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Now that Republican State Treasurer John Kennedy has been elected as U.S. Senator, he plans to tackle some of Louisiana’s problems in Washington D.C. Kennedy says it’s time for a change and the first thing he will fight for is additional relief for our flood victims.

“The March and August floods and I’m going to try to keep the bureaucrats from raising our flood insurance so high that none of us can afford it.”

Kennedy says he will fight to bring more jobs to Louisiana. He says we have the third highest unemployment rate in the country.

“Our people need jobs and I’m going to work very hard to get government off the backs of our small business people so they can create those jobs.”

The future U.S. Senator says our economy is in trouble and he’ll work to fix that.

“40% of our economy is in oil and gas and it’s in a depression. In north Louisiana the price of timber never has recovered from the recession of 2008.”

 
 
 

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The 2016 federal elections are over now that Louisiana has wrapped things up with Saturday's runoff. Republican State Treasurer John Kennedy will be the new US Senator. He had this to say today when addressing supporters following his victory.


"I'd rather drink weed killer than be anywhere else tonight."

Kennedy says he's looking forward to being a part of the change that is coming to Washington under the Trump Administration.

His opponent, Democrat Foster Campbell, says despite the loss he's glad he was able to run in such a high profile campaign and say some things that everybody else is scared to say.

The final tally was Kennedy 61%, to Campbell 39%.

Governor John Bel Edwards, who supported Campbell, issued a statement congratulating Kennedy for his victory. Edwards says he looks forward to working with Kennedy to secure additional funding for flood relief and to make long term investments in infrastructure.

It's reported that US Senator David Vitter's staff and Attorney General Jeff Landry worked to help Captain Clay Higgins, aka the Cajun John Wayne, defeat fellow Republican Scott Angelle in the 3rd District.

The political newcomer opened his acceptance speech like this.

"Well, what does a dog do when he catches a car?"

Higgins got the win over Angelle 56-44.

As expected, it was a 65-35 landslide in the 4th District with Republican state lawmaker Mike Johnson running away with the victory over Democrat Marshall Jones.

Johnson says government is too large, and it's doing too many things wrong, "And part of the reforms I'm anxious to be a part of over the next four years are going to be to try and scale back the size and scope of government for the sake of the economy."
 
 
 

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President-elect Donald Trump was in Baton Rouge Friday afternoon to support Republican John Kennedy in the US Senate race. Mr. Trump says Kennedy has worked hard for Louisianans over the years.

“Kennedy’s a proven leader, whose balanced, which is amazing, 16 budgets, returned millions of dollars to taxpayers. He’s a tax cutter, and he will be a true fighter for Louisiana,” Mr. Trump said.

Mr. Trump encouraged everyone to hit the polls on Election Day. He told supporters at the rally, if they go vote, Kennedy will win, but if they don’t, he will not. Mr. Trump says he needs Kennedy in Washington to help accomplish their agenda, including protecting the southern border.

“We’ll build the wall, that’s for sure. We’ll build the wall,” Mr. Trump said as the crowd cheered, “Well, if John’s not there, maybe we can’t build the wall. So now I know you’re going to come out.”

Democrat Foster Campbell spent Friday meeting with reporters in Baton Rouge and then had campaign stops in Alexandria and Lake Charles. He says his record speaks for itself.

“I have a record that’s very crystal clear. I have supported working people, working men and women, all my years of service in the legislature and on the Public Service Commission,” Campbell said.

Campbell says Kennedy has been back and forth on both sides of the issues for his whole career. He adds that he’s been consistent.

“I haven’t flip flopped. You know what side I’m on. I haven’t been bashful. I’ve taken on the hard, tough issues head up,” Campbell said.

 
 
 
 
 

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New audio has been released of a conversation between Capt. Clay Higgins and his ex-wife in which the 3rd Congressional District candidate suggested winning the election would help him pay child support. UL-Lafayette political science professor Pearson Cross says it’s clear Higgins didn’t know the phone conversation was being recorded, so it’s hard to say how this will impact the election.

“For people who care about this kind of thing or have it on their radar, it’s unclear if it would impel them to vote against it or vote for him because they feel like he’s been taken advantage of,” Cross said.

Higgins reportedly owes more than $100,000 in child support to ex-wife Rosemary Rothkamm-Hambrice. Cross says Higgins’ personal issues that have been arising throughout the campaign are problems that the public can relate to.

“They’re not particularly dramatic. People think you should pay your child support, but they understand if you lose your job or change jobs, you can have trouble doing that,” Cross said.

