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Legislative leaders and Governor John Bel Edwards agree another special legislative session is likely to address the state’s looming $1.3 billion dollar fiscal cliff. In July 2018, over a billion dollars in temporary sales taxes expire. President of the Council for a Better Louisiana Barry Erwin says the push to address this latest fiscal problem is not there.

“There’s not the sense of urgency there on half of them and I just don’t see any movement or traction that’s going to get us out of here without having to come back.”

Democrats are blocking the financing bill for construction and criminal justice reform measures in an effort to push Republicans to develop a budget balancing plan rather than going to a special session. Erwin says this kind of move is part of the political process.

“They are efforts to jam the process a little bit, to force conversation and negotiation if it’s possible and certainly you can’t rule that out that it might happen but it also creates a lot of ill will.”

This legislative session is set to end June 8th. Erwin says waiting to the last minute to come up with solutions always happens during the session but…

“When you start reading the tea leaves or at least looking at the activity and the things you’re hearing, you don’t really get a sense that there is a plan or really any movement to get us over the fiscal cliff during this session.”



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The House rejects a proposal to prohibit children under 12 from using Uzis or automatic weapons. Shreveport Representative Barbara Norton authored the measure after a child in Arizona accidentally killed a gun safety instructor with an Uzi.

“There is no need for a child 12-years-old and under to have a machine gun where he or she is responsible for taking someone’s life,” Norton said.

Lafayette Representative Stuart Bishop raised concerns about automatic weapons not being defined in the bill. He says the bill would not allow kids to use pellet guns either, which he says many children have to learn about gun safety.

“Under this my child is not allowed to have a paintball gun or an airsoft gun, and so I’m trying to figure it out. I really don’t want to go to jail for 6 months,” Bishop said.

Norton argues the measure is about keeping children safe. But River Ridge Representative Kirk Talbot asked why the bill only included automatic weapons. He says any gun can be dangerous in the hands of an unsupervised child.

“A single-shot rifle in the hands of a 9-year-old unsupervised or by a careless, irresponsible parent is just as dangerous as a fully automatic weapon,” Talbot said.

The measure failed on a 59-21 vote.



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NOAA predicts an above average 2017 Atlantic hurricane season with the potential for as many as 17 named storms and a half a dozen hurricanes. Acting administrator Ben Friedman says they are anticipating a weak or nonexistent El Nino, which typically leads to an above normal season.

“The Atlantic hurricane season will produce a range of 11 to 17 tropical storms. Five to 9 of those storms will become hurricanes,” Friedman said.

Friedman says they predict two to four of those hurricanes will become major hurricanes of category 3 strength or higher. Freidman says when an El Nino is nonexistent, conditions are more conducive for tropical development.

“Near or above average sea surface temperatures across the tropical Atlantic and the Caribbean and average or weaker than average vertical wind shear across that same region,” Friedman said.

Friedman says their predictions cover the entire 6 month season in the Atlantic. He says they do not predict when, where, or how these storms might hit and if they will make landfall. He says we can’t prevent hurricanes, but we can prepare.

“It is very important for us to prepare for this season now. The most dangerous part of a storm is not the wind. It’s not the rain. It’s the flooding and the storm surge that occurs afterward, and so we need to be prepared,” Friedman said.



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A state judge has ruled Ronald Gasser’s arrest in a similar road rage incident can be admitted in his trial in the shooting death of former-NFL player Joe McKnight. Legal analyst Tim Meche says like most states, Louisiana allows prior incidents of a similar nature into evidence if it is relevant. But he says in this case, it’s a stretch for the prosecutor.

“I’d be very careful and cautious about using it because it’s so remote in time and it’s not exactly a similar enough incident,” Meche said.

The incident occurred 10 years ago at the same intersection in Terrytown where Gasser allegedly gunned down McKnight. Meche says the ruling to allow this as evidence is wide open for reversal on appeal. But he says if the incident is brought up in the courtroom, the defense could even use it to their advantage.

