News for Tuesday 011216
By Dave Graichen
Democrat John Bel Edwards laid out some of his priorities for the next four years as he was sworn in as the state’s 56th governor. Edwards says he’ll seek to expand Medicaid, increase the minimum wage and he’ll support efforts to make higher education more affordable. Edwards says his top priority is fixing the state’s massive budget problems.
As Louisiana has sworn in a new governor, John Bel Edwards, we also have a new Lt. Governor. Republican Billy Nungesser also has budget issues to face. He says it will take creativity and working with the legislature to change laws to create more money within tourism.
It didn’t take long for Democratic Governor John Bel Edwards to have his first political defeat. Conservatives in the House mustered enough votes to elect New Iberia Republican Taylor Barras as the Speaker of the House over Edwards choice of Democrat Walt Leger. Lapolitics-dot-com publisher Jeremy Alford says this could be a bad sign for Edwards. Edwards said he wants to invest more money into education, lower the state’s poverty rate and stabilize the budget. Alford says it remains to be seen if the Republican controlled House will go with Edwards plan or come up with their own. Edwards has called a 1:30 press conference this afternoon to discuss his plans to expand Medicaid.
Governor John Bel Edwards’ Commissioner of Administration Jay Dardenne says Louisiana has monumental financial problems to overcome, but they plan to lay out options and govern responsibly. Governor Edwards is expected to call a special legislative session in mid-February to address these issues. Dardenne estimates the deficit in this year’s budget, which ends July 30th, is between $700-$750 million dollars. Dardenne says the shortfall for next fiscal year, when taking into account falling oil prices, could be close to $2 billion dollars if permanent changes to the budget aren’t made.
Craig Smith is the newly elected president of the Rapides Parish Police Jury. Scott Perry Jr. is the new vice president. Both men, once nominated, ran unopposed.
Louisiana Supreme Court Justice Jeannette Knoll has announced plans to retire. Knoll is nearing the end of her second 10-year term on the state’s highest court. She said in an emailed statement Monday evening that she plans to retire at the end of the year. She was elected from Louisiana’s 3rd Supreme Court District and began serving in 1997.
First time claims for unemployment insurance in Louisiana for the week ending Jan. 2 increased from the previous week’s total. The state labor department figures released Monday show the initial claims increased to 2,459 from the previous week’s total of 2,398. For the comparable week a year earlier, there were 1,814.
Nearly 300 Louisiana National Guard personnel have been mobilized to help build barriers against approaching flood waters from the Mississippi and Atchafalaya Rivers. Lt. Rebekah Malone says protective levees are being built in Krotz Springs and Avoca Island. The US Army Corps of Engineers opened the Bonnet Carre Spillway Sunday, but yesterday announced the opening of the Morganza Spillway will not be necessary at this time. The latest high water projections show the river crest can safely pass through Louisiana without opening the Morganza.
Lifeshare Blood Centers, which has locations across the state, say they are in the need of blood donations as their supply is less than two days for most blood types. Spokesperson Tina Hooper says if you’re eligible to donate, please do. Hooper says low blood donor turnout in December and last week led to a critically low supply of blood on hand.
A 96-year-old driver plowed into the Mandeville community center yesterday, injuring four people inside. Authorities say the driver stepped on the accelerator instead of the brake as she was pulling up to the building. The injuries to the people inside are not considered life threatening.
President Barack Obama will speak at McKinley High during his visit to Baton Rouge on Thursday. The White House says Mr. Obama’s speech will begin at 9:45am. The president’s visit will come two days after his final State of the Union address.
When Amite and Bogalusa High School play each other in football this October, their fans will not be allowed to attend. That’s the result of the penalties handed down by the Louisiana High School Athletic Association. LHSAA Assistant Director Keith Alexander says the two schools were involved in a bench clearing brawl towards the end of their playoff game last November.
Alexander says both schools were fined 500-dollars and two-thousand dollars for not reporting the incident to the L-H-S-A-A. He says the 2016 Amite-Bogalusa game will be considered a closed competition.