News for Monday 021317
By Dave Graichen
A 10-day special session begins tonight as Governor John Bel Edwards is asking lawmakers to use a combination of cuts and money from the rainy day fund to close a 304-million dollar midyear budget deficit. Commissioner of Administration Jay Dardenne says it’s their recommendation that legislators approve the use of 119-million dollars in rainy day dollars. But, that will still leave 185-million dollars in cuts and shuffling of dollars to close the deficit. Republican House Appropriations Chairman Cameron Henry proposes to cut more than what the governor recommends, because the state faces another significant deficit next fiscal year.
Ask and you shall receive. Late last week Governor John Bel Edwards has sent a 23 page letter to the White House asking for a federal disaster declaration for five parishes following Tuesday’s tornado outbreak. Saturday, he got his request answered. President Donald Trump declared Louisiana a major disaster area freeing up desperately needed emergency federal aid.
6 months ago, the worst disaster to strike the United States in over 4 years hit Louisiana; “The Great Flood of 2016.” So where to things stand now? In Livingston Parish, approximately 80% of residential and commercial structures were damaged by flooding. Parish President Layton Ricks says many residents are back in their homes. Ricks says recovery has moved along much faster than he thought it would, but there’s still a long way to go.
Iberville Parish authorities have arrested a father and son from Florida who were running the largest gas skimmer operation in the state’s history. Sheriff Brett Stassi says they apprehended the duo during a traffic stop. Stassi says in their vehicle they found gas skimmers and equipment to make fake credit cards. Skimmers are placed on card-readers at gas pumps and it gives crooks the ability to steal credit card numbers and PIN information.
Pop-star and Kentwood native Britney Spears is sending out thanks to those who sent out thoughts and prayers for her 8-year-old niece who was injured in a horrible ATV accident in Tangipahoa Parish, but has now been released from the hospital. On Twitter, Spears says prayers were answered for Maddie, and the family appreciates the support more than you’ll ever know.
A federal indictment has been handed down against a Louisiana veterinarian accused of providing trainers of horses with syringes of a drug that would impact the outcome of the race. Kyle James Hebert has clinics in Lake Charles and Sunset and prosecutors say the drug he supplied is known as “frog juice” and it was used on at least four horses.
A Phillips 66 employee remains unaccounted for after a pipeline explosion that took place in St. Charles Parish on Thursday night. The company says six people were working at the site when the blast occurred. Todd Denton with Phillips 66 expressed his sorrow for those involved at a press conference Friday morning. The missing person has not been identified. Denton says regular maintenance was taking place at the time of the explosion.
Former Governor Kathleen Blanco is honored to hear Oscar nominated actress Annette Bening has been cast to portray her in the upcoming FX television series, Katrina: American Crime Story. She says the show will explore the extreme poverty of New Orleans residents before and after the hurricane. Blanco expects there will be about 13 episodes during the season, which is scheduled to air in 2018. She says she would be happy to sit down and talk with Annette Bening to help her play up the character.