“The defense can argue, ‘My goodness ladies and gentlemen, look what they’re doing to this guy. They’re bringing up an incident that happened 10 years ago, and they’re doing that because they have a weak case,’” Meche said.

In the decade-old case, Gasser was charged with a misdemeanor and never prosecuted. Meche says the prosecutor should think twice about using the prior incident as evidence. He says it’s possible with Gasser’s testimony, it could backfire.

“Probably the defendant will testify, and he’ll be able to explain that away. It’s not as powerful as one might think,” Meche said.

A trial date has not been set. 


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With only two weeks left in the legislative session, lawmakers are not close to agreeing on a budget for next fiscal year and addressing the loss of over a billion dollars in temporary taxes that are set to expire in July 2018. That’s according to Jeremy Alford of LaPolitics.com.

“Two weeks to go, there’s no compromise on the budget yet. Next year’s $1.3 billion fiscal cliff isn’t likely to be addressed in full.”

Alford says the majority in the House despise creating new taxes to solve a looming budget deficit, while the majority in the Senate and the governor believe that is the solution. He says there is no clear path for where this session will end.

“It’s a wait and see process, a lot of what’s going on is a political game of chase. The House is staring at the Senate, the Senate is staring at the House, the legislature is staring at the governor and I would bet the governor is wondering the same thing as us, exactly what’s going to happen.”

Alford says while action on the budget is stagnant, the legislature is moving ahead with criminal justice reform. He says the package that lawmakers will agree on is not as ambitious as what the governor originally proposed.

“But I think the governor, at the end of the day, will be able to say he brokered some compromises and put some notable policies on the books.”



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More people may have been affected by the Great Flood of 2016 than we thought, according to a recent LSU survey. Dr. Michael Henderson with the LSU Public Policy Research Lab says 18 percent of residents took on water during the March and August floods. He says 30 percent of workers were also impacted.

“We found that statewide about one in five people lost income as a result of flooding, and in the Baton Rouge area it’s more like one in three,” Henderson said.

Henderson says 14 percent of respondents say they housed a flood victim during the aftermath of the storms. He says while the impact could be felt in almost all corners of the state, some areas were more affected by the rising waters.

“You look in areas like Baton Rouge, that’s where you get the biggest. In parts of north Louisiana, there’s been significant impact, and then in parts of the Acadiana area as well,” Henderson said.

The survey also finds the share of low income residents affected by the flood was nearly twice the rate of higher income households who were impacted. Henderson says respondents did not give favorable ratings to FEMA or the state government for their response to the floods.

“We asked people to rate from 0 to 100 how good was the job. So in the Baton Rouge area the average rating was a 54. So that’s not a super rating, and then FEMA got a 41 so a little worse. Statewide, the gap was about the same,” Henderson said.



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The Senate Education Committee will discuss today whether a task force should be formed to study how to ensure the TOPS scholarship program long-term liability. Senate Education Chairman Blade Morrish says the taxpayer funded program has not been examined since it was created over 20 years ago.

“I thought it was time for us to maybe take a step back, take a look at where we’ve come, how TOPS was originally proposed, what it came from and where it has come to.”
Morrish says the higher education landscape has changed since TOPS was put into place. He says there are now admission standards and a large community college system. He says it’s time to take a comprehensive look at TOPS.
“My goal is to get everything you always wanted to know about TOPS but didn’t want to ask.
Morrish says the task force’s findings will provide good information for lawmakers when they consider proposed changes to the scholarship program in the future.
“So when they begin to look at proposing legislation to either chance TOPS or change the way TOPS is funded, that they’ll have good information to work with.”


