dangerous trend that’s made worse by laws that try, and often fail to bar young people from getting their hands on booze.

“19 and 20 year olds currently drink right now, whether it’s in a public space or a private space. You certainly don’t see people binge drinking in a bar or a restaurant or any other public setting like that.”

The drinking age in most of the western countries is 18 to 19, and the Ville Platte Democrat says you don’t hear nearly as many stories about binge drinking sessions from those countries as you do from the U.S. He says kids are going to be kids no matter what the law says.

“I don’t know why we think our 19 year olds are any different from 19 year olds in Canada or any European country or anywhere else.”

LaFleur says current law allows underage adults to consume alcohol, if they’re with a legal guardian. He says his bill is just an obvious extension of that same idea.

“It’s an extension of existing law that requires parental consent, but the parents can give them consent without having to be there.”

The Senator says his bill would be a good first step to changing a drinking culture that can destroy young people’s lives.


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35 future State Police cadets will graduate as part of the 97th Louisiana State Police Cadet class today. Sgt. Jared Sandifer says the class was one of the smaller ones from recent memory. They started with 49, but it’s still a very good success rate with 71% of the class graduating.

"That is a very good number. That's going to be 35 more state troopers out there keeping the people of Louisiana safe."
Sandifer says this is the second class they've graduated in recent months. But they are already looking ahead to the 98th cadet class. 
"We are still hiring.  We are looking to do a new cadet class in the next several months.  So anyone out there who wish to become a law enforcement officer, that might be interested in becoming a state trooper, we invite you to come reach out to us."
Sandifer says after their graduation today, the new troopers will continue their training. 
"We call that our field training officer program.  So they're going to be paired with that trooper.  They're be riding with them, learning how we do things.  They'll be learning from experienced troopers how to stay safe.  How we keep people safe."


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Ninety-six-year-old Margie Jenkins is the first woman inducted into the Louisiana Agriculture Hall of Distinction. Governor John Bel Edwards says the Jenkins Farm and Nursery in Amite has been a staple in Tangipahoa Parish since 1960.
"And she is a real fixture in that industry and I'm so glad they are recognizing her," said Edwards.  
Jenkins' career in agriculture spans 80 years. She and her late husband, Bryant, moved to Tangipahoa Parish in 1951 and planted a small watermelon field.

The following year the couple started a dairy farm and they also had success in the timber industry. Edwards says Ms. Margie remains very busy to this day. 
"She is a special lady, she's just not 96-years-old," Edwards said. "Margie Jenkins goes to work and she has and she works hard." 
Jenkins is recognized nationwide as one of the most knowledgeable experts on the cultivation of rare, unusual and native landscaping plants. She has spoke across the country on the topic. Edwards says it’s a long overdue honor for Ms. Margie. 
New Orleans native Pete Lanaux will also be inducted posthumously. He’s known as one of the state’s most successful sugarcane growers, farming on 900 acres in St. John the Baptist Parish. 


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A bill requiring the motto “In God We Trust” to be displayed in public schools passed the Senate Education Committee. The legislation by Baton Rouge Senator Regina Barrow mirrors efforts in several other southern states this year to have the motto displayed prominently in gathering spaces at public schools. Barrow says young people are suffering from a lack of proper values.

“We have seen a moral decay in our schools and in our communities, because we have taken this out of our school systems.”

Barrow says the legislation was inspired by a meeting with the governor, where the talk turned to how to best prepare children for the adult world.

“It’s one of the things that really made an impact on my life, was when I went to the governor’s prayer breakfast.”

Barrow says many kids are not getting taught about proper morals, values, and beliefs by their parents, so public schools should be used to fill that void.

“I believe that we owe, and have that obligation to at least insure that they have that introduction, because we cannot assume that that is happening at home.”

The bill also says students should be instructed on what “In God Trust” means, but no clarification was provided on what the content of that instruction would be.


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A 2 year old Shih tzu was found lying in a flower bed in St. Charles Parish suffering from chemical burns to his body. The dog was unable to open its eyes and faces a long, slow and painful recovery. Kearney Whelan Robinson with PETA says they are offering a 5,000-dollar reward for information that leads to an arrest in this horrible incident.

