News for Wednesday 052516
By Dave Graichen
Governor John Bel Edwards and other state and local officials cut the ribbon yesterday on the Curtis Coleman Memorial Bridge over the Red River in Rapides Parish, as all four lanes are now open. The bridge replaced the O.K. Allen Bridge at a cost 83-million dollars.
The Red River Waterway Commission has reopened some of the public boat ramps on the Red River now that water levels have started to recede. These include several of the ramps in Red River, Natchitoches, and Rapides Parishes. However, the commission warns boaters to use caution when launching into the current and be highly aware of obstacles such as trees and sandbars while navigating the river.
A report from the Tulane University Cowen Institute says if the legislature is forced to reduce state funding for TOPS cuts, they hope students most in need of financial assistance are protected first. Policy director Vincent Rossmeier says the program has increasingly awarded scholarships to students who are coming from families, who could otherwise afford college.
Rossmeier says TOPS is an excellent vehicle for students who can least afford to go to college.
The Louisiana Senate voted 8-25 to reject a bill that would have protected LGBT people from discrimination in the workplace after passionate testimony in support of the bill. None of those opposed spoke or asked questions. The bill would prevent employers from discriminating against people based on their real or perceived sexual identity. Discrimination would apply to hiring, firing, compensation and terms of employment.
Work on a waterline near Donahue Ferry Road will result in a water boil advisory for about 125 water customers today. Water service will be turned off while the repairs are being made, and affected customers will be under a water boil advisory until further notice. Affected streets are Rue Donahue, Leonard Drive, Walker Drive, Louise Drive, Donahue Ferry Road and Holly Moore Drive.
Fifth District US Representative Ralph Abraham says he’s introduced legislation that attempts to stop President Obama’s order that calls on public schools to let transgender students use the bathroom consistent with their gender identity. Abraham says there’s support for his legislation. Abraham’s bill clarifies in federal law that the term “sex” refers to a person’s biological sex, not their gender identity.
A House-approved bill that would have punished so called “sanctuary cities” for implementing policies that are deemed to protect illegal immigrants, failed to get enough votes to pass out of a Senate committee. The Louisiana Sheriffs Association opposed the bill and Jefferson Parish Sheriff Newell Normand was vocal in his dislike saying it’s the federal government’s job to combat illegal immigration. Attorney General Jeff Landry supported the legislation as he would have authority to determine which municipalities should be defined as sanctuary cities. The proposal could have hurt New Orleans and Lafayette’s ability to borrow money for construction projects.
A House-committee voted against a proposed program that would allow law enforcement agencies to automatically scan motorists license plates. Supporters say the program would be used to catch car thieves and uninsured motorists, but opponents raised concerns about a private vendor making a nice profit from the fine money.
The Senate Health and Welfare Committee voted for legislation that would ban abortions in cases where the fetus is determined to have a genetic abnormality. The House-approved measure passed on a three to one vote. Baton Rouge Senator Dan Claitor raised concerns the proposed law is unconstitutional, but despite his objection, the panel advanced the measure to the full senate.
On a 3-2 vote, a Senate committee killed The Pastor Protection Act, which would have provided protection for religious organizations if they refuse to perform a same sex marriage. Bossier City Representative Mike Johnson says this bill is NOT as expansive as some religious freedom bills passed in other states. But New Orleans Senator JP Morrell says pastors and clergy members are already protected under the Religious Freedom Protection Act. He says there was no need for another bill that basically did the same thing.
PETA has issued a statement in response to LSU’s Mike the Tiger’s cancer diagnosis. PETA sent a letter to the university, calling for them to end their live mascot program all together, when Mike VI eventually succumbs to his terminal diagnosis. The animal rights activists say large breed cats are not meant to live in captivity on a college campus.
Atlanta, not New Orleans will host Super Bowl 53 in 2019. The Big Easy made a proposal to NFL owners who are meeting in Charlotte Tuesday, but the vote went Atlanta’s way. Some considered New Orleans a long shot, because Atlanta is in the process of building a new stadium.
The Department of Children and Family Services says a newborn was turned in to a Safe Haven facility in Baton Rouge by a mother who said she could not care for the child. The Safe Haven law states anyone can bring an infant up to 60 days old to an emergency designated facility with no questions asked. DCFS says 44 babies have been relinquished in Louisiana which they say proves this law saves lives.