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Spending on Halloween costumes, decorations and candy will reach a record high 8.4 billion dollars this year. That’s according to the National Retail Federation. Spokesperson Ana Serafin Smith says more than 171 million Americans are planning to partake in Halloween festivities this year.

“The expected average is about $83 per person. That’s divided among a variety of items like costumes, candy, decorations and even greeting cards.”

Smith says millennials and their use of social media are the reason why the popularity Halloween is growing.

“That one time of the year where you can dress up in a costume, have fun, go trick or treating with your friends and family or even go to a Halloween party and show off, not only your outfit, but your friend’s outfit on twitter.”

Smith says the Presidential election is also driving up costume sales as many people are dressing up as either Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton.

“They’re even starting to sell out of some of these masks. When we look at our data, we learned that it’s really adults over 35-years-old that are going to be dressing up like these political characters.”



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Attorney General Jeff Landry has filed a lawsuit that seeks to have a state judge declare Governor John Bel Edwards’ executive order that protects LGBT individuals from discrimination in the workplace as unconstitutional. Landry believes the governor is circumventing the Legislature to create his own law.

"Our legislature has multiple times in a bipartisan fashion, rejected that type of language."

Landry argues the state legislature has rejected several proposed laws that prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. The Republican A-G says he’s protecting the will of the legislature.

"The fact that the governor wants to override that and our system is not designed to do that, is what I'm objecting to."

The executive order says state employees can not be fired or harassed at work if they are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender. The order extends to businesses that have state contracts and Landry has already refused to sign legal contracts with the anti-discrimination clause. Edwards believes he has the authority to issue such an order.

"I believe I'm on the right side of the law and I'm on the right side of history on this and I'm not going change the executive order."

Edwards says the attorney general is putting his own political interests ahead of Louisiana’s needs. He disagrees with Landry’s stance that’s it okay for businesses to discriminate.

"Bigotry and discrimination are not Louisiana Values."



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Michelle Southern reporting.
A new Gallup poll shows 60% of Americans support the legalization of marijuana, almost double the amount of people who thought pot should be legal in 2000. David Brown is the director of a group called Sensible Marijuana Policy for Louisiana, or SMPL. He believes this signifies that a lot of changes are taking place within the US electorate.

"Citizens are learning what a lot of us have known for a long time," said Brown. "Cannabis is safer than alcohol and many other drugs."

Nine states are slated to decide whether to expand legal access to pot in the November election. State officials are currently hammering out a plan to get medical marijuana into the hands of patients who suffer certain specific ailments.

But Brown feels that Louisiana will be one of the very last states to get on board with recreational legalization.

"To change to something like the Washington/Colorado model, legalized adult use," said Brown. "That would be when we're swept along with all the other states at the very end."

Brown says the fact that the Legislature passed a bill that would put a mechanism in place to get patients in need medical marijuana indicates many Louisiana lawmakers are approaching the matter with more of an open mind. He said that's not happened on accident.

"It's the result of a lot of hard work and lobbying at the legislative level," said Brown. "And help from health care providers and patients themselves who have made their voices heard."


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LSU’s daily newspaper, The Daily Reveille, will become a weekly 32-page paper come the spring semester of 2017. Reveille editor in chief Quint Forgey says this is a very bitter-sweet moment for him. He says it’s a sad day because everyone who works for the newspaper was raised and trained for a daily paper.

“But we were faced with a tough decision financially and we really took efforts to outline possible options for our own future and then chose the one that we thought was best.”

The Daily Reveille has been a part of LSU since 1887. But Forgey says the Reveille staff is optimistic because the new weekly publication will be much better.

“Now we’re talking about a 32-page, fat paper, loaded with investigative stories and photos, every Thursday. It’s going to be exciting.”

Forgey says student writers will still be required to meet daily deadlines, with turning content each day for the website, LSUNow.com. He says the decision to end the daily publication was not an easy one but they believe the future is still bright for the school newspaper and the students involved.

“If we kept operating the way we did, we’d have to cut the paper or there would be no Daily Reveille. There would be no training ground for future students who hope to pursue journalism in Louisiana and hope to cover the state capital in Baton Rouge.”



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One of many lesser-known candidates in the US Senate race has dropped out less than three weeks before the election. Attorney and former-investment banker Abhay Patel is the first candidate to back out of the crowded field. Political analyst Bernie Pinsonat isn’t surprised he withdrew, since he polled poorly.

“The guy just didn’t have any voters with him or he wouldn’t have got out. He spent some money but he’s got no traction. Nobody knows him across the state. So I think it’s smart for him to get out,” Pinsonat said.

