KSYL Local News Archives for 2014-05

News For Friday 05/30/14


News for Friday 053014

By Dave Graichen

 

Governor Bobby Jindal signed a couple of bills  into  law to support Veterans late Wednesday. One would increase information available to doctors  to  improve  health issues that service members often  deal with.  The  other would expand  residential  lease  protections  for military members and their families.

 

There's  a new law waiting to be signed by the governor  that  would allow state  lawmakers  to carry concealed weapons in areas that any other peace officer could.   That  would  include  several locations labeled as "gun free" zones. If it is signed, they would  be able to pack heat in public buildings , parades and polling places.

 

A vacation turned deadly for a 21 year old Pineville man. Authorities at Navarre beach Florida say Nathan Hughey drowned while swimming with his sister in rough waters. The sister was able to make it to shore safely. Hughey was a  graduate of Pineville High School and was a student at Louisiana Tech University at the time of his death. The accident happened yesterday.

 

The city of Alexandria’s Household Hazardous Waste Collection Day is set for 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday at the Alexandria City Complex, 2021 Industrial Park Road (under the big red roof).

Citizens are encouraged to bring in Household chemicals, Automotive chemicals, Garden and pool chemicals, Pharmaceuticals and Household recyclables. Not welcome, Ammunition, tires, explosives, commercial waste and laboratory waste. Again the event is tomorrow 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Alexandria city complex.

 

Gov. Bobby Jindal is going to sign into law today a bill called "The  Right to Try" Act which would allow terminally ill patients to  access experimental medications that could save their life. The Goldwater Institute designed this measure and External Affairs Vice  President Victor Riches says  The Right to Try Act enables people with very little  time left to receive potentially life-saving medications that have  been deemed safe by the FDA but are years away from being approved for market.

 

Governor  Jindal has signed into law a bill that adds domestic abuse to the criteria  for  immediate divorce.  The new law waives the 180 day waiting period for  a divorce involving domestic abuse.  It also makes spousal support mandatory.

 

The legislature has given final  legislative  approval to a law that would  extend  the  drivers license renewal time to  every  6  years instead of 4.  Baton  Rouge  Senator  Dan Claitor says he decided to

draft this legislation after hearing so  many  complaints  about the wait time at the DMV. The  6  year  fee would be increased, but over time it would end up being the same amount of money.

 

The Terrebonne Parish Sheriff's office reports a high school teacher and track coach is under  arrest  for his alleged sexual involvement with a 16-year-old male student. They  say 37-year-old Derrick Nesby of  New  Orleans, the educator from UL Bourgeois  High  School,  was arrested and booked with felony carnal knowledge of a juvenile.

 

A  former  worker  at the Department of Children and Family Services faces up to 10 years  in  prison  for  using a state issued purchase card  for personal use.  34-year-old Delrice  Augustus  has  pleaded guilty  in  federal  court  to  the  crime.  State Inspector General Stephen  Street says Augustus defrauded  DCFS  out  of  as  much  as 200-thousand dollars. Augustus has admitted to using government purchase cards to buy home entertainment  electronics,  a  dishwater, and other personal items.

 

Former  New  Orleans  Mayor  Ray  Nagin  has been granted a delay in sentencing  by  U.S.  District  Court Judge Helen  Ginger  Berrigan. Nagin  was  scheduled  for  sentencing  June  11  on  20  counts  of corruption,  including bribery,  conspiracy,  money  laundering  and fraud.  The new date is July 2nd.

 

The House has given final passage  of a bill requiring women who are seeking  an  abortion  to  receive  a pamphlet  that  explains  the potential   psychological  effects  of  going   through   with   the

procedure. The bill passed 87-0.

 

The Catfish Institute is raising concerns about the mislabeling of  seafood products in restaurants.  They say studies by media and consumer  organizations find as much as 25 to 50 percent of seafood is mislabeled.  Institute spokesperson Jeff McCord says this happens frequently with  catfish.  Often Vietnamese catfish-type species are offered on menus as catfish. However,  it is against the law. Only an American  species of channel catfish may be labeled as catfish  for any marketing purposes, including menus. 

 

Governor Jindal has signed a measure that will allow hunters in the  state to use a sound suppressor on their guns for recreational hunting.  The legislation will go into effect August 1.  The bill's sponsor, Metairie Representative Cameron Henry says the use of silencers is better for the shooter's hearing and  mitigates noise complaints. 

 

 

 

News For Thursday 05/29/14


News for Thursday 052914

By Dave Graichen

 

Two men have been arrested in connection with a drive-by shooting in Alexandria Tuesday night that left  one  person  dead and two others wounded.   Alexandria  Police say 28-year-old Quantrella  Turner  of Alexandria was pronounced  dead  at the scene.   21-year-old Lajavas Hall  and  25-year-old  Cinquanta Hall,  both  of  Alexandria,  were arrested for the shooting.

 

A lot of rain fell across the state yesterday, especially in south  Louisiana.  There were several reports of street and property flooding.  State Climatologist Barry Keim says the upper air low that caused all

of that rain yesterday is still basically in place and we could see heavy rains again today.  The dry conditions of the past few weeks helped with  flooding issues yesterday due to the soil soaking in the rainfall.  Keim  says that won't be the case today since the soil is saturated. Most of the state is under a Flash  Flood Watch through this evening

 

First-time  claims for unemployment insurance increased in Louisiana for the week ending May 17.  The Louisiana Workforce Commission said there were 134 more initial claims than the previous week.  However, continued unemployment claims decreased by 380 .

 

Some of the biggest stars in the republican party will be in New Orleans over the next few days speaking at the Republican Leadership Conference. ULM Political Science Professor Joshua Stockley says it's an important  event for those individuals who plan to run for President in 2016.  Governor Bobby Jindal is scheduled to address the conference tonight.  Another potential GOP presidential candidate speaking is Texas Senator  Ted Cruz. Phil Robertson of Duck Dynasty fame is also  set to speak.

 

House legislation that  would  allow  Louisiana  to use out of state pharmacies  to  obtain  drugs  used in lethal injections  passed  in committee  Tuesday  and now heads  to  the  full  Senate. The same bill has a provision that would let pharmacies who  provide the deadly compounds remain anonymous.

 

The  sexual predator who is accused of the brutal murder of a twelve year-old  boy  has  been  given the death sentence in DeSoto Parish. Thirty-seven year-old Brian  Horn  was  convicted  in the killing of Justin Bloxom in March of 2010. Judge Robert Burgess passed judgment that Horn be sent to Angola to await his execution.

 

In  an  independent  poll  regarding  the 2015 Lieutenant Governor's race, Jefferson Parish President John Young  is  the  early  leader. The survey of 600 likely voters was conducted by Southern Media  and Opinion  Research.   The  poll pitted a three-way trial heat between Young, Plaquemines Parish President  Billy  Nungesser, and Opelousas Senator Elbert Guillory.  It is still early and you can expect a few more  candidates  throwing their hat in the ring.   Pollster  Bernie Pinsonat says a couple  of  names  interested  in  the  position are Public   Service   Commissioner   Scott  Angelle  and  State   Police Superintendent Colonel Mike Edmonson

 

A bill that allows a truck stop owner in  Iberville Parish to keep a live  Tiger  on  the property of his store passed  out  of  a  House committee Wednesday.  Tiger  Truck  Stop owner Michael Sandlin says his 550-pound Siberian-Bengal tiger is  well  cared for and loved by the people who visit his truck stop off Interstate 10.  Sandlin has been battling animal rights groups in the courts to keep Tony the Tiger at his truck stop.  The measure has passed the Senate and needs House approval before the session ends Monday.

 

A  bill that has received final legislative approval would make it easier  for  home-based  cooks  to  start their own business with fewer  regulations  that are currently in  place.   The  measure  is

waiting for Governor Jindal's signature.

 

A Napoleonville man is charged with negligent homicide after a child died  who  was  riding  in  a  vehicle  that he crashed. In happened Tuesday morning in Thibodaux and deputies  say there were two adults and  three  children  in the vehicle. They say  an  11-year-old  was ejected after 35-year-old  Jermain  Wooden  tried to pass a car on a highway  then  lost  control  and  crashed.  The  crash   is   under investigation.

 

In Shreveport  a woman is recovering from multiple stab woulds after allegedly being  attacked  by  an  elderly  man  she was caring for. 75-year-old Walter Smith reportedly freaked out. He was arrested and booked  with  aggravated  battery.  The  victim  is listed  in  good condition.

 

Authorities in Ascension Parish say, a 56-year-old man who was found dead underneath his truck late Wednesday afternoon in his employer’s flooded parking lot might have slipped and fallen into swiftly moving water that swept him under the vehicle. The Water was flowing swiftly across the parking lot, and was probably 12 to 18 inches deep. Chief Deputy Tony Bacala said deputies are continuing to investigate but believe the death was accidental.

 

A grandma and grandpa from Wisconsin are happy  campers  today. They were visiting their grandchildren last weekend in Slidell  and  went home  with a $1 million Powerball ticket. Lottery officials say they got all 5 numbers but missed the powerball.

 

 

News For Wednesday 05/28/14


News for Wednesday 052814

By Dave Graichen

 

Much  needed  rain  is  in the forecast this week across  Louisiana. State Climatologist Barry  Keim  says  it's  coming  at a good time, especially  in  southwest  Louisiana  which is experiencing  drought

conditions.  Keim says as of memorial day Lake  Charles  had  only seen a tenth of an inch of rain this month.

 

The House Appropriations  Committee  has  endorsed  a  $3.6  billion spending  plan  for  public schools.  The Minimum Foundation Program provides most of the money  that  funds  public schools.  The measure was approved without objection and now heads  to the House Education Committee.

 

The  state  Department of Education says 69-percent of public school students who  took the standardized test known as LEAP, achieved the basic or above  level,  which  is  the same percentage as last year. Superintendent of Education John White  says  27-percent of students performed at the mastery level in English   language  arts and 25-percent of students also achieved the mastery level for math which is a slight increase from last year.

 

For the second year in a row, the Louisiana Senate Finance Committee killed legislation that would require review and oversight of contracts that would privatize services provided by state government.

The Senate Finance Committee voted 7-3 Tuesday to reject House Bill 128 after deferring  a similar bill last year on a vote of 8-2. HB128 focused on the large contracts of more than $5 million that would, for example, replace the state workers running a prison or hospital with managers from a private company.  Bobby Jindal’s staff had lobbied against the legislation.

 

The Vermillion Parish Sheriff's office is working the site of a crop duster crash Tuesday morning south of  Gueydan.  Sheriff Mike Couvillon confirms that the pilot is deceased,  however  the  identity has not been  released.  Deputies have secured the scene and have  contacted the FAA and NTSB.

 

The Bossier Parish Sheriff's office says  a 7-year-old child drowned at  the  Cypress  Black  Bayou  Reservoir east of  Benton  memorial day.  They  say Dawton Smith  apparently  wandered  away  from family and friends and was later found in the water.

 

The taxi cab driver who was convicted of first degree murder last month  for the March 2010 death of 12-year-old Justin Bloxom of Stonewall will  be formally sentenced today.  A jury has already recommended that Brian  Horn be sentenced to die.