"Animal abuse is a crime and the person who did this is a serious threat to the community.  So anyone with information notify authorities before anyone else gets hurt." 
Robinson says this person may be a violent person to begin with and more than just animals may be at risk while the offender remains on the loose.
"The link between animal abuse and inter personal violence is undeniable.  And has been well documented by medical experts, police and the FBI."
Anyone with information is urged to call the Metairie Humane Shelter of their nearest law enforcement agency.


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Baton Rouge police have arrested 49-year-old Eric Augustus on 1st degree murder charges of his girlfriend Lovie Variste, age 76. Augustus had been living with Variste at 3033 Lone Oak Drive in Baton Rouge at the time of her death. Police spokesman Sgt. L’Jean McKneely says Augustus was told to kill his girlfriend.

“He was outside smoking some synthetic marijuana also known as mojo and he had a psychotic episode and told us that god had told him to kill,” said McKneely.

Police say Augustus then allegedly went after her. He apparently grabbed some objects from the kitchen and attacked Variste in the middle of his drug induced haze.

“He went inside and beat the victim with various objects inside the home,” according to McKneely.

Strangely enough it was Augustus that ultimately called for help.

“He did call for police to come to the residence after we believe he started coming down from the trip he was having.” said McKneely.

On Thursday 19th Judicial Court Judge Trudy White refused to set a bond on Augustus so he is being held in parish prison.


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Senator Dan Claitor’s bill that would make it a crime to generate wakes that damage property while driving a vehicle through flooded streets has passed through committee and is on its way to the senate floor. The Baton Rouge Senator says he was moved to create the bill after hearing horror stories from his constituents about reckless drivers during the 2016 floods.

“When the moron comes barreling through your neighborhood, putting a three foot bow wave into your living room that you have worked so hard to save.”

Claitor was questioned about whether the driver’s intent should matter, but the Senator says it’s just like reckless drivers behind the wheel of a car.

“If you’re trying to be malicious or not, it’s the same judicial determination that the judge has to make when you were careless when you drove off the road.”

Claitor says at this point, there’s no way drivers can play dumb about the impact of crashing through flooded streets in jacked up trucks.

“It’s impossible not to be aware that you are pushing a great big wake and its going into peoples homes.”

Current law involving reckless operation of a watercraft in similar situations says those found guilty could be assessed a 300 dollar fine and/or 30 days in day.


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It looked like Tulane's recent winning ways over LSU would continue on Wednesday when the Green Wave jumped out to 4-0 lead. But LSU scored the next 10 runs to win 10-4 over their old in-state rivals.
The Tigers fell behind in the 3rd inning, but LSU jumped ahead with a 5-run 5th inning. 

Daniel Cabrera, who had four hits on the night, gave the Tigers the lead with an RBI single through the right side of the infield. Zach Watson gave LSU a cushion with a two-run single to left field. 
Watson had three hits, including a double, three runs scored and 3 RBI.
Nick Storz made his collegiate debut and threw one inning. The big right-hander hit the first two batters he faced in the first inning, but got out of the inning unscathed with a couple of ground outs and a strikeout. 
AJ Labas got knocked around for three runs in the 4th inning, which allowed the Green Wave to take a 4-0 lead. But Labas was named the winning pitcher, as his other three innings were scoreless.   
Devin Fontenot and Matthew Beck were next out of the bullpen and both of them struck out the side. 
With the win, LSU gets its first win over the Green Wave since 2015. The Tigers are now 14-7 and will visit Vanderbilt for a weekend series that starts Friday in Nashville. The Commodores swept Mississippi State last weekend.  


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A team official says the Saints and Pelicans are committed to Louisiana and the city of New Orleans. With Tom Benson’s death, there are questions surrounding the fate of both teams in one of the smallest sports markets in the country. Saints and Pels President Dennis Lauscha says he and Benson’s widow, Gayle, are committed to New Orleans. 

"You have a person who owns a team in New Orleans who is from New Orleans, believes in New Orleans, believes in the people of New Orleans, I couldn't even fathom those two teams not being in New Orleans, while she's the owner. I'm president of the companies, couldn't fathom these two teams not being in New Orleans." 
The annual NFL owners meeting are next week in Orlando, Florida. Lauscha says, even though she’s grieving, Gayle Benson will attend. 
"Full speed ahead, that's what Mr. Benson wanted, to be perfectly honest with you, he wanted everything to go as he planned and that's what we plan to do."  