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LSU won its 8th straight on Wednesday night with an 7-run victory over the Missouri Tigers in the SEC Tournament. Tigers second baseman Cole Freeman had a huge game as he went 4-for-4 with 4 RBIs and 2 runs scored in a 10-2 victory over Mizzou.
Freeman completed the scoring for the the Bayou Bengals with a 3-run homer in the 8th inning to cap a four-run frame. LSU also scored four runs in the 3rd inning.
Kramer Robertson and Antoine Duplantis also had a multi-hit games. Robertson went 2-for-4, with 3 runs scored and a run driven in. Duplantis was 2-for-5 with 2 RBI and a run scored.
Caleb Gilbert pitched very well to get a win in his hometown. The Hoover, Alabama, native allowed a home run in the 2nd inning, but that was it. Gilbert allowed 3 hits and struck out 3.
Nick Bush, Zack Hess and Matthew Beck did solid work out of the bullpen. Bush pitched two innings of scoreless baseball, while Hess and Beck each gave up one run.
LSU will play Kentucky on Thursday night at 8 PM in a winner's bracket contest. The Wildcats took two of three from Tigers in Lexington earlier this season. 
All-SEC 1st teamer Alex Lange will start on the mound for the Tigers. 


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The search is over for a south Louisiana man accused of living in his ex-girlfriend’s attic, as 21-year-old Taylor Broussard is behind bars. Brennan Matherne with the Lafourche Parish Sheriff’s Office says the investigation began in Larose after a woman reported her ex had stolen her vehicle after brandishing a knife. He says state troopers located the suspect Wednesday.

“Troopers with Louisiana State Police Troop A located the stolen vehicle in the Baton Rouge area and took Broussard into custody on Wednesday, May 24,” Matherne said.

Matherne says Broussard faces one charge in Baton Rouge for being in the stolen vehicle, but he has 9 charges in Lafourche Parish. He says on May 3, the victim called police after escaping her home, where Broussard was attacking her.

“He actually struck his ex-girlfriend several times, all with a juvenile in close proximity. At one point he actually brandished a knife, threatened his ex-girlfriend, slashed a mattress, and damaged other items,” Matherne said.

Matherne says when Broussard fled the scene, he stole the woman’s purse, phone, and SUV. He says the victim fled to a neighbor’s house to contact police. When deputies arrived to investigate further, they made a disturbing discovery in the victim’s attic.

“We had found crawl spaces that led from her room actually to the attic. So it’s unknown at this point how long he was staying there. We discovered food, bottles of water, and even bottles of urine,” Matherne said.

Broussard is charged in Lafourche Parish with stalking, domestic abuse battery, domestic abuse aggravated assault, vehicle theft, and home invasion, among other charges.



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Vice President Mike Pence echoed many of President Donald Trump’s campaign promises when he told a crowd in Port Allen the administration will make America prosperous again. He says the president’s leadership is already making a remarkable difference in the economy. He says businesses are responding to the president’s call to buy American and hire American.

“You may not have read this in the newspaper, but the truth is more than 700,000 new American jobs have been created by businesses large and small just this year alone,” Pence said.

The Affordable Care Act was a big topic of discussion, as the vice president says it’s affecting business owners. Pence says the Obamacare nightmare is about to end. He says it’s putting an undue burden on job creators, and the ACA has caused premiums to skyrocket across America.

“Here in Louisiana Obamacare premiums have spiked by nearly 125%. The average plan here in the Pelican State costs more than $3,500 more,” Pence said.

The vice president hit on several issues important to the Bayou State, including the oil and gas industry. He says the president is fighting every day to make American energy and putting the country on a path to energy independent.

“The president knows that our energy, oil and gas in particular, are the lifeblood not only of Louisiana but of America. That’s why he’s been breaking down barriers standing in the way of offshore drilling,” Pence said.



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A measure that would raise the minimum wage to $8 an hour beginning on July 1st of 2018 was killed by the Senate Finance Committee for a second consecutive year. The bill is by New Orleans Senator Troy Carter who says raising the minimum wage will benefit the state as a whole.

“The residuals of giving people an opportunity to earn a living wage and to get off public assistance has so much collateral impact to the community.”

Shreveport Senator Greg Tarver offered an amendment to put the minimum wage up to the voters. He says it’s hard to believe employers are not willing to pay workers a little more.

“This dollar isn’t going to hurt the businessman, if this dollar is going to hurt the businessman he shouldn’t have been in business anyway. This dollar isn’t going to hurt anybody.”

