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Louisiana leads nation in native-born residents

Michelle Southern reporting.
According to data published by the New York Times, Louisiana has the most native-born residents in the country. The newspaper indicates they found nearly four out of five Louisiana citizens were born in Louisiana. 

 Demographer Elliott Stonecipher says this is due, in large part, to the fact that we have high out-migration numbers. 
"I mean you end up with nobody new moving in, a lot of people who were relatively newer moved out," said Stonecipher. "And that's what raises the number of people that are native born."

Last month the Wall Street Journal published a study that found the top five happiest cities are all in The Bayou State. Stoneciper says many people who are born here are instilled with no desire to leave.

"There's no question that they are staying," said Stonecipher. "We're down to 4.6 million people who far, disproportionately, want to be here."

Stonecipher says another reason so many Louisianians never leave is because they don't have the means to do so. He says along with that there are many people here who don't want to ever live outside of Louisiana because they are satisfied in The Bayou State.

"There are states immediately to our left and even Florida that don't have a state income tax," said Stonecipher. "But people are still here because they want to be."
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Candidates qualify for 6th Congressional District

Eight candidates have qualified so far for the soon to be vacated 6th Congressional District seat.  This race is highlighted by Democratic former governor Edwin Edwards and Republicans Dan Claitor, Paul Dietzel, and Garret Graves.  

Edwards says he was first in Congress back in 1965 and he's anxious to go back.
"And I hope in some small way I can make a contribution.  I do console myself by telling myself and my friends, 'I can't make it any worse than it is, but I'll try to make it better.'"
He acknowledges that the sixth district is a conservative area.  But Edwards feels this election will not be about political parties, but about principles and performance.
"I'm experienced and certainly dedicated to the public good."
Republican Garret Graves says Edwards brings a certain circus-like mentality to the race.
"I think that it is more so a distraction than it is substantive.  But we're going to do everything we can to make this race a substantive race."
The candidate field in this race is expected to be very crowded.  Graves says with a field like this, candidates will have to distinguish themselves.
"By talking about their ideas, their experience, and their solutions rather than being stuck on the mud slinging and the personal attacks."
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EBR authorities release image of vehicle involved in fatal shooting of 7-year-old

The East Baton Rouge Sheriff's office has released a picture of the vehicle that was involved in last weekend's fatal shooting of a seven-year-old boy in Baton Rouge. Sheriff Sid Gautreaux says surveillance video from a nearby residence captured a light-colored, four-door sedan in the area when a shot was fired into another vehicle, killing Terrez Coleman.

 "We're asking anyone that knows anything about this vehicle or this shooting, we need you to call the sheriff's office at (225) 389-5073," Gautreaux said. 
Gautreaux says through private donations, a 10-thousand dollar reward is being offered, along with the 25-hundred dollar reward from Crime Stoppers, for information that leads to the arrest and indictment of the gunman.
Gautreaux says at this time his detectives believe this was a random act of violence. He hopes the reward money and seriousness of the crime will lead to someone providing an important tip in the case. 
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Cassidy and Landrieu join US Senate race

Michelle Southern reporting.
Incumbent US Senator Mary Landrieu and her main challenger, Republican Congressman Bill Cassidy, have officially signed up for the Senate race in the November 4th election. Today was the first day of qualifying which runs through Friday. Landrieu, who has held the office for 18 years, says this campaign is about leadership.

"It's about being effective and I've helped lead this delegation in delivering very significant pieces of legislation that have helped our state," said Landrieu.

Cassidy says it's important to remove Senator Landrieu from Congress so the GOP can regain control. He says the incumbent's ties to President Obama and his policies hurt Louisiana. 

But Landrieu says Cassidy is doing everything he can to avoid talking about the real issues of this campaign.

"Because his record is very sparse and very modest," says Landrieu. "So he really can't talk about a record of leadership so he's got to talk about all sorts of other things and unfortunately you will continue to hear that."

But Cassidy says most people agree that this country is going in the wrong direction under Mr. Obama and Landrieu is part of the problem for supporting the President 97% of the time.

