News for Thursday 052616
By Dave Graichen
Louisiana and 10 other states are suing the Obama administration over the recent transgender bathroom policy in public schools. The federal government announced that public schools must allow transgender students to use bathrooms and locker rooms consistent with their gender identity, or risk losing federal funding. The lawsuit says the Obama administration is trampling on policies and the directive should be ruled unlawful.
State lawmakers have agreed to raise the GPA requirement for upper-tier TOPS students, who also receive a stipend to help pay for their higher education costs. The legislation heading to the governor’s desk would raise the GPA requirement to 3.25 for a TOPS Performance Award and 3.5 for a TOPS Honors Award.
Triple-A expects over 38 million Americans will travel over the Memorial Day weekend, the highest number of travelers since 2005. Spokesperson Don Redman says it’s due to low gas prices, which are currently around $2.10 a gallon for regular gasoline. He says these are the lowest gas prices we’ve seen in 11 years.
The nonprofit group Rebuild Louisiana is raising money that will go towards getting public support for Governor John Bel Edwards’ legislative agenda. It’s expected the governor will call a special session next month to address a 600-million dollar budget shortfall. Chairman of Rebuild Louisiana, Mary Olive Pierson says the group is raising money because there are plenty of what she calls “hard heads” in the legislature. Pierson says they are concerned about some items that have already been defeated, such as equal pay for men and women. She says the fight isn’t over yet, because after this session, there will be another special session, and her organization will continue to push for their concerns.
The Republican-dominated House Labor and Industrial Relations Committee gave a thumbs down to every bill on its Wednesday agenda, including an increase in the minimum wage, equal pay for women and measures dealing with back pay and equal pay for women. It was the committees final meeting of the regular legislative session.
The town talk reports a federal judge has ruled that the owner and others associated with Silver Dollar Pawn Shop must pay attorney fees and costs totaling more than $121,000 for filing a baseless lawsuit against the city of Alexandria, police officers and others. The lawsuit was filed by owner Jimmie DeRamus and others in November 2014 and claimed Alexandria police officers and others acted improperly during the investigation of stolen items, which were found at the shop.
A bill to help parents know who their kids are talking to online is heading to the Governor’s desk. Metairie Representative Cameron Henry says his bill requires sex offenders to register any email addresses or online user names, as they would with a phone number or address. Henry says sex offenders have a whole new way to find victims, thanks to online games and social media sites. The measure passed unanimously in both the House and the Senate, and Governor Edwards is expected to sign the bill.
A bill to require warning signs to be posted 500 feet ahead of red light cameras has just received final legislative passage. New Orleans Senator Troy Carter says red light cameras should be about safety, not collecting revenues. The measure now heads to the governor’s desk to be signed into law.
The website BayouOpportunity.com, has been launched to aid oil and gas industry workers find new jobs, as unemployment continues to rise in that sector. Louisiana Economic Development Secretary Don Pierson says the site has information about a job fair that will be held this June to help people get jobs and find training opportunities.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention finds the adult smoking rate in the US is falling faster than is has in the past 20 years. Renee Underwood, with the state department of health and hospitals, says they’ve partnered with organizations, like the Louisiana Public Health Institute and the American Cancer Society, to reduce the number of people who start smoking and to get smokers the resources they need to quit.
An LSU AgCenter scientist has discovered a new way to reduce the sodium content in food. Marvin Moncada developed nanosalt, which is salt in a powder form that is about one-thousand times smaller than kosher salt. Moncada says nanosalt is a natural alternative to reducing the amount of salt content in foods. Moncada says The CDC recommends individuals eat 23-hundred milligrams of sodium a day but most people in the US eat double the amount. He says they’re still in the lab stage but expects tests to be conducted with consumers shortly.
A deputy with the St. John the Baptist Parish Sheriff’s Office is under arrest on many charges after a variety of drugs were allegedly found in his vehicle during a traffic stop while he was off duty. 23-year-old Barry Conner II was booked for drug possession, use of a firearm around a controlled dangerous substance and traffic violation.
The Justice Department is urging a federal court to let government regulators decide if a New Orleans company has done enough to end an oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico that began nearly 12 years ago. Taylor Energy Company sued the federal government in January to recover more than $400 million it set aside for work to stop the leak off Louisiana’s coast. The leak began in 2004 when an underwater mudslide triggered by Hurricane Ivan’s waves toppled a company-owned platform and buried a cluster of 28 oil wells under 100 feet of sediment and mud. Taylor Energy claims nothing can be done to completely eliminate the leaks, which create sheens that often stretch for miles. Regulators have warned the leak could last a century or more if left unchecked.
LSU baseball rallies past Florida, 5-3, in longest game in SEC tournament history. The win gives LSU a tussle with No. 1 seed Mississippi State at 8 p.m. Thursday and, to the victor goes the enviable Friday day off.