News for Friday 030416
By Dave Graichen
The Alexandria Police report the investigation is continuing into the apparent kidnapping of a woman in the city. All police are saying, at this time, is that she has been found safe and sound. Police say the woman was reportedly taken against her will from the Chester Street area by 42-yearold Travis Randle. A search is continuing for Randle, who is wanted on home invasion and second-degree kidnapping charges.
The Alexandria City Marshalls office reports Taylor Ramone Weatherspoon has been captured by U.S. marshals in Dallas. The 19 year old Weatherspoon, who was in city court on a misdemeanor charge, slipped away on Feb. 25 as the noon recess began. Weatherspoon was captured without incident.
The budget standstill could be coming to an end. The Senate Finance committee is laying out its plans to tackle this fiscal year’s 900-million dollar budget deficit. It’s likely a conference committee will be needed to iron out differences between the House and Senate when it comes to cuts and taxes.
The House approved a 22-cent tobacco tax increase, which would increase the state’s tax on a pack of cigarettes to a $1.08. It’s the first revenue generating bill the lower chamber has passed in several days. The cigarette tax bill still needs to be approved by the Senate. It also appears the legislature will approve a one-cent increase to the state sales tax. The special session must end March 9th.
The TOPS Scholarship program could undergo changes in the next few years, as lawmakers have started filing bills for the regular session regarding the program. Jennings Senator Blade Morrish says he has filed about a dozen TOPS-related bills, including one that would limit the amount TOPS recipients would receive. Morrish says lawmakers attempted to cap the amount of the dollars going to TOPS last year, but the bill was vetoed by former-Governor Bobby Jindal.
Public Service Commissioner and former gubernatorial candidate Scott Angelle says he’s running for the 3rd Congressional District seat being left open by US Senate candidate Charles Boustany. There are now five Republicans in the race and UL-Lafayette Political Science Professor Pearson Cross says with this announcement, Angelle becomes the clear front runner.
Tomorrow is the state’s Presidential Primary and the Secretary of State is urging Louisianans to get out and exercise your right to vote. Tom Schedler says the polls will open at 7 am and close at 8 pm. Just a reminder, It is a closed primary. Democrats can only vote for democrats and republicans for republicans. Schedler says for 26 parishes there are local elections on the March 5th ballot. He says check out the Geaux Vote app on your smart phone to see what else could be on your ballot.
UL-Lafayette will have to vacate 22 football games between 2011 and 2014, as a result of a two-year NCAA Committee investigation. The committee determined that a former assistant coach falsified ACT scores for five students, meaning those students were ineligible to play. Games involving ineligible players led to vacating those victories. Eight victories from the 2011 season, four from 2012, eight from 2013 and two from 2014 will be vacated, including two New Orleans Bowl championships in 2011 and 2013 and the 2013 Sun Belt Conference championship.
State Police introduces a real-time auto insurance monitoring system to catch motorists who are uninsured. Major Doug Cain says this system, which will be used in the Baton Rouge and Monroe areas first, will provide police with the ability to know at a traffic stop or accident if the driver is actually insured. The Insurance Research Council reports 12 to 15 percent of Louisiana drivers are not insured.
A man accused of being a member of the Gremlins street gang turned himself in to police late Wednesday, according to Abbeville Chief Tony Hardy. He says 22-year-old Cody Guidry of Abbeville is one of 17 people indicted in connection with an investigation into gang activity in Louisiana. Five of the suspected members are still at large. Hardy says these men face many charges related to criminal street gang violations.