News for Tuesday 030116
By Dave Graichen
Today is Super Tuesday, so will Louisiana’s presidential primary still matter on Saturday, March 5th? Pollster John Couvillon of JMC Analytics says Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton are in a strong position to receive their party’s nomination as people in 12 states will vote today. Couvillon says it’s possible the democratic nomination will be sewn up after tonight. Couvillon says Louisiana will still get attention after Super Tuesday. He says Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio will still be contenders in the race.
Discussion about deep budget cuts to higher education could mean fewer students at LSU. The TOPS Scholarship Program is only funded at 25% for the next school year. Without TOPS, many students may have to rethink their education plans. LSU President F. King Alexander stands by comments that LSU football is at risk. He says unless enough revenue is raised, they may have to close summer school and only about half of the athletes will be eligible to play in the fall. He says unfortunately LSU’s budget problems are impacting recruiting.
The House postponed votes planned yesterday until today on bills that would raise taxes on alcohol and cigarettes. House Speaker Taylor Barras says they are waiting to see what the Senate will do with a House-approved measure that calls for 106-million dollars in cuts to the current fiscal year. The special session ends on March 9th and the House and Senate are far part when it comes to a plan on how to deal with a 900-million dollar budget deficit.
It was a question that was asked several times during the Jindal administration and never answered. Now, Commissioner of Administration Jay Dardenne has asked State Treasurer John Kennedy why he is housing his staff in private office space, at a cost of close to $370k a year, when there is state office space available. Kennedy’s office after several requests has replied saying they disagree at the savings number that Dardenne has come up with, but if it saves the state even one dollar and if there’s room for the treasurers employees, they’ll move to the state owned building.
Lawmakers spend the day yesterday hearing from agencies who say the cuts the House is proposing in a spending bill now in the hands of the Senate would devastate their departments. Louisiana National Guard Major General Glenn Curtis says the House bill has them taking a cut of 564-thousand thousand dollars. Curtis says he would have to close nine armories, which will impact how they respond to emergencies like flooding. Department of Health and Hospitals Secretary Rebekah Gee says they would have to lay-off restaurant inspectors, which is a serious public health risk.
A bill has been filed for the regular session calling for a freeze on the state voucher program, which allows students in public schools with a C, D or F rating to attend private schools at the state’s expense. Baton Rouge Representative Patricia Smith says the program is costing public schools money at a time when the state can’t afford it. There are currently just over seven thousand students with vouchers in Louisiana. Smith says legislators need to resolve the budget crisis before expanding the program.
This flu season got off to a slow start, but doctors say it may start to ramp up soon. Influenza expert Dr. Frank Welch with the State Office of Public Health Welch says this year the flu vaccine is very well matched to the virus, making it more effective, and flu shots are the best way to avoid getting sick. Welch says most insurance covers flu shots and people without insurance should call a public health unit. He also advises people to wash their hands, stay home if they’re sick and avoid sick people.
Captain Clay Higgins, the man made internationally famous for his “no nonsense” viral Crime Stoppers videos, announces he’s resigning from the St. Landry Parish Sheriff’s Office. Higgins had come under fire by groups stating he shouldn’t be calling black suspects, animals, after the latest controversial Higgins’ video seeking to locate wanted members of the Gremlins Gang. Sheriff Bobby Guidroz said he was going to more closely monitor the language used and he asked Higgins to tone them down. Higgins said if he would have continued to wear the St. Landry badge, he would have violated the principles that it represents.
Governor John Bel Edwards declares this week as Severe Weather Awareness Week in an effort to get families to create a game plan in the event of an emergency. Chris Guilbeau, Deputy Director with the Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness, says this comes at a good time as 13 confirmed tornadoes touched down last week. Guilbeau says visit get-a-game-plan-dot-org (getagameplan.org) for more tips on how you can protect themselves during severe weather.
Former state lawmaker and ex Klu Klux Klansman David Duke is part of the storyline in the Republican presidential race. Duke supports Donald Trump and Trump’s opponents are bashing him for declining to disavow Duke’s endorsement during a CNN interview. Duke says the media is making a big deal out of this, because of his connection with the KKK, a group that he says he left in the 1970s. Trump blames a bad ear piece and couldn’t hear the question well when asked about Duke’s endorsement by CNN.
The Saints have released Marques Colston their alltime leading receiver. Colston was a consistent performer for the Black and Gold during his 10 seasons in New Orleans. He caught 72 touchdown passes and had over 97-hundred receiving yards. NFL analyst Mike Detillier says it will be difficult for the Saints to replace his production. Detillier says Colston goes down as the Saints best receiver in the franchise’s history.