News for Friday 052716
By Dave Graichen
Governor John Bel Edwards is expected to issue the call for another special session any day now, according to Jeremy Alford, publisher of LaPolitics.com. Edwards has said a second session is needed to raise revenues to address a 600-million dollar budget deficit for next fiscal year. Alford says the call could include reductions to personal or corporate income tax credits and addressing issues not covered in the previous session.
NOAA will issue its outlook for the 2016 hurricane season today. State climatologist Barry Keim expects the federal forecasters will predict an average season. He says there are two factors working against each other, cooler than normal sea surface temperature, which is an indication for fewer storms, and La Nina coming later this season, which is an indicator for more storms. Hurricane Isaac in 2012 was the last hurricane to make landfall in Louisiana. Keim says Louisianans should still be prepared.
The Edwards administration is urging the Senate to reject the House amendments that were made to the proposed budget for next fiscal year. Commissioner of Administration Jay Dardenne told the Senate Finance committee that the spending plan the House approved is not acceptable, because it will result in deep cuts to programs that assist the elderly and disabled. One of the major changes the House made to HB1 was reallocating money towards TOPS and away from hospitals that provide care for the poor.
Every student would be guaranteed that at least part of their TOPS scholarship would be funded if lawmakers have to make some cuts to the program, under a bill nearing final passage. Hammond Representative Chris Broadwater says it would be better to reduce the award for all than to cut some 13-thousand students out of the program. The bill has one more stop in the Senate before heading to the governor’s desk.
Governor Edwards has signed the Blue Lives Matter Bill into law, which makes Louisiana the first in the nation to expand its hate crime laws to protect police, firefighters and EMS crews. The new law allows prosecutors to seek tougher penalties against individuals who intentionally target first responders because of their profession.
A Senate-approved measure that would let patients see physical therapists without a doctor’s referral receives the support of the House as it nears final passage. The measure passed on a 65-33 vote in the House and heads back to the Senate for concurrence on House Language.
The House has approved a bill that would require cursive writing to be taught in public schools. The Senate still has to agree to House changes. Under the proposed law, the cursive writing requirement would go in effect for the 2017-18 school year.
Yesterday the price of oil rose above 50 dollars a barrel for the first time since October. Executive Director at LSU’s Center for Energy Studies David Dismukes says this marks an important milestone and it might put an end to the job losses in this industry. Crude oil was below 30 dollars a barrel earlier this year.
An investigative report by the American Association of Zoos and Aquariums finds that the Baton Rouge zoo is not at fault for the deaths of two elderly giraffes, who died in March during a severe thunderstorm. Baton Rouge zoo director Phil Frost says they welcomed the findings of report and were glad the investigators found that the zoo did all they could for the animals.
A Baton Rouge man is in jail on felony child abuse charges amid allegations he forced his 8-year-old nephew to smoke weed. A report indicates the child told hospital staff that 29-year-old Jason Taylor made him smoke mojo which gave him a headache and a racing heart. When officers learned the child tested positive for marijuana, Taylor was booked with cruelty to juveniles.
The Iberia Parish Sheriff’s Office says a man is under arrest after a 17-year-old woman died of an apparent drug overdose. They say Melissa Sharpe drove the victim to the hospital, and it was determined the woman had been deceased for several hours. She is charged with obstruction of justice. Noah Sharpe is booked with 2nd degree murder in the incident. They’re asking anyone with information on this incident contact authorities.
LSU stayed unbeaten in the SEC Tournament with a 6-2 win over the first-place Mississippi State Bulldogs. Jared Poche got the win for LSU. The boys have the day off today. But, will meet Florida Saturday afternoon at 3:30pm
News for Thursday 052616
By Dave Graichen
Louisiana and 10 other states are suing the Obama administration over the recent transgender bathroom policy in public schools. The federal government announced that public schools must allow transgender students to use bathrooms and locker rooms consistent with their gender identity, or risk losing federal funding. The lawsuit says the Obama administration is trampling on policies and the directive should be ruled unlawful.
State lawmakers have agreed to raise the GPA requirement for upper-tier TOPS students, who also receive a stipend to help pay for their higher education costs. The legislation heading to the governor’s desk would raise the GPA requirement to 3.25 for a TOPS Performance Award and 3.5 for a TOPS Honors Award.
Triple-A expects over 38 million Americans will travel over the Memorial Day weekend, the highest number of travelers since 2005. Spokesperson Don Redman says it’s due to low gas prices, which are currently around $2.10 a gallon for regular gasoline. He says these are the lowest gas prices we’ve seen in 11 years.
The nonprofit group Rebuild Louisiana is raising money that will go towards getting public support for Governor John Bel Edwards’ legislative agenda. It’s expected the governor will call a special session next month to address a 600-million dollar budget shortfall. Chairman of Rebuild Louisiana, Mary Olive Pierson says the group is raising money because there are plenty of what she calls “hard heads” in the legislature. Pierson says they are concerned about some items that have already been defeated, such as equal pay for men and women. She says the fight isn’t over yet, because after this session, there will be another special session, and her organization will continue to push for their concerns.
The Republican-dominated House Labor and Industrial Relations Committee gave a thumbs down to every bill on its Wednesday agenda, including an increase in the minimum wage, equal pay for women and measures dealing with back pay and equal pay for women. It was the committees final meeting of the regular legislative session.
The town talk reports a federal judge has ruled that the owner and others associated with Silver Dollar Pawn Shop must pay attorney fees and costs totaling more than $121,000 for filing a baseless lawsuit against the city of Alexandria, police officers and others. The lawsuit was filed by owner Jimmie DeRamus and others in November 2014 and claimed Alexandria police officers and others acted improperly during the investigation of stolen items, which were found at the shop.
A bill to help parents know who their kids are talking to online is heading to the Governor’s desk. Metairie Representative Cameron Henry says his bill requires sex offenders to register any email addresses or online user names, as they would with a phone number or address. Henry says sex offenders have a whole new way to find victims, thanks to online games and social media sites. The measure passed unanimously in both the House and the Senate, and Governor Edwards is expected to sign the bill.
A bill to require warning signs to be posted 500 feet ahead of red light cameras has just received final legislative passage. New Orleans Senator Troy Carter says red light cameras should be about safety, not collecting revenues. The measure now heads to the governor’s desk to be signed into law.
The website BayouOpportunity.com, has been launched to aid oil and gas industry workers find new jobs, as unemployment continues to rise in that sector. Louisiana Economic Development Secretary Don Pierson says the site has information about a job fair that will be held this June to help people get jobs and find training opportunities.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention finds the adult smoking rate in the US is falling faster than is has in the past 20 years. Renee Underwood, with the state department of health and hospitals, says they’ve partnered with organizations, like the Louisiana Public Health Institute and the American Cancer Society, to reduce the number of people who start smoking and to get smokers the resources they need to quit.
An LSU AgCenter scientist has discovered a new way to reduce the sodium content in food. Marvin Moncada developed nanosalt, which is salt in a powder form that is about one-thousand times smaller than kosher salt. Moncada says nanosalt is a natural alternative to reducing the amount of salt content in foods. Moncada says The CDC recommends individuals eat 23-hundred milligrams of sodium a day but most people in the US eat double the amount. He says they’re still in the lab stage but expects tests to be conducted with consumers shortly.
A deputy with the St. John the Baptist Parish Sheriff’s Office is under arrest on many charges after a variety of drugs were allegedly found in his vehicle during a traffic stop while he was off duty. 23-year-old Barry Conner II was booked for drug possession, use of a firearm around a controlled dangerous substance and traffic violation.
The Justice Department is urging a federal court to let government regulators decide if a New Orleans company has done enough to end an oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico that began nearly 12 years ago. Taylor Energy Company sued the federal government in January to recover more than $400 million it set aside for work to stop the leak off Louisiana’s coast. The leak began in 2004 when an underwater mudslide triggered by Hurricane Ivan’s waves toppled a company-owned platform and buried a cluster of 28 oil wells under 100 feet of sediment and mud. Taylor Energy claims nothing can be done to completely eliminate the leaks, which create sheens that often stretch for miles. Regulators have warned the leak could last a century or more if left unchecked.
LSU baseball rallies past Florida, 5-3, in longest game in SEC tournament history. The win gives LSU a tussle with No. 1 seed Mississippi State at 8 p.m. Thursday and, to the victor goes the enviable Friday day off.
News for Wednesday 052516
By Dave Graichen
Governor John Bel Edwards and other state and local officials cut the ribbon yesterday on the Curtis Coleman Memorial Bridge over the Red River in Rapides Parish, as all four lanes are now open. The bridge replaced the O.K. Allen Bridge at a cost 83-million dollars.