"If she really thinks that supporting Barack Obama and Obamacare are important to Louisiana's families, then clearly we differ," said Cassidy.

Cassidy says his main message to voters leading up to election day will be that we can do better than we're doing right now.

"We have to ask why Landrieu is supporting Obama almost all the time,'" Cassidy said.

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White: Common Core plans to move forward

State education superintendent John White says public schools are moving forward with Common Core education standards after a judge lifts the Jindal administration's suspension of contracts for the tests tied to Common Core. White says it's time that we focus on the welfare of the student.
"Everyday we take attention away from the classroom and we keep it in the courtroom, is a day of opportunity lost for the young people of Louisiana," White said. 

White says students in grades third through eighth can anticipate taking new english and math tests as part of the Common Core standards. Despite the ruling, Commissioner of Administration Kristy Nichols is still concerned a legal contract is not in place to give out the exam known as PARCC. 
"Our view is that there's a defect in the way they've structured the contracts," Nichols said. 
After Nichols spoke, White says Judge Todd Hernandez's ruling is clear and it says the current contract can be used to provide the tests tied to Common Core.
"I'm a little sad and a little disappointed that we just don't take what the judge said to be what is, and just move ahead and talk about student learning." 
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On first day of qualifying, analyst says voter turnout will decide US Senate race

Michelle Southern reporting.
The three day qualifying period for the November election begins today. The "big one" of course is the US Senate race between major players the incumbent Dem. Mary Landrieu and Rep. challenger Bill Cassidy. Political analyst Clancy Dubos says this race has been seesawing back and forth and that will continue.

"There will be 10 to 15 million dollars spent by the time it's all over," said Dubos. "And probably 10 million or more just spent by the Republicans and their allies against Mary Landrieu. And she will spend probably 6 to 10 million dollars herself."

Dubos says every time Landrieu runs it's a very tough race and the toughest she's ever run and this one is no exception. He says the money is all about the "air game" but it'll be the voter turnout that will decide this election. 

Dubos says tea party favorite Rob Maness will also have a significant impact on this ballot.

"He takes probably 95% of his votes, or more, from Cassidy," said Dubos. "So his candidacy could help Landrieu run first but the odds still favor a runoff in December."

Dubos says this race will probably have one of the largest turnouts that we've had in the last decade.

He says there's been so much money spent on commercials which just reminds people to get out and vote.

"And then it's a question of getting them out on Election Day and beforehand because there's been an increasing trend in early voting," said Dubos.

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Judge lifts suspension of Common Core

Judge Todd Hernandez sided with Common Core proponents, Tuesday, and lifted the Jindal administration's suspension of testing contracts tied to the controversial education standards.  This lawsuit was filed by teachers and parents who claim Governor Jindal overstepped his Constitutional authority when he halted the implementation of Common Core.  

An attorney for the plaintiffs, Stephen Kupperman, says they're obviously pleased with the ruling.
"He viewed everything on the evidence as it was presented to him, and then the arguments of counsel.  And I think he was convinced, as were we, that this was the right thing to do."
In his written ruling, Hernandez says it would be a detriment to teachers, students, and schools if he did not rule as he did.   The governor's office says they will appeal the ruling.  Kupperman says three plaintiffs took the stand to testify about their concerns for their children and the state. 
"I think he was clearly influenced by that.  He listened very carefully and closely during all of the testimony."
A statement from Governor Jindal's office says that they believe the judge is wrong on the facts and the law and hopes he will reconsider this ruling at the full trial.  Kupperman says there is still a lot of legal wrangling left to go, but he believes the Common Core aligned testing will be used at the end of this school year. 
"Which is really what BESE agreed to do back in 2010 and what the legislature pretty much commanded for the state in 2012."
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Brother of St. Tammany DA charged with sexual battery

The Covington Police Department has arrested Richard Reed, the brother of the St. Tammany Parish District Attorney Walter Reed, on charges of sexual battery. Police Chief Tim Lentz says the incident occurred earlier this month when police were called to a restaurant.