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Governor John Bel Edwards says if a bill banning abortions after 15 weeks ends up on his desk he’ll likely sign it. Edwards made the comments during his monthly call-in radio show, “Ask the Governor." 

"It remains to be seen whether that bill will make its way through the process," said Edwards. "I would be inclined to sign it, if it hits my desk." 

Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant just signed a 15-week abortion ban and a similar bill is waiting to be discussed in the Louisiana Senate. Edwards says his pro-life stance results in him backing legislation that’s supported by and that same belief also has him backing issues supported by liberals. 
"The same Catholic Christian faith that informs my views on abortion also tell me that Medicaid expansion is the right thing to do, they are both pro-life." 
The Center for Reproductive Rights plans to lobby against the Senate bill calling for a ban on abortions after 15 weeks. State legislative counsel Shivana Jorawar says politicians shouldn’t be making important health decisions for women. 
"Women need to have the autonomy to make important personal medical decisions by their own health," said Jorawar. 
A federal judge has issued a preliminary injunction against Mississippi’s 15-week abortion ban, which means it can’t go into effect yet. Jorawar predicts legal challenges, if the governor signs a similar law. 
"What this is doing is denying women their reproductive rights, with an extremely restrictive abortion law and they don't deserve that." 
Shreveport Senator John Milkovich is the author of the legislation for the 15-week abortion ban.  


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The Trump administration billed Wednesday’s offshore oil lease sale in the Gulf of the Mexico as the biggest in U.S. history. It resulted in 33 companies making 125-million dollars in bids on 148 offshore tracts. That’s a small increase from a lease sale in August.
"Successful sale, but it wasn't a barn burner in terms of the number of high bids," said Tulane Energy Institute Associate Director Eric Smith.  

It’s the first sale since 1983 to put the entire gulf up for sale.

Smith says the sale could be a boost to companies who tailor to offshore drilling work. 
"It shows some improvement," said Smith. "People who are in the business chartering drilling rigs and supply boats are probably encouraged a bit."  
Smith says Wednesday’s lease sale was a small step towards ramping up production in the Gulf of Mexico, but oil production is still way down from where it was four years ago. 
"We're operating a fraction the number of drilling rigs that we were in 2014, like from 60 to 16 to 20 that's a pretty serious drop.


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Louisiana State Penitentiary investigators arrested four female Angola prison officers, as part of an effort to crack down against drug smuggling and inappropriate behavior with inmates.
"The allegations range from having inappropriate relationships with offenders, drug smuggling and receiving money from offenders and offender relatives," said Louisiana Department of Corrections spokesperson Ken Pastorick. 
Pastorick says investigators discovered drugs and a large amount of cash in one employee’s vehicle, while another admitted to having sex with an inmate. He says the actions of the four female prison guards arrested do not represent the rest of the Department’s employees. 
"We have many dedicated corrections officers who do a fantastic job for the state of Louisiana, unfortunately these individuals made the wrong decision and betrayed the public's trust and put our staff and offenders at risk." 
A fifth officer was fired and another was placed on administrative leave. Pastorick says the investigation continues and more arrests are possible.
He says it’s sad that those who are supposed to be protecting criminals from the public, end up on the wrong side of the law. 


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The House Criminal Justice passed the Max Gruver Act without objection today which will make hazing a felony crime in Louisiana. Gruver died following an alleged hazing incident one month into his first semester at LSU. Parents Rae Ann and Steven Gruver both tearfully laid out their son's final hours before the committee, asking them to pass this law.

“There should be zero tolerance by introducing this legislation that changes this culture and ends hazing it will save lives. It would have saved Max’s and it definitely will saves lives in the future. Fly High Max.”

Fighting back tears, Rae Ann, emphasized how this death has affected her family.

“We dropped Max off at LSU an amazing caring sweet young man who was starting to spread his wings and start shining his light on the world, now our family is broken,” she testified.

Steven Gruver talked about meeting with other parents of kids who have perished from hazing.

“Something very bad happened to our son, House bill 78 will ultimately help create something good in this state and the rest of the country we really look for y’alls support.” The bill was amended to be called “The Max Gruver Act.”