The Red River Waterway Commission has reopened some of the public boat ramps on the Red River now that water levels have started to recede. These include several of the ramps in Red River, Natchitoches, and Rapides Parishes. However, the commission warns boaters to use caution when launching into the current and be highly aware of obstacles such as trees and sandbars while navigating the river.
A report from the Tulane University Cowen Institute says if the legislature is forced to reduce state funding for TOPS cuts, they hope students most in need of financial assistance are protected first. Policy director Vincent Rossmeier says the program has increasingly awarded scholarships to students who are coming from families, who could otherwise afford college.
Rossmeier says TOPS is an excellent vehicle for students who can least afford to go to college.
The Louisiana Senate voted 8-25 to reject a bill that would have protected LGBT people from discrimination in the workplace after passionate testimony in support of the bill. None of those opposed spoke or asked questions. The bill would prevent employers from discriminating against people based on their real or perceived sexual identity. Discrimination would apply to hiring, firing, compensation and terms of employment.
Work on a waterline near Donahue Ferry Road will result in a water boil advisory for about 125 water customers today. Water service will be turned off while the repairs are being made, and affected customers will be under a water boil advisory until further notice. Affected streets are Rue Donahue, Leonard Drive, Walker Drive, Louise Drive, Donahue Ferry Road and Holly Moore Drive.
Fifth District US Representative Ralph Abraham says he’s introduced legislation that attempts to stop President Obama’s order that calls on public schools to let transgender students use the bathroom consistent with their gender identity. Abraham says there’s support for his legislation. Abraham’s bill clarifies in federal law that the term “sex” refers to a person’s biological sex, not their gender identity.
A House-approved bill that would have punished so called “sanctuary cities” for implementing policies that are deemed to protect illegal immigrants, failed to get enough votes to pass out of a Senate committee. The Louisiana Sheriffs Association opposed the bill and Jefferson Parish Sheriff Newell Normand was vocal in his dislike saying it’s the federal government’s job to combat illegal immigration. Attorney General Jeff Landry supported the legislation as he would have authority to determine which municipalities should be defined as sanctuary cities. The proposal could have hurt New Orleans and Lafayette’s ability to borrow money for construction projects.
A House-committee voted against a proposed program that would allow law enforcement agencies to automatically scan motorists license plates. Supporters say the program would be used to catch car thieves and uninsured motorists, but opponents raised concerns about a private vendor making a nice profit from the fine money.
The Senate Health and Welfare Committee voted for legislation that would ban abortions in cases where the fetus is determined to have a genetic abnormality. The House-approved measure passed on a three to one vote. Baton Rouge Senator Dan Claitor raised concerns the proposed law is unconstitutional, but despite his objection, the panel advanced the measure to the full senate.
On a 3-2 vote, a Senate committee killed The Pastor Protection Act, which would have provided protection for religious organizations if they refuse to perform a same sex marriage. Bossier City Representative Mike Johnson says this bill is NOT as expansive as some religious freedom bills passed in other states. But New Orleans Senator JP Morrell says pastors and clergy members are already protected under the Religious Freedom Protection Act. He says there was no need for another bill that basically did the same thing.
PETA has issued a statement in response to LSU’s Mike the Tiger’s cancer diagnosis. PETA sent a letter to the university, calling for them to end their live mascot program all together, when Mike VI eventually succumbs to his terminal diagnosis. The animal rights activists say large breed cats are not meant to live in captivity on a college campus.
Atlanta, not New Orleans will host Super Bowl 53 in 2019. The Big Easy made a proposal to NFL owners who are meeting in Charlotte Tuesday, but the vote went Atlanta’s way. Some considered New Orleans a long shot, because Atlanta is in the process of building a new stadium.
The Department of Children and Family Services says a newborn was turned in to a Safe Haven facility in Baton Rouge by a mother who said she could not care for the child. The Safe Haven law states anyone can bring an infant up to 60 days old to an emergency designated facility with no questions asked. DCFS says 44 babies have been relinquished in Louisiana which they say proves this law saves lives.
News for Tuesday 052416
By Dave Graichen
Gov. John Bel Edwards will be in town today to dedicate the Curtis-Coleman Memorial Bridge over the Red River. The ceremony will begin at 10:30 a.m. Tuesday at Lake Buhlow on U.S. Highway 165 in Pineville. The public is invited to attend.
Governor John Bel Edwards legislative agenda for this regular session has NOT done well. A proposal to increase the state’s minimum wage has been bottled up in the Senate, an effort to require women and men receive equal pay for equal work was killed by a House committee. The governor’s attempts to limit charter schools or vouchers has also fallen on deaf ears by a legislative body that has a republican majority. Political analyst Bernie Pinsonat says Edwards’ inability to get a majority of his legislative agenda accomplished in the regular session, could hurt his efforts during an anticipated special session next month that would seek to raise revenue to address a 600-million dollar budget shortfall.
Members of the Tangipahoa Parish Chapter of the NAACP are calling for the resignation of school Superintendent Mark Kolwe. This is because 4.0 African American student and athlete Andrew Jones was not allowed to walk at his graduation ceremony at Amite High School because of his facial hair. Tangipahoa NAACP President Patricia Morris says this has more to do with Jones’ race than his goatee. She also believes Jones was targeted because he was also the school’s valedictorian. Morris says Jones was told to shave his beard for the first time just before the ceremony, and when he refused, the school refused to let him walk.
New Orleans sports officials make their pitch to the NFL owners today to host the 2019 Super Bowl in the Louisiana Superdome. Atlanta, Miami, and Tampa are the other cities competing against the Big Easy. CBS Sports.com NFL Insider Jason La Canfora says the age of the Superdome hurts New Orleans’ bid. However, he says the fact that Saints owner Tom Benson is 88-years-old and this could be his last shot to host the Super Bowl in New Orleans also resonates with some of the NFL owners. He says the vote will be close.
Legislation to require retail pet stores in the state to keep records and post breeders names along with licensing information now heads to the House floor for final legislative passage. Author of the bill, Metairie Sen. Danny Martiny, says this specifies where these animals come from. The Human Society and the Department of Health and Hospitals are supporting the bill. The bill will not apply to animal shelters and rescue facilities.
LSU’s mascot, Mike the Tiger, has been diagnosed with a rare form of cancer, spindle cell sarcoma. Mike’s attending vet, Dr. David Baker, says they’ve discovered a tumor in the right side of Mike’s skull. Baker says because of the proximity to normal tissues in Mike’s head, the tumor is inoperable, and the condition is incurable. He says Mike will undergo radiation treatment. Doctors say the treatment should be able to prolong Mike’s life for another year or two.
The House Transportation Committee gave the green light today to a Senate approved measure that would make it the law for oncoming traffic to stop for a school bus on a two-lane road with a turning lane. Metairie Senator Danny Martiny says the rule would apply on roadways with that lane in the middle where you could either turn left or right. The measure passed without objection and now heads to the House floor.
The city of New Orleans is not accepting bids at this time to remove four monuments that have ties to the Confederacy or white supremacy. The start of the statue relocation bid process was scheduled for this week, but it was canceled by the mayor’s office as the issue remains tied in the federal appeals court system.
The bill that increases the minimum age for strippers to 21-years-old heads to Governor John Bel Edwards’ desk to be signed into law after the Senate gave final approval.
Baton Rouge Police are trying to determine who fatally shot a member of the East Feliciana School Board. Thirty-four-year-old Broderick Brooks was found dead in his vehicle with multiple gunshot wounds at around 3:30 Monday morning.
Police in Louisiana say a burglary suspect who was being chased by his victim ended up wrecking his car and killing a female passenger.
News outlets report that Shreveport police received a call Sunday morning from a man who saw someone breaking into his car in a casino parking lot. The vehicle owner told police he saw the suspect stealing items and loading them into a truck. The suspect drove off and the vehicle owner followed him. Police say the suspect then lost control of his vehicle, which crashed and caught fire. The suspect, 21-year-old Christian Smith of Shreveport, was injured and a female passenger was killed. Her name has not been released. Smith faces aggravated burglary charges. Additional charges are pending.
A 20-year veteran of the Bossier City Fire Department was killed when he was accidently electrocuted while riding a horse in a field. Authorities say 41-year-old George William Chambers the Fourth of Benton made contact with a low-hanging power line. The electric shock killed both Chambers and his horse.
LSU freshman left-hander Jake Latz will start on the mound tonight for the Tigers when they take on Tennessee in the SEC Tournament. LSU enters the SEC Tournament with 11 victories in their last 12 games and they’ve put themselves in a position to possibly be a Top 8 National seed and host up until the College World Series.
News for Monday 052316
By Dave Graichen
60 year old Bobby Houston of Pineville was killed Saturday night when the lost control of his motorcycle and drove off of highway 71 near Montgomery. State police say he was wearing a helmet, but was ejected from the motorcycle. Houston was pronounced dead at the scene of the crash.
