News for Friday 011615
By Dave Graichen
After a cold and cloudy week in Louisiana, get ready for some warmer temperatures and sunshine. Gary Chatelain, with the National Weather Service in Shreveport, says we’re going to see a January thaw over the next few day. Chatelain says we’ll see high temperatures in the mid to upper 50s today, but the warm-up doesn’t stop there. Temps should be around 60 under sunny skies Saturday and Sunday.
Alexandria City officials and others gathered yesterday at the D.G. Hunter Generating Station, the city power plant , to highlight the start of a project in which seven new “rapid start” generators will add to the city’s generating capacity. The $100 million project is expected to be completed in a year. Mayor Jacques Roy says the project should keep city utility rates stable for the next 20 to 30 years.
A Campti man, 22 year old Robert White, who had been wanted on bank fraud and other charges was captured Thursday in Natchitoches. Authorities say White had been wanted since Dec. 31 on two counts of felony bank fraud and two counts of monetary instrument abuse. Another suspect in the case, Colie Northcutt, turned herself in last week.
The head of the Louisiana Oil and Gas Association is not expecting another oil bust like we saw in the 1980s even though the price of oil has fallen over 50-dollars in the last six months. LOGA President Don Briggs says while he doesn’t see a large number of oil and gas companies going under, there will be some belt tightening and some of that has already occurred. Briggs says there are currently 55 active off-shore rigs, and so far, these have not been impacted by the lower prices.
Those falling oil prices are not helping Louisiana’s state budget shortfall, as Secretary of State Tom Schedler reports his office faces a proposed $3.8 million dollar mid-year budget reduction from the Jindal Administration. This will force him to implement an agency-wide employee furlough as early as Tuesday.
You saw and heard the commercials every time you turned on the radio and TV. Now we know why. A just released report shows outside groups spent $27 million in Louisiana Senate campaign, all aimed at unseating Mary Landrieu. But, it was worse in other states. The No. 1 target for outside groups in 2014 was the Senate race in North Carolina, with $80 million spent. Republican Thom Tillis defeated incumbent Democrat Kay Hagan in that election. The races in Colorado ($68 million) and Iowa ($59 million) ranked second and third. In all three of those elections Republicans captured a seat previously in Democratic hands, contributing to the gain of nine seats that has given Republicans control of the Senate in the current Congress.
Jonesboro Rep. Jim Fannin says he won’t support the pay increase for State Police when Col Mike Edmonson makes the request today before the Joint Legislative Committee on the Budget. A bill was passed last session which created an account with motorist’s fines to be used for LSP. But Fannin says lawmakers have bigger fish to fry right now than pay raises
Fannin says with so many other state agencies cutting budgets in the mid-year, it wouldn’t be a good time to give troopers such a big increase. He also says a 30% increase is unreasonable…
State Senate President John Alario says forthcoming budget cuts to higher education would be disastrous to institutions across the state. The Jindal administration has discussed a potential $200 to $300 million cut to higher education. But Alario says he’s heard it could be as high as $380 million which would be devastating. The state has projected a $1.4 billion budget shortfall for the upcoming fiscal year, and that number could rise due to falling oil prices. It’s expected that higher ed will take the brunt in efforts to try to balance the budget.
The major candidates in the 2015 Governor’s race will get together for the first time today in a Baton Rouge forum that will address transportation and infrastructure issues. The event is sponsored in part by The Louisiana Associated General Contractors. US-Senator David Vitter, Public Service Commission Scott Angelle, Lt. Governor Jay Dardenne and state Representative John Bel Edwards are expected to attend the two-hour forum.
The Washington Parish Sheriff’s office says a former speech therapist from Franklinton High School is under arrest for allegedly having sex with at least 2 students under the age of 17. Chief Deputy Mike Haley says after the complaint came in, they were able to gather enough evidence to arrest 40-year-old Kimberly Cooke. Haley says the suspect is booked with indecent behavior with juveniles.
Looking ahead to the governor’s race, Republican Senator David Vitter made a couple of major policy announcements yesterday. The first is concerning a fundamental spending and tax reform package; and the second being a targeted highway building plan. He says Louisiana needs to break out of the budget chaos, and he’s tired of poor roads and mounting traffic.
BP faces possible $13 billion in penalties at trial . That after U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier ruled that 3.19 million barrels, just under 134 million gallons, were discharged into the Gulf after a rig explosion at BP’s Macondo well. The number is more than the 2.4 million barrel figure BP had argued for and less than the government’s estimate of about 4.2 million, a figure that could have meant $18 billion in maximum penalties under the Clean Water Act. Those penalties are to be determined in a trial set to open Tuesday.