Brooke McCulley was Max’s friend and she testified how difficult it was for her because she says when you know someone who dies from hazing its different.

”Max’s death wasn’t an accident because hazing isn’t an accident,” she explained. “It’s a dangerous crime and it should be treated as such.”

The measure now moves to the house floor for debate. A similar bill is moving through the Senate as well.


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A site has been selected for the residents of Isle de Jean Charles to relocate. They currently live on a tiny, sinking island along the state’s coast, which is at the risk of being crushed by a major hurricane. Louisiana Office of Community Development Executive Director Pat Forbes says it’s been a slow motion disaster.

“In some sense it’s been in the making for 70 years when the land of the island started deteriorating and disappearing. The land mass of the island has decreased by some 98 percent.”

11.7 million of the resettlement dollars will go to the development of a new community in northern Terrebonne Parish. Forbes says most of the roughly 80 residents are ready to leave, but he understands why some are still holding out.

“To leave the place where they’ve grown up and their parents grew up is devastating, but the vast majority of the people have decided that they do want to move.”

After relocating, residents will still have access to their Isle de Jean Charles property, as long as it’s still there.

Forbes says many residents have expressed concern over how long the process it taking. The state won’t be breaking ground on the new community until 2019, which means the islanders may have to ride out one or two more hurricane seasons before they leave. Forbes empathizes, but says federal dollars have strings attached.

“Everybody including us would like for this process to be faster but when we’re spending federal funds there are rules and restrictions that we have to follow.”


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Public visitation for departed Saints and Pelicans owner Tom Benson is underway at Notre Dame Seminary in New Orleans. Mourners can pay their last respects until 7pm today and 8am to 1pm tomorrow, with a private funeral ceremony on Friday at noon.

 Archbishop of New Orleans Gregory Aymond says it’s a last opportunity for fans to pay their respects to a man who meant a lot to the city.

“He leaves us with a legacy of a man who was committed, dedicated, and built up the city in a way that few people could do.”

Benson, a devout Catholic, talked often with the Archbishop Aymond.

“He was a man of great integrity, I remember very often he would call me on the phone and say I just can’t believe some of the things going on in the world today, what’s going to happen? He was looking at it from the perspective of being a Christian.”

Aymond says Benson didn’t have it easy growing up, but was able to work his way to the top, becoming the richest man in Louisiana.

“I think his legacy is that of a man who worked very very hard, he was born poor. His legacy is that he gave of himself 100 percent to everything he did.”

Benson had an estimated net worth of 2.5 billion dollars.


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Senate Judiciary B passed a bill to give Tangipahoa residents an opportunity to vote on allowing a casino along the Tangipahoa River near the I12 Robert exit. If adopted, the Diamond Jack Casino in Bossier could be relocated, maintaining the state’s current number of riverboat casino licenses at 15.
Tangipahoa Parish President Robby Miller, who is in favor of the project, called on the committee to leave the call up to the people of his parish.

“Everyone’s attitude, and plea, would be to let the citizens decide.

Tangi Council member Lewis Joseph says if approved, the casino would help the parish fund its education system.

“They haven’t received a pay raise in ten years, and hopefully if we can get this resort in Tangipahoa parish, hopefully we can give our teachers a little more money to spend.”

Tangipahoa voters recently shot down a millage increase that would have raised teacher salaries, which currently sit below the state average.

The measure escaped deferment two to one, with Houma Republican “Norby” Chabert the lone dissenter. Charbert questioned the decision to move the casino to Robert, saying the area may not be the best location to support the venture.

“Why Tangipahoa? Why not Lafourche? The Terrebone and LaFourche market is the fifth largest market in the state.”

Chairmen of Peninsula Pacific Brent Stevens, the company that owns Diamond Jack, responded to Charbet’s critique. He says after a thorough analysis, his company realized that the region was ripe for a new facility.

“There’s about 260 million dollars of gaming revenue from Louisiana that goes into the Mississippi and gulf coast. The vast preponderance of that goes right through Tangipahoa Parish.”

The proposal heads to the Senate floor.


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A House bill to establish a rebate for first time home buyers in Louisiana passed the Ways and Means Committee. Baton Rouge Representative Paula Davis told the committee that a lack of cash and college debts are making it nearly impossible for young persons to own a residence in Louisiana.

