News for Monday January 20th, 2020
Compiled by Dave Graichen
A federal appeals court said Friday that it will not reconsider its ruling that Mississippi's law banning most abortions after 15 weeks is unconstitutional. The 2018 state law remains blocked and Mississippi's only abortion clinic remains open. The owner has said the clinic does abortions up to 16 weeks. Mississippi is likely to ask the U.S. Supreme Court to consider the case. Judge Reeves' ruling on the Mississippi law also put a similar law in Louisiana on hold.
Multibillion-dollar Medicaid contracts awarded by Gov. John Bel Edwards' administration have been scrapped by Louisiana's chief procurement officer, who determined the health department mishandled the bid process for deals to provide health services to 1.5 million people. A new Louisiana health secretary and Medicaid director will inherit the contract dispute. Health Secretary Rebekah Gee is resigning from the job at the end of the month, and the department's Medicaid director, Jen Steele, has left the agency.
CDC numbers show 30 percent of Louisianans are considered “inactive”, twice the national average. LSU AgCenter nutrition specialist Denise Holston says inactivity is defined by not meeting the recommended 150 minutes a week of moderate-intensity activity and can be the result of a number of impediments. Louisiana also sports one of the highest obesity rates in the nation at 35 percent. If you are one of those inactive adults, Holston recommends starting slow if you’re first getting into exercise, and find little ways to work it into your busy schedule.
State Police report an early Saturday night single-vehicle crash killed a man from Campti on Louisiana Highway 153. Troopers say a vehicle driven by 32-year-old Zantere Smith left the roadway and collided with a tree. Smith, who was not wearing a seatbelt, sustained fatal injuries during the crash and was pronounced dead at the scene. The crash remains under investigation.
The Louisiana Lottery is looking into expanding ticket sales by allowing players to make purchases of games over the internet through a smartphone app. Louisiana Lottery CEO Rose Hudson says in order to start online starts legislative approval is needed to change a state statute that prohibits gambling by computer. Hudson says eleven other state lotteries allow for the purchase of tickets online and with the launch of the Louisiana Lottery app, it’s a great time to explore adding Louisiana to that list.
A Lake Charles man is arrested and charged with two counts of second-degree murder in connection with a trailer fire that killed a mother and daughter and gravely injured an 11-year old boy. State Fire Marshal deputies in collaboration with the Lake Charles fire department announced the Calcasieau Parish Sheriff’s office booked 36-year-old Casey Hatch into the parish jail and bond is set at $2-million. Police say Hatch confessed to setting the blaze in an attempt to commit suicide on January 14th.
The Board of Elementary and Secondary Education has started the process of finding a new Superintendent of Education to replace John White, who is stepping down. BESE member Holly Boffy says they are seeking someone with strong organizational skills who can implement their agenda. A two-thirds vote from BESE will be needed to hire a new superintendent. White’s resignation is effective March 11th, and Boffy says they will be using that date as a “milestone” for finding a replacement.
Senator John Kennedy has co-introduced legislation aimed at combatting the global trade in bear parts along with New Jersey Senator Cory Booker. Animal Wellness Action spokesperson Wayne Pacelle says legislative action was needed to protect bears that are being killed for their gallbladders. The subspecies known as the Louisiana Black Bear was at one time on the federal endangered species list, but with a bit of growth in the population, but Pacelle says that protection has been taken away. Pacelle says the bears are slow to reproduce and cannot keep up with the large scale poaching cases throughout the US.
59-year-old Myrna Thomas Quarles is set to serve 71 months in federal prison for stealing over million dollars by defrauding a federal summer lunch program for hungry children who are out of school. The case is linked to a fraudulent company Quarles set up in 2014 and 2015 that handed out some food to kids, but significantly overstated the amount of work it did to overbill the feds.
Advanced Aero Services announces the launch of its maintenance, repair, and overhaul facility in Shreveport that is expected to create sixty direct jobs by 2021. AAS President Mike Anderson says the forecasted growth could result in the company employing 1000 people by the sixth year of operation.
An Ascension Parish man is accused of animal cruelty after 33 dogs were found in what officials described as "horrid conditions." Ascension deputies responded Sunday to a home on Martin Road to assist the animal shelter in the case. Upon arrival, they found one dead dog and 32 living dogs. 50 year old Thomas West was arrested on 33 counts of animal cruelty. The dogs were taken to a local animal shelter for treatment.
A Houston-based renewable fuels company is looking at leasing a 164-acre site at the Port of Greater Baton Rouge to build a $400 million to $500 million plant. Greentech Materials LLC would produce environmentally friendly diesel fuel from soybean and palm oil. The port’s executive committee approved a measure Thursday that gives Greentech 90 days to reach an agreement for an option on the land.
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