News for Tuesday 050515
By Dave Graichen
The Louisiana Supreme Court has approved an agreement to place Rapides Parish District Attorney Phillip Terrell Jr. on probation for five years in an attorney disciplinary proceeding.
The action comes following an investigation by the court’s Office of Disciplinary Counsel into allegations that Terrell failed to properly supervise a non-lawyer employee, allowing the employee to commingle and convert client funds. Upon learning of the situation Terrell personally replaced all the funds that belonged to the third parties and fully cooperated with the Office of Disciplinary Counsel.
The state police report 27-year-old Jessica Short of Pineville was killed Sunday when the SUV she was driving left interstate 49 near Carencro and struck several trees. Short was critically injured and was transported to Lafayette General, where she later died. Police say impairment is not believed to have been a factor in the crash.
A judge on Monday refused to reduce the bail of a former Avoyelles Parish sheriff’s deputy accused of allowing an Assumption Parish prisoner to leave a jail transport van to buy drugs and then providing false information when the prisoner didn’t return. The Judge said 47 year old Michelle George failed to understand the risk the incident posed to the community and to prisoners and refused to reduce her bail from $250,000 to $20,000.
Legislation that aims to give tuition-setting authority to Louisiana colleges and universities is heading to the full Senate for consideration. The Senate Committee on Revenue and Fiscal Affairs signed off on Senate Bill 155 on Monday without opposition. The bill would ask Louisiana voters to decide by constitutional amendment whether college and university systems should have control over how much students pay to go to college or if that power should remain with the state Legislature. Currently, Louisiana is one of three states that lets state lawmakers set tuition and fee prices.
A bill that allows for the dispensing of medicinal marijuana to patients who suffer from certain medical conditions makes it off the Senate floor. New Iberia Senator Fred Mills says under the proposed law, medical marijuana could only be prescribed by a doctor for someone clinically diagnosed with glaucoma, spastic quadriplegia (kwod-ruh-plee-jee-uh) or suffering symptoms from chemotherapy cancer treatment. The vote count was 22-13 and the measure now heads to the House.
Two different tax increases proposed by Plaquemine Representative Karen St. Germain to help fund road projects will be heard in the House Ways and Means Committee today. The state currently has a $12 billion backlog of road and bridge projects. HB 777 would raise the state’s gas tax dependent on the price at the pump and HB 778 would increase the state’s sales tax by one percent. Revenue from both bills would pay for road and bridge projects.
A bill that would use funds from unclaimed gambling winnings to pay for rape victims forensic medical exams clears House appropriations. New Orleans Representative Helena Moreno says under her measure, money from expired winning tickets from casinos and race tracks would go into the crime victims reparations fund. Wade Duty, of the Louisiana Casino Association, says while they don’t oppose the bill on its merits, they don’t approve of the funding mechanism. He says winning money is the property of the gaming establishment until the player cashes the ticket. The bill passed without opposition and now heads to the House floor.
State Treasurer John Kennedy says he’s endorsing David Vitter for Governor because the US Senator respects tax payer dollars and has the ability to take on Louisiana’s fiscal challenges.
When asked if Kennedy was going to go after the US Senate seat if Vitter becomes Governor each said they are taking things one election at a time.
The House appropriations committee approves a plan that would allow the state to draw down federal money that can be used to expand Medicaid coverage. House speaker Chuck Kleckley says it would save $200 million for the state’s budget and is real money that can be put in the general fund. Since this measure is a concurrent resolution, Governor Jindal cannot veto the legislation, but it does need a two-thirds vote of both houses for passage.
According to a legislative auditor’s report released yesterday, Louisiana’s elderly and developmentally disabled wait longer than people in other states to get community-based services through Medicaid. As of October 2014, the auditor said 54,677 people remained on lists for the various Medicaid programs with wait times ranging from two-and-a-half to 10 years.
The auditor wrote that most applicants may never receive the home and community-based services they request.
Former LSU offensive lineman La’el Collins met with Baton Rouge police detectives Monday as part of an investigation into the shooting death of a pregnant woman on April 24th. Collins meeting with detectives lasted about an hour and a half. Authorities insist Collins is still NOT a suspect in Brittany Mills’ homicide
Authorities in St. Tammany Parish are investigating a case of a deceased baby in a trash compactor at a Slidell apartment complex. The St. Tammany Parish Coroner is working with Police to determine the cause of death and the age of the baby. The investigation is ongoing.
Shreveport Police are investigating a fatal shooting that claimed the life of a four-year-old boy. Cpl. Marcus Hines says officers were called to a hotel room and found the boy, identified as Cameron Morris, suffering from a single gunshot wound to the head. Hines says the other child was 6 and they are working to determine who was responsible for watching the children.