News for Wednesday 022516
By Dave Graichen
On a three-to-two vote the Public Service Commission rejects Cleco’s attempt to sell the Pineville-based utility company to a private investment group. International investors were looking to buy Cleco for nearly five billion dollars. Cleco says they are disappointed in today’s decision and they are reviewing their future options.
The House of Representatives votes today on several different tax proposals that the governor is pushing for as a way to solve the state’s budget crisis. Up for consideration, is an increase to the state’s sales tax, higher cigarette and alcohol taxes and fewer tax exemptions for businesses. There are 14 days left in the special session and whatever tax bills clear the House, still need to be debated in the Senate.
Republican State Representatives sent Governor John Bel Edwards a list of long-term changes they want in the state government as they try to negotiate the governor’s proposed tax increases aimed at fixing the budget deficit. Legislators are interested in pension reform, capital outlay reform and tax reform. Alexandria Representative Lance Harris, who oversaw preparation of the letter, says legislators don’t want to keep having to deal with midyear deficits. The letter also asks that any tax increases approved during the special session end once revenue from long term reform is collected.
A federal appeals court has ruled against abortion clinics by allowing a Louisiana law to take effect that requires doctors who provide abortions to have admitting privileges at hospitals within 30 miles. On Wednesday, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals blocked a federal judge’s ruling that had found the admitting privileges unconstitutional. Supporters say the law’s provision requiring admitting privileges at area hospitals is meant to protect women’s health. Opponents say it’s meant to make it essentially impossible for women to get abortions, and would do just that.
The National Weather Service confirms an EF2 tornado is the one responsible for ripping through the RV park in Convent Tuesday where two people lost their lives. Assumption Parish was also hit hard by a tornado. John Boudreaux, director of the Assumption office of emergency preparedness says a water tower on LA-1 totally collapsed. Entergy reports that, as of 5pm yesterday, about 17,500 customers in the affected areas remained without power.
The state department of insurance says assistance is available to residents affected by the storms. Commissioner Jim Donelon says the sooner residents file a claim, the sooner they can start getting their lives back to normal.
Funerals were held Yesterday for two DeQuincy High School seniors that were killed in a two vehicle crash on LA 27 on Sunday. Lauren Leblanc was 17 years-old and Charlee Smith was 18-years-old. KPLC-TV is reporting residents of DeQuincy raised 27-thousand dollars to help pay for the teenagers funerals.
State Police are investigating a deadly shooting in Baton Rouge involving several East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff’s deputies. Deputies were reportedly responding to a domestic disturbance. Sheriff Sid Gautraux said it’s possible the man involved was trying to commit suicide by cop when he tried ramming the deputies with his vehicle.
ExxonMobil invests $13 million into the National Math and Science Initiative College Readiness Program. Four schools in Louisiana already benefit from this program, including Bossier and Parkway High Schools. Last year, students from Parkway and Bossier saw a 215% increase in qualifying math, science and English AP exam scores.