In the latest poll from the Trafalgar Group, Higgins leads Public Service Commissioner Scott Angelle 49-% to 46%. Cross says one thing that may give Angelle some hope is that voters who turn out for this runoff are different than those who voted in the Presidential election.

“With more chronic voters, Mr. Angelle may stand a better chance than Mr. Higgins, who perhaps benefited from the wave of Donald Trump enthusiasm,” Cross said.

 
 
 
 
 
 

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A new poll conducted by the University of New Orleans Survey Research Center finds Republican U.S. Senate candidate John Kennedy continues to have a huge lead over Democrat Foster Campbell in Saturday’s election.

UNO Pollster Ed Chervenak says 62%t of the 776 respondents favored Kennedy while 33% supported Campbell.

“The Republican Party pretty much has a strangle hold on the elections, particularly the national elections, the Senate. The momentum is in the Republican’s favor.”

Since the November election, Campbell has trailed Kennedy by double digits in all the polls that have been published. Chervenak says Campbell has been hurt by the lack of strong support within the Democratic Party.

“And that’s primarily among white Democrats. We’re seeing whites abandon the Democratic Party and not only voting for Republicans but now registering as Republicans.”

 
 
 

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The election cycle finally comes to an end tomorrow in Louisiana, and voter turnout is expected to be much lower than in November. Secretary of State Tom Schedler says early voter turnout was much lower for the runoff than it was in the general election.

“Now that we’ve completed early voting, we only had 171,000 voters participate. Of course you remember we had an excess of half a million in November,” Schedler said.

Schedler expects an overall voter turnout around 30% for Saturday’s election. He says voter fatigue has hit, and now people are more worried about getting ready for the holidays.

“We’re in holiday season now. People are out with holiday parties, they are maybe travelling and the like, or shopping. So I just think the interest is elsewhere,” Schedler said.

Schedler says there are 156 propositions across 44 parishes up for vote, and the US Senate race will be on the ballot statewide. He says while many parishes will only have one item on the ballot, some precincts still have heated races.

“When you look at some isolated areas like East Baton Rouge parish, the turnout will be better than that because of the interest on a local election,” Schedler said.

Polls will be open from 7:00 a.m. until 8 p.m.

 
 
 
 
 

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Life expectancy has decreased in the US for the first time in more than 20 years, according to the National Center for Health Statistics. The report found that overall life expectancy dropped by one month from 2014 to 2015. Doctor Ben Springgate with LSU Health New Orleans Internal Medicine and Public Health says this may be due to an increase in heart disease.

“Heat disease if of course linked to things like obesity, hypertension, diabetes, and so it’s very likely the increase in obesity over time in our country has contributed to this,” Springgate said.

The report found that the death rate from heart disease rose by nearly 1% last year. Springgate says life expectancy has increased in years past, because of medical advances. But he says health outcomes are declining because of people’s lifestyles.

“As much as we have advances in medicine, we have also seen other changes in society, including increased consumption of fast food, increased consumption of sugars in our diet,” Springgate said.

Springgate says obesity leads to things like diabetes, hypertension, and heart disease. According to the report, male life expectancy decreased from 76.5 over the last year, while it fell from 81.3 to 81.2 for females. He says there are steps we can take to boost life expectancy.

“If we really focus on population health approaches to improving diet, improving exercise, and trying to decrease our body weight, then we can tackle this and hopefully reverse the trend,” Springgate said.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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President-elect Donald Trump will be in Baton Rouge today to support Republican John Kennedy in the US Senate race. The visit comes after Trump and Vice President-elect Mike Pence endorsed the State Treasurer. Kennedy says he’s humbled by Mr. Trump’s visit.

“I’m honored and obviously pleased. I didn’t expect it. He’s a busy man, obviously,” Kennedy said.

Kennedy has been leading in the polls since the primary, but he says he’s not taking anything for granted. He hopes the visit from the President-elect will encourage voters to get out to the polls on Saturday.

“Really the only poll that does count is on Election Day, and we need people to go vote. Whether you vote for me or not, go vote. Now I’m not kidding you, I’d like you to vote for me,” Kennedy said.

Trump will speak in the Dow Chemical Hangar at the Baton Rouge Airport this afternoon. Democrat Foster Campbell isn’t worried Trump’s visit will give his opponent an edge on Election Day.

“That’s fine. What it means to me politically is this race is tight. He wouldn’t be coming here if it wasn’t tight. That tickles me to death,” Campbell said.

Campbell says anytime a president comes to a state it’s good for the state, so he doesn’t mind Trump visiting the Capital City. The Public Service Commissioner says he agrees with plenty of things Trump will push for after taking office.

