News for Friday 022616
By Dave Graichen
The state House has sent to the Senate a bill that will increase the state’s four-cent sales tax by another penny for an 18-month period beginning on April 1st. The higher sales tax is expected to generate an estimated 200-million dollars this fiscal year, but Jeremy Alford with la-politics-dot-com says more needs to be done to deal with the 940-million dollar shortfall. Measures to increase cigarette and alcohol taxes and legislation to reduce tax breaks for businesses has yet to be taken up by the full House.
The House also approved legislation that makes 101-million dollars in cuts to the current budget, which is 81-million dollars more than what the governor had proposed. K-through-12th grade state funding would be cut by 44-million dollars under the House plan.
Louisiana’s budget instability over the last several years has led Moody’s Investors Service to downgrade the state’s credit rating. The drop in the state’s credit rating will make it more expensive for the state to borrow money for construction projects. Governor John Bel Edwards says it’s disappointing Moody didn’t wait until the conclusion of the special session to make a decision on Louisiana’s credit rating. Edwards says it’s more important than ever for the legislature to work with him to stabilize the budget.
The Center for Reproductive Rights plans to appeal the ruling by the 5th US Circuit Court of Appeals that says Louisiana’s admitting privilege law for abortion doctors can be enforced. David Brown, an attorney for the Center for Reproductive Rights, says the ruling will make it very difficult for Louisiana women to get a legal abortion. The 5th Circuit’s action means abortion doctors must have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles. Brown says as a result there are now only two clinics available in Louisiana where an abortion can be performed, one in Shreveport and one in New Orleans.
Lafayette Congressman Charles Boustany’s PROTECT Act to help the Louisiana seafood industry has been signed by President Barack Obama. Boustany says the PROTECT Act will help Louisiana producers expand their markets around the country. He says if other countries want to sell seafood in the United States, they need to play by our rules.
Secretary of State Tom Schedler says early voting totals for the March 5 Louisiana Presidential Primary have already surpassed 2012 numbers, and there’s still two days left to early vote. Schedler says there’s been a lot of interest in this Presidential election and the early voting totals so far reflect that.
North Louisiana Public Service Commissioner Foster Campbell announced on the Jim Engster Show that he is making preparations to run for the US Senate. Campbell says if he goes to Washington he’ll bring his populist beliefs with him. Campbell would join a crowded field of candidates seeking to replace Republican David Vitter, who is not running for re-election.
A new study from AAA shows 87% of drivers engaged in at least one risky behavior while driving in the past month. AAA spokesperson Don Redman says the data is not surprising because about 30 to 40 thousand people die in car crashes each year in the US. Redman says 42% or drivers admit to texting and 70% admit to being on the phone. Redman says driving when you’re sleepy is also a major problem.
Felons in Louisiana face more employment obstacles that any other state, according to a new study. Louisiana has 389 job restrictions but the average number in the US is 123. Allyson Fredericksen, with the Alliance for a Just Society, says this problem can often lead ex-inmates to return to a life of crime to make ends meet. She says some of these restrictions need to be lifted. Fredericksen says the Alliance for a Just Society is seeking to eliminate the lifetime legislative bans to employment and review the restrictions to see if they are all still applicable.
The Greater New Orleans Sports Foundation has submitted a bid to host the SEC baseball tournament at Zephyr Field in Metairie from 2017 to 2021. Several other cities are also bidding, including Nashville. But foundation President Jay Cicero says we have the biggest college baseball fan base of any area in the nation within driving distance, plus other assets. The SEC baseball tournament has been held in Hoover, Alabama for the last 18 years.