News for Tuesday May 5th, 2020
Compiled by Dave Graichen
Clean up will begin today after a fire broke out Monday evening at the Avoyelles Parish Courthouse. The fire reportedly caused damage to the lobby of the assessor's office and some soot damage to the actual office itself. The courthouse will be closed until it is cleaned. There were no reports of any injuries.
Details are still forthcoming after the Grant Parish Sheriff’s office arrested the Creola Chief of Police. GPSO says 68 year old Donald Crooks of Pollock was being investigated after they had received several complaints involving him about ten days ago. Crooks is being charged with 13 counts of injuring public records, 16 counts of misdemeanor sexual battery, three counts of felony sexual battery, and malfeasance in office. He is being held at the Grant Parish Jail in lieu of a $100,000 bond.
Governor John Bel Edwards says the state’s fight against the spread of COVID-19 is seeing encouraging numbers. Edwards says over the last three days, the numbers of deaths have been the lowest seen in over a month, adding that the drop is credited to residents taking mitigation efforts seriously. The state reported 22 deaths on Monday, after reporting 19 on Sunday and 23 on Saturday. The number of COVID-19 deaths is up to 1,991.
The 2020 regular legislative session restarted yesterday after a month-long COVID-19 hiatus with 78 of the House’s 104 members in attendance. The Legislative Black Caucus had called for a postponement of legislative work until the 15th, but House Speaker Clay Schexnayder says they can’t wait any longer. The Lower Chamber will be missing one member for the rest of the session: freshman Representative Reggie Bagala of Lafourche Parish died from COVID-19.
A Senate Committee will hear several sports gambling-related bills Today. Lake Charles Republican Ronnie Johns has a proposal that calls for a proposition election on sports wagering to be held in every parish in November. If parishes were to legalize sports gambling, the activity could not begin until the Legislature approves the tax structure during next year’s fiscal session.
The House Appropriations, Ways and Means, and Transportation Committees are set to meet today starting at 9 AM. Appropriations will be taking up a few, preliminary budgetary procedures. Throughout the day Senate Judiciary A, B, and C will meet. Along with the gaming bills they’re scheduled to tackle, video poker, alcohol delivery, fantasy sports, and a proposal that would bar seizure of federal COVID relief money by an individual’s debtors. Senate Ag will also convene.
The Legislature’s chief economist tells the House Appropriations Committee not to expect a quick economic recovery once the coronavirus pandemic ends. Greg Albrecht anticipates a significant loss in state revenues for the fiscal year that begins in July. He says all you have to do is look at the price of oil.
Attorney General Jeff Landry is requesting that the governor reconsider keeping cosmetology services closed for the duration of his stay at home order. In a letter sent to the Gov. John Bel Edwards on Monday, Landry says his request comes after substantive discussions with the Louisiana Board of Cosmetology and with small business owners. The letter states that the salons and barbershops should be allowed to reopen with "common sense and reasonable" guidelines to preserve public health.
Businesses can sign up to receive updates about changes to business restrictions and guidance for reopening at Open-Safely-Dot-LA-Dot-Gov. State Fire Marshal Butch Browning encourages business owners to sign up. Browning says those that do will be put on a list for in-person compliance checks, but you don’t have to wait for that inspection to open. Once you register your business you’ll be offered a poster you can put up in your business that shows customers you are in compliance with new COVID regulations. Browning says the site also offers the public an online tool for reporting non-compliant businesses.
Just over half of Louisiana Oil and Gas Association members feel bankruptcy is likely due to low oil prices. Association spokesperson Kati Hyer says the combo of a price war and the drop in demand from COVID-19 has dropped oil prices through the floor.
Employees have seen cuts in salary ranging from 6% to 20%. Hyer says oil producers have been obligated to reduce 23% of their workforce already and 77.5% of operators are taking steps now to shut-in production.
Louisiana school systems receive a 260-million-dollar coronavirus relief grant from the feds, with guidance on how to use the funds coming from The Louisiana Department of Education. says with this funding districts can develop a plan for the upcoming school year to ensure every student hears from an educator every day.
Nearly two-hundred employees at the Georgia-Pacific lumber facility in DeQuincy will be out of a job soon. That’s because Georgia-Pacific says it’s ceasing operations at that facility.
Carnival Cruise Lines has canceled all North American cruises through July. A date has not been given on when Carnival will re-start operations at the Port of New Orleans.
Grammy Award winner and Louisiana native Lauren Daigle will perform the National Anthem during the Louisiana State University Virtual Graduation on May 15. According to LSU's website, the university will hold a graduation watch party on the LSU Facebook page on May 15 at 10 a.m. to wish its newest class of proud Tiger alumni congratulations and appreciation for their hard work and continued determination through trying times.
LSU football has received a verbal pledge from a quarterback out of Texas. Four-star prospect Garrett Nussmeier from Flower Mound, Texas said in a video message today that he wants to play for the Tigers. His father, Doug Nussmeier, played for the Saints in the late 1990s. Garrett Nussmeier is listed as the 16th best player in the state of Texas. He also had offers from Texas, Texas A-and-M and Miami.
An NFL coaching legend has passed away. Former Dolphins head coach Don Shula has died at the age of 90. He’s the NFL’s all-time winningest coach with 347 victories and coached in six Super Bowls, winning two titles. Shula retired following the 1995 season and entered the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1997. Saints Owner Gayle Benson says Shula embodied everything that so many of us love about the N-F-L. Saints Coach Sean Payton says we’ve lost a football legend. Shula is the only coach to guide an NFL team through a perfect season when Miami went 17-and-0 in 1972.
There will be no NFL games in London or Mexico City this year, because of the coronavirus pandemic. Commissioner Roger Goodell says he made the decision after talking to the teams, national and local governments, the NFLPA, medical authorities and international stadium partners.
The NFL is planning to release a 2020 schedule this week that would have the first regular-season game on September 10th and the Super Bowl on February seventh in Tampa. But the schedule will have contingencies built-in because of the coronavirus pandemic.
The Dolphins say they’ve come up with a plan on how fans will enter and exit their stadium and still adhere to social distancing guidelines. Hard Rock Stadium can hold 65-thousand fans, but the Dolphins says they might only have 15-thousand at their games this season.
Former LSU running back Leonard Fournette will likely be a free agent after the 2020 season. The Jaguars declined to pick up the fifth-year option on the former fourth overall pick. Fournette rushed for 11-hundred yards last season and led the team in receptions, but only scored three touchdowns.