“He’s taken some of my ideas. If he wants to have term limits, I can vote for that in about two seconds. If he wants to build roads and bridges, I’m all about that too,” Campbell said.

 
 
 
 
 

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Governor John Bel Edwards talked about some of his priorities for 2017 during a speech at the Council for a Better Louisiana annual conference. Edwards says his big goal is to ensure the state uses money from the Transportation Trust Fund in the right places, like improving the daily congestion in Baton Rouge near the I-10 Mississippi River Bridge.

“We are going to fix this problem at the Washington Street exit in Baton Rouge with a new Terrace Street exit.”

Edwards also says the Atchafalaya Basin Bridge will be widened, along with other sections of I-10 in Baton Rouge. The governor’s task force on transportation will likely support a higher gasoline tax in order to improve our highways. Edwards says our interstate system needs to be upgraded, as we saw portions of our major highways closed because of flooding this year.

“And we’re telling the folks incorporate into your design an elevation of that section of interstate that was underwater, that had to be closed because if we’re going to invest that kind of money we don’t want that to ever happen again.”

The governor says he’s proud some of the successes the state has had this year, like Medicaid expansion. Edwards added he’s looking forward to working with President-elect Trump to help address Louisiana’s needs. He says next year we’ll have the chance to enact criminal justice reform.

“We can do better on all fronts, incarceration, recidivism and public safety by simply doing what other southern conservative states like Texas, South Carolina and Georgia have done.”

 
 

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Louisiana is seeing the coldest temperatures of the season so far and many folks are finding themselves becoming more in the holiday spirit as a result. That's according to Dr. Michelle Moore, clinical psychologist with LSU Health Sciences Center. She says you could even argue the cold weather Christmas Spirit is good for the economy.


"It gets people out shopping more," said Moore. "Hopefully our local stores will get to see that benefit this weekend while it's cold."

Moore says for kids and even grownups, since Santa lives in the North Pole, we feel closer to Ole Saint Nick when we're cold. She says there are many Christmas traditions centered around cold weather.

"I think a nice moment around Christmas and in the winter is to sit by the fireplace with hot chocolate," said Moore. "You can' really do that when it's hot and it's not as fun."

Moore says we'll even become more in the holiday spirit the colder it gets.

"I think the colder it gets, yes, and if we see a few snow flurries, then we'll really feel the Christmas spirit," Moore laughed. "I think stores will be busy this weekend and the cold weather will bring everybody inside in a good way."
 
 
 

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An Affordable Housing Expo will be held in Baton Rouge this weekend for flood victims. Mike Steele with GOHSEP says there are people at different stages of recovery, so there will be a variety of housing options on display. He says people can come see manufactured and modular homes, park trailers and pre-fab housing.

“It’ll give the people a chance to actually go through these units, take a look at them, and see if any of these options may work for them as they continue their recovery,” Steele said.

Another housing option featured at the expo will be the newly popular tiny houses, which are less 500 or less square feet and they contain a kitchen, bedroom and bathroom. Steele says while a lot of people use these as permanent homes, they will also work as temporary housing options while people rebuild.

“Some people may be moving into this next phase now where they need to see what types of options like this are available. So this would be a good chance for people to tour them, see how they’re made,” Steele said.

The free expo will be held at Celtic Studios, where the disaster recovery center is set up. Steele says they’ll have a kids area with activities to keep children entertained while parents tour the homes. He says other services will also be available at the expo.

“In addition to all of the housing options, there’ll be legal services available. There’ll be realtors available. Flood insurance experts will be on hand,” Steele said.

The expo will be open from noon until 8 p.m. Friday and 9 a.m. until 3 pm Saturday.

 
 
 
 
 

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Secretary of State Tom Schedler says based on the likelihood of low turnout on Saturday’s elections, he would like to have a conversations with the legislature about ending December elections. He says it might make more sense to have the primary for federal elections in early October and the runoff in November.

“It hurts us with seniority with our Congressman and our Senator because they are elected 30 days after their freshmen class, and it affects them throughout their career with committee assignments and the like and seniority,” Schedler said.

Schedler says Louisiana is the only state that still has elections looming in December. He says it’s difficult to get voting machines delivered during the holiday season because so many trucks are being used to deliver Christmas cards and presents from online orders. He says they also have a hard time finding commissioners to work December elections.

“A lot of them are elderly and traveling visiting kids or they’re shopping or they have parties so they’re cancelling out, they can’t attend,” Schedler said.