 

Legislation is heading to Governor Jindal's desk that would prohibit groups   associated   with   abortions   from   distributing  health information  at public schools.  The Senate gave  final  legislative

approval. The  legislation  is  aimed  at  Planned  Parenthood, which supports abortion  rights  for  women.  A co-sponsor of  the  bill,  Bogalusa Senator Ben Nevers, says the bill's purpose is to make sure children at public schools are not targeted by abortion organizations. Governor Jindal is expected to sign the measure into law.

 

A high-speed  early-morning  pursuit by police has resulted in  the  death  of a young teen-aged  driver  trying  to  get  away. Opelousas Police  attempted  to stop a stolen vehicle that was traveling the wrong way on Highway 190. The driver took off and eventually flipped the vehicle.   Fifteen  year-old Deontei Fuslier was pronounced dead at the scene. Three other teens in the vehicle we ejected and injured.

 

 

The  "Deedy Slaughter Bill" has received final legislative  approval in the  Senate  and now heads to Governor Jindal's desk.  Port Allen Senator  Rick  Ward's  legislation  will  prevent  recalled  elected

officials from running  in  the  special  election called to replace them during the same term.  The measure is  named  for  former  Port Allen mayor Deedy Slaughter, who was recalled last November but also ran in the April special election that was aimed at replacing her.

 

A  Senate  resolution to develop an official brand, certification or label to mark  products that come from Louisiana was approved by the House  Tuesday.   Legislators  requested  the  state  Department  of Economic  Development  to report back to House and Senate agriculture and commerce committees by February 1.

 

Authorities  in  East  Baton  Rouge  say  they  raided  a very large cockfighting operation involving seventy-five roosters.   EBR Animal Control  and Rescue Center Executive Director Hilton Cole says  they suspect it  was  someone at the fight who called in the complaint to the parish call center because they were upset about losing a bet in a fight.

 

It was all a mystery about the whereabouts of a woman from Loranger, who had been missing since 2009.  Until this this past weekend.  The remains  of  45  year-old Dena Fout were found in a wooded area near Hammond  by  several  boys  who  were  hunting.   Tangipahoa  Parish Sheriff's  Office  says  they  will  conduct  tests  to  attempt  to establish an estimate of the time and cause of death.

 

It appears state lawmakers  are getting out of a dispute between NFL players and Saints owner Tom  Benson  over  workman's comp.  Hammond Representative   Chris   Broadwater   is  pulling  the   bill   from consideration  for the legislative session.   The  bill,  which  was opposed  by  the NFL  Players  Association,  would  have  calculated workers compensation  for professional athletes based on recent, not future, earnings.  Broadwater  hopes  the  two  sides can come to an agreement on their own.

 

 

News For Tuesday 05/27/14


News for Tuesday 052714

By Dave Graichen

 

New numbers from the Louisiana Workforce Commission show the Houma,  Lafayette and Lake Charles metro areas had an unemployment rate below  four-percent in April. LSU economist Loren Scott these areas of the  state are benefiting from a boom in construction, because of new plants that are coming to the state.  But Scott says not all areas of the state are doing well. The Louisiana

Workforce Commission says the Shreveport metro area's unemployment rate  is near five-percent. He says that area of the state is still suffering  from the closure of the General Motors plant in 2012 and cutbacks at Barksdale air force base.  

 

The dean of political journalism  in Louisiana has passed away. John Maginnis, publisher of lapolitics-dot-com, died Sunday at the age of 66.  Maginnis  wrote  political  books,   a  syndicated  column  and

published  a  newsletter  that  provided  an inside  look  at  state government. LSU mass communications professor Bob Mann says Maginnis will be sorely missed. Maginnis started on Louisiana political beat in 1972.

 

Governor Jindal  has  signed  into  law legislation that would allow concealed handgun permit holders to bring  a  gun  into  restaurants that  serve  alcohol,  but make most of their money off food  sales.

Bossier City Representative  Jeff  Thompson  warns concealed handgun holders can have their premit revoked if they  possess  a gun in one of  these  establishments  and have a blood alcohol reading  greater than .05%. Thompson says business owners  will  have the right to prohibit guns

in their restaurant if they choose to do so.

 

The Louisiana Senate Finance Committee reversed many of the changes and adjustments made to the state budget proposal by the state House of Representatives. Yesterday, the committee approved the 25-billion  dollar  spending plan for the upcoming fiscal  year and passed it on to the full senate.

 

Beginning with this year's Atlantic Hurricane season, the National  Hurricane Center will begin issuing a Potential Storm Surge Flooding  Map for areas along the coast at risk of storm surge from a tropical  cyclone.  Storm Surge Leader for the National Hurricane Center Jamie  Rhome says this has been in the works for a while. The maps will predict how deep the water will be above ground and how  far inland the water will go.  They will be available 48 hours prior to  landfall or during the watch and warning phases.  Rhome says the map  will change as a storm approaches the coast.

 

The 2014 legislative session will come to a close Monday.  So, how has  this session been going?  UL-Lafayette Political Science Professor  Pearson Cross says the session has been wandering since the beginning.  1,284 bills have been filed in the House and 685 in the Senate.  Many of  those will not survive.  Of course, some of the biggest bills await  final action in the final days of the session.  Cross says Governor  Jindal has spent quite a bit of time out of state during this session,  which kept major legislation from getting approved this year.

 

The Bayou Country Superfest wrapped up  Sunday night with performances from Louisiana’s own Hunter Hayes and Jason  Aldean.  Organizers  say the  three-day  country music festival  had a record setting turnout of 135-thousand fans.

The NCAA  Baseball Tournament field has been announced.  Eighth seed LSU  will  host  Houston,  Bryant,  and  Southeastern  Louisiana  in regional action.   In  the  Lafayette  Regional,  UL-Lafayette,  the number  six  seed,   will  host  Jackson State, San Diego State, and Mississippi State.  Both regionals kick off Friday.

 

News For Friday 05/23/14


News for Friday 052314

By Dave Graichen

 

In the past, Governor Bobby  Jindal  was  an active supporter of the Common  Core  Education  curriculum.   But  not  anymore. In a statement sent out by Governor Bobby Jindal, he compares Common Core  to  centralized  planning in Russia.  Jindal says the feds are taking over the new academic  standards  for public schools and adds that education is best left to local control.   BESE  President Chas Roemer  says  Common  Core  is  not a federally run program  and  it provides  freedom to local educators  to  decide  on  how  and  what they'll teach  kids.   He says the  governor's statement is all about presidential politics.

 

Memorial Day weekend is the official kickoff to the summer travel  season and according to AAA between Thursday through Monday a  projected 36 million Americans will be hitting the road. American  Automobile Association spokesperson Don Redman says this is the most  people traveling for the Holiday weekend since the start of the recession.

 

The big Bayou Country Superfest in Baton Rouge kicks off tonight with  mega stars Reba Mcentire and George Strait hitting the stage in Tiger  Stadium.  The massive country music festival also features performances this weekend by Luke Bryan, Jason Aldean, Florida Georgia Line and Eric

Church. The Holiday  weekend festival now spans three days and has become a major economic boost for Baton Rouge.

 

Legislation that would allow domestic violence situations be grounds for  an immediate divorce has won final legislative approval.  New Orleans  Senator J.P. Morrell's bill now heads to the Governor's desk.   The bill would waive the waiting period for divorce where a spouse or  child has been abused by the other spouse and when a protective order or  injunction has been issued against the other spouse.  It passed 35 to nothing.

 

NOAA's  Climate  Prediction Center is predicting a 50 percent chance of a below-normal  Atlantic  Hurricane Season this year.  Their 2014 Atlantic Hurricane Season Outlook  calls for a 70 percent likelihood of   8  to 13 named storms, 3 to 6 hurricanes,  and  1  to  2  major hurricanes.

 

All  eyes  on  the  governor's desk for the signing of the Optometry bill that got final legislative  approval  Wednesday.  The bill that is  widely  opposed by the medical community passed  on  the  Senate Floor 25-12.

 

Legislation  that  would  mandate  the  LHSAA  to  use  third  party arbitration  when  settling player eligibility disputes has passed on the House floor.   The  Senate  bill is inspired by a 19-year-old

Episcopal student from a "hardship" situation who is too old to play football   his  senior  year. The measure narrowly advanced on a 54-38 vote  and has to go back to the Senate for amendment considerations.

 

A bill that would require homeowners’ insurance firms to disclose their annual losses and premiums by ZIP code won final legislative approval Thursday. The House voted 83-0 to go along with Senate changes to the House-passed bill, which was the final legislative step. The bill would require the state Department of Insurance to compile the data and post the totals online.

 

Well the LSU did it again, in game 2 of the SEC tournament . The tigers defeated Arkansas 7 to 2.  The Tigers will have the day off today and return to face the winner of Florida and Ole Miss on Saturday at noon in a single elimination game. An interesting stat: LSU has now outscored its opponents 74-7 over the past six games.

 

News For Thursday 05/22/14


News for Thursday 052214

By Dave Graichen

 

According to an article in today’s Town Talk, The Fort Buhlow Bridge connecting Alexandria and Pineville won’t be finished this year as had been planned. And it likely won’t be next year either. The opening of the bridge, which will replace the O.K. Allen Bridge, now is projected for January or February 2016. The problem, some very hard clays on the Pineville side, which affected construction of the pier for that side of the bridge. One span of the new bridge should be open by the end of this year or in early 2015.

 

An Alexandria man has been charged with second-degree murder in the slaying of a man Tuesday afternoon at a Monroe Street store in Alexandria. The suspect, 18-year-old Jarvis Jackson is accused of shooting 25 year old Denardo Boyd of Alexandria, about 4:30 p.m. Tuesday in the parking lot of the Save Most store on Monroe Street. No motive has been given.

 

Even though it’s allowed in 40 of our 50 states, Louisiana residents will not be able to purchase raw milk any time soon. The Senate Health and Welfare Committee rejected  the  proposal  yesterday.  Commissioner of Agriculture Mike Strain read the CDC's statement on the matter and as you may suspect, they are not for the change in the law. The bill was shot down on a 4-to1 vote.

 

Governor Jindal says he will sign legislation that could lead to the closure  of  three  of the state's five abortion clinics.  The House gave final legislative passage to a bill that would require abortion

doctors to have admitting  privileges at a nearby hospital. The new rules are similar to a recent law passed in Texas.  The bill received final legislative approval on an 88-5 vote.

 

A House bill that would require a brain dead pregnant woman to be  kept alive under doctors’ orders while the baby develops heads to the upper chamber for final legislative passage.

 

Medicaid expansion efforts died Wednesday for the 2014 legislative session while a plan to test Gov. Bobby Jindal’s national health care plan in Louisiana sailed through the Louisiana Senate. The House Health and Welfare Committee, as expected, killed three separate measures proposing different approaches, including by-passing Gov. Bobby Jindal and letting the voters decide the issue. Later in the day, the Senate voted 35-1 to advance legislation under which the state health agency would develop a health care plan using Jindal’s “America Next” outline.