Early Sunday afternoon a single vehicle crash claimed the life of a man from Clarence. State police say the accident occurred on LA Hwy 480 near US 71. When a vehicle driven by 56 year old John Turner Jr. left the roadway, collided with a ditch and over turned. Turner, who was not wearing a seatbelt, was ejected and was pronounced dead on the scene.
Louisiana’s unemployment rate is up to 6.3%, which is a 0.2% increase since March. This rate is the fourth worst in the nation. Oil and gas job losses slowed, but employment in that sector remains much lower than last year.
Just two weeks are left in the regular session, and the budget is still the biggest issue for lawmakers. Jeremy Alford with LaPolitics.com says legislators are trying to fund priorities like TOPS and safety net hospitals with a $600 million budget shortfall.
According to state officials, Governor Edwards hopes to have some tax proposals for a planned June special session ready for lawmakers by the end of the week. Edwards wants to call another special session so lawmakers can raise more revenues to close the budget deficit and stave off deep cuts to vital state services, because lawmakers cannot raise taxes during this regular session that ends June 6.
Health experts will share information about the Zika Virus with the public during a 5:30 PM meeting at LSU Health New Orleans Human Development Center. A panel of experts will discuss where the virus is, where it’s expected to go, and other important information. Health leaders want people who live in the southeastern states to be as prepared as possible for a potential Zika outbreak.
Based on released court records from a deposition, Saints and Pelicans Owner Tom Benson says his daughter and grandchildren “tried to kill him” during a confrontation at the Mercedes Benz Superdome. The deposition took place at the end of March and Benson gave that answer when he was asked why he was looking to remove control of his sports franchises from Renee Benson and Rita Benson LeBlanc.
New Orleans is seeking to host the Super Bowl in 2019 and those who will present a bid to the NFL owners on Tuesday are already in Charlotte putting the finishing touches on their presentation. New Orleans competition to host the 2019 Super Bowl is Atlanta, Miami and Tampa Bay. President and CEO of the Greater New Orleans Sports Foundation Jay Cicero says they go in as the underdogs.
A new rule from the White House goes into effect on December 1 that would require employers to pay their workers overtime if they work more than 40 hours a week and make less than about $47-thousand a year. This would affect about 35% of salaried workers. LSU Economist Stephen Barnes says this will impact business owners more than anyone. The organization that represents small businesses says this will result in entry-level management positions disappearing and those employees falling back into hourly jobs. Proponents say it’s time workers get paid for the hours they work.
Governor John Bel Edwards has signed two pro-life bills into law, one measure increases the wait time for a woman to receive an abortion to 72 hours and the second requires doctors performing abortions to be board certified. Louisiana Right to Life Legislative Director Deanna Wallace says this truly is a victory for women in the state. Pro-choice supporters say it is quite the opposite.
As we approach a the Memorial day weekend, motorists can expect to see prices at the pump up more than 6 cents from the prior week. Senior Petroleum Analyst Gregg Laskoski from GasBuddy.com says they’ve got the current statewide average for a gallon of regular at about $2.06. Laskoski says prices haven’t been this low since 2008.
The governor’s daughter Samantha got married Saturday to Johnathan Ricau. Samantha and Jonathan met in 2012 and both graduated from Southeastern Louisiana University. She is the oldest daughter of the governor and First Lady Donna.
Authorities say a man is behind bars and a three-year-old is recovering following a shooting in a Shreveport home late last week. Shreveport police say the child had already been taken to a local hospital by the time they arrived. The child reportedly suffered a single gunshot wound to the right arm, and although the injuries are serious, the child is expected to survive. The incident is still under investigation, but 17-year-old Dezhun Kendrick has been booked into the Shreveport City Jail on two counts of illegal use of a weapon.
Police say a Baton Rouge man who stopped to help at a car crash was struck and killed by a suspected drunk driver. Baton Rouge police said in a statement that 36-year-old William Warren died early Saturday after he was struck by a car driven by 41-year-old Gregory Hamilton, of Baton Rouge. Hamilton was arrested on charges of vehicular homicide, second-offense drunken driving, reckless driving and driving on a suspended license. Hamilton’s license had been suspended since 2007 and his prior DWI was in 2009. He also was ticketed for driving without insurance.
A Baton Rouge-area sheriff’s office said two men were gunned down in a trailer home, and five people have been arrested after a good Samaritan reported seeing a wallet and papers thrown from a car about 60 miles from the trailer home. West Feliciana Parish sheriff ’s spokeswoman Erin Foster said two men turned themselves in Sunday and were arrested on first-degree murder charges in the St. Francisville killings, which occurred early Saturday. She said three women were arrested Saturday on charges accusing them as principals to murder. Foster said in an email that a shed behind the trailer home held remnants of a meth lab.
The LSU Baseball team leaves for Hoover, Alabama today where they’ll play tomorrow night in the SEC Tournament against Tennessee. The Tigers nearly swept top ranked Florida over the weekend as they took two of three from the Gators. But it wasn’t enough to get a first round bye in the SEC Tourney. Coach Paul Mainieri is not disappointed. It’s the first time LSU will have to play in the opening round of the SEC Tournament since it expanded in 2012.
News for Thursday 051916
By Dave Graichen
The investigation is ongoing into a Tuesday night car wreck that claimed the life of a 16-year-old girl from Ball. Chloe James died at the scene of the wreck when the vehicle she was riding in left the roadway and struck a car parked in a driveway. 24 year old Michael Baden, the driver of the vehicle, received moderate injuries and was taken to a local hospital. The State police report neither person was wearing a seatbelt.
Legislation is heading to the governor’s desk that would result in Louisiana becoming the sixth state in the nation to prohibit a commonly used second-trimester abortion procedure. Opponents say this legislation would prohibit the safest method of a second-trimester abortion.
State courts have blocked similar laws from taking effect in Kansas and Oklahoma.
A House committee supports a bill that would give law enforcement agencies the ability to scan motorists license plates. The bill’s author, Lake Charles Senator, Ronnie Johns, says the goal of this legislation is to help authorities catch motorists who do not have auto insurance. The measure passed the House Criminal Justice Committee on an eight to three vote and it heads to the full House for consideration. It’s already passed the Senate.
Baton Rouge Mayor Kip Holden has announced his candidacy for the 2nd Congressional District Seat, challenging incumbent Cedric Richmond. Holden says he has accomplished great things for Baton Rouge in his 12 years as mayor, and he hopes to do the same in Congress. Holden and Richmond are both Democrats. Richmond has represented the district since 2011.
Governor John Bel Edwards says he’ll sign a bill today that expands the list of medical conditions for which medical marijuana can be prescribed. Under the legislation by St. Martin Parish Senator Fred Mills, individuals with seizure disorders and cancer could use medical cannabis once it becomes available. Edwards says it’s just the right thing to do. The governor says, however, he does not support the legalization of recreational marijuana.
A bill to require students to recite part of the Declaration of Independence daily has made it out of the House Education Committee. Author of the bill, Denham Springs Representative Valerie Hodges says kids should understand this important historic document. Hodges says many Americans wouldn’t be able to pass the citizenship test because although they live here, they don’t know about much our country. She says schools need to prepare students for citizenship.
Democratic US Senate candidate Foster Campbell held a press conference at the Old Governor’s Mansion in Baton Rouge to discuss what he would like to get accomplished if elected as US Senator this fall. Campbell says coastal restoration is on the top of his list. He says his values reflect the residents of Louisiana, not party lines. Campbell is one of several well-known candidates seeking to replace David Vitter, who is not running for re-election.
The federally regulated insect pest of Ash Trees, the Emerald Ash Borer, has been found in Union Parish. Agriculture and Forestry Commissioner Dr. Mike Strain says the pest originates in Asia and was first found in the U.S. in 2002 and is now in four Louisiana parishes. He says the Emerald Ash Borer is now in Union, Bossier, Claiborne, and Webster Parishes and a quarantine is in place. Strain says you can lose an entire forest of ash trees in 10 years, because of the pest.
Female lawmakers are not happy about a joke a male member of the House made during debate over legislation that rises the age from 18 to 21 to be hired as a stripper at a dance club. Jackson Representative Kenny Harvard proposed an amendment that strippers in Louisiana could only be between the ages of 21-and-28 and less than 160 pounds. Kenner Representative Julie Stokes called the amendment disrespectful and disgusting. Havard says the amendment was just a joke. The bill ended up passing the House 96-0 without Havard’s amendment and it goes back to the Senate for final approval, before heading to the Governor’s desk.
An arrest has been made in connection with the dead body that was found in the median of Interstate 10 in Ascension Parish. Two days before the discovery, State Police say they responded to a crash in the same area where they located a truck with significant damage, but the driver, 25-year-old Brodnick Whittington, was not at the scene. Troopers tied Whittington to the hit and run death of 35-year-old Jenise Williams. He is charged with felony hit and run, obstruction of justice, and driving with an open container..