Schedler says having the runoff in December leads to lower voter turnout because people are so fed up with elections by this time. He says he’ll talk to legislators more about this next year in the hopes of moving up the federal elections in 2018.

“Everything would conclude with the presidential election, and that’s the way every other state in the country does it with the exception of Louisiana. We’re the only one in the country that is sitting there trying to finish an election cycle for this year,” Schedler said.

 
 
 
 
 
 

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The two remaining U.S. House races in Louisiana are heating up as the election is only two days away. In the 3rd Congressional District, two Republicans are facing off for the open seat.

ULM Political Science Professor John Sutherlin says Clay Higgins has taken to social media portraying himself as the Cajun Donald Trump and that’s brought in supporters.

“We always say turnout, turnout but it is import. If there is a significant number 20%-25% African American turnout on Saturday, you’d have to give the advantage to Scott Angelle.”

Sutherlin says Higgin’s opponent, Scott Angelle, is far more moderate and he expects African Americans will be drawn to him. He says Higgins has been so successful because he’s riding a wave of anti-establishment politicians.

“I think he’s done a fairly good job of putting Scott Angelle into a category of a career politician.”

There seems to be less excitement in the northwestern part of the state in the 4th Congressional District race with Republican Mike Johnson and Democrat Marshall Jones. Sutherlin says Johnson is projected to win this seat.

“If you had to say where it was right now it would be hard to say that it’s not a 60-40 race at this point, perhaps even higher depending on African American turnout, depending on white Democrats.”

 
 
 

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Tis the season for holiday parties, and that means your company Christmas party too. Tulane business professor Dr. Mark Rosa says now that we’re out of the recession, he expects most companies will throw parties this year.

“The economy is doing much better. I think that would be fairly routine at this point for companies to offers some type of holiday get-together,” Rosa said.

Rosa encourages everyone to attend their company’s holiday party. He says corporations put on these events so that employees can get together and socialize. He says it’s important to circulate at the party and detach from technology.

“People don’t mingle enough. You end up hanging around with the people in your own department, and you don’t walk across the room to introduce yourself to somebody else,” Rosa said.

Rosa says people should avoid “talking shop” at their office parties and keep the conversation light, and they should avoid running out early. He says people can have fun at their company parties, but says moderation is key.

“I think everything is in moderation. We can drink, we can dance, we can be with our friends and colleagues, but it’s just everything in moderation,” Rosa said.

 
 
 
 
 

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A report from Associated Builders and Contractors ranks Louisiana as the best business climate for construction. Vice President of Governmental Affairs with ABC of Louisiana, John Walters, says that’s due in large part to legislation state lawmakers have passed that benefits the construction industry.


“Louisiana passed right to work legislation, which gave employers the ability to not be forced to join a union, Davis-Bacon prevailing wage provisions were passed by the legislature, the elimination of project labor agreements,” Walters said.

Walters says the report shows you can have a very good career in the construction industry and there’s a demand for those workers.

“They need skilled, qualified people to fill some of those roles, and so we spend a great deal of time and effort in training and education trying to make sure there is a skilled, qualified workforce in Louisiana,” Walters said.

Another ABC report ranked Louisiana 8th for year-to-year changes in the construction unemployment rate. Walters says that’s because projects come and go in the Bayou State. But he’s optimistic that this new ranking will persuade more companies to build in Louisiana.

“A ranking like this shows that if you are coming to Louisiana to build a facility or expand your facility, that our environment certainly lends itself to have a good set of workers,” Walters said.

 
 
 
 
 
 

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Cold temperatures are on the way to the Bayou State. That’s according to state climatologist Barry Keim, who says it’s time for Louisianans to break out the winter gear.

“We have a large dome of Canadian air that’s about to settle in over the eastern half of the United States, and of course this includes Louisiana and the rest of the Gulf Coast. As a result, we can expect much colder temperatures to occur across the state,” Keim said.

Keim says people in some areas of the state will want to bring an umbrella with them today, and high temperatures will only be in the 40s for most of the state.

“Today is expected to stay cloudy and cool with some chance for additional rainfall because we’re still just close enough to this frontal boundary that’s anchored offshore from Louisiana,” Keim said.

Keim says below freezing temperatures will arrive before the weekend starts.

“By Friday and Saturday morning, that front is going to push its way on through southward, and the cold air is going to arrive in Louisiana with a vengeance. We’re looking at temperatures in the 20s across the northern half of Louisiana and 30s across the southern half,” Keim said.

Keim says we’ll go back into a warming stage by early next week.