"There was an incident involving Richard Reed where he'd flash some district attorney credentials at a traffic stop involving an intoxicated woman," said Lentz.

Lentz says he became suspicious of Reed’s intentions, so he reviewed surveillance video from the restaurant and what he saw was disturbing.

"Mr Reed is observed in the video groping the woman's breasts and placing his hands in the area of her genitalia on more than one occasion," said Lentz. "When our victim realized what was taking place she resisted his advances with violence."

Lentz says Reed was taken into custody last night.

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AG files lawsuit against State Farm

Louisiana Attorney General Buddy Caldwell filed a lawsuit today against State Farm claiming the insurance company has created a culture of unsafe business practices when it comes to vehicle repairs. Assistant A-G Randy Ishee says there are multiple cases where State Farm has forced shops to use sub-standard parts to complete vehicle repairs.

"They're getting a cheaper repair, and in some cases, when they're not getting enough money because the insurance company doesn't want to pay the bill," said Ishee. "they have to cut corners."

In a written statement, State Farm says the accusations in the lawsuit are not in line with its mission and history of vehicle safety advancements. But Ishee says State Farm steers its customers involved in a car accident to repair shops, where cost-savings and not safety is the primary goal.

"We call them knockoff parts and junkyard parts that are being used for these repairs," said Ishee. "It has made the automobiles very unsafe to be on the street and the customer is not getting what they paid for."

State Farm holds the largest share of auto insurance policies in Louisiana. Caldwell says the suit aims to change State Farm’s practice of using certain repair sites so that the vehicle can be repaired as cheaply as possible.

"And if State Farm chooses not to do the right thing then we want the other companies to do the right thing," said Caldwell. "Then maybe customers will go to companies that will treat them right."

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Crawfish Shoe Craze

Michelle Southern reporting.
A Nike shoe designed for skateboarders and inspired by Louisiana mudbugs is generating some major buzz. It's called the "Crawfish Shoe" and an employee at Rukus Board Shop in Baton Rouge worked with Nike to design the shoe. 

19-year-old Hunter Hulin says their Nike rep gave them the opportunity to customize a shoe about a year and a half ago.

"And we just went for it and came up with a story and an idea that not only represented our store but represented our state," said Hulin. "Nike was really excited about it and made it happen for us."

Hulin says people lined up outside the store a day before the shoe was released last Saturday and shelves were cleared throughout the state that day.

The $105 Crawfish shoe will be available to the world on Saturday. 

Hulin says the shoe is red with maroon speckled suede to represent the crawfish.

"And on the back heel is quilted yellow leather which represents the corn," said Hulin. "There is a newspaper print on the mid-panel and on every shoe that newspaper print is different so no two shoes are the same."

Hulin says the hype surrounding the crawfish shoe has been totally insane.

"Between the three shops in Lafayette and Mandeville and here we're completely sold out but we're trying to get more," said Hulin. "But the phones have been ringing off the hook cause everyone wants to be first in line for that next shipment."

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Pit-Bull Mix attacks elderly Houma woman

Michelle Southern reporting.
The Houma Police Department says a 71-year-old woman is in the hospital after being brutally attacked by her son's pit-bull mix last night. Chief Todd Duplantis says cops responded to the woman's residence around 8:30pm.

Duplantis says the victim's son was not at home at the time of the attack. He says the woman was taken to the hospital with severe lacerations to her face, hands and arms. Duplantis says animal control took the attack male dog into custody and another female dog that was also inside the residence at the time.

Duplantis says as of right now the motive of the attack remains under investigation but they have an idea what might have provoked it, "However we do know that the female was in heat at the time of the incident."

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Private sector jobs show record growth

Louisiana's private sector labor force grew to an all-time high in July.  Statistics show just over 2.1 million people employed across the state.

