News for Thursday 030316
By Dave Graichen
The special legislative session must end next Wednesday and lawmakers are still at odds over the best way to address the 940-million dollar deficit for this fiscal year. Governor John Bel Edwards says he’s getting concerned about the stale mate lawmakers are in right now as the GOP hesitates to raise taxes before they see more cuts in government spending. The full House is expected to take up bills today when they convene at 1pm.
Senate Finance Chairman Eric LaFleur, a Democrat from Ville Platte, says House Bill 122 on budget cuts will pass out of his committee today. He says once that happens, more decisions can be made on the state’s deficit. After several days of holding off on any tax votes measures, legislation that would increase taxes on cigarettes and alcohol are on the agenda. The lower chamber was waiting to see what the Senate would do with cuts before voting on tax measures. LaFleur says everyone will know a lot more after today.
The student body presidents of 19 Louisiana colleges wrote a letter to every state legislator today urging them to stop any further cuts to higher education. It says students of Louisiana are challenging their Senate and House of Representatives to provide real, long-term budget solutions to ensure the future of higher education. The letter calls on legislators to prevent higher education from having to absorb even the best case scenario cut, recommended by Edwards’ office, of about $75 million.
Former US Representative Joseph Cao (Gow) has entered the race for the US Senate seat that will vacated by David Vitter. Eight well-known candidates are now in the race. UL Lafayette Political Science Professor Pearson Cross says fundraising may be the defining factor in this race because so many candidates are competing for limited funds in the state.
Cross says some of the candidates may have to self-fund.
Former state lawmaker Brett Geymann of Lake Charles says he’s running for Louisiana 3rd District Seat in the US House of Representatives. Geymann, a republican, is seeking to replace Charles Boustany, who is running for US Senate.
Louisiana’s presidential primary is Saturday March 5, so what kind of impact will Bayou State voters have on who receives the Republican and Democratic nomination? ULM Political Science professor Joshua Stockley says Louisiana will be a critical state for the candidates, especially for Republicans. Three Republican candidates remain, as Ben Carson has dropped out of the race. Stockley says the Louisiana delegates are crucial for Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz, if they hope to beat Donald Trump. All three Republican candidates will be in Louisiana Friday.
Former Saints safety Darren Sharper has reached a new plea deal in his federal drug and rape case. The agreement comes two weeks after U.S. District Judge Triche Milazzo rejected a prior plea deal. Sharper’s sentencing was set for Thursday but will take place June 16. A hearing for the new plea agreement will be March 17.
Louisiana’s iconic black bear, the original teddy bear, will be removed from the endangered species list next week, according to Louisiana Gannett. The ceremony to formally remove the bear from the list will be held at the Tensas National Wildlife Refuge. During the 1950s the Louisiana black bear population was fewer than 100, but that number has grown to upwards of 1000 bears.
Baton Rouge Police say a Department of Development inspector is booked for allegedly trying to extort money from several Baton Rouge businesses. They say 29-year-old Jeremy Jamal Johnson, a code enforcement officer, is accuse of walking into establishments and and demand inspection money or else he’d shut them down. Johnson was charged with attempted felony theft, extortion, malfeasance in office and public bribery.