After dropping out of the race, Patel endorsed Republican Congressman Charles Boustany over the two other major republican candidates, John Kennedy and John Fleming. There are also two major Democrats in the race, Foster Campbell and Caroline Fayard. Pinsonat says he’s not sure how much that endorsement will really help Boustany.

“I guess you could say it’s good that Boustany got his endorsement, but he doesn’t have any really votes to bring to Boustany. Maybe just the image of him endorsing him might give Boustany a little attention,” Pinsonat said.

Patel’s name will still appear on the ballot along with the 23 other names running for US Senate. Pinsonat says if any other minor candidates drop out, it won’t have a huge impact on who will make the runoff.

“The runoff’s going to be between two of these five well-known candidates who are spending a lot of money. No one else has a chance but those five,” Pinsonat said.



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The head of the Louisiana NAACP spoke before the House Judiciary Committee to provide tips on how law enforcement and the public can work better together. Ernest Johnson says there needs to be more interactive relationships between police officers and the community. He suggests having these officers be very familiar with everyone in the area they’re patrolling.

“A police officer should be required to attend a church in the precinct once a month, without the uniform, in plain clothes, to become familiar with the community.”

Johnson also advises elected officials should host more town hall meetings where police officers attend in plain clothes. He says a culture change needs to be made when officers are addressing people in tricky situations with the public.

“But if I don’t know him and I believe he’s aggressive and I go in and I’m aggressive, then it escalates and then you get a killing. Whereas it should be deescalating but how to we deescalate?”

The House Judiciary Committee wrapped up two days of hearings on interaction between law enforcement and citizens. Chairman Katrina Jackson plans to hold more meetings to come up with a universal community policing policy. Johnson says right now there is no policy where officers become involved as part of the community.

“I don’t think it would cost any money, but I do think it requires policy to change the way policing is done in certain communities.”



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An arrest has been made in the case of an elderly man who was shot to death in his own driveway in Houma. Cody Voisin with the Terrebonne Parish Sheriff’s Office says shortly after the death of 87-year-old Anthony Dale Lirette, an arrest warrant was issued for 21-year-old Deandre Pharagood.

“On Octber 19, 2016, he surrendered himself to the Thibodaux Police Department without incident, and he was arrested for first degree murder,” Voisin said.

Voisin says there was no relationship between the victim and Pharagood. He says their investigation into the matter is ongoing.

“We cannot release the exact motive yet. That’s still under investigation,” Voisin said.

Pharagood was booked into the Terrebonne Parish jail on a $500,000 bond.



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It’s an exciting day for Louisiana travelers looking to go overseas, as British Airways announces there will soon be non-stop flights from New Orleans to London. Senior Vice President Simon Brooks says the flights will leave out four times a week beginning March 27, 2017. He says they are delighted to connect these two iconic cities.

“Both places are known for their iconic music scene and rich cultural diversity, and we’re confident that New Orleans will rise up the wish list of Brits and Europeans alike to come and visit this wonderful place,” Brooks said.

Brooks says the 8 hour 40 minute flight will include free food and drink, pillows and blankets for all passengers, as well as free entertainment. He says the Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner is known for its smooth ride because it flies at a lower pressurization.

“Our customers will experience less jetlag. It’s got wonderfully big windows so everybody gets a view outside, and it’s incredibly quiet as well. It’s a great aircraft,” Brooks said.

Brooks says American Airline customers will be able to use their frequent flyer miles on these flights. He adds that although the plane lands in London, passengers will have limitless travel options.

“Many of the customers are not just flying to London. They’re going to get the benefit of British Airways onward connections to over 130 destinations beyond London- Europe, Asia, Africa, and beyond,” Brooks said.



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Villains don’t stand a chance this Halloween, as super hero costumes are flying off the shelves. Manage of Spirit Halloween in Alexandria, Caitlyn Piacitelli, says even the girls are suiting up as Marvel and DC characters. She says the most popular costume this year is a more unconventional kind of hero.

“Girls seem to be all wanting Harley Quinn. Every time I get a shipment of the new Suicide Squad Harley Quinn stuff, within that week it’s all gone,” Piacitelli said.

Piacitelli says plenty of guys are stocking up on green hair to be Harley’s puddin’, Mr. J.

Spirit Halloween District Manager of Louisiana, Leah Miller, says all the characters from Suicide Squad have been hot sellers. She says Dead Pool and Star Wars have been as well, after those movies were also box office hits.