Louisiana Workforce Commission Executive Director Curt Eysink says several industry sectors hit all-time employment records in July.
"Construction, professional and business services, education, healthcare, leisure and hospitality, trade, transportation, and utilities.  So, we're seeing very good growth and very good results in a number of sectors."
While the labor force grew to record numbers in July, the state's unemployment rate rose to 5.4 percent, up from 5 percent in June.  Eysink thinks that may partially be due to more people joining the workforce in Louisiana to look for work.
"I think probably what we're seeing is people from other states, perhaps those who are more mobile and so forth, might be in Louisiana looking for work now."
He says every part of the state will benefit from the employment growth.  Eysink says the commission has looked at short-term and long-term forecast models and they show the job market in Louisiana has a strong future. 
"Both of those forecasts show very steep growth for Louisiana in the next couple of years.  And very strong growth, not quite as steep, but kind of levels out a little bit in the later years, but still strong growth through 2022."
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United offers nonstop flights from Lafayette to Denver

Beginning today, United Airlines is offering nonstop flights from Lafayette to Denver, CO.  Flights will be offered seven days a week departing at 4PM.

Lafayette Regional Airport Director Michael Burrows says, in part, this flight is in response to oil and gas industry workers traveling to the northwest corridor.
"It's been a real attractive flight for them, especially being direct."
Burrows says the airport will receive additional revenue through landing fees and passenger facility charges.  He says this direct flight is not only attractive to the oil and gas industry, but recreational travelers will take advantage of it as well. 
"During spring break, a lot of people from the Lafayette area, and the area in general, go to Denver for ski season."
It does appears the direct flight to Denver is popular.  Burrows says planes are looking pretty full through the first month of service.

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Researchers study details of feral hog damage in Louisiana

Michelle Southern reporting.
The LSU Ag Center is conducting research to determine the extent of damage done by feral hogs in Louisiana. Forestry economist Shaun Tanger says they've been getting reports from farmers and landowners about property damage, but they want to get a better picture of the problem with a couple of detailed surveys.

"We're going to ask specifically about revenue losses, the types of commodities and also costs related to feral hog damage," said Tanger.

Tanger says they want to get an idea of overall damage feral hogs are causing and, from there, what can be done about the problem. He says Louisiana has never done a study like this.

"We want to see how we compare to other states nearby," said Tanger. 
"Texas produced a report that said their damage was around $50 million dollars. I've seen, for the entire country, damage estimates of up to $1.5 billion."

Tanger says the animals cause major damage to agricultural crops because they can be used for wallows, for forage and for protection. He says the first step to reaching a resolution to the problem is to find out exactly how big the problem is.

"From there it'll be easier to work with legislatures to see what policies we can make to fix that problem," said Tanger.

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Education website goes down; malicious or unintentional?

Superintendent of Education John White told the Baton Rouge Advocate the education department's website was down Monday because the Jindal administration refused to make a payment.

A spokesperson for the division of administration says that was not the case and called it a technical glitch.
Executive director of the Associated Professional Educators of Louisiana, Keith Courville, says either way, it's disappointing.

"If such action is intentional, then it is petty, vindictive, and immature. And if it was unintentional and that really shows people are paying attention to the nuts and bolts of what we need to be doing."
Education department's website was up and running again by midday. A statement from the D-O-E said they are glad that the bill was paid.  
Jindal's office and the department of education are involved in a legal battle over Common Core. Courville hopes that wasn't the reason why a website that contains important information for teachers was temporarily down.
 "Our educators have nothing to do with these court cases, yet they are the ones being victimized when bills aren't being paid." 
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Denham Springs couple arrested after heroin pass-out in vehicle with young children

Michelle Southern reporting.
The Jefferson Parish Sheriff's office says a Denham Springs couple is under arrest after being found passed out in a vehicle with their two young children in the back seat. Col John Fortunato says when investigators were called out by concerned citizens to the parking lot of a closed restaurant in Metairie Sunday afternoon around 2:30.

"They determined that an adult male and an adult female were experiencing some type of medical problems while sitting inside their vehicle," said Fortunato.