 

The Louisiana State Police is set to swear in 46 new Troopers today in  Baton Rouge.  This is their first graduating cadet class in five years.  State Police Superintendent Colonel Mike Edmonson says the cadets  went through 19 weeks of training to get here. Edmonson says another Academy class will start in December and if you  are interested, you can register online at lsp.org. 

 

Governor Jindal has signed into law a bill prohibiting speed cameras on Louisiana's  interstates.   The measure by Sulphur Representative Michael Danahay was one of a few  bills  taken  up  this legislative session regarding speed traps and the only one to succeed so far.

 

The Senate gave final legislative passage to a bill prohibiting dogs  from riding unrestrained in the bed of a pickup on the interstate. Under this measure dogs could still ride in the bed of a truck on the

 interstate, but they would have to be humanely secured so they could not  jump out. The vote was 30-to-7 in favor of the bill.  It now awaits the Governor’s signature. 

 

With the rise of heroin deaths in Louisiana  in  the  past year, the Legislature paid attention and passed a bill that would  give judges the  ability  to sentence a second offense of distribution up  to  a

maximum of 99 years.   After  the 27-11 vote, it's on its way to the Governor's desk to be signed. The current law is a 50 year maximum.

 

Welfare recipients would be unable to use their federal benefits at liquor stores, nail salons, bars, cruise ships and psychic businesses under legislation that cleared a Senate committee Wednesday.

The Senate Committee on Health and Welfare also tackled food stamp recipients. The panel advanced legislation that would cut off grocery assistance for Tangipahoa Parish residents without small children unless they seek an education or job training.

 

An attempt to establish guidelines for the Tulane legislative scholarship program in state law ran into a dead end Wednesday. The Louisiana House and Governmental Affairs Committee voted 6-1 to reject a state Senate-passed measure putting the scholarships off-limits to certain elected officials and their relatives and requiring transparency over the awarding of the $46,000-a-year scholarships controlled by legislators.

 

A bill allowing active duty and retired law enforcement officials to carry  a  gun  in  almost  all  public  places  is  now awaiting the Governor's signature.  The measure does not apply to courthouses and

officers  would  be subject to individual regulations set  by  their department.   The bill passed on an 81-11 vote.

 

In  the  SEC  tournament yesterday, LSU pounded Vanderbilt  11-1, setting up their second game against the Arkansas Razorbacks this afternoon.  the Razorbacks took out Ole Miss by a score of 2-1. Airtime 4 this afternoon. First pitch 4:30. 

 

The House Criminal Justice Committee has passed a measure that would allow the Department of  Corrections  to  have the ability to search for  alternative methods to carry out capital  punishments,  if  the drugs for lethal  injections cannot be found.  The bill sponsored by Metairie Representative Joe Lopinto now moves to the House floor for debate.

 

 

 

 

news For Wednesday 05/21/14


News for Wednesday 052114

By Dave Graichen

 

Word is construction to renovate the Rapides parish coliseum could begin this summer with construction to be completed in the later part of 2015. Alliance Design Group, headed up by Bill Tudor, is now in the review process with the state Fire Marshal’s Office and soon will submit plans to the city of Alexandria. Once permitting is finished, the Rapides Parish Police Jury can advertise for bids from contractors, a process that should take 30 to 45 days.

 

The Alexandria Police are investigating shooting at a the Monroe street Save-Most store yesterday afternoon at about 4:30. Police say one man was shot. His name and condition are unknown at this time. So far, there have been no arrests.

 

Flicking a cigarette  butt  out  of  your  car  window could get you slapped  with  a hefty fine and community service.   Governor  Bobby Jindal has signed  a  bill  into  law that labels cigarette butts as

litter and allows the fines.

 

New  Orleans  has lost its bid to host the 2018 Superbowl game.  The announcement was made today that Minneapolis will host the big game. At that meeting,  it  was  reported  that  Saints  owner  Tom Benson suffered  a fall from the podium, and was taken to the hospital.   A spokesman said Benson seems to be ok.

 

Lapolitics.com  reports the Jindal administration is on the verge of borrowing 56-million  dollars  from  the  state  treasury to pay for expenses  at  Louisiana’s  universities. Lapolitics reporter  Jeremy Alford  says  this is in addition to the 70-million  dollars  that's already been borrowed  to  pay  for  higher  ed, because contingency revenues have yet to materialize. The Jindal administration received a 30-million dollar loan from the state  treasury  in  April  and  then  another loan  for  40-million dollars.

 

The Louisiana Senate Tuesday approved legislation that would clarify how landowners could file “legacy lawsuits” seeking to clean up years-old environmental damage. Senators voted 27-12 to send Senate Bill 667 to Gov. Bobby Jindal for his signature turning it into law.

 

Schools  and  school districts across the  state  are  preparing  to receive the results from the "LEAP" and "iLEAP' tests.  "LEAP" tests are given to fourth  and  eighth  graders  and  factors in whether a

student  will  be  promoted or given remedial work.   "iLEAP"  tests assess student progress  in  grades  three,  five,  six,  and seven. The  Department  of Education will be releasing a report on

the numbers in the next few days.

 

The state House rejects legislation  that  would  have  allowed  the state  Department  of Education to survey high school students about their sexual behaviors.  The measure failed on a vote of 38 yeas and 55 nays. The bill's sponsor, Baton Rouge Representative Patricia  Smith, says the answers from these questionnaires could help experts develop programs  that  would  prevent  teenagers  from  engaging  in sexual behaviors.  But the House didn't see it that way and voted the legislation down.

 

The bill that would allow  raw  milk to be sold in Louisiana will be heard in a Senate committee today.  House Bill 1279, by Carencro Representative Stephen Ortego, passed  the  House on a 78-19 vote on May 7th.  Supporters say raw milk can be used to treat health  issues  such as asthma  and  osteoporosis.   40  states  allow  raw  milk  sales  to consumers.

 

Former Saints safety  Steve  Gleason  is  recovering from surgery to help him breathe as he continues his battle  with  the  degenerative brain  disease,  ALS.   Clare  Durrett  with  Team Gleason says  his recovery is going really well. Gleason tweeted after the operation. "I am persistent  like a banana tree.  Cut me down and I will be back before you know it"

 

A bill that would put curbs on the use of cellphones by motorists in school zones won final legislative approval Tuesday. The proposal, House Bill 370, bans the use of hand-held cellphones in schoolzones during posted hours if there are signs in each direction that spell out the prohibition.

 

If  you're  going to Baton Rouge  this  weekend  for  Bayou  Country Superfest your  hotel  might  have  a  shuttle to Tiger Stadium. The Capital Area Transit System is offering  service  from  several area and downtown hotels to Death Valley for just $10 round-trip  and  $5 one way.

 

 

News For Tuesday 05/20/14


News for Tuesday 052014

By Dave Graichen

 

The Rapides Parish School Board today will hear a report on an application to open a public charter school in Alexandria. The district received an application March 7 from the Louisiana Charter Foundation, Inc., which has partnered with Charter Schools USA, for Alexandria Charter Academy to open for the 2015-16 school year. After hearing public comment and a report from a consultant , the School Board  is expected to take action regarding the school..

 

A  3.6  billion dollar spending plan for public schools was approved by  a Senate  committee  Monday.   The  Minimum  Foundation  Program provides  much of the financial assistance for nearly 700,000 public school students.   It  passed  the  Senate  Finance  committee  on a 10-to-1 vote.

 

The Louisiana Garden Club Federation has named the City of Pineville the “2014 STATE’S CLEANEST CITY”.  Pineville won Category “G”, which was for cities with populations between 9,500 and 14,999.  Pineville was competing against the Cities of Crowley, Abbeville and River Ridge in the State finals. The city of Alexandria was also a big winner coming in in first place ahead of Monroe for category I cities..

 

 A bill that attempts to reduce the number of state consulting contracts  has been approved by the Senate Finance Committee. The proposal would  give the legislature the ability to reject contracts over 40-thousand  dollars. State treasurer John Kennedy says any savings generated would  go towards higher education. The measure still needs approval from the full senate and then it would

go back to the House, to see if they agree with senate changes.

 

The police taser death of a Winnfield man is being brought up again, this  time  by  the  U.S. Supreme Court.  A Winnfield Police officer tased  a suspect, Baron  Pikes  seven times backing January of 2008. The appeals court had already dismissed  the civil rights lawsuit by the deceased man's son. But now, the Supreme  Court  is  asking  the court of appeals to take another look at the case.

 

Coming up for debate on the House floor Today is  legislation that would  allow  public  school students to be surveyed anonymously  on sexual issues.  Louisiana ranks 8th in the nation for the number of teen pregnancies and 2nd in the nation for std’s.  Supporters of the bill say there is currently no way to evaluate the problem in order to form a solution.  Opponents do not see  how this bill will do anything to solve those problems.

 

A woman and two children who are missing in a densely wooded area of St. Martin Parish after a four-wheeler excursion Sunday, have been found safe and sound. A multiagency search Monday involving helicopters, K-9 search teams, and police on foot and all-terrain vehicles combed an area between Parks and St. Martinville. The trio were found late last evening.

 

Louisiana’s income forecasting panel Monday rejected a push by Gov. Bobby Jindal’s administration to boost revenue forecasts by $118 million next year, instead choosing a more conservative $65 million increase. Revenue Secretary Tim Barfield told the Revenue Estimating Conference that an outside consulting firm hired by the Jindal administration identified ways for his agency to bolster tax collection efforts and bring in more money for the state treasury. But some members of the conference, which decides how much money state lawmakers and the governor have to spend each year, refused to consider the enhanced collection efforts in the forecast for the 2014-15 fiscal year, saying  there’s no way to know if those dollars would appear.

 

The 2014 Louisiana Hurricane Preparedness Sales Tax Holiday happens this  Saturday and Sunday.  It gives residents the chance to get ready for  storm season before the Atlantic Hurricane Season starts on June 1.  Byron Henderson of the State Department of Revenue says you can buy  emergency supplies without having to pay the 4% state sales tax. Flashlights, batteries, portable generators, and other emergency  will be exempt from state sales taxes this weekend.  For a full list of state tax exempt items, go online to revenue.louisiana.gov/hurricaneprep.

 

Metairie  Representative  Cameron  Henry  has  been named one of the country's  "40  political rising stars under 40" by  The  Washington Post.  The 39-year-old  Republican  has  been an outspoken critic of Governor Jindal's budgeting tactics and is  one  of the leaders of a conservative group of legislators known as the fiscal hawks.

 

Police in Bossier City say they've made an arrest in connection with the Mother's  Day murders of two women. They say 26-year-old Brandan  Butler  was taken into custody 2am Saturday by officials in Bogalusa. His bond  is set at $2 million dollars. A million for each victim.

 

A big announcement is coming today from the NFL Owner's Meeting in  Atlanta.  New Orleans, Indianapolis, and Minneapolis are in contention  to host Super Bowl 52 in 2018.  Minnesota  sports reporter  David Leatherman says Minneapolis's bid hinges on a brand new stadium  projected to open in 2016  The NFL, historically, has awarded Super Bowl to markets that have  erected new stadiums.   Minneapolis last hosted a Super Bowl in 1992, while Indianapolis and New  Orleans last hosted Super Bowls in 2012 and 2013, respectively.