The LSU Tigers begin their final regular season series tonight against number one ranked Florida. Alex Lange will pitch tonight, but game two’s starter is Riley Smith. Florida comes into the Box with an overall record of 43-9, 18-8, which is the best record in the SEC.
News for Wednesday 051816
By Dave Graichen
Spirited debate took place in a Senate committee over the sanctuary city bill that would punish cities who refuse to enforce the federal immigration law. Attorney General Jeff Landry is a strong supporter of the bill. But Senators expressed concern that the proposal would give Landry too much power. If the attorney general determined a jurisdiction operated as a sanctuary city, the state could then prohibit that city or parish from borrowing money for large construction projects. The legislation has already been approved by the House, and a vote by the Senate Judiciary A committee is expected next week.
The Senate voted unanimously Tuesday to remove the firearm requirement for a charge of aggravated assault of a police officer. In a separate action, it also made attacks against police, firefighters and EMT personnel hate crimes.
There have been significant changes to the three different sales tax holidays that Louisiana consumers have enjoyed over the last several years. Louisiana Department of Revenue spokesperson Kizzy Payton says the Hurricane Preparedness Sales Tax Holiday, when people can but things like generators without paying sales taxes has been discontinued. Payton says the back to school sales tax holiday, during the first weekend in August, and the 2nd amendment holiday, during the first weekend in September, will offer partial sales tax breaks this year and next. This is a result of the resent special legislative session.
The Louisiana House killed a bill that would have allowed wide open public school choice within each district after members expressed concern about capacity of premier schools.
House Bill 1101. Sponsored by Rep. Stuart Bishop of Lafayette, would have allow parents to send their children to any school within the public district in which they live beginning in the 2017 academic year, expanding current school choice law that allows only children who attend failing schools, those listed as “D” or “F” schools, a choice to move.
A house-approved abortion bill has also stalled in a senate committee. This legislation would prohibit abortions if the parents learn that the fetus has a genetic abnormality. Members of the Senate health committee expressed concerns over whether this proposed law violates the constitution.
A bill to expand the number of diseases that could use medical marijuana in Louisiana is sitting on the governor’s desk. The measure by state senator Fred Mills received final legislative approval and Mills says those with cancer, epilepsy or HIV/AIDS will benefit. Governor Edwards is expected to sign the bill, but Mills says it will probably be another year or two before the public has access to medical marijuana.
Students in public and charter schools would be required to learn cursive under a measure nearing final legislative approval. The Senate-approved measure won unanimous approval in the House Education Committee and heads to the House floor.
Two coaches and three students from Plaisance Elementary School have been arrested for “questionable disciplinary actions” against three students, according to St. Landry Parish sheriff’s deputies. They say PE teachers Kendrick Owens and Mona Wilson are accused instructing three older students to take at least three younger students into the back of the locker room and whip the younger students with belts.
Youtube sensation and law enforcement officer, Captain Clay Higgins, is expected to announce tonight he will run for political office. Higgins recently told a Lafayette TV station he’s considering a run for either Congress or US Senate. UL-Lafayette Political Science Professor Pearson Cross believes Higgins will run for the seat being vacated by Senator David Vitter. He says Higgins has a big personality and is looking for the biggest stage.
A new study by LSU, UCLA and NASA finds New Orleans and surrounding cities are sinking at high rates because of natural and human processes. Lead Scientist Dr. Cathleen Jones says they used hot spot radar to determine which areas were sinking the fastest. She says Norco and Michoud are sinking at a rate of two inches a year. Jones says these new numbers can help with flood modeling and prevention.
The Calcasieu Parish Sheriff’s office has charged a 17-year-old with murder in the stabbing death of a 69-year-old man. Sheriff Tony Mancuso says this was a burglary that turned violent. He is also booked with attempted murder in the injuring of the victim’s wife. The boy is being held on several charges including murder and attempted murder with $2 million dollars bond.
Two Alabama football players have been arrested in Monroe after they were found smoking weed in a vehicle at Forsythe Park with two guns in the car, one of which was stolen. Cam Robinson played at West Monroe High School and has started at Alabama at left tackle the last two seasons. Hottie Jones, a former Neville Tiger, has been a backup safety for the Tide. KTVE sports director Gene Ponti says this arrest took everyone by surprise because the boys have never been trouble makers.
A measure headed to the desk of Governor John Bel Edwards would ban the ticketing of lemonade stands set up in neighborhoods. The bill exempts minors who make less than $500 year from a law requiring businesses to pay an occupational license tax. The new law goes into effect in August.
Wendy’s’ announces they’ll put kiosks in six-thousand restaurants around the country by the end of the year to take customers’ orders. It’s to combat the push to increase minimum wage for fast food workers. Tulane Business Professor Mark Rosa doesn’t think customers will mind.
Rosa anticipates the kiosks will go in restaurants in states where minimum wage is the highest.
LSU Football Coach Les Miles announces his coaching staff will hold “Satellite Camps” in north and south Louisiana during the first week of June. The first camp takes place June 2nd in Bossier City and they’ll also have a kicking and specialist camp on June third at the Saints practice facility. Those camps will cost 20-bucks and Miles says there will be a free youth camp on June 7th at Joe Brown Park in New Orleans. Miles says the new NCAA rule on satellite camps allow LSU to partner with instate schools to host these camps, which should benefit the likes of UL Lafayette, Louisiana Tech, Southeastern and other Louisiana schools.
News for Thursday 051216
By Dave Graichen
Grant Parish authorities say no charges are expected to be filed against a husband who fatally shot his wife on Tuesday afternoon after she stabbed him multiple times. Sheriff Steve McCain says 36 year old Anthony Racina was airlifted to an Alexandria hospital. The investigation showed 34-year-old Elizabeth Racina was shot and killed in the incident. McCain said Anthony Racina acted in self-defense, but said the case would be forwarded to the Grant Parish District Attorney's Office for review.
Officials at Ft. Polk report a soldier has died from injuries suffered Tuesday while doing live fire training at the Joint Readiness Training Center. The soldier, whose name has not been released pending notification of next of kin, was not based at Fort Polk. He was with the 101st Airborne Division. The incident is under investigation.
The Edwards Administration is very concerned about state funding for healthcare, as the full House is set to debate the proposed spending plan for next fiscal year. Department of Health and Hospitals Sec. Rebekah Gee says the House budget committee shifted dollars away from DHH and this could lead to multiple hospital closures and would eliminate jobs that inspect potentially unsafe facilities. The budget bill is slated to be taken up on the House floor today.
The full House is expected to discuss today whether the TOPS scholarship program should be fully funded for next school year, as they address the proposed budget for next fiscal year. [Publisher of LaPolitics.com, Jeremy Alford, says he’s spoken with some lawmakers on the Senate side, who are torn on the matter. Alford says the TOPS funding issue will likely be brought up again before the end of this fiscal year, regardless of what happens to the program in the proposal before the lower chamber today.] Other budget concerns include the Attorney General’s Office requesting its own separate budget, talk of eliminating the Inspector General’s Office completely, and more cuts to the state’s health budget.
More layoffs are coming to the state. The Louisiana Workforce Commission announced yesterday Martin Mills will be permanently closing its Vidalia Distribution Center, which will result in 167 employees losing their jobs starting July 10th. LWC says their Rapid Response team will conduct orientation sessions for affected workers in two weeks.
The House has given final legislative passage to a bill that extends the waiting period for an abortion from 24 to 72 hours. The measure was unanimously approved and heads to Governor Edwards’ desk to be signed into law. Six other states have similar legislation, and it’s the longest waiting period in the country.
Senate approved legislation that would give patients direct access to a physical therapist rather than getting a doctor’s referral first now moves to the full House. Family physician and occupational medicine specialist Dr. Robert Rush is in favor of the legislation and says many people in the orthopedic field are stuck in the past. Rush says direct access to a physical therapist is a time and money saver. President of the American Physical Therapy Association Sharon Dunn says early therapy with an episode of pain reduces costs up to 60-percent.
Former Iberville Parish teacher, Kevin Keith, will spend two years in prison for having sex with three of his students. Keith was sentenced to 10 years in jail for five counts of felony carnal knowledge, but eight of the years were suspended. Keith was arrested after a female student told authorities she had sex with the 30-year-old and conceived his son when she was 15.
It’s every parent’s worst nightmare, authorities in Ruston report a mother ran over her child during morning carpool yesterday morning. Cops say as the mother was pulling into the parking lot, the child opened the door while the vehicle was still in motion, then fell under the wheel of the SUV. The child was pronounced dead by the Lincoln Parish Coroner’s Office.