The bill would also increase the minimum wage to $8.50 an hour beginning on January 1st, 2019. But Metairie Senator Conrad Appel spoke out in opposition and says the current $7.25 minimum wage is not the problem in Louisiana…

“Really the problem in Louisiana with income isn’t minimum wage, it’s the fact that we have no growth, we have no jobs for people to have.”

Slidell Senator Sharon Hewitt also opposes the legislation. She says it’s not up to the people to decide what businesses should pay.

“It is the choice of the business what they pay and the choice of the people is to seek a job that fits their needs in terms of hours and wages.”



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A deadly virus is threatening Louisiana crawfish. Aquaculture specialist Mark Shirley with the LSU AgCenter says the white spot syndrome virus showed up in Acadiana about a decade ago. He says the virus is showing up again in ponds across southwest Louisiana, and it’s hurting the crawfish harvest.

“Bottom line is it kills them. It makes them sick for a brief period. They lose their mobility. They lose their coordination, and pretty rapidly they die,” Shirley said.

Shirley says how the virus got into Louisiana waters is still a big unknown. He says it originated in shrimp ponds in Thailand and Southeast Asia in the early 1990s. That’s why it’s called the white spot syndrome.

“On the shell of a shrimp there is a white blotchy spot on the shell about the size of a pencil eraser, but on crawfish you don’t see that white spot,” Shirley said.

Shirley says this virus can greatly affect a crawfish farmer’s income by killing off the harvest. But he says it won’t affect consumers as much. He says this virus only affects crustaceans, and the dead crawfish shouldn’t make it to the boiling pot.

“They’re pulled out. Only live crawfish are put in the sack and delivered to the market. So you’re not going to get a bunch of dead, infected crawfish in your sack of crawfish,” Shirley said.



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Governor John Bel Edwards is calling on the Louisiana congressional delegation to oppose President Donald Trump’s proposed budget for the fiscal year that begins October 1. The governor’s communications director Richard Carbo says they’re disappointed the budget repeals the Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act, which entitles Louisiana to a portion of offshore drilling revenue for oil leases.

“The state is expected to receive over $140 million next year alone that goes directly towards coastal restoration where we have a significant amount of land loss every year,” Carbo said.

Louisiana is set to receive its first GOMESA payment in October 2018. Carbo says they’re also concerned the President is calling for a cut to federal funding for Medicaid patients by eliminating Medicaid expansion coverage. He says that’s why they’re calling for Louisiana’s congressional delegation to reject the White House budget proposal.

“Protect the health coverage that 428,000 people in the state have received in the last year thanks to the Medicaid expansion because it’s also saving the state a significant amount of money,” Carbo said.

Carbo says they understand the need to balance the budget, but this spending plan does it in a way that’s harmful to Louisiana and its citizens. He says the governor will also make his concerns known to Vice President Mike Pence when he visits Baton Rouge today.

“The governor will raise some of the concerns about coastal restoration funding and Medicaid expansion, and he’ll like have some kind of letter for the Vice President to take back with him outlining our concerns,” Carbo said.



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Vice President Mike Pence will be in Baton Rouge today to meet with business leaders. Baton Rouge Congressman Garret Graves says the frustration business owners have experienced over the last few years has peaked. He says in the first year of opening a small business, owners spend more than $80,000 just complying with federal regulations.

“That’s over burdensome, and it prevents our ability to create new jobs. It prevents our ability to grow the economy. So I think you’re going to hear a lot of people expressing frustration, but more importantly solutions and new approaches,” Graves said.

Graves says government regulations, taxes, and fees are making it harder for someone to run a small business. He says he will fly down with the Vice President, which will give him the opportunity to discuss some of the issues that are important to Louisianans.

“We’re going to be talking about flood insurance. We’re going to be talking about flood recovery issues. We’ll be talking about energy and the president’s budget,” Graves said.

Graves says Louisiana business leaders can offer the Vice President a unique perspective, as we’ve faced some unusual challenges, from a historic flood to new energy policies. He says a lot of these issues have applications for the rest of the country as well.