 

The LSU Tigers are in Hoover, Alabama getting ready for the SEC  Tournament. The tourney starts today, but since the Tigers finished in  the top four of the conference standings, LSU doesn't play until

tomorrow morning. Since 2008, LSU has won the SEC Tournament four times. The Tigers bring

a four-game winning streak into this year's event.

 

 

 

 

News For Monday 05/19/14


News for Monday 051914

By Dave Graichen

 

Louisiana's longest serving agriculture commissioner, Bob Odom,  passed away Saturday at the age of 78. Governor Bobby Jindal issued a  statement ordering all flags at state buildings be flown half staff  for the man he called a champion for the Louisiana agriculture  community. Odom, a staunch Democrat, served as Agriculture Commissioner from  1980 to 2007 and some say he was one of Louisiana's most influential  elected officials.

 

Law enforcement agencies from around the state are participating in a  statewide "Click It or Ticket" campaign that kicks off today.  Louisiana  law says that everyone inside a vehicle is required to wear a seat belt.  State Police spokesman Sgt. Nick Manale says the message is simple , "Seat Belts, Save Lives".  The campaign runs through June 1st, which includes Memorial Day,  traditionally among the worst holidays for traffic deaths in Louisiana.

 

It's graduation season and Louisiana Workforce Commission Executive  Director Curt Eysink says there's more opportunity for graduates now  than ever before in The Bayou State. He says there is a really  healthy job market in a number of sectors throughout Louisiana.  Eysink says whether you have a degree from a technical or community  college, or a four year university -- you're in great shape here. He  says not only do we have overall growth in our labor  markets, but there are more than 60 billion dollars’ worth of projects coming to our state and most of those have yet to get started.  The state’s labor force is currently at a record high.

 

We're now two weeks away from the end of what some are calling one of  the most quiet legislative sessions we've had in Louisiana under  Governor Bobby Jindal's Administration. Jeremy Alford with

Lapolitics.com says by far the biggest issue left for lawmakers to  work out is the funding mechanism for public schools.

 

The Supreme Court could take its first look at police use of stun guns in a case involving the death of a Louisiana man who was shocked by police eight times after he had been handcuffed. The justices could say on Monday whether they will hear the case of Baron Pikes in the fall. They are being asked to review a lower court ruling that dismissed a civil rights lawsuit filed on behalf of Pikes’ young son against a former police officer in the central Louisiana town of Winnfield. The justices have previously rejected appeals from victims of stun gun use and from police in state and federal court cases.

Amnesty International says more than 540 people have died following police use of stun guns in the U.S. since 2001.

 

LSU’s main campus is going tobacco-free this fall.  The Louisiana Legislature approved a law last year requiring colleges and universities to develop their own “smoke-free” policies. That legislation, which serves as an addendum to the Louisiana Smoke-Free Air Act that prohibits smoking in some public places and workplaces, states that colleges also can go the extra step of excluding all tobacco. LSU already limits smoking to designated areas, but advocates have pushed to further make the campus free of any tobacco products.

 

The Saints held a rookie mini-camp this past weekend and it was an  opportunity for first round pick Brandin Cooks to get familiar with  his new team. The former Oregon State wide out says he's excited

about playing with Quarterback Drew Brees and for head coach Sean  Payton. Cooks says the adjustment hasn't been too bad, since the Saints  offense is similar to the one he played in college.  He's just  five-foot-ten, 189 pounds, but doesn't think his size will work against him in the NFL.

 

The NFL Owner's Meeting gets underway today in Atlanta and one of the  items on the agenda will be who gets to host Super Bowl 52 in 2018.  The  Big Easy is in the running along with Minneapolis and Indianapolis.  Greater New Orleans Foundation president Jay Cicero says they'll make  their final pitch before the vote tomorrow.  New Orleans last hosted the Super Bowl in 2013 and that injected 480  million dollars into the economy

 

A great weekend for the LSU tiger baseball team. In the crucial season-ending series at Auburn, LSU swept by scores of 10-0, 11-3 and 8-1.

 

 

 

News For Friday 05/16/14


News for Friday 051614

By Dave Graichen

 

National Safe Boating week gets underway this weekend and the Louisiana  Department of Wildlife and Fisheries reminds boaters to be safe,  responsible, and knowledgeable while on the water.   DWF spokesperson  Adam Einck says there are two things you can always do to be safe on the water:

wear your life jacket and have a sober operator.  Alcohol use is one of  the leading causes of boating crashes and fatalities on the water.  Einck reminds you that the same penalties apply whether you get a DWI  on the water or on the road...

 

The  state  legislature will NOT make any changes  to  the  taxpayer funded TOPS scholarship  program.  Mandeville  Senator  Jack Donahue filed legislation that attempted to reduce the cost of providing the merit  based  scholarships,  but  the republican said on the  senate floor there's not enough support this year to pass his bills.

 

The  House  approves  a bill that would give judges the authority to hand down a 99-year prison  sentence  if convicted for a second time on  heroin  distribution  charges.   The Black  Caucus  opposed  the legislation.  Baton Rouge Representative  Ted James pointed out that you could do more time for dealing heroin than  if you are convicted of manslaughter.

 

At  the  State  Capital  Thursday, the vote was unanimous.  E-cigarette  sales should be forbidden to anyone under the age of 18. The law will also include vaporizers and similar  products.   It  is now on its way to the Governor's desk.

 

LSU  says it's graduating its largest and most diverse  class.  Over 63-hundred   students  will  participate  in  graduation  ceremonies today and  Saturday  and  out  of that group, over 34-hundred are females, 570 are African American and 240 are Hispanic.

 

A  measure that expands the state's ban on cockfighting  passed  the state  House  Thursday  but  not before a unique discussion.  When this bill was brought up in the  Senate,  the big argument was whether or not  it would make chicken boxing illegal. The legislation goes back to the Senate to see if  they  agree  with House changes.

 

The Walker Police Department says a 23-year-old man is under arrest for  allegedly killing his four week old daughter.  Spokesman Captain John  Sharp says the infant was brought in unable to breathe on its own on  April 19th and was removed from life support this week. He says Franklin  Finney admitted to being involved in the tragic crime...

 

A man from Bossier City was indicted Thursday for the murder of his  wife almost 35 years ago. Caddo District Attorney Charles Scott says  James H Montgomery is charged with second degree murder in the death  of Deanna Montgomery. He says the tragic crime occurred on January 1,

1979. Scott says Deanna Montgomery, a mother of two young children, was  killed by a shotgun blast to the head while she was in the front seat  of a truck driven by her husband in Shreveport.

 

 

News For Thursday 05/15/14


News for Thursday 051514

By Dave Graichen

 

It's mid-May but believe it or not, Louisiana is experiencing yet  another cold front. State climatologist Barry Keim says the cool  weather blew through yesterday causing many of us in Sportsman's Paradise to break out the jackets a little over a month before  summer.  Keim says morning temperatures ranged from  the 40s across northern  parishes and 50s along the southern half of the state.  He says we  can expect daily minimum temperature records to fall all across the  state today and tomorrow.

 

The  House  has approved legislation the will lead to the closure of Huey P. Long  hospital  in  Pineville.  The move will force patients who use Huey P. Long to receive  medical  care at two nearby private hospitals  as  part of Governor Bobby Jindal's  privatization  plan. Marksville Representative Robert Johnson says the proposal will make it difficult for some to receive affordable health care. But Alexandria Representative  Lance  Harris says citizens will have plenty of options to obtain the health care they need.  The House voted 65-29 to shut down Huey P. Long.

 

A bill that would mandate sex education in public schools was killed Wednesday by the House Education Committee. The vote was three in favor and 10 opposed. State Rep. Patricia Smith, D-Baton Rouge, pleaded with the panel to approve her bill to help combat Louisiana’s high rate of teen pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases.  Opponents questioned the need for the proposal.

 

Today is the final day for Louisianans to file their individual  state income tax returns for 2013. LA-Department of Revenue spokesman  Byron Henderson says the majority of taxpayers have already done  their state returns likely when they did their federal, but many  still have not. Henderson says if you need more time to prepare your Louisiana taxes,  you must at least file an extension by midnight tonight.

 

Legislation   that  requires  abortion  clinics  to  have  admitting privileges at  a hospital within 30 miles of their facility receives overwhelming support  in  the  state  Senate.   The  requirement  is

similar  to what Texas recently passed.  Supporters say it will make sure abortion  patients  receive proper care if something goes wrong during or after the procedure.   But pro-choice organizations say it closes  three  of  the states five abortion  clinics. the bill, now  heads back to the House floor for final legislative passage.

 

Governor Bobby Jindal's approval ratings are on the rise.  A poll by Southern  Media  and  Opinion Research shows the Governor's positive job performance rating  is at 48%.  Pollster Bernie Pinsonat says to appreciate that, you need  to  look  back to the Spring of 2013 when Jindal's approval rating was at an all-time low of 38-percent. However,  Jindal's  negative  rating  remains   slightly  above  his

positive  at  51%.   Jindal's  positive rating has not  exceeded  his negative rating since September 2012.

 

Lawmakers have decided to raise the retirement age for public school teachers and rank and file state  workers  who are hired on or after July 1st, 2015. Currently those state workers  can retire at the age of 60 with five years of service. The legislation  that now heads to Jindal's desk would move that to 62 starting next summer.

 

Optometrists  got  another  win  yesterday as a Senate panel agreed they should be allowed to perform certain surgeries.  HB 1065 has already cleared the House and now heads to the Senate floor.  Representative Rogers Pope says the bill does not require people to do anything and

they could still go anywhere they wanted to get eye treatment. In  opposition is Pamala Williams,  a  pediatric  ophthalmologist  in Baton  Rouge.   She  says 90% of people polled in Louisiana say they

have the eye care they need available to them. In spite of the opposition, the bill advanced 7-to-1.

 

With the beginning of hurricane season just around the corner, another  below average prediction has been released.  Accuweather.com predicts  10 named tropical storms, five hurricanes, and two major hurricanes for  the Atlantic Basin this year.  Senior Meteorologist Dan Kottlowski says however, you shouldn't let down your guard because of the low numbers. It is expected that the onset of El Nino will increase wind shear and  suppress the development of tropical activity this year.  

 

The state Senate tackled the politically charged issue of payday loans Wednesday night, spurning attempts to create databases and to limit borrowing. Debate on House Bill 766 triggered a flurry of amendments as legislators made one last effort to put limits on an industry that makes thousands of small loans each year in Louisiana.  Each effort died, although not quietly. On a 28-10 vote, the Senate returned HB766 to the House for concurrence on minor changes. The measure would force online lenders to play by the same rules as lenders with brick-and-mortar locations in Louisiana, making them subject to state regulations.

 

A 27-year old Eunice  man  has  been  charged with third offense DWI after crashing into the back of a school  bus  in  Allen Parish that injured  two  children and the bus driver.  Dustin McGowen  ran  his pickup truck into  the  rear  of  the  school  bus that was lawfully stopped to drop off children Tuesday.  The injured  were  taken to a local hospital with minor injuries.