The Raise the Age bill was sent to the House floor Wednesday for final legislative approval. The measure by New Orleans Senator JP Morrell would prosecute 17-year-olds in the juvenile justice system instead of as an adult. The idea cleared the Senate with strong support and there was no objection today in the House Criminal Justice Committee.
A Houma man who allegedly shot and killed his neighbor’s pit bull after the K-9 bit his 34-year-old son is facing several charges. Sgt. Travis Theriot says 60-year-old Karl Kohman should not have taken matters into his own hands. In addition to animal cruelty and illegal use of a weapon charges, Kohman was also booked with obstruction of justice for allegedly trying to hide the dog’s body.
A St. Landry Parish man is facing several charges after cops say he tried to set his own house on fire in a fit of rage. The Sheriff’s Office says when deputies arrived, they located 34-year-old Eugene Chambers of Eunice pouring gasoline on the residence and threatening officers with a metal pipe. A victim stated she and six children, between the ages of 2 and 13, were forced outside and that Chambers also dumped gasoline on her. He is charged with Attempted Aggravated Arson, Aggravated Assault and Resisting an Officer.
Two teenagers are dead following a crash caused by a motorist who is believed to have ran a stop sign in Iberia Parish. The Sheriff’s Office says the vehicle that failed to yield was hit by an SUV, and the two occupants of the car a 16 year old passenger and the 18 year old driver, were both pronounced dead at the scene. The investigation is ongoing.
A $745 fee has been set by Louisiana lawmakers for burials in state veterans’ cemeteries. But the cost won’t be shouldered by veterans. The Department of Veterans Affairs says the federal government has been paying for veterans’ burials. But the agency says a recent attorney general’s opinion suggested the fee rate needed to be set in law by the Legislature.
The same charge is being set for a veteran’s spouse or relative to be buried in the veterans’ cemetery. That fee, too, already has been charged by the state veterans’ department.
The department can waive the fee if the family member can’t afford it.
The House Appropriations Committee proposed to eliminate all financing for the inspector general in the budget year that begins July 1. Lawmakers suggested the agency’s duties overlap with work done by the attorney general and legislative auditor. The national Association of Inspectors General sent a letter to House members, saying elimination of Louisiana’s office would deny taxpayers the “oversight, accountability and transparency of government they deserve.” The proposal to eliminate the inspector general’s office will be debated today by the House when it takes up the budget bill.
A plan to boost monthly pension checks for retired state employees, public school workers and teachers is headed to the governor’s desk. The cost-of-living increase is part of a package of bills by Shreveport Sen. Barrow Peacock, chairman of the Senate Retirement Committee. The pension hike is tied to adjustments in how the retirement systems pay for raises and administrative costs, aimed at lessening long-term debts. All three bills won final legislative passage this week.
News for Wednesday 051116
By Dave Graichen
State Police say a teenager from Marksville died Tuesday morning following a crash with a school bus in Avoyelles Parish. Investigators determined 19-year-old Joshua Frank lost control of his vehicle and collided with the school bus that was going in the opposite direction. There were no children on the bus at the time, but troopers say Frank wasn’t buckled up and he died at the scene.
A major drug bust in Grant Parish has led to the arrests of 9 people. Sheriff Steve McCain says the 4 month investigation was a major undercover operation. All of those arrested live in Montgomery. One was a 16-year-old juvenile.
Governor Edwards signs into law a bill that means the TOPS scholarship is no longer guaranteed to cover the full cost of a student’s tuition, starting in the fall of 2017. The bill locks in the amount of a TOPS scholarship at next year’s amount, and the award will not automatically increase, even if tuition costs go up. If tuition costs continue to rise, students will have to pay more of their tuition, unless the legislature agrees to increase TOPS payments. Mandeville Senator Jack Donahue says this bill won’t solve all of the TOPS funding issues, but it’s a start.
The House Education Committee has approved a bill that would allow students to attend any public school in their district. Hammond Representative Chris Broadwater supports the proposal. He says this opens the doors for children to attend the best schools, no matter where they are zoned, provided the school they choose has room for more students. Associate Executive Director of the Louisiana Association of School Superintendents, Donald Songy, says this would be a difficult policy to put in place. The measure heads to the House floor.
The House Health and Welfare Committee unanimously approved legislation that would establish a Bullying Awareness and Treatment Taskforce aimed at ending bullying in Louisiana. Shreveport Representative Barbara Norton says a large number of Louisiana students are being bullied, and many are too afraid to speak up about it. Norton says this taskforce would include representatives from the Department of Education, as well as the Department of Health and Hospitals’ mental health services. She says the goal is to help children on both sides of the bullying.
Legislation that would make it a hate crime if a person targets police officers or firefighters is nearing final legislative passage. The bill’s author, Alexandria Representative Lance Harris, says additional protections are needed for those who protect and serve. The measure has been dubbed as the “Blue Lives Matter” bill.
A bill to penalize those under 18 for drinking at a private residence failed to pass out of House Criminal Justice Committee Tuesday after lengthy debate.
Under current law, those younger than 21 years old can drink for religious or medical reasons, when accompanied by a parent or legal guardian, or if they are in a private residence.
Legislation that seeks to protect gays and transgender individuals from discrimination on the job is heading to the Senate floor after barely getting enough votes to pass out of a committee. Author of the measure, New Orleans Senator JP Morrell says there shouldn’t be any discrimination. The Louisiana Family Forum and business groups oppose the measure. The bill passed on a 2-1 vote and heads to the Senate floor for more debate.
A bill that would set up a legal framework in Louisiana between parents and surrogate mothers now moves to the full Senate for final legislative passage. The proposed law would grant immediate custody of the child to the genetic parents rather than the surrogate mother. Norco Sen. Gary Smith says this measure will protect Louisiana families.
Digital billboards are up in Baton Rouge and Shreveport urging residents to contact their legislators and ask them to support legislation that would expand the number of diseases medical marijuana can treat. Katie Corkern is featured on one of the billboards and she says FDA approved medication doesn’t help her child that has a seizure disorder. The bill is expected to be debated on the House floor today.
Gonzales Police have arrested a 21-year-old mother from Prairieville after it was learned her two-year-old child ate methamphetamine. Police say the woman told investigators her child got the meth out of her purse.
The photo of a service dog in the yearbook for West Monroe’s Good Hope Middle School is receiving national attention. The dog’s name is Presley and his headshot is next to her 14-year-old owner who has muscular dystrophy. The school’s yearbook advisor Sonya Hogg says it was a no-brainer to include Presley in the school yearbook.
Here’s a shocking story out of Thibodaux. Police there say a juvenile beat up an elderly woman who refused to give oral sex. The incident happened as the 61-year-old woman was walking down the street. The juvenile male was charged with simple battery of the infirmed.
News for Tuesday 051016
By Dave Graichen
A poll from JMC Analytics finds if the presidential election was held today, the majority of Louisianans would pick Republican Donald Trump over Democrat Hillary Clinton, 52 to 36-percet. Pollster John Couvillon says nearly 6 in 10 voters disapprove of Clinton. Couvillion says the poll also found people in the Alexandria area really support Trump, where he has 66-29-percent lead. He says he found very little evidence of Republican disunity in the poll.
The House Appropriations Committee has approved a spending plan for next fiscal year that fully funds TOPS. The governor’s proposed budget only funded a third of the costs associated with the program. Chairman, Cameron Henry of Metairie, says they came up with the 183-million dollars to fully fund TOPS by taking dollars from other departments. But, While speaking to the Baton Rouge Press Club yesterday, Governor John Bel Edwards expressed concerns about cutting funding from various agencies that have already seen their budgets slashed…
A new study from Car insurance.com shows Louisiana is the third most dangerous state for teen drivers. Highway safety advocate, Col. Jim Champagne is not surprised because he says we give teen drivers too much freedom at an early age. Champagne says Louisiana also allows driver’s permits at 15, but the rest of the country doesn’t allow permits until 16, and the driving curfew for teen divers is earlier in other states. The study also found Louisiana teens are driving drunk at a rate of 9-percent, and 49-percent are texting and driving.
Deputies say a Bossier parish school bus driver has been arrested for a DWI, immediately after she dropped of dozens of children. Bossier Parish Sheriff’s Office spokesperson Lt. Bill Davis says 33-year-old Bridget Whitley reported for a random drug screen after her morning route, where she showed signs of intoxication and failed a field sobriety test. This is Whitley’s 2nd DWI.
A bill to require warnings 500 feet ahead of red-light camera intersections heads to the house floor for final legislative passage. The author of the legislation, New Orleans Sen. Troy Carter, believes this would limit the ability for cities to bring in revenue, which amounts to a lot of money. Carter says right now there is barely any opportunity for a driver issued a red-light camera ticket to take their case to court. He says the second part of the bill is to provide for due process.