“No matter what movie’s out, it’s always Batman, Superman, those sell really, really well as well,” Miller said.

The Bayou State will need all the extra heroes on the street it can get this year, as there will likely be plenty of scary clowns walking around as well. Miller says the creepy clown craze in Louisiana hasn’t hurt clown mask sales at all.

“It’s been the total opposite. It’s actually increased our number of sales as far as clown merchandise goes,” Miller said.



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During Governor John Bel Edward’s monthly call-in show, he addressed several topics including a new Mississippi River bridge in Baton Rouge, the future of the film tax credit program, and coastal parish lawsuits against the oil and gas industry. Edwards says a new bridge is a huge priority for Baton Rouge, but it takes a lot of money to build a bridge.

“I do think it’s something that we need to move forward on, but I will tell you existing revenue streams are insufficient,” Edwards said.

Edwards says the Transportation Task Force meeting today to discuss improvements in the Baton Rouge area.

Regarding the film tax incentive program, Edwards says he doesn’t think the $180 million cap that lawmakers placed on the program in 2015 as the problem. He says a lot of movie producers had concerns about Louisiana’s commitment to the future of the industry, and expects lawmakers will address those concerns in next year’s legislative session.

“We are trying to stabilize the program, and we want to inspire industry officials from around the country in terms of Louisiana’s commitment to the program,” Edwards said.

Edwards also touched on the lawsuits filed by several coastal parishes against the oil and gas industry for the destruction of the coast. He says he supports the suit because it’s not enough to say these companies create jobs and boost revenue if they’re expediting coastal erosion.

“We need a vibrant oil and gas industry in Louisiana, and we’re going to have that. But every corporate entity needs to be a good corporate citizen as well,” Edwards said.



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Fall weather is finally set to return to Louisiana, thanks to a cold front that will move through the state today. State climatologist Barry Keim says the cold front will also likely bring us some rain, which is much-needed given the drought-like conditions the state has been experiencing. But he says it probably won’t be enough to break out the rain boots.

“Rainfall amounts will likely be less than a half an inch, and probably considerably less in most locations. So if you get some rain, consider yourself lucky because you can actually use it,” Keim said.

Keim says once the rainfall moves through, fall weather will return. He says you’ll really feel the cool temperatures tomorrow.

“By tomorrow morning, minimum temperatures are going to be in the upper 50s across northern parishes and low 60s across south Louisiana, and high temperatures are only going to be in the mid-70s across the entire state,” Keim said.

Keim says by this weekend, it should start to feel more like autumn outside. He says it will be great weather for outdoor activities.

“Over the weekend, I’d say expect a cool, clear, crisp set of conditions all across the state, and LSU kick off temperature is forecast to be 64 degrees,” Keim said.



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Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump has said the November 8th election has been rigged by the media and at the polls to favor Democrat Hillary Clinton. Republican Louisiana Secretary of State Tom Schedler calls Trumps comments irresponsible and says the polls are not rigged and every state is ready to go to carry out a fair election.

“We have programs in place and safeguards in place across the country. Quite frankly, that comment from Donald Trump is totally unfounded and I wish he would give some specifics.”

Schedler says in Louisiana, we haven’t had a problem with a voting machine count in decades. There have been rumors the Russians will hack into the system and alter votes, but Schedler says no voting machines are connected to the internet.

“How do you hack something in cyber space when you’re not in cyber space? Each machine is independently operated. They are not linked together, have a separate cartridge.”

Schedler says he is confident that the Presidential election will go off without any major problems and they have protections in place to protect against voter fraud.

“I’m very confident in the system but nonetheless we are more vigilant than ever because of all these allegations, we are constantly testing our equipment to make sure there is no intrusion.”



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The ACLU of Louisiana is working together with parents after multiple students said they were strip searched at Caldwell Parish High School to find a student’s missing 42 dollars.

Executive Director of the ACLU of Louisiana Marjorie Esman says the Supreme Court has ruled very clearly that this is a violation of the law.

“Students cannot be strip searched unless there is specific suspicion of a particular student and then you search that particular student for the particular thing that you think they might have. And it’s also a violation of school policy.”

Caldwell Parish School Superintendent John Gullatt says they are conducting an investigation themselves and has apologized to the families involved. Esman says the ACLU and the parents of the students are discussing how to move forward and only time will tell if they decide to take legal action but...

“At the very least, owes the students an apology for having violated their rights and there should be disciplinary action against the school officials involved.”

