News for Friday 011516
By Dave Graichen
President Barack Obama said in Baton Rouge Thursday, the fact that Louisiana voters chose Democratic Governor John Bel Edwards proves elections do matter. Mr. Obama said the people of Louisiana have spoken and Edwards has already proven he will be a leader that isn’t afraid to make big decisions. Edwards is dealing with a $700 million dollar shortfall he has to close in the remaining 6 months of the current budget year. President Obama urged Louisianans to support Edwards.
Parks Senator Fred Mills, who has been named chairman of the state Senate Health and Welfare Committee, says the rule writing for the state’s Medicaid expansion will be one of the committee’s top tasks for the year. He says he is a supporter of Medicaid expansion and believes it will be a benefit for the state.
State Treasurer John Kennedy reports the December 2015 Net Receipts Report shows total state revenue is down 15-percent from the same time last year. The report shows a drop in sales taxes, severance taxes, and corporation taxes. Kennedy attributes much of the decline in revenue to the price of crude oil. He says the low oil prices are beginning to affect corporate taxes, sales taxes, and income taxes.
The number of Louisiana residents who got coverage through the federal insurance marketplace reached 193,249 as of Jan. 9, roughly 7,000 more than last year’s total. Today is the last day to sign up for coverage starting Feb. 1.
Republicans on Thursday criticized Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards’ decision to waive work requirements for thousands of food stamp recipients, saying the assistance program should only be a short-term safety net. Edwards won approval to sidestep a federal requirement that childless adults aged 18 to 49 have to work at least 20 hours per week or be enrolled in a federally approved job training program to receive the food aid. Edwards said Louisiana’s high unemployment rate qualifies it to skip the work mandate. The state has had a waiver for 19 years. Edwards said he wanted a one-year extension so his administration has time to bolster state worker training programs.
People in Louisiana want to see a range of issues addressed in a special session, according to an LSU poll. Governor John Bel Edwards has said he’ll call the legislature into a special session in February to address the state’s budgetary challenges. Public Policy Research Lab Director Michael Henderson says they found 66% of respondents want to see a broad range of matters addressed in the special session such as education, jobs, and health care. Henderson says these poll results show the people of Louisiana are ready to have these other issues addressed, but it will likely have to wait until a later session.
A rare hurricane has formed in the Atlantic Ocean in January for the first time since 1938. State Climatologist Barry Keim says Hurricane Alex is the second hurricane ever recorded in the Atlantic basin during this month. Keim says Alex is only the fourth named storm to form in the month of January in the Atlantic and the second hurricane to form in this month in this ocean since record keeping began in 1851.
In the lead up to Wednesday’s $1.6 billion dollar Powerball drawing, nearly $23 million worth of Powerball tickets were sold in Louisiana for the week beginning Sunday, Jan. 10. More than 442,000 Louisiana Lottery players won cash prizes, according to the Louisiana Lottery, including a $1 million dollar ticket purchased in Franklinton.
As expected, Retired Air Force Col. Rob Maness says he’ll officially announce his candidacy for the US Senate seat, being vacated by David Vitter, on Wednesday January 27th at the Kenner Park Pavillion.
18 year old Timmy Ray Robinson, convicted of manslaughter in the death of a fellow student at Natchitoches Central High, has been sentenced to two years in a secure training academy.
Robinson was sentenced Tuesday in 10th Judicial District Court for manslaughter in the death of 18 JohnQuaries Smith in August of 2014. Robinson pleaded guilty to manslaughter in October. He was 16 at the time of the incident but was tried as an adult.
A former Louisiana teacher accused in a 2014 sex scandal involving an underage student has entered a plea of not guilty through her lawyer in Jefferson Parish. 33-year-old Shelley Dufresne, who taught at Destrehan High, faces two counts of carnal knowledge of a juvenile. Also accused, 25-year-old Rachel Respess, pleaded not guilty earlier to a charge of failure to report Dufresne’s crime. Dufresne was also charged in St. Charles Parish and has agreed to a plea deal to avoid having to register as a sex offender.
The Confederate monument issue was taken up in New Orleans federal court on Thursday, and it appears as though the preservationists are facing an uphill battle. US District Judge Carl Barbier is considering a plea by four groups seeking to stop the removal of the monuments. Legal analyst Chick Foret says it didn’t seem Judge Barbier found any federal jurisdiction in the case. The judge did not indicate when he would rule.
For the third day in a row, barges have hit a railroad bridge over the Mississippi River near Vicksburg. The barges all apparently stayed in their tow and the river remained open to traffic after Thursday’s 7:44 a.m. accident. The old U.S. 80 bridge will remain closed until state and Vicksburg Bridge Commission inspectors have checked it for damage. Four barges carrying coal sank on Tuesday after a towboat pushing 22 barges hit the bridge Tuesday. On Wednesday, a grain barge sank after a towboat pushing 25 barges drifted sideways at the bend north of Vicksburg, and a barge clipped a bridge pier.
New Orleans Saints and Pelicans owner Tom Benson has been ordered by a Texas judge to give a deposition in the court battle over the family trust. Thus far, Benson has refused to personally participate in any of the proceedings. Legal analyst Tim Meche says this is a significant ruling, considering the family claims Benson is being manipulated by those around him. A January 21st deposition has been ordered for Benson in San Antonio where his estranged family will be present. A trial date has been set for February 1st. Benson is seeking to give control of the teams to his wife Gayle upon his death and not his daughter and grandchildren.