Baton Rouge mayor Kip Holden has filed his paperwork to run for Congress. Holden is expected to challenge fellow Democrat and incumbent US Representative Cedic Richmond, who represents the 2nd congressional district. Political analyst Bernie Pinsonat says Holden, who is term-limited as a mayor, is a strong candidate.
A House committee proposes to give Attorney General Jeff Landry more power over his budget. The House Appropriations Committee voted to remove the A.G. office from the state’s general operating budget and give Landry his own budget. But New Orleans Representative Walt Leger doesn’t think this move is constitutional.
The Jimmy Davis Bridge in Shreveport-Bossier City will not get its planned renovation anytime soon because the construction contract has been terminated. Department of Transportation spokesperson Rodney Mallett says the plan has been halted because of a protected species of bird that’s nesting on the bridge. Mallett says the Highway 511 Bridge will still be renovated, as soon as DOTD can figure out the best way to go about repairing the bridge without hurting the cliff swallows living there.
A bill that would allow blaze pink to be added to the list of acceptable colors that hunters could wear as an alternative to hunters orange, has been signed by Governor John Bel Edwards. The measure goes into effect August 1st.
New Orleans Police Superintendent Michael Harrison says robbery appears to be the motive in the shooting death of Thomas Rolfe. He’s the Tulane grad, who was in New Orleans for the weekend to plan a spot for his wedding. Rolfe’s body was found a few blocks from where surveillance video spotted the 25-year-old purchasing water. Harrison says there were marks on Rolfe’s hands that suggest there was a struggle.
The Calcasieu Parish Sheriff’s Office announces they have made an arrest in the May 3 kidnapping and sexual assault of a woman outside a casino. Police say 23-year-old Jovante Owens of Lake Charles kidnapped a woman outside of a casino and drove around in her car while sexually assaulting her. Owens is charged with first-degree rape and aggravated kidnapping.
LSU shortstop Kramer Robertson is expected to play tonight against Notre Dame, despite a badly swollen upper lip and braces on his top teeth after getting hit with a baseball last weekend. Coach Paul Mainieri says Robertson is one tough cookie and a big reason why they’ve won 31 games this year..
News For Monday 050916
By Dave Graichen
Was it the near perfect weather or a case of practice makes perfect, you be the judge. Large crowds filled the streets of downtown Alexandria each day and night during this weekend’s Alex River Fete’. Many feared the moving of the Dragon Boat races to Buhlow Lake, which in the past has been the anchor for the weekend , would hurt overall attendance. But, that was not the case. While large crowds watched the races many came back to the Alexandria side of the river for the rest of the Fete’.
The Rapides Parish Coliseum Authority has chosen Richard Karamatic to become the Coliseum’s executive director. Karamatic is currently the city administrator in Leesville, a position he will leave at the end of the week. Karamatic also spent 17 years in Dallas in the parks and rec department. The Coliseum has been without an executive director since 2013. The facility closed in April 2014 to await $22.9 million in renovations , which began in April of last year.
A bill that would prohibit open burning of explosives and munitions could be withdrawn from the regular session. There’s opposition from a company called Clean Harbors, which has a location near Colfax that open burns. Minden Rep. Gene Reynolds says he’s talked with Clean Harbors and the state department of environmental quality. Reynolds says if lawmakers and Clean Harbors are able to come up with a reliable solution, the bill will no longer be necessary.
Reynolds says in the bill’s place would be a House resolution which would call for local input before Clean Harbors can receive a new permit next year.
The House Appropriations Committee will vote today on a proposed budget for next fiscal year that’s expected to fully fund the TOPS scholarship program. Governor John Bel Edwards proposed spending plan only allocated a third of the approximately 300-million dollars needed to fully cover tuition costs for eligible students. If legislators fully fund TOPS that means 183-million dollars will be moved from other areas of the budget. Edwards says it would be great if the state can cover 100-percent of the costs for TOPS, but that will mean less state funding for hospitals, public education and state prisons.
Key members of the Governor’s staff are in St. Joseph today, where brown water is flowing from faucets in the Tensas Parish town. The governor’s Deputy Chief of Staff, Julie Baxter Payer, says they are there to inform St. Joseph residents about what’s being done to improve the drinking water. Baxter Payer says there is $7.8 million available to repair the town’s water system, but unfortunately St. Joseph cannot receive the money, because it has yet to complete a 2015 financial audit. She says they are waiting on a court to approve a financial manager that will be assigned to improve the town’s financial records.
A study from the firm KPMG ranks north Louisiana has the most competitive place to do business in the country. Scott Martinez, President of the North Louisiana Economic Partnership, says low utility costs is one reason why Monroe and Shreveport rank high on this list. The data from the study shows that Monroe and Shreveport each rank about 8-percent lower than the national average for business costs.
We’re six months away from Louisiana’s U.S. Senate election and it’s been a slow race so far. That’s the opinion of ULM Political Science Professor, Dr. Joshua Stockley, who says we haven’t seen or heard much from the nine declared candidates. He says this election is very similar to last year’s governor’s election. Stockley says we’ll see an uptick in attention to the race after the major party conventions in the summer. He says right now, many voters are focused on the state’s budget problems and the legislative session. Stockley believes the presidential election will likely play a role in who wins this Senate seat. He says right now, the favorites are any of the major Republican candidates.
A two-year-old girl is dead and authorities say a man who babysat the child is considered a person of interest in the case. Authorities say the child’s body was found in a remote area of Beauregard Parish. Vernon Parish Sheriff Sam Craft says 33-year-old Rodney “Donnie” Bailey Junior was the last person to see her alive and he is in custody.
A 78-year-old Shreveport woman could face the next decade behind bars for cashing Social Security checks that were mistakenly sent to a dead man for nearly three decades. Rose Marie Jackson Allen will be sentenced in September after pleading guilty to theft of government property. Allen shared a post office box with a man who died in 1986, but the government kept sending him social security checks. It’s believed Allen collected over 200-thousand dollars in illegal benefits.
Friday morning prosecutors ruled that no charges will be filed in the fatal officer-involved shooting of a mentally-ill man last year. State Police say 32-year-old Michael Noel was shot and killed at his home in St. Martin parish while resisting officers who attempted to take him into protective custody. Assistant District Attorney Chester Cedars says no one was charged in the incident, because there was no crime.
News for Friday 050616
By Dave Graichen
There is a month left in the legislative session and lawmakers still have a lot to. Jeremy Alford with LaPolitics.com says the budget is the biggest concern for legislators. He says lawmakers are working to pass a balanced budget with a 600 million dollar shortfall before the session ends on June 6th and funding TOPS is a major priority. The House Appropriations committee is expected to make changes to the proposed budget for next fiscal year on Monday and send the spending plan to the House floor. Alford also says one of the governor’s main bills for the session, a measure that raises the minimum wage, faces an uphill climb.
Governor John Bel Edwards still intends to hold a second special session in June. House Budget committee chairman Cameron Henry and the leader of the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry believe its too soon to have another session, after lawmakers raised taxes in the first session. But Edwards says if they don’t hold a second special session in June, than large cuts will occur to education and health care.
A measure to prohibit sanctuary cities from receiving funding for construction projects is moving through the legislature. The bill could hurt Lafayette and New Orleans because New Orleans police do not assist with federal immigration enforcement, and the Lafayette Sheriff’s Office says it won’t hold immigration offenders without a court order. The bill is heading to the Senate after a lengthy debate on the House floor.
A bill to legalize the sale of raw milk died in a House committee Thursday. Wendy Adams with the Libertarian party says she supported the legislation because the bill was about freedom and choice. She says no one is in any danger of walking into a supermarket and accidentally buying raw milk rather than pasteurized milk, since only farmers would have been allowed to sell it.
And the House has unanimously approved a bill that yesterday that says those under the age of 21 caught with alcohol cannot be sent to jail. The measure heads to the Senate.
Governor John Bel Edwards says he supports Parks Senator Fred Mills’ bill to expand the list of diseases medical marijuana can be used to treat. But Edwards says this is not a step towards legalization of pot. Edwards says he knows of many people, especially children who need medical cannabis to cope with a disorder. He says the state shouldn’t stand between doctors and the parents when it comes to what’s best for those children. Mills’ bill has already passed out of the Senate and is awaiting approval by the full House.
Strippers in Louisiana could soon be required to be at least 21 years old, as a bill to raise the minimum age for strippers is heading to the House for final legislative approval.
The State Fire Marshal has put out a warning about electronic cigarettes, after two people were recently burned in Louisiana when their cigarettes exploded. Deputy Chief Brant Thompson says in both cases the batteries overheated…
Shreveport police say two men are dead and six others are wounded after several masked gunmen burst into a card game at a tire shop early yesterday morning. Authorities say the two men killed were 37 year old males. Detectives are still looking for the gunmen. Witnesses say three to four masked men barged into the room and started shooting with semi-automatic rifles.
