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Drone bill passes Senate on second try

Michelle Southern reporting.
A day after rejecting a bill that would regulate certain drones in Louisiana, Baton Rouge Senator Dan Claitor ended up getting enough votes to advance his legislation Tuesday. SB330 would prohibit unmanned flying devices from taking pictures of private property with several exceptions.

Claitor wants laws to keep up with technology.

"The purpose of this bill is on the very basic level of," said Claitor. "Should someone be able to take a look in your backyard and through your back window simply because they have the technology to do it?"

Claitor says buying a device that can fly into your neighbors yard and look around is extremely easy and relatively inexpensive.

The legislation failed Monday by a vote of 21-15, then it passed yesterday 22-16.

New Orleans Senator Karen Carter Peterson says you can't stop technology from happening.

"I don't think we can accomplish what you're trying to accomplish with this bill," said Peterson. "People can accomplish exactly what you're trying to prohibit, just not with a drone."

Claitor says he decided to bring the bill back up so he could better explain it.

He went over some of the exceptions to the law which include allowing drones to be used in agriculture, crime scene processing, television filming and more.

Claitor says his bill would also prohibit distribution of images captured with a drone.

"So when I fly into Senator Nevers backyard, I can take a picture and I can send it immediately to the internet, if I wish to, through the handy dandy application" Claitor said. "It is a lower level penalty when you distribute it."

The bill now heads to the House.

(picture from brookstone.com of $370 drone that takes pictures)

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Most parents who are involved in the state's voucher program are pleased

A survey released by two pro voucher groups shows 92-percent of the parents who have children participating in the state's voucher program are satisfied and happy with their child's academic progress. President of the Louisiana Federation for Children, Ann Duplessis, says the survey sends a strong message to those who oppose vouchers.

"The survey clearly says that parents want choice, parents want to have the opportunity to create or to provide a better educational opportunity for their kids," Duplessis said. 
The Black Alliance for Educational Options also helped put the survey together.
The state's voucher program, also called the Louisiana Scholarship program, uses state funding to send children, from low income families attending poorly performing public schools, to an approved private school. Duplessis says 87-hundred students have already been awarded a scholarship for next school year.

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5-Day Festival International in Lafayette begins today

Michelle Southern reporting.
The massive Festival International which brings in music and art lovers from all over the world, kicks off today in Lafayette. The annual 5-day festival is always held during the last full week of April.

Kelly Strenge with the Lafayette Convention and Visitors Bureau says this is a multicultural festival that draws thousands.
"We have a large draw from Louisiana and tourism wise of course from Texas, Mississippi and all over the state," said Strenge. "The Festival International draws journalists and visitors and musicians from all over the world."

Strenge says the free festival is a celebration of diversity in music.
She says historic downtown Lafayette is transformed into an entertainment complex featuring six music stages, food court areas, street musicians and more.

"It's very affordable and very easy to get to," said Strenge. "It's just five days of food, music, fine crafts from Louisiana and a world market."

Strenge says they are expecting between 300 to 350 thousand people to attend the festival through the weekend.

You can get more information at festivalinternational.com.
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Bill requiring dogs to be restrained in trucks on interstates squeaks by

Michelle Southern reporting.
A bill requiring dogs to be restrained in the beds of pickup trucks passes on the House floor to the tune of "Who Let the Dogs Out" and heads to Senate. The measure by Kenner Representative Tom Willmott got a close 53-34 go-ahead vote. He says a dog loose in the back of a truck that's going 70 on an interstate is extremely unsafe.

"Think about it, if a dog falls out of a truck in front of you, it's just like an unsecured load," said Willmott. "It creates emergency situations."

Willmott says it's a public safety issue and not to mention when a dog flys out of the back of a truck onto an interstate, it's not a pretty site.

But Bossier City Representative Jeff Thompson is one of the 34 lawmakers who voted against this bill.

He says hunters in his area have no choice but to use interstates when going out with their dogs.

"We've got I-20, 220 and 49 and to go anywhere in town you're going to have to be on these portions of the road," said Thompson.

New Orleans Representative Helena Moreno took to the House Floor to share an experience she had with a dog falling out of a truck in front of her on an interstate.

Willmott says there are three acceptable ways the dog could be restrained: either in a crate, on a short enough rope or in a car top carrier.


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