It’s been reported a teacher and principal have been placed on administrative leave in connection with the searches. Esman says moving forward, the school needs to alter how they deal with matters like this.

“It’s clear that they need to do some more training to make sure that everybody that works in the schools knows not only what the school policy is but also what the law is.”



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Law enforcement, elected officials, and the public gathered at the House Judiciary Committee meeting today to discuss ways to improve community relations with police. Deputy Chief of Staff for the Governor’s Office, Julie Baxter Payer says it’s important to have more community involvement in policy changes. She says they are looking at more training and education for law enforcement.

She says they want to encourage investments in officer wellness and safety initiatives.

“We’re talking about things like hiring more officers to reduce shift lengths, hiring more psychological evaluators, particularly on the front end of the hiring process,” Payer said.

State Police Col. Mike Edmonson says he’s been meeting with law enforcement around the country to learn more about practices implemented in other areas. He says they are extending training periods for officers to ensure they are better prepared for the field, as well as working to recruit better people for the job.

“I’m pleased with what we’re doing in our training. I’m pleased with what we’ve added on to our diversity training, our de-escalation, which is now our new key word in law enforcement,” Edmonson said.

Edmonson says they also want to address how the public responds to police officers, especially young adults. He says many young people don’t know what to do if they get pulled over.

“We’re going to add that in to driver’s education to have those discussions inside driver’s education to talk to those individuals and to have those open discussions,” Edmonson said.


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Jefferson Parish President Mike Yenni addressed the parish council today for the first time since his sexting scandal made headlines. Yenni says he has learned to not run from your troubles when you can rise from them instead. He says over the past few weeks, he has walked the deepest valley of despair.

“But I know that the valley is not the place to dwell, it is the place to climb from. It is a place to remind you of your transgressions. It is a place to lift you to redemption,” Yenni said.

The Jefferson Parish Council has called for Yenni’s resignation. But the embattled politician says it is his job to move the parish forward and asks that the council let him do his job. He says his personal life has been invaded, but he will not let his public life be invalidated. He says he has never taken his oath to the parish or the people lightly.

“I never expect you or the people I have disappointed to ever forget my inequity, but I hope that you and all will let mercy triumph over judgement,” Yenni said.

Jefferson Parish residents responded to Yenni flowing his refusal to resign from office. Gregory Carroll with Citizens for a Better Kenner says he’s concerned that city equipment was used to have those conversations with a 17-year-old, and that he offered that boy a job.

“That’s not acceptable either, to offer a Kenner payroll for his enjoyment,” Carroll said.

A recall petition has been started to remove Yenni from office. Carroll adds that nearly 80% of the registered voters in the parish want Yenni to resign.

“You should not let your last legacy in this parish be that you refused the will of the people and had to be pitched out on your ear. It would be a shame,” Carroll said.



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Lt. Governor Billy Nungesser is looking to grow the state’s seafood industry. Nungesser says Louisiana produces more than 850-million pounds of seafood every year. He says when you combine seafood, with tourism, it accounts for $14-billion in annual revenue for Louisiana and the two should help each other.

“We’re partnering with the Louisiana Seafood Board and the tourism folks in Louisiana to start jointly promoting the great seafood we have here in Louisiana and the great time you can have here while you eat it.”

Nungesser says they are getting close to releasing details about a new program where all Louisiana residents can be an ambassador for the seafood industry. He says they can do that with help from social media.

“We’re going to get people to sign up, Facebook and use the internet for them to take pictures of what they love about Louisiana, both seafood, the food and all the great tourist attractions across the state.”

Nungesser says his office doesn’t have the resources to promote Louisiana’s seafood and tourism industry to the level they would like. But he says if they can get Louisiana residents to use social media, to show off the great food and destinations the state has to offer, he believes that can lead to more out of state visitors.

“And what a force that will be to reckon with to have all of our citizens sharing the great things about Louisiana and the great food with people around the country and around the world.”



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The state House Judiciary Committee begins two days of meetings today to discuss universal training for police officers, as well as de-escalation tactics. Monroe Representative Katrina Jackson says the goal of the hearings is to improve the trust between police and the public, especially African-Americans who feel they’ve been targeted by law enforcement.

“There has to always when things happen like this be a proper forum for number one, people to be heard and number two, to start researching and coming up with solutions,” Jackson said.

Jackson says they plan to discuss community partnerships with law enforcement that can enhance respect for law enforcement in the communities they police.

“The State Police have already agreed to be there. Sheriff’s Association and some of the local Chiefs of Police will be there,” Jackson said.