A resolution was approved by House yesterday that would make the town of Welsh, in southwest Louisiana as the “Home of the Cajun Dictionary.” A priest in Welsh for 44 years published a “Dictionary of the Cajun Language’ and it’s currently housed at the Welsh Museum.
The man believed to be the oldest World War Two Veteran has passed away and funeral services are scheduled for next week in his hometown of Cotton Valley, which is in Webster Parish. Frank Levingston lived to be 110 years old and enlisted in the army shortly after the attack on Pearl Harbor.
Louisiana’s five uncommitted Marco Rubio delegates have announced that they will back the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, Donald Trump. Kirk Williamson is one of those and says the most important thing right now is party unity. He thinks one way to achieve that would be for Trump to choose Rubio as his running mate.
There were no winners in Wednesday night’s Powerball drawing, which means the jackpot for Saturday now goes up to $415 million dollars. The cash value is $269 million dollars.
Mother’s Day is this Sunday and restaurants will be packed with families getting together to celebrate Mom. Louisiana Restaurant Association spokesperson Erica Burns says this is the most popular day of the year to dine out. She advises husbands and kids, if you haven’t made a reservation yet, do so now before it’s too late.
LSU Baseball Coach Paul Mainieri will start Alex Lange on the mound tonight against Arkansas, instead of Jared Poche, who has been the Tigers Friday night starter for most of the season. LSU enters tonight’s game with an 11-10 record in SEC Play, while Arkansas is just 7-and-14. But Mainieri is expecting three tough games with the Razorbacks….
News for Thursday 050516
By Dave Graichen
Well it’s now official, the Historic Hotel Bentley is now open for business. Owner Michael Jenkins was on Talkback 970 yesterday to break the news. (two of the three floors of the hotel are now open to the public, for a total of 62 guest rooms.) Renovations will continue on the other floors, another 31 hotel rooms, and several floors of condos. The restaurant in the Bentley should be opening very soon as well.
Alex River officially gets underway tonight with “Dinner on the bricks”. About a dozen local restaurants will serve from 6 until 8 p.m. this evening in front of City Hall on Third Street. The festival continues Friday with Art Walk at 4 p.m. and live entertainment.
Blue Bell is recalling select lots of Rocky Road Ice Cream pint packages that were mistakenly filled with Cookies n' Cream ice cream at its flagship Brenham plant. In a statement issued Wednesday, the Cookies 'n Cream ice cream contains soy and wheat not listed on the Rocky Road packages, which could cause serious and potentially life-threatening reactions to allergic consumers. The good news is, no illnesses have been reported so far. FYI, The affected packages are marked Rocky Road but are capped with a Cookies 'n Cream lid.
Louisiana’s teen birth rate has declined substantially over the last decade. A report from the Centers for Disease Control shows Louisiana’s teen birth rate is 37.5% for 2013-14, which is a decrease from the 2006-07 rate of 69%. Department of Health and Hospitals Secretary Rebekah Gee says this is great news for Louisiana. Gee says she thinks teens are practicing safer sex, or better yet abstinence. But, while it’s an improvement, Louisiana still ranks 7th in the country for teen births.
Former-Monroe TV personality “Mr. Wonder” has given up on fighting extradition from California back to Rapides Parish to face child sex charges that date back to 1978. Rapides Parish Sheriff’s office spokesperson, Lt. Tommy Carnline, says Selas will go to court in Rapides Parish on two counts of aggravated rape, three counts of sexual battery, and eight counts of indecent behavior with a juvenile.
Governor John Bel Edwards doesn’t want to give 40-thousand state workers a pay raise next year. It’s because the state is looking at a 600-million dollar revenue shortfall. The Civil Service Commission has the final say and plans on making a decision on the governor’s request next month.
During the governor’s short time in office, his main priority has been the state’s massive budget deficit. But John Bel Edwards wants to address tackle other issues during his term. Edwards told the Baton Rouge Rotary Club he is committed to the creation of a high speed commuter train between Baton Rouge and New Orleans. Edwards says advancing online educational technology is another area where he’d like to see expansion. He says young adults should have the opportunity to get their G-E-D through classes on the internet. Edwards says in next year’s regular legislative session, sentencing and criminal justice reform will be one of his top priorities.
A Senate committee shot down the House approved measure that would allow lawmakers to decide whether or not people who receive food stamps should have to work. The 4-2 vote fell along party lines with Democrats in opposition, and GOP support.
Ted Cruz and John Kasich have both dropped out of the presidential race, and Donald Trump is now the presumptive Republican nominee. UL-Lafayette political science professor Pearson Cross says not all Republicans will be happy to see Trump uncontested at the convention, but he doesn’t think the GOP will look for another nominee.
A bill that would allow public high school students to participate in an anonymous national sex survey is heading to the Senate, after getting approval from the House. Baton Rouge Representative Patricia Smith says Louisiana has a high rate of STDs and pregnancy among teens. Opponents of the bill say it’s the parents’ place to talk about these things with their kids, but Smith says that isn’t working. Under the bill, students would not be required to participate.
A proposal that would have limited travel of college athletic teams other than LSU is dropped. Baton Rouge Representative Steve Carter decided against moving forward with his legislation. Carter still told the House Education Committee that instead of the state paying for long road trips, the money could be used to hire new professors or fund the TOPS scholarship program.
News for Wednesday 050416
By Dave Graichen
Gas prices have topped the $2 mark in Louisiana. AAA says the statewide average price for a gallon of regular is now $2.01.
Louisiana is the 4th worst state for working moms, according to a study by the personal finance website, WalletHub. WalletHub analyst Jill Gonzalez says they looked at the cost of daycare, professional opportunities, and work and life balance. She says daycare and professional opportunities led to Louisiana’s poor ranking. Gonzalez says Louisiana also ranked 43rd for the gender pay gap.
State health officials are offering guidance on how people can prevent the transmission of Zika virus. Dr. Frank Welch, with the department of health and hospitals, says the mosquito that carries Zika will be active in Louisiana this summer, but it won’t just be mosquitoes spreading the virus. It will be people. Welch says the virus can also be transmitted through sexual contact. He says if someone has a partner who has traveled to South America or the Caribbean, they need to take extra precautions, especially if the woman is pregnant.
A House committee approves legislation that would give domestic violence victims a chance to get an expedited or temporary permit to carry a gun. Wade Duty with the Louisiana Shooting Association says it’s very hard to get into a class and a woman could be killed waiting to take a training course. The measure now heads to the full House.
Legislation that would expand the number of conditions that medical marijuana could treat was approved by a House committee. Katie Corkern of Amite says her 9-year-old son has uncontrollable seizures and doesn’t understand why lawmakers would oppose a bill that could help her child. Opposition came from the Louisiana Sheriff’s Association and district attorneys. Pete Adams with the state’s D-A’s association says this bill is a gateway to total legalization of pot. Despite the opposition, the bill got out of the House committee on an 8-6 vote.
A Senate approved measure that would ban the collecting and selling of fetal tissue from abortions was approved by the House Health and Welfare committee with no objection today. The bill comes in response to the videos that surfaced apparently showing Planned Parenthood leaders selling aborted fetuses. The organization denies the allegation. The proposal will next be heard in the full House.
The House has approved a measure that would require students to take a wellness exam before they enter kindergarten or the sixth grade. The vote was 59-37 in favor. Houma Representative Beryl Amedee opposed the legislation. She says the health exam is unnecessary and could be costly, especially if the child has government health care. But supporters say the measure could improve children’s health.
Another bill heading to the House would public schools to teach personal financial management. Minden Representative Gene Reynolds is the author of the legislation. He says many schools already give lessons on financial literacy, he wants to make sure it’s’ required.
Reynolds says students in every grade can learn something about money. He says even learning to count pennies in kindergarten would count as finance literacy.
The LaFourche Parish Sheriff’s office says an intoxicated man stole a school bus Tuesday morning. Deputies say the female bus driver woke up at her Chackbay residence to find her bus gone. As authorities were responding to the scene, they saw the bus traveling on a highway and they initiated a traffic stop. Deputies say they learned that driver, who wreaked of alcohol, had hotwired the bus.
Despite being an outspoken critic of Republican Presidential front-runner Donald Trump, Former Governor Bobby Jindal says he would vote for Tump if he was the Republican nominee. Jindal made the comments during an interview on CNN, where he also said Trump would have the hardest time beating Democrat Hillary Clinton of all the Republican candidates.
220 retired research chimps at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette’s New Iberia research center will move to a new sanctuary in Blue Ridge, Georgia. Project Chimps is a non-profit organization and has negotiated with the university to move the chimps over the next several years.
News for Tuesday 050316
By Dave Graichen
Cleco utility customers can expect a $475 credit on their bills beginning in July, as a result of the Pineville-based company’s sale to foreign investors. Cleco spokesperson Jennifer Cahill says the Louisiana Public Service Commission created this credit as a part of their transaction.