 

A Central Lafourche High School  student  is in custody after making threats to set off a bomb at the school Wednesday.   The  school was placed  on  lockdown for a short time.  The student has admitted  to sending emails about the threat, but detectives deemed the threat to not be credible.

 

 

 

 

News For Wednesday 05/14/14


News For Wednesday 051414

By Dave Graichen

 

State tax returns and extension  requests  must  be  filed  by  tomorrow, May  15.   The  Louisiana  Department  of Revenue reminds everyone that electronic filing is the fastest way to submit returns

and get refunds processed.

 

Concealed weapons permit holders could carry their guns into restaurants that serve alcohol under a bill that’s headed to Gov. Bobby Jindal’s desk. The Louisiana Senate voted 37-2 for the House-passed measure, giving it final legislative passage.

 

A Southern Media and Opinion Research poll on the 2015 governor's race  shows Senator David Vitter as the Republican choice and New Orleans  Mayor Mitch Landrieu as the democratic favorite. Vitter and Landrieu  each received 29-percent in a survey featuring 4 other potential  candidates. Pollster Bernie Pinsonat says Vitter is in good position. Landrieu, who just began a second term as mayor, has not indicated  whether he plans to run for governor next year. Pinsonat says his poll  shows Vitter would beat Landrieu in a run-off. He says it's also unclear who Vitter's biggest challenger will be if Landrieu doesn't run.

 

A bill to require sex education in public schools was debated, then delayed in the House Education Committee. House Education Committee Chairman Steve Carter said discussion on the measure will resume today. The proposal, House Bill 369, would apply to students in grades four through twelve.

Under current law, sex education in public schools is legal but not required.

 

A bill to allow public school students to be surveyed anonymously on sexual  issues passes a House committee.  Supporters of the bill say there is currently no way to evaluate the problem in order to form a solution.   Tulane researcher Dr. Patty Kissinger says the situation among students is serious.

Students would  be  randomly selected to take part in the survey and would  have  the  option   to   refuse  to  take  it. The  House Education Committee narrowly passed the bill on a seven to six vote.

 

A Louisiana Senate panel endorsed a revamp Tuesday of the system used to provide benefit increases for about 100,000 state pension system retirees. House Bill 1225 will reduce the debts of Louisiana’s four statewide pension systems. It ties future cost-of-living increases to the systems’ financial health. The committee action leaves the measure one step away from final legislative passage by the full Senate. Passage of HB1225 guarantees a 1.5 percent cost-of-living adjustment to retired state employees, teachers, school employees and State Police.

 

Legislation that would bar employers and schools from demanding access to social media, personal email and other online accounts received final legislative approval Tuesday. In an 88-0 vote, the Louisiana House shipped House Bill 340 to the governor’s desk, following minor changes from the Senate.

 

Legislation that seeks to have a person who's arrested on felony  domestic abuse sit in jail without bail to "cool off" advances out of  committee Tuesday. The bill now heard to the senate floor.

 

A bill which would take firearms out of the hands of domestic violence  offenders received final legislative approval.  HB 753 prohibits an abuser under a protective order from possessing a

gun and those convicted of domestic violence charges from possessing a  firearm for a decade. The bill now heads to the governor.

 

Legislation that would set up a legal framework for surrogate births in Louisiana advanced to Gov. Bobby Jindal’s desk Tuesday. The state Senate voted 22-11 in favor of House Bill 187. The vote gave the bill final legislative passage, sending it to Jindal who can sign it, veto it or let it become law without his signature. Last year, the governor vetoed legislation that would have authorized courts to approve gestational surrogacy contracts when a husband and wife encounter medical problems in producing a child. The governor cited the range of opposition to the legislation. The loudest from the Louisiana family forum.

 

Lt. Governor Jay Dardenne  has  dropped his federal lawsuit over the use  of the state's trademarked slogan  "Pick  Your  Passion"  on  a political  organization's  billboard on I-10 near Baton Rouge.  Last

month, a federal judge refused  to  order MoveOn dot org to take the billboard down while the the lawsuit  was  pending.  The lawsuit was dismissed this week.

 

Beer  sales inside Tiger Stadium could be on the way soon, according to LSU  Athletic  Director  Joe Alleva.  Several schools already do. including ULM and U-L Lafayette.   Alleva recognizes some people may be concerned beer sales could lead to poor fan behavior. The SEC prohibits beer sales to fans in the general seating area.

 

The Louisiana Association of Criminal Defense lawyers have announced opposition  of  Metairie  Senator Joe Lopinto's bill that would keep the identification of manufacturers  of  lethal  drugs  for  capital punishment  confidential.   It has already cleared the House Crimnal Justice committee, and Lopinto  says not passing it would just muddy up the water. The debate is far from over, and  it  will  carry  over to the house floor.

 

The Senate agreed that a truck stop owner should be able to keep his tiger as a roadside  attraction.   The  20-18  vote  allows  Michael Sandlin  to  house  his  Bengal-Siberian  mix  tiger named Tony in a

sixteen hundred square foot facility in Grosse Tete.

 

 

News For Tuesday 05/13/14


News for Tuesday 051314

By Dave Graichen

 

Alexandria Police detectives are conducting a homicide investigation into the death of a 33-year-old Alexandria woman. The victim has been identified as Pamela Carnahan. Rapides Parish school officials had become concerned Friday when the mother of a child was not at the bus stop to pick up the child as she usually was.. They contacted relatives who checked the victim’s apartment at 4015 Lakeside Drive and located the body. Police have determined the death was a homicide, but the cause of death has not been released.

 

5th Congressional District Congressman Vance McAllister spoke yesterday  at  a  Chamber of Commerce event here in Alexandria. The congressman, who was joined by his wife, Kelly, and one of their five children, 3-year-old daughter Eva,  began  his  speech  by  apologizing for kissing a married staffer.  McAllister  also told the media that it's never been a secret that he was disliked by the  GOP. McAllister  says  he plans to finish his term, but will not run for re-election. However, the congressman said later he’s leaving his “options open.”

 

The state Senate rejected legislation Monday night that sought to raise the eligibility requirements for TOPS, Louisiana’s merit-based college tuition program. After a two-hour debate on the Senate floor, Senate Bill 520 was voted down after it was amended to convert  TOPS scholarships  to a student loan, forgiven if students keep their eligibility during their first year of college. Several senators spoke out against the proposal, noting the outcome would be that fewer students would qualify.

 

For a second time in as many weeks, the Jindal administration could be facing problems with its Medicaid financing plans. The latest issue came to light Monday after the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services fired a warning shot about the way states are pulling in federal dollars for health care programs. CMS outlined what states shouldn’t be doing and threatened to demand the repayment of dollars where warranted. In a nutshell, Louisiana did many of the things warned against by CMS, possibly foreshadowing another pricey unpinning of the state’s financial structures for health care programs. The state already is grappling with a rejection of hospital privatization plans that could put taxpayers on the hook for millions of dollars.

 

The state’s top school board, showing rare harmony, approved revisions in its $3.6 billion spending plan for public schools after its initial proposal was killed by the Louisiana Senate Education Committee. The vote was 9-1. The changes, including revisions designed to avoid automatic school aid hikes in future years, won support from several influential school groups, including the Louisiana Association of School Superintendents.

 

Bossier  City Police have identified the two women found dead Sunday morning.   24-year  old  Jacqueline  Darlenen Beadle and 26-year old Karyl  Ann Cox were found shot to death  in  their  home.   Beadle's mother found  the  bodies  after  going to the home having not heard from Jacqueline since Friday.  The investigation is on-going.

 

The  Beau Chene High School student killed in an automobile accident Monday morning  in St. Landry Parish has been identified.  17-year old Nonchalant Guillory  allegedly  lost  control  of  her vehicle in a curve  and  hit  the  side  of  a  school bus driven by 56-year  old Lawrence Robert.  Guillory was unrestrained  and  succumbed  to  her injuries in a local hospital.  Robert, who sustained minor injuries, was the only occupant of the school bus at the time of the crash.

 

An Angola inmate is a free man after spending 34 years in prison for a  crime he didn't commit. Attorney Caroline Milne (MIL-nee) of the  Innocence Project New Orleans says when Reginald Adams was found guilty  in the murder of Cathy Ulfers, detectives and prosecutors intentionally withheld evidence that showed Adams was innocent.

 

A  bill  that increases the penalty for throwing cigarette butts out of car windows has received final legislative approval.  The measure is by Marrero  Representative  Patrick  Connick.  It increases first

offense  fines  from $250 to $300 and keeps  the  community  service penalties in place.  The bill now awaits Governor Bobby Jindal's signature.

 

Legislation  by New Orleans  Representative  Helena  Moreno  banning anyone under the  age of 18 from using tanning beds has gotten final legislative approval.   Currently,  minors  ages  14  to  18 can use tanning  beds  with  written  permission  from  a  parent.  The bill received  unanimous  approval  from the House and now heads  to  the Governor's desk.

 

A  Senate  bill that would allow motorists  to  have  any  Louisiana university's  logo  put on their driver’s license passed in the House Transportation Committee.   New  Iberia  Senator  Fred  Mills passed legislation last year that allowed the phrase, "I'm a Cajun"  to  be put on driver’s license which was the idea behind this bill. That  same  committee  also  agreed  with  a  bill that would extend

driver’s license renewal from four years to six  years.   Baton Rouge Senator Dan Claitor says the renewal fee over 12 years would  remain the same, you would just have an extra two years before your drivers license expired. Both bills now head to the House floor.

 

State Troopers say it's a bad  idea  to  show up at a police station drunk.  But  that's what one man allegedly did  Saturday.  Spokesman Jared Sandifer says 31-year-old Patrick Ruffner of Gonzales drove to Troop A to fill out a hit and run accident report, but a trooper who pulled in at the same time spoke with the man and noticed alcohol on his breath. Ruffner  was  then taken into the Troop and charges with 1st offense DWI and suspended license.

 

LSU Athletic Director Joe Alleva spoke at the Baton Rouge Press Club  on Monday to discuss a number of ways they hope to improve the fan  experience at Tiger Stadium. He says a top focus will be on traffic  and working with city and parish leaders to invest in making it  easier to get off campus as quickly as possible after games. Alleva says studies have shown LSU games have a huge economic impact  on Baton Rouge and surrounding areas and it's critical to keep making  improvements so that fans will want to come back.

News For Monday 05/12/14


News for Monday 051214

By Dave Graichen

 

Mother Nature cooperated over the weekend as large crowds filled the streets in Downtown Alexandria for Alex River Fête and the Louisiana Dragon Boat Races.   Kelli West of the Alexandria/Pineville Convention and Visitors Bureau said. “The organizations involved  really stepped up their game. The event, which was in its second year, is poised to become Alexandria’s premiere festival.

 

A  poll conducted on the 5th District Congressional race shows state Senator Neil Riser as the leading Republican candidate, while Monroe Mayor  Jamie  Mayo  would  be  the  top pick for the Democrats.  The telephone  survey  was  conducted  by pollster  Darrel  Glascock  of Pineville and paid for by a pro-gun  lobby  out  of  Washington, DC.  Riser  and  Mayo have yet to officially announce whether  they  will run. So far there's only  two  announced  candidates, former Grant Parish district attorney Ed Tarpley, who is a  Republican  and  Libertarian Clay Grant of Boyce.