“I think we’re going to have a chance to talk about some of the experiences in Louisiana, how they have national application, how you can prevent subjecting some disaster victims to a second round of disasters by having their own government acting improperly or inefficiently,” Graves said.



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A Senate Judiciary committee voted to raise the fees for individuals on probation and parole in Louisiana to increase salaries for parole officers. Alexandria Representative Lance Harris’ measure would up the fee by $37 to $100. Harris hopes this would be an incentive for parole officers to stay in their position.

“In these days and times I think it’s very important that we retain the parole officers that we have and we actually recruit some.”

The Senate panel passed the House approved measure on a 3 to 1 vote. Harris says his legislation is needed because the governor’s criminal justice reform effort will lead to more offenders on probation and parole.

“And when it does pass, it’s going to put an even bigger burden on this department to make sure that they’re adequately staffed to handle the amount of new parolees that will be out due to some of the chances that we’ll be making.”

But New Orleans Senator Karen Carter Peterson says this bill would increase the financial burden placed on parolees. She also says until the House passes a budget that adequately funds state government, no state employee should get a raise.

“If you see people vote against this bill, it is not because we do not want you to have a raise, it is because we want many House members to vote to do fiscal reform and to pass a responsible budget in the House and send it to us.”



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Today lawmakers in the House are expected to debate raising the state’s gasoline tax for the first time in 27 years. A proposal by Baton Rouge Representative Steve Carter would up the tax by 17 cents a gallon. President of the Council for a Better Louisiana, Barry Erwin says more revenue is needed to pay for better roads.

“Just about every region in our state has megaprojects that are just sitting there waiting to be funded in some ways. It doesn’t matter what city you choose, they all have them,” Erwin said.

The state gasoline tax is currently 20 cents a gallon. Louisiana Republican Party Chairman Roger Villere is skeptical the additional revenue raised by the tax would be used to pay for roads. That’s why he’s calling on GOP lawmakers to reject this proposal. He says the state needs to use the money they have now properly before asking for more from taxpayers.

“We don’t think they’re spending the money properly right now. So much of the money is diverted to other departments, and such a very small percentage of it is actually going to fix and repair roads and build new roads,” Villere said.

Erwin understands the hesitance but says that won’t be the case with this bill. He says there are provisions in this measure that ensure any revenue generated by the tax hike will go towards better roads and bridges. He says there’s more accountability and transparency with this proposal.

“Really are going to direct those to our infrastructure needs, whether it’s highways, bridges, ports. I think a lot of accountability measures are there that we haven’t seen before in legislation,” Erwin said.

Villere is disappointed the measure has made it this far with some Republican support. He says GOP lawmakers ran on a platform of no new taxes, and they should be true to that commitment. He’s also concerned about how this measure would impact businesses.

“Especially gas stations on the border, people will just go across to another state and buy their gas cause they can save 10 or 12 cents a gallon rather than getting it in Louisiana, and that’s not good business”

The proposal will need support from two-thirds of the House to advance.



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The bill that would require students starting 9th grade this fall to have at least a 2.75 GPA in order to receive the TOPS scholarship advanced on the House floor. The current requirement is 2.5. Baton Rouge Representative Franklin Foil says there is a reason his bill wouldn't take effect for 4 years.

“It’s to allow the students that are in high school now to operate under the rules that are presently in place. So this would only apply to students who start the 9th grade this fall," Foil said.

TOPS is currently not fully funded and Foil says he's trying to help the financial sustainability of the program, and also encourage students to strive to do better in order to get the award. But New Orleans Representative Joe Bouie says this bill would have unintended consequences.

“When this particular program is implemented, do you know that you will be eliminating for almost 2,000 students an opportunity to participate in the TOPS program," Bouie said.

A concern about this bill by opponents was that it would cut out poor kids who need help paying for college the most. That's why New Orleans Representative Gary Carter offered an amendment that would take any savings generated by the measure and put that money towards the Go Grant Program, but the change was not added.

