News for Thursday 050219
Compiled by Dave Graichen
With votes were being received through written ballots and via email, Rapides Parish School District employees and retirees have rejected a proposal to leave the Office of Group Benefits. The last public meeting on the matter was to be held in Tioga last night, but was cancelled. Liz Domite, the district's chief financial officer, said enough no votes already had been received that there was no way the proposal would pass.
Today is the “National Day Of Prayer and as people have for the past 25 years many will gather today at Pineville City Hall for an informal time of prayer for the nation, state, and city. The non-denominational Prayer Gathering will be held from 12:15 to 12:45 and all are invited to attend.
A WWL-TV report says Lt. Governor Billy Nungesser has State Police troopers drive him everywhere he goes, but he still receives 84-hundred dollars in annual salary to drive a personal vehicle to work. The report also claims that his staffers were getting paid by taxpayers while work on his re-election campaign. Nungesser is up for re-election this year, but no major challengers have surfaced. Nungesser says he rides with troopers only part of the time.
In one of the more bizarre stories A Lake Charles Charter Academy teacher has been arrested after allegations were lodged against her for sexual misconduct with a student. 34 year old Deidre Smith of Sulphur was arrested for allegedly having an inappropriate relationship, including intercourse, with one of her 10-year-old students. Smith was arrested and is facing charges of first-degree rape and felony indecent behavior with a juvenile.
On a narrow vote, the House Criminal Justice Committee approves a bill that expands the state’s stand your ground law to protect an individual who may have to use deadly force in churches. In Louisiana, people can bring a concealed weapon into a house of worship if the person or group in charge of the facility authorizes them to do so. The measure heads to the House floor.
Patients may finally be access liquid medical marijuana during the last week in May, while lawmakers on a House committee approved a bill that might allow them to inhale the medicine in the future. Officials with the LSU Ag Center and its partner GB Sciences said Wednesday they believe they're on track to deliver cannabis to the state's nine authorized pharmacies May 27.
A bill that would have required producers of “almond milk” to label their product something other than milk has had an amendment added that would only allow the law to go into effect if similar regulations are approved at the federal level. There were concerns that having different names for the same products across state lines would create confusions.
A bill that would conceal the identities of companies that sell lethal injection drugs and equipment to Louisiana clears committee and is headed to the House floor. Louisiana Conference of Catholic Bishops representative Rob Tasman says the state owes it to the tax payers to be open and honest when dealing with a subject as sensitive as killing someone. Bill sponsor, Hammond Representative Nicky Muscarello, agreed that the bill does promote government contracting secrecy, but says companies won’t sell the state the legally required lethal injection drugs without a guarantee of secrecy. The state has not carried out an execution since 2010.
Thousands of Louisianans with developmental disabilities will now be able to stay at home with their families after the Department of Health revamped a decades-old assistance waiting list. Assistant Secretary for the Office for Citizens with Developmental Disabilities Julie Hagan says they’ve adopted a “tiered system” that prioritizes those in immediate need of help, rather than those who will need help in the future. The full wait list was 12,000 people long but included thousands who may not need help for several years.
A new report from the National Education Association, the union representing over 3 million members across the country, indicates the average teacher salary in Louisiana is $50,000, which is 11% less than the average salary in the state a decade ago when adjusted for inflation. Union President Lily Garcia says the salary trajectory is making many potential teachers choose other occupations. The report indicates the state’s average teacher salary ranks 39th compared to other states and is 4.5% less than the national average.
Governor Edwards, along with gubernatorial challengers Congressman Ralph Abraham and Baton Rouge Businessman Eddie Rispone spoke before attendees at the “Oil and Natural Gas Industry Day” event in Baton Rouge. Each gave their case as to why voters should select them to lead the state. Edwards says while there is still work to be done, the state is in a better position than what it was when he took office. Abraham says if he is elected, he’d make more efforts to make Louisiana more business-friendly for the oil and natural gas industry. Rispone touted his experience as a businessman instead of being a career politician as the reason he has the ability to lead Louisiana.
Louisiana Tech has launched the school’s inaugural Giving Day. President of the Student Advancement team Maddie Patton says that donor can select if they want their money going toward the general school fund helping students attend Louisiana Tech through scholarships or toward fixing the damage from last week’s EF-3 tornado that impacted the Ruston area. To donate, visit LouisianaTechGivingDay.org.
The USA Today Network is reporting that Vice President Mike Pence will visit St. Landry Parish Friday to meet with faith leaders of the three churches that burned down in an alleged case of racially motivated arson. 21-year-old Holden Matthews has been arrested in connection to the crimes, and two million dollars has been raised on a GoFundMe page for the recovery efforts.
LSU baseball Coach Paul Mainieri said Wednesday that Cole Henry’s sore elbow will not allow him to pitch this weekend against Ole Miss. Even though Henry will not pitch, Mainieri has decided to move Zack Hess back to the bullpen. Mainieri wants Hess to let it loose when he comes out of the pen.