 

Voter registration week 2014 begins today. Secretary of State Tom  Schedler says they are joining Registrars of Voters across the state  with activities aimed at registering eligible citizens to vote. He

says Louisiana is already third in the country with 84% of eligible voters registered. Schedler says not only can you easily register to vote online at geauxvote.com , you  can also go to your local Registrar of Voters office.

 

Louisiana’s top school board plans to hold a special, and possibly fiery, meeting Today to amend its $3.6 billion spending request and resurrect the proposal in the Legislature. The key change would prevent automatic education increases in the future, which Senate Education Committee Chairman Conrad Appel, R-Metairie, cited when his committee killed the initial plan on May 2. However, superintendents, school board leaders and teacher union representatives may argue that funding increases of at least 2.75 percent are needed annually, even if the Legislature fails to agree on a plan, because of rising retirement, health insurance and other costs.

 

The issue at dispute is called the Minimum Foundation Program, which is the key funding source for nearly 700,000 public school students statewide for the 2014-15 school year. Just over two years ago, the state employee health insurance program had a half-billion dollars in reserves. Now, the fund balance available to help cover medical claims is half that amount.  While the reasons for the precipitous decline are in dispute, it occurred as the Jindal administration reduced insurance premiums and claims payments grew, eating into reserves.  More than 250,000 state employees, their dependents and retirees as well as some school system employees rely on the Group Benefits program.

 

 It seems that the nursery industry in Louisiana is booming this spring.  The unusually cold winter damaged landscapes and now home gardeners and  landscapers are replacing those plants.  LSU AgCenter horticulturist  Allen Owings says this is great for business. He says retail and wholesale sales are up 10 to 20 percent from this  time last year. 

 

The state department of environmental quality says the air quality in  the capital city has improved and they're pushing for EPA to declare the  five-parish Baton Rouge area as attaining the health-based ozone  standard. Michael Vince with D-E-Q says currently Baton Rouge is labeled  as non-attainment, which hurts economic development efforts.

 

The  FBI  and the Plaquemines Parish Sheriff's office is seeking the person or persons  responsible  for hanging a noose-like knot from a willow tree along the Mississippi River in Belle Chasse.  The

words "White Power" were also found  written  on  the  cement  levee embankment.

 

Former Gibsland Mayor Odell Key  has  been sentenced to prison after pleading guilty to malfeasance in office.   Second Judicial District Court  Judge  Glenn  Fallin  sentenced  Key to three  years  at  the Louisiana Department of Corrections - two  years  suspended,  and an additional  two years of active supervised probation upon completion of his jail sentence.  He was also fined $5000.

 

The Saints drafted six players during the NFL draft, 2 offensive players  and four on the defensive side of the ball. The headliner is first round  pick wide receiver Brandin Cooks from Oregon State. Coach Sean Payton  likes Cooks athleticism, work ethic and character. The Saints selected two players from the Southeastern Conference. Strong  safety Vinnie Sunseri from Alabama and Florida outside linebacker Ronald  Powell. Payton says both players suffered knee injuries in college, but  should be able to play right away, especially on special teams.

 

The sixth ranked LSU Tigers sat around and watched it rain more than they played baseball this weekend. Because of lightning and heavy rain in Baton Rouge, the Bayou Bengals only played two games. Both of them were on Saturday. They won the first game 2-0 behind another stellar pitching performance by Aaron Nola. But the Tigers lost the nightcap 5-1. That second game didn't start until 10 PM because of weather.

 

 

News For Friday 05/09/14


News for Friday 050914

By Dave Graichen

 

Well today is day two of the three day AlexRiverFete. Activities start downtown at 4pm with the art walk, followed by live entertainment from 7 to 10 on the Dragon Stage. Saturday, it’s a full day, starting with the Dragon Boat Races and activities all day long. The 2nd annual event will wrap up with live entertainment. If you are looking to travel, you may want to check out the 40th Annual Cochon de lait Festival in Mansura. It continues through Sunday.

 

It looks like some much needed rain is in store for most of Louisiana  heading into the weekend.   State Climatologist Barry Keim says after  three to four weeks of dry weather, the state is finally moving into a  wet pattern.  Keim says that there a chance of widespread thunderstorms across the

state dropping a potential of one to two inches of rain over the next  few days.  He adds that the rain is needed to avoid drought conditions.

 

For seven hours Thursday, the Louisiana House debated Common Core, school vouchers, art, private prisons, health care clinics and other planks in the $25 billion state operating budget.

House members made a few changes, took the generally unprecedented step of calling a cabinet secretary to the floor, then voted 65-34 in favor of House Bill 1, the spending plan for the fiscal year that starts in July. The state Senate now gets its chance to tackle the budget.

 

Common Core critics suffered their fourth major defeat of the session Thursday when a Senate committee crushed a bid to scrap the national academic standards in favor of new ones drafted by Louisiana parents and educators. The bill was the last of the sweeping anti-Common Core proposals awaiting action, and means that key bills to drop or revamp the standards and accompanying tests have now failed in three House and Senate committees.

 

Chief Executive magazine has ranked  Louisiana  the ninth best state for business.  Since 2010, the state has climbed  31  spots  in  the magazine's Best & Worst States for Business rankings.  Louisiana now places   among  the  top  10  states  nationally  in  four  national business-climate rankings.

 

Former  Vice-Presidential candidate  Sarah  Palin  has  endorsed  an underdog  candidate in the US Senate race.  Palin says Louisiana can elect a true  conservative  in  Air  Force  Colonel Rob Maness.  LSU Political  Science Professor Robert Hogan says  Palin's  endorsement will help Maness gain some much-needed name recognition. Palin calls Maness the true conservative in the race.

 

An independent survey on this year's US Senate race shows Senator Mary  Landrieu's popularity continues to fall. Southern Media and Opinion  Research conducted a survey last week of 600 likely voters and Pollster  Bernie Pinsonat says Landrieu's approval ratings have hit an all-time  low of 39-percent.  Landrieu has been a US Senator since 1996 and was recently appointed  to the Chair of the Senate Energy Committee.  Pinsonat says her seniority  and power mean little to Louisiana voters.

 

The bill requiring dogs to be restrained in the back of pickup trucks  on interstates goes another step into becoming law Thursday. HB1091 by  Kenner Rep. Tom Willmott got approval in the Senate Transportation  Committee. Willmott says the dog would need to be in a crate, a car carrier or

 wear some type of harness when in the back of a truck traveling  on an interstate. He says a dog that is free to roam in the back of a  truck that's going 70 miles per hour could fall out which is dangerous  for other motorists and of course the dog. The bill now heads to the Senate floor.

 

A 19 year-old Monroe man has been arrested after  he allegedly tried to  check  a  13  year old girl out of school that he had  exchanged sexual text messages  with.   Deedrich Bethley has been charged with attempted kidnapping.  Monroe Police  Sgt. Mark Johnson says Bethley showed up at the girl's school to pick  her  up and school officials got suspicious..

 

An arrest has been made in  the case of a 26-year-old Plaquemine man who was found shot dead, execution  style,  at  his  camp  off Grand River  Wednesday.  22-year-old Detrell Scott of Plaquemine has  been booked with  first  degree  murder  and armed robbery charges in the death  of Kyle Boudreaux.  The Iberville  Parish  Sheriff  says  the suspect  and  victim  knew  each  other.  Boudreaux's cell phone and wallet were stolen.

 

The big reopening of the historic Shreveport Municipal Auditorium opens  tonight with a concert. The Louisiana Hayride will return to the stage  along with other musical talents. Auditorium Spokesperson Sam Voisin the auditorium has re-opened after being closed for a year  due to a 5.3 million dollar renovation. The upgrades have placed the  building on the National Historic Landmark list.

 

LSU begins its final home SEC series tonight against Alabama. A couple  of weeks ago, the Crimson Tide were in first place in the SEC West, but  they've lost 6 of their last 7 conference games. Coach Paul Mainieri  says Alabama is still bringing a good baseball team into the Box.  The Tigers are coming off a series where they dropped two out of three  to Texas A-and-M.

 

Tonight is the second round in the NFL draft and it is expected several  LSU Tigers will be selected tonight. Draft Analyst Mike Detillier says  Jarvis Landry could be the first former Tiger picked tonight. Detiller says quarterback Zach Mettenberger, running back Jeremy Hill,  defensive tackle Ego Ferguson and offensive guard Trai Turner are other  possible selections tonight.  Detiller also believes Louisiana Tech defensive tackle Justin Ellis has  a good chance of being selected tonight.

 

 

News For Thursday 05/08/14


News for Thursday 050814

By Dave Graichen

 

The NFL draft happens tonight in New York City and a lot of Louisiana  eyes are on Odell Beckham, Jr. and the New Orleans Saints.  Football  Analyst Mike Detillier says we shouldn't have to wait long to hear  Beckham's name.  With the 27th pick in round one, the Saints, realistically, do not have a chance to draft Beckham.  But Detillier says with that pick, the  Saints should have some pretty good options. The Saints have a total  of seven picks in this year's draft.

 

The city of Alexandria is suing a company who got $50,000 from the city to produce a movie based on Bonnie and Clyde. Problem is, the move was never made. A lawsuit filed Wednesday by the city in 9th Judicial District Court names Cypress Moon Productions, Inc., and Tonya Holly as defendants. Two other Cenla agencies,  the Alexandria-Pineville Convention & Visitors Bureau and the Greater Alexandria Economic Development Authority, each put up $25,000 for the project.

 

A bill that would allow optometrists to expand their practice and  perform certain surgeries gets approval from The House. The  legislation is by Denham Springs Representative Roger Pope who says  the measure is not about politics. He says it's about giving the  people of Louisiana better access to eye care services. The vote was 66-30 and the bill heads to the Senate  for further consideration.

 

Bills that address domestic violence in Louisiana are close to final legislative passage.  One of the measures would  prohibit an alleged abuser  under a protective order from possessing a  firearm  and  if convicted of domestic abuse battery, then you can't have a gun for a decade.   It  received Senate approval and goes back to the House for agreement on Senate amendments.

 

House  approved  legislation  that would require abortion doctors to have admitting privileges at nearby  hospitals  passed in the Senate Health  and Welfare Committee Wednesday. The bill had no opposition and now heads to the Senate floor.

 

Farmers may soon be able to sell their raw milk directly to consumers  under legislation that got House approval on Wednesday. HB1279 is by  Carencro Representative Stephen Ortego who says he was approached by  many of his constituents who said they would like to be able to  purchase raw milk from their neighbors who have cows. The vote was 77-19 and now heads to the Senate for further debate.

 

A bill that would require teachers and most  new  state employees to wait a little longer before they can retire and receive  benefits is close   to   final  legislative  passage.  The  measure  by  Slidell

Representative  Kevin  Pearson  raises the retirement age from 60 to 62-years-old.

 

Two bills that would have put regulations on  the  use  of red light and speed cameras failed to get approval on the House floor.  One of the  measures  would require local voter approval for a town or city to have cameras that issue tickets through the mail.