Forunato says inside the vehicle with 41-year-old Michael Pierce and 34-year-old Melanie Pierce were there children, ages 4 and 11 months.

He says when the couple was questioned, the suspects both admitted to injecting heroin earlier in the day.

"It appeared as though they were having an overdose," Fortunato said. "The children were removed from the vehicle."

Fortunato says the suspects were each charged with possession of heroin, possession of drug paraphernalia, illegal possession of a controlled dangerous substance in the presence of a minor and child endangerment.

He says they did find a small amount of heroin in the vehicle.

"Both suspects admitted they had a $200 a day heroin addiction," said Fortunato.

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EBRSO looking for suspect in drive-by murder of 7-year-old

Michelle Southern reporting.
The East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff's office says they are still looking for the person or persons responsible for the death of a 7-year-old child who was shot while traveling in a car with his family. 

Spokeswoman Casey Hicks says it happened after a shopping trip over the weekend when the family of five was in motion and another car passed in the other lane.

"They heard what sounded like a pop, and that's when they pulled over and realized two of their children in the backseat had been shot," said Hicks.

She said one child was was grazed and she's going to be okay, but 7-year-old Terrez Coleman of Baker was pronounced dead at the scene.

Hicks says they are so far not determined a motive for the incident, but so far it appears to have been a random shooting. She says they are looking for the public's help in this tragic case.

"If there is anyone out there that knows something or may have seen something suspicious, please contact Crimestoppers," said Hicks.

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Verbal argument between two women and a man turns deadly

A Shreveport woman is facing a charge of second-degree murder after she allegedly stabbed a 40-year-old man during an argument.
Shreveport Police Corporal Marcus Hines says the victim, Isaac McClain, had a verbal dispute with his live-in girlfriend. Hines says the girlfriend called her friend, 36-year-old Valerie Bass, to the residence and that's when the homicide occurred.

"Ms. Bass allegedly produced a knife stabbing, Mr. McClain once in the neck," Hines said. "McClain did die shortly after arrival at University Health Medical Center."
The slaying occurred Sunday morning. Hines says Bass was detained at the scene of the home and arrested she was interviewed by detectives 
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Louisiana Economic Development launches website for jobs

Louisiana Economic Development has created a new, free website to help meet recruitment needs of Louisiana employers, while also being a centralized hub for job seekers.  Louisiana Job Connection will accelerate the job/applicant search process for both employers and potential employees.  

Executive Director Kristi Williams says this is not your typical job board site.
"What this site does is it tells you automatically whether or not you are qualified for the jobs that are in the site."
LouisianaJobConnection-dot-com will automatically match job seekers with jobs for which they are most qualified.  Job seekers just need to fill out their information and the site will immediately notify you of available jobs that match your skill set.  Williams says if you have a page on the website LinkedIn, the process is even easier. 
"You can make the LinkedIn data your data in the site so you don't have to re-enter information."
Williams says businesses have been posting their available positions on the website for the last few months.  She says they are excited about the website because they see its ease of use and recognize the benefit it can have to their businesses.  Williams says the site is not only free for job seekers, but to any business in the state, too.
"Anybody who pays taxes in the state of Louisiana as a business can put their information in."
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Common Core courtroom battle continues today

Another court hearing takes place today regarding the controversial Common Core education standards. Council for a Better Louisiana President Barry Erwin says at issue today, is whether Governor Bobby Jindal violated his constitutional authority when he took steps to suspend the testing contracts that are tied to Common Core.

"Is the governor acting properly in what he's doing and his administration in trying to scuttle Common Core and testing?" 
Common Core supporters were victorious last week when Judge Tim Kelley denied a request from 17 lawmakers to halt the implementation of the academic standards. Erwin says that ruling is not a predictor of what will happen today.
"These cases are totally different. Different sets of the people bringing the cases, different people being sued." 
Today's hearing is the result of a lawsuit filed by parents and teachers who support the Common Core standards and the judge hearing  the case has already denied a motion to dismiss any parts of the case. 

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