Natchitoches Representative Kenny Cox says many people who support this bill don't understand communities that struggle.

“When they struggle and then we do this, it’s kind of like slapping someone in the face," Cox said.

The bill heads to the Senate on a 53-32 vote.



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Vice President Mike Pence will travel to Louisiana tomorrow to discuss health care, jobs and the economy.  The White House says the Vice President will participate in a listening session with local business leaders in the Baton Rouge area and he’ll make remarks afterwards at Cajun Industries in Port Allen. LSU Political Science Professor Robert Hogan on the visit.

“Enable him to appear before a friendly audience, the Trump-Pence ticket did very well in Louisiana in the November elections and there is a great deal of support for him.”

The White House says during the Vice President’s visit, he’ll hear first-hand stories about health care, job creation and the economy. Hogan says the Trump administration wants to show they listen to the public.

“It’s a way of saying hey we go out into the states and we listen to people’s concerns and we go back to Washington and use what they’ve learned in order to craft policies.” 

The governor’s office says John Bel Edwards plans on meeting with the Vice President at the Baton Rouge airport. Edwards released a statement claiming the President’s proposed budget ignores Louisiana needs by reducing Medicare funding and dollars for Louisiana’s coast. Hogan expects the governor to ask Pence about this.

“This would give an opportunity to say hey, your administration is thinking of doing something that may have negative repercussions for the state of Louisiana.”



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Michelle Southern reporting.
Authorities in Lafourche Parish are looking for a man who is facing several charges amid allegations including living in the attic of his ex-girlfriend for a period of time while stalking her. Sheriff's Office spokesman, Lt. Brennan Matherne, says cops responded to the home in reference to a disturbance involving 21-year-old Taylor Broussard.

"Among other things, he had brandished knife, slashed a bed sheet and mattress, assaulting and battering her when she was trying to protect a juvenile," said Matherne.

Matherne said following the May 3rd attack, Broussard allegedly stole the victim's purse and phone, then took off in her SUV and fled the scene.

He says cops had been called to a previous break-in incident a few days prior on April 29th, and during the second investigation located evidence that showed Broussard had been staying in the victim's attic.

"We found bedding, water, food and even about 10 plastic bottles that had been filled with urine," said Matherne.

Broussard is at large and has nine active warrants for several felony crimes including stalking, auto theft, battery, and aggravated assault. Matherne says the suspect has ties to the Erath and Lafayette area.

"We have been unable to locate him," said Matherne. "He was last seen in a Mitsubishi Outlander bearing the license plate XLG-572."


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President Donald Trump’s proposed budget released today would end oil lease royalty payments to Louisiana before they even begin. The proposal repeals the Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act, which splits 35 percent of offshore revenue among several Gulf States. Managing Director with the America’s Wetland Foundation, Val Marmillion says Louisiana stands to lose a lot of money if GOMESA is repealed.

“We’re talking about a $500 million cap a year starting right now in 2017, and Louisiana could probably lose about $150 million, $143 million a year of that,” Marmillion said.

Gulf States would lose a total of $3.6 billion over the next decade. Marmillion says GOMESA has been in the works for decades to get coastal states a fair share of the revenue from oil leases. Louisiana was set to receive the first $140 million payment in October 2018. He says this money was dedicated mostly to coastal restoration and coastal infrastructure projects.

“Exactly what President Trump said he wanted to do was infrastructure. He’s been talking about clearing the swamp in Washington, and now he’s going to kill the swamp in Louisiana,” Marmillion said.

Marmillion hopes Louisiana’s congressional delegation will fight to get this money back in the budget, which they were successful in doing when the Obama Administration tried to do the same thing in 2015. He says losing this coastal restoration funding will have huge impacts for the country, not just Louisiana.

“You lose this wetland area, and we have a very, very serious problem with our pipeline infrastructure, our navigation infrastructure that serves the Mississippi Valley and most of the United States,” Marmillion said.

US Senator Bill Cassidy released a statement saying, taking funding away from Louisiana’s coastline is a nonstarter.



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