She says they need to look at ways that people on both sides can deescalate a situation in a way that keeps both police and the public safe. She says the purpose of the hearings is to start conversations about improving relations and building trust.

“We’ve opened them up to the general public and other groups who would like to speak on this issue to just fully vet everything,” Jackson said.



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Flu season is just around the corner, and the Louisiana Department of Health urges everyone to go out and get their flu shot. Dr. Frank Welch with LDH says despite what some people may think, getting a flu shot will not give someone the flu, and everyone needs to get vaccinated even if they got the shot last year.

“One of the things that people don’t realize is that you need a flu shot every single year because the flu as a virus changes itself,” Welch said.

In years past, people had an option to get protected from flu in the form of a nasal spray, rather than an injection. But Welch says the nasal vaccine is not be available this year.

“Unfortunately scientists have done the research over the past few years and found that the nasal spray really is not very effective at all,” Welch said.

The flu causes 500 deaths and nearly 3,000 hospitalizations every year in Louisiana. Welch says infants, elderly people, pregnant women, and people with chronic health conditions are at the greatest risk for complications from the flu. But he says it’s important for everyone to get their flu shot, even if they are not in those high risk groups.

“It’s those healthy people walking around and still going to sporting events, still going to school, still going to the grocery store who are spreading the flu to everyone else,” Welch said.

Welch says people should stay home if they are sick, wash their hands, and cover their cough to avoid spreading the virus.



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A state legislative committee meets this morning to discuss on lawsuits against oil and gas companies by five coastal parishes, claiming these companies polluted and destroyed their land. House Natural Resources Chairman Stuart Bishop of Lafayette says there has been a lot of talk about these lawsuits and he wanted to have a public discussion.

“It was time that we opened it up so the public could hear exactly what the game plan is and exactly what the reasoning and the founding is for filing these lawsuits.”

The parishes filing suit are Jefferson, Plaqumines, St. Bernard, Vermilion and Cameron. But Bishop says there is also those parishes like Terrebonne and Lafourche who oppose the lawsuits and do not want to participate, so what does this mean for them?

“They’ve passed resolutions through their councils, they do not wait to file a lawsuit. We have been told by the Governor’s Office that if they did not do it, the Governor’s Office and the state would do it on behalf of the parishes.”

A state law requires oil and gas companies to maintain and restore land used back to its original condition. Any money gained from a suit would go to restoring over 1,900 square feet of damaged coast. Bishop says representatives from the 20 coastal parishes affected will be present at the meeting.

“Within 30 days, the governor has said that he would step in and file lawsuits on behalf of the parishes against oil and gas industries and five have done so thus far.”



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Candidates for US Senate went at it in the first statewide televised debate. GOP Congressman John Fleming was quick to attack his Republican colleague in the US House, Congressman Charles Boustany. While answering a question about his willingness to compromise,

he directed his response towards Boustany saying, it’s important to get things done, but more important to get the things done right.

“Congressman Boustany has gotten some things done like voting to raise the debt limit five times. He voted for the big bank bailouts. He voted for cash for clunkers for heaven’s sakes,” Fleming said.

Meanwhile, Democratic Public Service Commissioner Foster Campbell had strong words for Republican State Treasurer John Kennedy after Kennedy claimed he convinced the legislature to invest money from a tobacco settlement.

“You weren’t in the legislature, and you didn’t convince the legislature to save that money. We voted on that. You had no vote. So don’t tell these people tonight that you convinced the legislature. You had no vote,” Campbell said.

Campbell kept at it with Kennedy, asking Boustany to respond to a campaign ad from the Treasurer in which he jokes about suicide. In Kennedy’s ad, he says that he would rather drink weed killer than take part in the political games in Washington.

“We have to put it with physical health, and we have to take it seriously, and yes I would agree. I do think Mr. Kennedy should apologize for making this a joking matter,” Boustany said.

Kennedy also had a lot to say about his Republican opponents. He spoke about what the so-called club in Washington has done, promising not to be a part of it if elected.

“The big government Republicans in the United States Congress who’ve talked tough, but they’ve sat back for the last eight years and let the President and the Secretary do anything they want to do. All of them ought to be ashamed of themselves,” Kennedy said.

Democratic attorney Caroline Fayard even made a jab at Kennedy over his support of former-governor Bobby Jindal. Fayard says the Jindal administration led the state into debt under Kennedy’s watch.

“This means you either continued to support the destructive policies of Bobby Jindal, or despite being the so-called top financial person in our state, you don’t know what you’re doing. Which is it?” Fayard asked.



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