News for Monday 011915
By Dave Graichen
Today is Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Dr. Faye Williams of Alexandria currently serves as the Chair of the National Congress of Black Women. She says today is a day of service. Williams says we should use today to remember Dr. King by calling on people from all walks of life to work together in providing solutions to our most pressing national problems. Activities are scheduled all across the state today.
The Joint Legislative Committee on the budget approved a 20% pay raise for state troopers. The original request from Col. Mike Edmonson was for a 30% increase but the measure was amended down to 20% reducing the cost from about $14 million to about $10 million. Edmonson says this will be the first pay raise for Louisiana State troopers since 2002.
The vote from the House side was 24-5 and the Senate side 13-3. Much of the pushback Friday came from lawmakers who argued the request came as somewhat of a surprise and the process was too rushed.
State Police say a hostage situation in Evangeline Parish turned deadly with the suspect being shot and killed by police. They say the unidentified man took his girlfriend hostage in a trailer park in Pine Prairie. Master Trooper Brooks David says the Evangeline Parish Sheriff’s deputies responded to call from a neighbor of a domestic disturbance. David says after deputies arrived, gunshots were fired from inside the residence. The female hostage broke out a window and screamed to the officers that she was going to be killed. David says, at that time, the hostage taker presented himself in the window and was shot. The hostage received only minor injuries.
Minden Representative Gene Reynolds says the EPA has agreed to delay the open tray burn of the more than 15 million pounds of M6 propellant at Camp Minden for at least 90 days. He says they also have now said they would support any decision on an alternative method to get rid of the explosives by the DEQ and the National Guard. Reynolds says there will now be more meetings and further discussions on the way to disposed of in a way that does not harm the environment.
The four announced candidates for governor met in Baton Rouge Friday to discuss ways Louisiana can have a better highway system. The idea of raising the gasoline tax was not discussed, but republican Public Service Commissioner Scott Angelle says he would look into toll roads if elected. The lone democrat in the race, Amite representative Jon Bel said Louisiana could spend more money on highways, if state government made sure transportation Trust Funds went to roads and no other areas. Republican Lt. Governor Jay Dardenne says in too many cases transportation projects are funded as a political favor and that needs to stop. Republican US Senator David Vitter says one of his priorities as the next governor would be to develop a targeted highway building plan.
A Baton Rouge lawmaker is concerned about a department of education report that shows more than 61-thousand public school students received an out of school suspension last academic year as a result disciplinary action. That’s about nine-percent of the state’s public school students and senator Sharon Weston Broome believes that’s too high. The report also indicates about five-hundred students between K-and-12th grade received an out-of-school expulsion because of their actions. Broome says she’s meeting with principals, school board members and teachers in an attempt to find out if sending a disruptive or troubled child home is the best punishment.
New Orleans Congressman Cedric Richmond is concerned that airfare prices have not gone down despite the significant decline in fuel costs. Richmond says the fact that airline ticket prices haven’t gone down doesn’t make any sense to him. Richmond says if air travel is cost prohibitive, it is a detriment to American families. He wants an explanation of what exactly makes up the price of an airline ticket. Richmond feels there’s a chance that this issue could be heard in a Congressional hearing.