"What do we want to prioritize in this state?  I think that home ownership and bricks and mortar is some we should encourage and promote."
Monroe Representative Marcus Hunter voiced concern over the bill. He says since parishes don’t share homestead exemption records between them, that some homeowners could take advantage of the proposed tax break.
"We don't want to create a monster where people hop from parish to parish and take advantage of the state.  We have enough of that at this particular point.  If we're going to do this we have to make sure we're on top of it."
Monroe Representative Jay Morris says the state doesn’t have money to fund this 15-million-dollar rebate plan. Since the Governor is calling for reductions to balance the budget, Morris says there’s no room to find money to fund Davis’ bill. 
"By passing this bill, we're saying subsidizing somebody purchasing a $500,000 home is more important than funding TOPS fully." 


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A Senate Judiciary Committee passed a bill that would allow citizens to vote on whether Louisiana should require unanimous juries for felony convictions. Currently, only 10 of 12 jurists are needed to convict someone of a felony, making Louisiana and Oregon the only two states that do not require a unanimous jury. New Orleans Senator JP Morrell says our current laws aren’t making people any safer in one of the most crime ridden states in the nation.

“Having this non unanimous jury has not lead to more of the right people being in jail, having more of the right people stay in jail, or it being a deterrent to going to jail.”

Morrell argued that research done by the Innocence Project, a group that helps overturn wrongful convictions, proves unanimous juries help safeguard civil liberties.

“A large number of the instances in which they overturn a verdict, and find information to exonerate someone, comes from one of these non-unanimous jury convictions.”

But Executive Director of the Louisiana District Attorneys Association Pete Adams spoke out against the legislation, saying neither politicians nor the public have enough quality research at hand to make a decision on the issue.

“There is very little reliable evidence that unanimous juries would be more reliable.”

Adams is concerned that stiffening conviction requirements would lead to more mistrials, which can be expensive for the state. He also says the U.S. Supreme Court has already weighed in and deemed non unanimous juries an adequate requirement for justice.

“Non-unanimous verdicts are clearly constitutional. The US Supreme Court rejected writs on that very issue last summer.”

The bill was passed on a five to one vote, with only Baton Rouge Senator Bodi White voting against.


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A Senate committee approved legislation Tuesday that gives riverboat casinos the opportunity move on land and more gaming space. Lake Charles Senator Ronnie Johns says his legislation is not an attempt to expand gaming.
"It modernizes an industry that has not had hardly any changes since 1991." said Johns. 

The bill now heads to the Senate Floor.
But in committee, it faced opposition from religious leaders. A pastor from Ponchatoula says the Louisiana Department of Health has estimated that problem gambling costs the state 845-million dollars per year. 
"Any expansion of gambling as this bill does will lead to more pathological gamblers in our state and destroy lives."  
The bill nearly didn't make it out of committee, after Shreveport Senator Greg Tarver and New Orleans Senator Karen Peterson raised concerns about the lack of minorities in ownership and management positions.
Johns says the full Senate will not vote on his bill until these concerns over minority involvement with the gaming industry are addressed. 


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Recent flood victims can qualify for flood rebate dollars by re-filing your 2016 tax returns. Basically, if you lost more than $500 that wasn’t covered by insurance or government grants you can now deduct the difference from your 2016 income tax return.

Brandon Lagarde is the tax director at Postlethwaite and Netterville in Baton Rouge.
“What they did in this most recent bill is if my adjusted gross income was six thousand dollars I wouldn’t be able to claim my first five thousand dollars of causality losses in 2016, I now can,” says Lagarde.

A key issue in this benefit is taxpayers did at the time NOT have to itemize their return to make the adjustment.

“They also allow you under the new rule, to claim the loss in addition to your standard deduction so you didn’t have to itemize to get the Benefit of the loss,” added Lagarde.

Some residents could make significant adjustments to their tax returns for significant cash. Plus you have another year and a half before you must file.

“This is going to be free and clear of any other limitations,” says Lagarde. “So it’s really going to benefit people,”

Loans taken out to pay to repair your property are allowed deductions. The Congressional Budget office estimates 500 million dollars is available to pay back flood victims.


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