News for Thursday 052115
By Dave Graichen
A Senate bill that will likely result in future TOPS students having to pay a portion of their tuition clears the House Education Committee. Under Mandeville Senator Jack Donahue’s legislation, the TOPS award will match 2016-17 tuition levels but the award will not automatically go up when tuition rises. Donahue says TOPS is unsustainable in its current form and this baseline will ensure its survival. The measure will now be debated on the House floor.
Legislation by Hammond Representative Chris Broadwater that would allow state colleges to raise fees for students passes the state House. Broadwater says a percentage of the revenues generated from additional fees would be set aside for needs based assistance.
A Senate committee has approved New Orleans Senator JP Morrell’s bill that would change a second-offense marijuana possession from a felony to a misdemeanor. It also allows a first-time offender to have their record expunged if they are not convicted for another marijuana violation within two years. He says there’s still significant penalties for 3 or more convictions. The bill heads to the full Senate.
The United Health Foundation ranks Louisiana 50th in the nation for Senior Health. That’s last according to the Annual America’s Health Rankings 2015 Senior Report. Katherine Palmier (palm-yay) is the Chief Medical Officer for the East Region of United Health Care. She says while Louisiana is ranked as the least healthy state for older adults, Mississippi is Number 49 this year then Kentucky, Arkansas and Oklahoma. Palmier says in Louisiana there is a high percentage of nursing home residents that are not receiving proper care. She also says a lot of Louisiana seniors struggle with food insecurity which means they wonder if they are going to have enough money to pay for their next meal.
New Orleans has been invited to bid to host the 2019 and 2020 Super Bowls. The Big Easy last hosted the Super Bowl in 2013. Jay Cicero, President of the Greater New Orleans Sports Foundation says Atlanta, Miami, Tampa, and Los Angeles have also received invitations to bid on hosting the big game from the NFL. New Orleans lost out on hosting the 2018 Super Bowl to Minneapolis and their new stadium last year. Cicero says with new stadiums proposed for Atlanta and Los Angeles, the competition will be stiff.
It will likely take a year before the Louisiana Black Bear is taken off the threatened species list, but federal officials are now recommending that delisting. After public input, they could open the door for regulated hunting of the black bear, but State Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Secretary Robert Barham says that’s not happening anytime soon.
After about 3 hours of debate, the Lafayette City-Parish Council has rejected a smoking ban in bars. Supporters of the proposed ban–backed by the Louisiana Campaign for Tobacco-Free Living–expressed health concerns for employees and musicians in clubs. Some opponents argued that decision should be left to club and bar owners. The vote was 5-4.
A recent study by NOAA shows a strong connection between the Deepwater Horizon Gulf oil spill and a high number of dolphin deaths. Dr. Kathleen Colegrove is the study’s lead veterinary pathologist, and she says half of the mammals in Barateria Bay-which was heavily damaged–had the rare adrenal lesions.
A Loreauxville (Lora ville) teen-ager lost his life after he was playing in rain water and accidently fell into a drainage pipe in New Iberia. Rescuers pulled the body of 15 year-old John Michael Steine from the pipe. He was dead at the scene.
The American Automobile Association expects more Americans to travel this Memorial Day weekend than they have in the last 10 years. Spokesman Don Redman says they predict a 5-percent increase from last year in people who will travel for the holiday weekend. He says over 37 milion Americans will travel more than 50 miles from home for the holiday. Redman says if you plan to travel by car this weekend, you can expect to share the road with a lot of people. It’s expected that about 33-million people will be traveling by car. Most drivers can expect to pay the lowest Memorial Day gas prices in five years.