 

The state Senate Health Committee approves a health care plan that's called  the conservative alternative to the Affordable Care Act.  It was written  by  Governor  Bobby  Jindal  to  be used on the federal level, but democrat State Senator Ben Nevers of  Bogalusa is pushing the bill in the State Legislature because he says  it  will  be good for Louisiana. Jindal published his national health care plan on his "America Next" website  which  promotes conservative policies that differ from  the

Obama administration.

 

An  Independence  man,   known   for  impersonating  Elvis  Presley, surrendered to authorities after  an  arrest  warrant was issued for sex crimes involving children.  40 year-old Jason Bagilio is charged

with eight counts of felony carnal knowledge of  a  juvenile  and  10 counts of indecent behavior with a juvenile.  No bond has been set.

 

A young man from Plaquemine becomes the victim of a gunshot wound to the head near a camp in Iberville Parish. His parents found the body of  26  year-old  Kye  Boudreaux Wednesday. Authorities  are piecing together the evidence surrounding the incident. 22 year old Detrell Scott of Plaquemine has been arrested. Deputies say he confessed to robbing and fatally shooting Boudreaux.

 

 

 

News For Wednesday 05/07/14


News for Wednesday 050714

By Dave Graichen

 

The final piece in the Jindal administration’s plan to privatize LSU hospitals neared final legislative approval Tuesday. A state House committee voted 10-8 to close Pineville’s Huey P. Long Medical Center. Under a “cooperative endeavor agreement,” Christus’ St. Francis Cabrini and Rapides Regional Medical Center take over the care of the poor and uninsured in central Louisiana.

The closure of the nearly 75-year-old facility requires legislative approval. The Senate has already signed off by approving a resolution , now all that’s missing is full House concurrence.

 

Louisiana's latest attempt to avoid repaying hundreds of millions of dollars in Medicaid overpayments dating back to the mid-1990s has been rejected by a federal appeals court. At issue in a Tuesday ruling from the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals is $240 million in Medicaid money the state received for its charity hospitals from 1996 to 2006. According to the ruling, the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services said audits showed that nine public hospitals had received hundreds of millions of dollars in excess payments.

 

Louisiana's latest attempt to avoid repaying hundreds of millions of dollars in Medicaid overpayments dating back to the mid-1990s has been rejected by a federal appeals court. At issue in a Tuesday ruling from the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals is $240 million in Medicaid money the state received for its charity hospitals from 1996 to 2006. According to the ruling, the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services said audits showed that nine public hospitals had received hundreds of millions of dollars in excess payments.

 

The former Turner Street YMCA will reopen as the YWCA of Alexandria/Pineville.  The parties closed on the sale of facility Tuesday afternoon. YWCA of Alexandria/Pineville Executive Director Katie Vanderlick said the target date to reopen the facility is June 1. The YMCA of Central Louisiana closed Turner Street at the end of March, following a desperate attempt to raise enough funds to keep it operating and make needed repairs.

 

Starting today, the Presidential search committees for Northwestern  State University and Grambling State University will each meet on  their respective campuses. University of Louisiana System President  Sandra Woodley says  in these early stages, they want to create a profile of a  candidate the search firm can look to recruit when the interviewing  begins.

 

Tuesday,   Legislators  rejected  another  effort  to  increase  the qualification  standards  for  TOPS.  House Bill 1153 not only would have raised eligibility standards, but also changed the structure of

scholarship payments.  The House  Education  Committee shot down the legislation on a 9-to-4 vote.

 

State  Police  and the Calcasieu Parish Sheriff's office say they've made what they're  calling  the  biggest drug bust in the history of southwest Louisiana.  Twenty-four  individuals were arrested on drug related  charges  as  a  result  of the months  long  investigation, including the main supplier of cocaine  in  the  Lake  Charles area. Authorities say more arrests are likely.

 

The House Criminal Justice Committee shot down a bill that sought to restrict  the  use  of  drones on private property.  The panel heard from the journalism profession,  who  says  restricting where drones can fly will hurt their ability to cover news  events.  Senator  Dan  Claitor filed the bill because he doesn't want  people flying drones into  a  person's  backyard  and  taking  pictures  or stealing the property owner's wi-fi.  It failed on a 7-6 vote.

 

Some lively discussion Tuesday about the Senate bill that would permit lawmakers to  carry concealed weapons. It has cleared committee, but not without some  opposition.   The  bill's author, Franklin Senator Brett Allain, says he feels people in  the  legislature  should have the same personal protections as judges, coroners, justices  of  the peace and constables. The law would only apply to lawmakers who undergo special gun safety training and mental evaluations.

 

A Louisiana House committee rejected legislation Tuesday that would require all government entities to post on its website the minutes of public hearings. The Bill received only one vote on the House and Governmental Affairs Committee.

 

Sunday is Mother's Day and according to the National Retail Federation  we're going to spend a little less on Mom this year than we did in 2013.  NRF Spokesperson Kathy Grannis say people want to be a little more  conscious of spending this year. The NRF's 2014 Mother's Day Spending Survey shows that Americans will  spend an average of just under $163 on mom this year, six dollars less  than last year. 

 

More hot days, larger piles of debris from hurricane storm surge and the increased vulnerability of communities and industry along the Gulf Coast as sea level continues to rise are just a few of the impacts happening now in Louisiana due to climate change, according to a new federal report. Sea level rise also is expected to continue, which puts the roads, cities, airports, oil and gas facilities as well as ports at greater risk to flooding.

 

According  to an East Baton Rouge Sheriff's Office arrest report,  a 23-year-old  man  admitted  to lying to his grandmother and stealing more than $100 thousand.  Gary  Michael  Gray, Jr.  has been charged with exploitation of the infirm.  He is being  held  in  East  Baton Rouge Prison on a $100 thousand bond.

 

A  Covington  Police  officer  who was involved in the arrest of two high school referees during a football game last October, has turned in his resignation.  Police Chief  Tim  Lentz  says Sergeant Stephen Short's retirement is effective immediately.  The  act of the arrest was  considered excessive and Short was demoted from  lieutenant  to sergeant and suspended for ten days.

 

Former LSU star and West Monroe High School standout Bradie James has  retired from the NFL. James signed a one-day contract with Dallas, so  he can retire as a member of the Cowboys. James played in Dallas from  2003 to 2011 and during a six-year span he led the team in tackles every season. His  retirement is not a surprise, since he didn't play last season. James  knew it was time to walk away from football.

 

 

 

 

News For Tuesday 05/06/14


News for Tuesday 050614

By Dave Graichen

 

State lawmakers are concerned about Governor Bobby Jindal's plans to  privatize state-owned hospitals now that the federal government has  rejected the financing plans. The Jindal administration learned on Friday that the US Centers for  Medicare and Medicaid Services will not approve of the financing plans.  But Commissioner of Administration Kristy Nichols says the state will  appeal the decision.  Nichols says if they are not successful on appeal, then it will result  in the state owing the federal government 200 million dollars, because  federal money is a part of the financing deals.  These public-private partnerships are already in place for 8 hospitals  within the LSU hospital system.

 

A measure that would allow judges to grant an immediate divorce in cases  where a spouse or child is a victim of domestic abuse is approved by the  House Civil Law committee. The bill, which has already passed the Senate. It now heads to the House floor.

 

Another bill that attempts to weaken Common Core fails in the  legislature. A House committee shot down a proposal to require  approval of the new Common Core test called, PARCC. State Superintendent  of Education John White voiced opposition. Common Core represents new academic standards in reading, writing, and  math that Louisiana and 42 other states have adopted. 

 

National Tourism Week is this week and Lt. Governor Jay Dardenne  is touring the state to celebrate.  He'll be hosting events throughout his  travels.  The tour started in Monroe yesterday, and will hit Ruston, Shreveport,  Avery  Island,  Hammond  and  more  before  it wraps up Thursday.   Dardenne  wants  to encourage Louisianans to appreciate tourism and the impact it has on the state. Tourism is a $10.8 billion industry  in  Louisiana  and the state is coming off a record setting year.

 

Governor Jindal was in  Avondale  Monday  to announce that the IndyCar Racing Series has agreed to come to the New Orleans Motorsports Park in  2015.   The  park  will  have  to  complete   $4.5   million  in improvements  to  the  course.   Jindal  will need state Legislative approval for the money, which will be combined with private funds.

 

There's   a   potential   "Duck   Dynasty"  connection  to  the  5th Congressional  District  Election  this   fall   to   replace  Vance McAllister.   According  to  the  Monroe  News  Star, Zach Dasher  a

Calhoun pharmaceutical rep with "Duck Dynasty" ties  may  throw  his hat  into  the ring.  Willie Robertson has already stated that he is trying to convince Dasher to run.

 

There's  was  another elementary school gun discovery Monday.  Police responded to a call  from Westdale Heights Elementary School in Baton Rouge, where they discovered  an unloaded .25 caliber handgun on the floor  of  a fifth-grade class-room.   After  questioning  students, authorities are still unclear where the gun came from.

 

Nursing homes and hospitals have proposed constitutional amendments on the Nov. 4 ballot seeking protection from the state budget axe. But the Louisiana Senate on Monday killed a proposed constitutional change aimed at providing the same type protection for services for the elderly, disabled and dying. The Senate voted 13-25 against the measure by state Sen. Fred Mills, R-St. Martinville. Senate Bill 355 fell 13 votes shy of the two-thirds majority in the 39 member Senate to advance.

 

According to a release from  the  office  of  Governor Bobby Jindal, Site Selection magazine named IBM's new technology  center  in Baton Rouge as one of its Top North American Deals of 2013.  The statement also indicates the publication ranked the Baton Rouge, Lake Charles, and  New Orleans regional economic development groups among the  top 11 in the nation.

 

A bill forcing the Louisiana High School Athletic Association to use 3rd-party arbitration to hear player eligibility issues is closer to final  legislative  passage.   The LHSAA is prohibiting an Episcopal

student from playing football this  fall  because  he  is  too  old. Athletic Director Myra Mansur feels a non-partisan arbitrator should hear his case. The  LHSAA rule states that if you turn 19 before September 1st, you cannot  play  varsity  sports  the following school year.  Executive Director  Kenny  Henderson  said  to   the   House   committee  that the 19-year-old  in question is not the first kid who's  had  a tough life and was not allowed to play  under  this  rule.   He says rules are rules. It now heads to the full House for further consideration.

 

The  park program in Baton Rouge known as BREC  says  one  of  their employees  is  fired  after  he  was arrested for allegedly stealing about 4,320 rolls of toilet paper  from  the  company.  BRPD  busted 44-year-old Cordell Curtis who BREC says was a warehouse manager. He was booked with felony theft.

 

The  Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries says, sadly, the two whooping  crane  eggs  that  were  produced this spring were not fertile and they will not hatch.  But spokesman  Bo  Boehringer says it's not all bad news.  He says it's a good sign that the endangered whooping cranes from the LDWF experimental population are mating.

 

Fox Sports reports, Former LSU football players Zach Mettenberger and Anthony Johnson had their drug tests flagged at the NFL combine monday. Mettenberger had a diluted sample, which constitutes a failed drug test. Johnson, failed his test outright. No traces of illegal or banned substances were found in Mettenberger’s sample.