Cahill says the credit will be applied until it runs out, meaning some customers will not have to pay a utility bill for a couple of months.
With a little more than 2 years on the job under his belt, LSUA chancellor Daniel Howard announced yesterday that he will step down from his position at the end of August. Howard plans to move back to his hometown of Florence, Alabama. No details have been released yet about the process to replace him.
Louisiana’s high school graduation rate is at an all-time high, as 78-percent of the Class of 2015 received their diplomas. State Education Superintendent John White, says that’s almost a 3-percent increase over the previous year, which is the second largest annual gain in 10 years. He believes more students are graduating, because educators raised the bar.
Legislation is heading to the governor’s desk that curbs the cost of the TOPS scholarship program, but it will likely mean recipients will have to pay a portion of their tuition. The taxpayer funded scholarship program costs the state nearly 300-million dollars and Lafayette Representative Nancy Landry says the legislature must do something to rein in its costs.
The measure passed on a 74-20 vote and heads to the governor’s desk.
Louisiana Senate has approved legislation that would send 17-year-old non-violent offenders through the juvenile court system, instead of adult court. The measure was approved on a 33-4 vote. The bill, which is supported by Governor Edwards, heads to the House for more discussion.
One of the governor’s main bills for the session, raising the minimum wage is having a difficult time gaining approval in the Senate. The measure barely got past the Senate Labor committee and is now stuck in the Senate Finance committee if approved, the bill would result in pay raises for the state’s lowest paid workers.
Baton Rouge Representative Ted James was unable to get enough votes from the House Commerce Committee to advance a measure that would allow law enforcement to unlock a homicide victims’ phone, if they were able to get a court order. James called the bill the “Brittney Mills Act.” She was murdered over a year ago and her case is still unsolved.
James might bring the bill up for another vote.
Governor John Bel Edwards has kicked off his statewide tour to discuss Medicaid expansion. Over the next month, Edwards and Secretary of the Department of Health and Hospitals, Dr. Rebekah Gee, will visit cities to raise awareness and answer questions about who will be eligible to enroll for the government health insurance on June 1st. State health officials say the expanded Medicaid program will be able to cover an estimated 350,000 working poor individuals.
Governor John Bel Edwards says FEMA has denied Louisiana’s appeal for a major disaster declaration after severe storms and tornadoes devastated several communities in late February. He says the agency indicated in decision that the impact from the event is not of the severity and magnitude that warrants a major disaster declaration.
May is Air Quality Awareness month, and the Department of Environmental Quality says Louisiana’s air quality is better than it’s been since the start of the Industrial Revolution. DEQ senior scientist Vivian Aucoin says that’s because they have improved the quality of the air in parts of the state where it was lacking. But the Director of the Louisiana Bucket Brigade, Anne Rolfes, doesn’t think Louisiana’s air is any cleaner. She says the state does a poor job of monitoring the air in areas where it’s the worst. Rolfes says in neighborhoods near oil refineries and other plants, the air just stinks, literally. She says her organization works with the EPA to get air quality readings in those areas, and their information shows the air is not any cleaner.
Officials across the Northshore announce the start of “Operation Angel” – a program whereby a person addicted to drugs can walk into a police station and ask for help instead of being charged with a crime. Covington Police Chief Tim Lentz says it’s time law enforcement changes the way they do business. He says the only requirement of Operation Angel is that an addict asks for help and wants to change their life.
The St. Charles Parish Sheriff’s office says they’ve made an arrest in the death of a 16-year-old Kenner girl who was found dead in a ditch in St. Rose. The man arrested is Daniel Beckley and he’s been charged with second-degree murder in the death of Jorian White. Beckley is the longtime boyfriend of the victim’s mother. Investigators say Beckley was the last known adult to see White alive.
News for Monday 050216
By Dave Graichen
Governor John Bel Edwards wants a list of budget reform recommendations in two weeks from a special task force that’s studying the state’s finances. Some of the proposals will likely be presented to lawmakers during a special session in June to address a 600-million dollar shortfall. President of the Council for a Better Louisiana Barry Erwin is on the task force and he says lawmakers have already raised the state sales tax, so they are left with limited options to address the budget gap. Erwin says they just want to make sure that whatever revenue raising measure legislators choose are done in a way that doesn’t further hurt the state economy.
State Police report an Alexandria man was killed early Sunday morning in a single vehicle crash on LA112 at Fish Hatchery Road. Troopers say 18 year old Guillermo Ramos lost control and exited the right side of the roadway. After exiting the roadway, the vehicle collided with a culvert and a utility pole before overturning. Ramos was wearing his seat belt, but was pronounced dead at the scene. It’s believed High speed was a key factor.
The small LaSalle Parish town of Tullos is in shock this week over the double homicide case with more questions than answers. Sheriff’s deputies say the bodies of 19-year-old Chesley Coping and 26-year-old Demond Garner disappeared two eeekends ago. Their bodies were located last week. 18-year-old Austin Dyess (die-ess) and 26-year-old Joshua Sant were both charged with 2 counts of second degree murder. Details are still very scarce at this time.
Lt. Governor Bill Nungesser is touring the state to promote tourism as part of National Tourism Week. Nungesser says he’ll be in in West Baton Rouge, Lafayette, and St. Francisville today and then head to the northern part of the state later in the week. Nungesser says in 2015 nearly 29-million people visited the state, which was a record.
ULM students are gathering on campus today to collectively voice their concerns for the future of higher education. Katherine Dawson, Online Program Coordinator for ULM, says students, faculty, alumni, and others will all email their state at an event called Mission: Maroon. The governor’s proposed budget calls for a 183-million dollar cut to TOPS and higher education would receive a six-percent cut in state funding. Dawson says the purpose is not to gripe at lawmakers but to speak up and be heard. She says unfortunately, one email from one person may not make much of a difference, but she hopes that hundreds of emails will.
A giant sink hole on Canal Street in New Orleans is causing massive traffic problems. The hole came out of nowhere at around 3 o’clock Friday in between Harrah’s and Canal Place. The sink hole is located near an underground tunnel that was built during the 1960s. Mayor Mitch Landrieu says the repair could take anywhere between 3 to 6 months to fix.
Lafayette Congressman Charles Boustany has filed legislation that would require a weather radar detection site to be built near Baton Rouge. There are detection sites near Slidell and Lake Charles, but none near Baton Rouge. Boustany says a new site will close the gap in radar coverage in Louisiana. He says he is looking into how much the radar site will cost, but he wanted to get the legislation introduced first. There are also Doppler radars near Fort Polk and Shreveport.
The LSU AgCenter has developed an eye-drop to prevent and treat cataracts. AgCenter Department of Biological and Agriculture Engineering Professor Cristina Sabliov says they became interested in developing a solution because cataracts are the leading cause of visual impairment in the United States. She says they found a way to use lutein to prevent the eye lens from becoming cloudy. Next, the AgCenter is working to patent the drop.
A Grand Isle man was arrested for trying to purchase a child for sexual purposes .State Police trooper Jesse Lagrange who says 30-year-old Wade Perkins asked someone to locate a 6 to 8-year-old child so Perkins could pay for a sexual encounter. He says Perkins is a registered sex offender in Michigan for criminal sexual conduct. Lagrange says more charges are expected to be filed against Perkins.
Former St. Tammany and Washington Parish District Attorney Walter Reed took the stand in his own defense at his federal corruption trial Friday. Reed is accused of misusing campaign money, plus filing false tax returns and other alleged crimes. Reed, who said he was always in campaign mode, talked about some of his expenditures with his campaign funds and admitted to some wrongdoings
A Sheriff’s Deputy with Bossier Parish left his job with the Medium-Security Facility to play professional minor league baseball. 26-year-old Randy Zeigler was a pitcher for LSU and caught the eye of a Chicago White Sox scout. Zeigler says he’s going to be playing for the Lincoln Nebraska Saltdogs. Zeigler says he was just messing around with a radar gun, when he discovered he was throwing at the same speed he was three years ago.
Police have arrested a suspect in the murder of a Texas woman whose body was found in the water off of I-10 near the Whiskey Bay exit. Iberville Parish detectives arrested the victim’s husband 28-year-old Jonathan Allee is charged with second degree murder. Sheriff Brett Stassi says 29-year-old Elizabeth Ferrell’s cause of death was strangulation and they believe she was killed somewhere else before her body was dumped.
Officials with the U.S. Department of Agriculture are investigating the number of animal deaths that have recently occurred at the Baton Rouge Zoo. Curator Sam Winslow says they asked for the USDA and the American Zoo Association to send in investigators to assess the situation after 18 animals died within the last year. Winslow says the 2-year-old Malayan tiger that died earlier in the month likely suffered from gastric dilation.
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