 
 
 
 
 
 

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A landmark mental health reform bill co-authored by Republican U.S Senator Bill Cassidy is on its way to be signed into law by the President. Cassidy says this measure will expand access to resources for those who need treatment for mental illnesses.

“There are portions of the bill that will work to increase the number of psychiatrists, psychologists, clinical social workers and others to provide more access to those who have mental health needs.”

Cassidy says this legislation will also keep mentally ill individuals from going to jail and instead allow them to receive out-patient treatment. He says family members will also have an easier time to converse with doctors about the mental health of a loved one.

“What’s the treatment plan going for, what medicine they’re on. We try and clarify that yes, the doctor can communication with a family member who is the care taker of an adult patient.”

The Mental Health Reform Act of 2016 also strengthens suicide prevention. And he says the measure will provide more funding for the massive opioid crisis.

“There’s a billion dollars to help states and communities. They will apply for the money to put in programs to help address the epidemic and death related to that addiction.”

 
 

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LSU releases the details on defensive coordinator Dave Aranda’s new three-year contract extension that also makes him the associate head coach. Tiger Rag Editor Cody Worsham says he’s earned the distinction of being the highest paid assistant in college football.

“Wherever he’s been he has produced and to keep away any potential suitors, which I’m sure there are many, LSU gave him a lot of money and I think he deserved every dollar.”

Aranda’s contract runs until March of 2020 and includes a first year salary of 1.8 million dollars. It goes up to 1.9 million in the final year. Worsham expects whoever is hired as the offensive coordinator will receive a similar salary.

“They’re going to invest. That’s the whole approach now with Ed Orgeron is to make him the CEO and to delegate out to bright minds at the coordinator spots and we’ll see how sustainable it is.”

Aranda’s deal is pending approval from the LSU Board of Supervisors. Worsham says the contract contains buyout language that favors LSU, which means Aranda should be here for awhile…

“He doesn’t strike me as the head coaching type, he strikes me as a guy who wants to run a defense. Wants to be involved in the x’s and o’s and the nitty gritty of a defense. So, I think he’s happy at LSU and LSU is certainly happy to have him.”

(photo courtesy of TigerRag.com)  
 
 
 
 

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The US House Appropriations Committee has approved a continuing resolution that contains $1.2 billion in Community Development Block Grants for Louisiana flood relief.

The governor’s communications director Richard Carbo says they still have a long way to go, but they’re thankful for the support their seeing from Congress.

“We know homeowners need additional help to rebuild. Communities and businesses need to rebuild, and so the governor is working closely with the entire congressional delegation to get the assistance down as quickly as possible,” Carbo said.

Carbo says it’s not the full amount they’re requesting, but they’re pleased with this allocation, which will be used to help flooded homeowners. He adds that Congress should be voting on the proposal by the end of the week, which will also contain dollars to fund other flood repair projects.

“There’s also going to be additional assistance for the Army Corps of Engineers for highway and infrastructure projects, and we’re still waiting to hear from Congress what those allocations will be for Louisiana,” Carbo said.

Carbo says the governor will head back to Washington in the spring to seek the additional funding Louisiana needs for flood recovery. He says the federal government has outlined the guidelines for allocating the $438 million the state has already received, and the state is working on the plan for spending the money.

“We’ll return that plan to the federal government for approval. So it’s still several months away, but the process is still moving along at a record pace,” Carbo said.

 
 
 
 
 

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The Republican Party of Louisiana has confirmed President-elect Donald Trump will be in Baton Rouge on Friday for a get out to vote rally encouraging voters to cast their ballot for Republican John Kennedy for U.S. Senate.

UL-Lafayette Political Science Professor Pearson Cross expects a huge frenzy of supporters to be in attendance.

“Never having held political office, grabbing the highest office in the land. I mean, it’s a story that people can really relate to. He’s quicksilver right now, he’s lightening in a bottle.”

The event is open to the general public, but they must RSVP. Cross says Trump understands the importance of having another Republican in the Senate. He says he’ll have a clear message to voters.

“You elected me to make some changes and John Kennedy is part of the change I’m hoping to make. Please elect John Kennedy and help me do what I’m trying to do.”

The event beings at noon inside the Dow Chemical Hanger at the Baton Rouge Airport. Cross says Trump’s visit isn’t really necessary given Kennedy is leading Democrat Foster Campbell by double digits in the polls, but it’s a nice gesture by the President-elect.

“The President would come back to Louisiana, a state that supported him very strongly and one of those states where he was quite popular and it’s got to help John Kennedy.”

 
 

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