News For Monday 05/05/14


News for Monday 050514

By Dave Graichen

 

A 6-mill tax to improve recreation and provide more financial stability for the Alexandria Zoo earned voter approval Saturday. Winning approval with 58.7 percent of the vote. Also on Saturday, Rapides Parish voters approved a 2.06-mill, 10-year tax continuation for Renaissance Home. 7 other Millage taxes were approved in the parish as well.

 

A decision by federal officials to reject Gov. Bobby Jindal’s financing plans for the privatization of six state-owned hospitals that care for the poor and uninsured threatens deals that already have been used to turn over hospital management and could create upheaval in the state’s operating budget. The U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services said the agreements don’t meet federal guidelines governing how Medicaid dollars can be spent. The rejections involved plans for LSU-run hospitals in New Orleans, Lafayette, Houma, Lake Charles, Shreveport and Monroe. The decision to reject the deals didn’t cover the agreement that allowed two Alexandria hospitals to take over services of Huey P. Long Medical Center in Pineville because that deal has not been fully completed.

 

If you had an opportunity outside of Louisiana, would you take it and  leave? According to a recent Gallup poll, 40% of residents in The  Bayou State say they would move out of the state if they could.  The Gallup report indicated that because of high poverty rates, some  people who live in Louisiana feel like they're stuck.  According to Gallup, Louisiana is above average when it comes to the percentage of residents who want to live in another state. The top  reasons for leaving was work or business related, then family/friends,  quality of life and cost of living.

 

According to the American Automobile Association, we should see some relief  at  the  gas pump in the near future. Refinery production is increasing and that  should  help the price of gas. AAA Fuel Analyst Don Redman says gas prices peaked in April of this year. The current statewide average  for  a  gallon  of  regular dropped 2 cents in 2 days and stands at $3.47.

 

A Baton Rouge senator has revised his bill that would revamp the way Louisiana legislators award Tulane University scholarships. The program that allows Louisiana legislators to pick who receives the valuable scholarships has been the subject of much-publicized reports that the recipients often have been people with political connections.  The Louisiana Senate could take up the bill as early as Monday.

 

A  12-year-old  boy  is in jail today after he allegedly fired three gunshots at a school bus  that  was  full  of children that attended Kenilworth Science and Technology Center in  Baton  Rouge. BRPD says the child had apparently gotten into a fight with another student on the bus then got off, walked into a residence to get a gun then shot and  struck  the  bus  three  times.  He  is booked on many  charges including 6 counts of attempted first degree murder.

 

May is Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month urging drivers to be extra  cautious of motorcycles while traveling on roadways. Lt. Col. John  LeBlanc, executive director of the Louisiana Highway Safety Commission  says over the past 10 years, 83 people were killed in motorcycle crashes  in Louisiana. Last year the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration conducted  a study of motorcycle  accidents and found motorcyclists are 30 times  more likely than passenger car occupants to die in crash.

 

A state Senate bill could have a serious impact on high school  athletics.  Baton Rouge Senator Dan Claitor's measure would essentially  require groups like the Louisiana High School Athletic Association to  use third party arbitration to settle player eligibility disputes.  President Todd Guice believes in  the process that is in place and the cost of third party arbitration would be too great for the organization. Claitor's bill passed the Senate on a 21-to-17 vote and will be brought  up in a House committee today.

 

 

News For Friday 05/02/14


News for Friday 050214

By Dave Graichen

 

Municipal general elections will be held in 35 parishes across the state  Saturday.  Secretary of State Tom Schedler is expecting a low voter turnout. You can download the GeauxVote Mobile app to sign up to find polling  locations, review sample ballots, monitor election results and more. Polls will be open from 7:00am to 8:00pm)

 

State police report  54-year-old Mitzi Scott of Campti  died early Thursday when a 18 wheeler hit her vehicle while she was stopped on the road and trying to warn motorists about a fallen tree. The accident happened shortly before 5:30 in the morning on U.S. Highway 71 north of La. Highway 486, in the Campti area.  Scott was pronounced dead at the scene.

 

According to figures released  Wednesday  from  the Department of Health and  Human  Services,  out of about 184 thousand  Louisianans,  new enrollment  numbers  for the  Affordable  Care  Act  show  over  101 thousand people in the state have signed up.  That is up quite a bit from the 45 thousand reported by March 1st.

 

The Senate will be looking  at  legislation  to  raise  the  minimum standards students to qualify for the TOPS scholarship program.  The bill authored by Mandeville Senator Jack Donahue would raise the GPA requirement from 2.5 to 2.75 and the ACT minimum from 20 to 21.

 

Gov. Bobby Jindal and UPS Midstream Services Inc. President Stewart Jones formally dedicated the company's new 24,000-square-foot manufacturing facility in Jena yesterday. The new full-service machining plant represents a $3.9 million capital investment. The Jena site employs 49 skilled machinists and support personnel and is ahead of schedule in its commitment to create 95 new direct jobs by 2017.

 

A  bill  that  would  prohibit motorists from using a hand held cell phone through school zones  gets  another  nod  from the legislature Thursday.  There were no objection to Bossier City Representative Jeff Thompson's bill in the Senate Transportation Committee. Thompson says this legislation is about keeping kids safe.   The law would  go  into  effect January 15 if it passes.  It hits the Senate

floor next.

 

The state Senate gave final passage to a measure that would prohibit speed cameras  on  Louisiana's  interstates.  The  bill  by  Sulphur Representative  Mike  Danahay  passed in the upper chamber by a 37-0 vote.  The House already  approved  the  legislation. Critics of such speed enforcement  devices on interstates say people are not given due process and the system  appears  to  be more about generating income.

 

The  Bossier  Parish Sheriff's  Office  has  arrested  a  substitute teacher for having  sexual  relations  with  a  17-year-old  Parkway student.   29-year-old Chelsea Alexander was charged with Prohibited

Sexual Conduct between Educator and Student.  No other students were involved.

 

In Jennings, the owner of a nutrition, coffee and juice bar has been arrested  for  allegedly  selling  illegal steroids at his business. 34-year-old Shannon Michael Guillory  was  booked on three counts of

distribution  of  a  counterfeit drug and distribution  of  anabolic steroids.

 

 US Senator Mary Landrieu says the Senate could vote next week on  legislation that would green light the long-delayed keystone oil  pipeline. Landrieu says it will need 60 votes on the Senate floor to

 pass and right now they have commitments from 56 senators who say  they'll vote for it.  Landrieu says construction of the pipeline will create more than 42- thousand jobs across the country and it will send a signal that North  America is an energy powerhouse.

 

The game time for  LSU's  home  opener  against Sam Houston State on September  sixth  has been set for 6:30.  Also,  ULL's  road  opener against Ole Miss on  September  13  will  begin at 3:00.  Both games will be televised on the new SEC Network.

 

 

News For Thursday 05/01/14


News for Thursday 050114

By Dave Graichen

 

The  Rapides  Parish Sheriff's office says the body of a white  male was discovered  around  6:30am  yesterday  morning  near  Airbase Road.  Lt. Tommy Carnline said they found the unresponsive  victim lying next to the road. The man has been identified  as  27 year old Leon Matthew Jeffers  of Alexandria, police said. Detectives say the cause of death has not been determined and an autopsy will be performed.

 

After  getting some tips about some suspicious  activity,  Louisiana State Police  have arrested a central Louisiana man on drug charges. The suspect - 49 year-old Stephen Holsomback - was allegedly selling drugs out of a Store- N- Lock business he owns in Alexandria. Authorities say they discovered over 10 pounds of marijuana, over 20 ounces of meth,  over  4 ounces of cocaine and over $4,000 in cash.  Holsomback was booked into  the Rapides Parish Detention Center.

 

 The second weekend of the 45th annual New Orleans Jazz Festival kicks  off today. There will be some big musical talents performing this week  like, Christina Aguilera, The Wailers, Chaka Khan, Trey Songz, and Bruce  Springsteen. Executive Producer of Jazz Fest Quint Davis says this is  one of the best weekend line ups they've ever had.

 

The state's largest ever seat belt campaign targeting pickup truck  drivers starts today. It's called "Buckle Up in your Truck." Lt. Col.  John LeBlanc, with the Highway Safety Commission says every year surveys  find pickup truck drivers have the lowest level of seat belt use of all  other vehicles.  LeBlanc says this campaign will increase police patrols and checkpoints  dedicated to checking for motorists wearing their seat belts, especially  in pickup trucks. He says they are optimistic that this push will help  save lives.

 

The  bill  that  would legalize medical marijuana failed in a Senate committee yesterday 6-2.  Several  people  spoke in favor of the bill by New Iberia Senator Fred Mills including  patients  who say this form of  therapy  is  the only thing out there that would help  alleviate their suffering. But Attorney General Buddy Caldwell feels this is a path toward allowing recreational use. He also says  they have a huge problem with the fact that this drug is illegal.

 

The  House  approved  a bill that would allow Louisianans  to  have their driver’s license renewed after 6 years instead of 4.  Under the bill, the fee for a driver’s license would grow from $28.50 to $42.75 to cover the extra years renewal.

 

A House Committee shot down a bill that would have prohibited drones from  flying  over  "critical  infrastructure"  in  Louisiana.   The legislation  is  by  Baton  Rouge  Senator  Bodi  White who says the measure  is  meant  to protect places that are crucial  to  national security. But opponents  argued  the  Senate backed bill would limit certain  organizations,  including  media,   from   monitoring   and

reporting on possible environmental disasters. The bill failed by  a 7-4 vote.

 

A bill that would authorize the City Council in New Orleans to put a new  hotel  occupancy  tax  on a future ballot passed out of a House Committee Wednesday.  Mayor Mitch  Landrieu wants the extra money to improve public safety in New Orleans. Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne, who is against the tax, says   if  this  bill  goes forward, people who  visit  New Orleans would be paying the highest  taxes  in the nation to stay in their hotel.

 

A bill that would prohibit most public employees  from  paying union dues through a deduction on their paychecks failed to get passed the House Labor Committee.

 

Legislation  is  nearing final passage that would allow both  active and retired law enforcement  officers to carry concealed handguns in nearly every place open to the public.

 

The Senate Commerce Committee  gave  support  to  a  bill that would require  annual  inspections  of  elevators  to  make sure they  are operating  properly.   The bill, sponsored by Bogalusa  Senator  Ben Nevers, is supported by elevator manufacturers.

 

The  man  accused  of killing his roommate’s dog because  the  animal ripped up his furniture,  is  now in jail on animal cruelty charges. The East Baton Rouge Sheriff's  Office  says  twenty-three  year-old Shaun  Parsons  allegedly  killed the dog by putting an empty potato chip bag over the animal's head at the home in Greenwell Springs.

 

The Tangipahoa Parish Sheriff's Office have identified human remains that were  found  in  Hammond  earlier this month.  The remains were those of 31-year-old Jonathon Gordan of Loranger, who disappeared on New Year's Eve.  Gordan was an Iraq  War  veteran  and  bronze medal recipient.  The investigation of Gordan's disappearance and death is ongoing.

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