News for Thursday 051216
By Dave Graichen
Grant Parish authorities say no charges are expected to be filed against a husband who fatally shot his wife on Tuesday afternoon after she stabbed him multiple times. Sheriff Steve McCain says 36 year old Anthony Racina was airlifted to an Alexandria hospital. The investigation showed 34-year-old Elizabeth Racina was shot and killed in the incident. McCain said Anthony Racina acted in self-defense, but said the case would be forwarded to the Grant Parish District Attorney's Office for review.
Officials at Ft. Polk report a soldier has died from injuries suffered Tuesday while doing live fire training at the Joint Readiness Training Center. The soldier, whose name has not been released pending notification of next of kin, was not based at Fort Polk. He was with the 101st Airborne Division. The incident is under investigation.
The Edwards Administration is very concerned about state funding for healthcare, as the full House is set to debate the proposed spending plan for next fiscal year. Department of Health and Hospitals Sec. Rebekah Gee says the House budget committee shifted dollars away from DHH and this could lead to multiple hospital closures and would eliminate jobs that inspect potentially unsafe facilities. The budget bill is slated to be taken up on the House floor today.
The full House is expected to discuss today whether the TOPS scholarship program should be fully funded for next school year, as they address the proposed budget for next fiscal year. [Publisher of LaPolitics.com, Jeremy Alford, says he’s spoken with some lawmakers on the Senate side, who are torn on the matter. Alford says the TOPS funding issue will likely be brought up again before the end of this fiscal year, regardless of what happens to the program in the proposal before the lower chamber today.] Other budget concerns include the Attorney General’s Office requesting its own separate budget, talk of eliminating the Inspector General’s Office completely, and more cuts to the state’s health budget.
More layoffs are coming to the state. The Louisiana Workforce Commission announced yesterday Martin Mills will be permanently closing its Vidalia Distribution Center, which will result in 167 employees losing their jobs starting July 10th. LWC says their Rapid Response team will conduct orientation sessions for affected workers in two weeks.
The House has given final legislative passage to a bill that extends the waiting period for an abortion from 24 to 72 hours. The measure was unanimously approved and heads to Governor Edwards’ desk to be signed into law. Six other states have similar legislation, and it’s the longest waiting period in the country.
Senate approved legislation that would give patients direct access to a physical therapist rather than getting a doctor’s referral first now moves to the full House. Family physician and occupational medicine specialist Dr. Robert Rush is in favor of the legislation and says many people in the orthopedic field are stuck in the past. Rush says direct access to a physical therapist is a time and money saver. President of the American Physical Therapy Association Sharon Dunn says early therapy with an episode of pain reduces costs up to 60-percent.
Former Iberville Parish teacher, Kevin Keith, will spend two years in prison for having sex with three of his students. Keith was sentenced to 10 years in jail for five counts of felony carnal knowledge, but eight of the years were suspended. Keith was arrested after a female student told authorities she had sex with the 30-year-old and conceived his son when she was 15.
It’s every parent’s worst nightmare, authorities in Ruston report a mother ran over her child during morning carpool yesterday morning. Cops say as the mother was pulling into the parking lot, the child opened the door while the vehicle was still in motion, then fell under the wheel of the SUV. The child was pronounced dead by the Lincoln Parish Coroner’s Office.
The Raise the Age bill was sent to the House floor Wednesday for final legislative approval. The measure by New Orleans Senator JP Morrell would prosecute 17-year-olds in the juvenile justice system instead of as an adult. The idea cleared the Senate with strong support and there was no objection today in the House Criminal Justice Committee.
A Houma man who allegedly shot and killed his neighbor’s pit bull after the K-9 bit his 34-year-old son is facing several charges. Sgt. Travis Theriot says 60-year-old Karl Kohman should not have taken matters into his own hands. In addition to animal cruelty and illegal use of a weapon charges, Kohman was also booked with obstruction of justice for allegedly trying to hide the dog’s body.
A St. Landry Parish man is facing several charges after cops say he tried to set his own house on fire in a fit of rage. The Sheriff’s Office says when deputies arrived, they located 34-year-old Eugene Chambers of Eunice pouring gasoline on the residence and threatening officers with a metal pipe. A victim stated she and six children, between the ages of 2 and 13, were forced outside and that Chambers also dumped gasoline on her. He is charged with Attempted Aggravated Arson, Aggravated Assault and Resisting an Officer.
Two teenagers are dead following a crash caused by a motorist who is believed to have ran a stop sign in Iberia Parish. The Sheriff’s Office says the vehicle that failed to yield was hit by an SUV, and the two occupants of the car a 16 year old passenger and the 18 year old driver, were both pronounced dead at the scene. The investigation is ongoing.
A $745 fee has been set by Louisiana lawmakers for burials in state veterans’ cemeteries. But the cost won’t be shouldered by veterans. The Department of Veterans Affairs says the federal government has been paying for veterans’ burials. But the agency says a recent attorney general’s opinion suggested the fee rate needed to be set in law by the Legislature.
The same charge is being set for a veteran’s spouse or relative to be buried in the veterans’ cemetery. That fee, too, already has been charged by the state veterans’ department.
The department can waive the fee if the family member can’t afford it.
The House Appropriations Committee proposed to eliminate all financing for the inspector general in the budget year that begins July 1. Lawmakers suggested the agency’s duties overlap with work done by the attorney general and legislative auditor. The national Association of Inspectors General sent a letter to House members, saying elimination of Louisiana’s office would deny taxpayers the “oversight, accountability and transparency of government they deserve.” The proposal to eliminate the inspector general’s office will be debated today by the House when it takes up the budget bill.
A plan to boost monthly pension checks for retired state employees, public school workers and teachers is headed to the governor’s desk. The cost-of-living increase is part of a package of bills by Shreveport Sen. Barrow Peacock, chairman of the Senate Retirement Committee. The pension hike is tied to adjustments in how the retirement systems pay for raises and administrative costs, aimed at lessening long-term debts. All three bills won final legislative passage this week.