News for Tuesday June 16th, 2020
Compiled by Dave Graichen
The state health department reports 553 new coronavirus cases Monday, bringing the state’s total to 47,172. Over 37-thousand patients are listed as recovered. The state reported five more coronavirus-related deaths and hospitalizations increased by 12 to 568. Here in Rapides Parish there have been 1,193 cases reported and 41 people have lost their lives.
The House passes another tort reform effort aimed at lowering auto insurance rates, this time with a veto-proof majority. Bill sponsor Chalmette Representative Ray Garofalo says the legislation requires insurance companies to meet with the Insurance Commissioner to see how much money this legislation has saved them. New Orleans Representative Mandie Landry says just because companies are required to meet with the Commissioner, doesn’t mean he can, or will force them to lower rates. The Governor vetoed a similar bill in the regular session. This legislation differs from that attempt in that it further lowers the jury trial threshold to 5,000 dollars. The bill heads to the Senate.
Gov. John Bel Edwards has signed a Republican-crafted plan to spend $300 million in federal coronavirus aid to help small businesses recover from the outbreak. The dollars come from direct federal aid allocated to Louisiana by Congress to respond to the COVID-19 disease. Edwards intended to steer about $811 million of the federal assistance to local government agencies to reimburse them for virus-related expenses.
Republican state lawmakers chose to divvy that money up differently. They carved out $300 million for small business grants and used the remaining $511 million for municipalities.
The Supreme Court rules that employees cannot be fired due to their sexual orientation or if they are transgender. Loyola University Law Professor Dane Ciolino says the ruling has added meaning in Louisiana because state law did not protect gays and transgender individuals from workplace discrimination. Ciolino says this now puts orientation and transgender status under the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
Many people are just now getting back into their normal Sunday routine, which might include a church service. Most houses of worship closed their doors during the stay-at-home order, but now, some lawmakers want to discourage the government from dictating whether people can gather to worship again. On Monday a House committee approved a resolution asking Governor John Bel Edwards to broadly respect religious liberties. Lawmakers complained that churches were not considered an essential business.
Governor Edwards signs into law legislation increasing the penalties for throwing water on, or at a police officer. The new law makes the action “battery of a police officer” which comes with up to six months in jail.
Wild crawfish farmers are steaming over federal restrictions on who can and cannot receive CARES Act COVID relief money. Wild crawfish fisherman Jody Meche says crawfish farmers can get cash, but those who fish them in the wild have been left out in the cold. Meche says he spends hundreds of dollars a day on bait and fuel to harvest the mudbugs and the relief money would help with the expenses of not being able to sell his catch because restaurants have not been buying.
Authorities are seeking those responsible for the gunfire that left two people dead at a large gathering in Raceland early Sunday morning. Lt. Brennan Matherne with the Lafourche Parish Sheriff’s Office says two females, a 20 and 21 year old, were pronounced dead at the scene.
Authorities report the person who died Sunday night in a shooting in New Iberia was 12 years old. The Iberia Parish Coroner's Office is refusing to identify the victim. He would have turned 13 in August. The victim's brother also was shot in the incident, police say he remains in stable but critical condition in an area hospital.
Pennington Biomedical Research Center researchers say a chemical compound called BAM15 shows great promise as a metabolism increasing fat burner. Pennington Executive Director Dr. John Kirwan says they found the compound in a chemical library and administered it to lab mice. He says the results were impressive. Kirwan says BAM15 infiltrated fat cells in those lab mice and showed weight loss in the test group without any additional physical exertion compared to the control group. BAM15 was also shown to reduce blood sugar and insulin levels in lab mice.The substance will have to move to human trial next and would likely not be available for several years should it prove safe and effective.
Louisiana Highway 1 in Lafourche Parish receives $135 million in federal grant money to construct an 8.3 mile elevated highway from Leeville Bridge to Golden Meadow, making it the largest transportation grant in America. Congressman Garret Graves says the road is vital to get to Port Fourchon. Sections of the highway are so low that the road can go under water with a high tide or a strong wind, but experiences the most trouble with storm surge from tropical systems.
Motorists who want to celebrate Louisiana State University's latest college football national championship victory will be able to buy a specialized license plate commemorating the season. State lawmakers authorized creation of a special LSU National Champions 2019 license plate that can be used on a vehicle in place of a regular state-issued plate. Gov. John Bel Edwards announced Tuesday he had signed the bill into law. It could be a while however before the plates are available, the LSU Board of Supervisors must agree on a design.
LSU’s Zack Mathis and Saul Garza are leaving the Tigers baseball program as Mathis signed an undrafted free agent deal with the Padres, while Garza inked a deal with the Royals. Ragin Cajuns pitcher Brandon Young has signed with the Orioles.
And the WNBA announces it will hold a 22-game regular season in July and the league’s regular playoff format will end in October.
In the NFL, several players on the Cowboys and Texans have tested positive for COVID-19. The agent for star Dallas running back Eziekal Elliot says his client was one of the players who tested positive.
Saints running back Alvin Kamara attended his first NASCAR race yesterday as he was part of a small group of people who watched the race at Homestead-Miami Speedway in person. Kamara became a fan of the sport after NASCAR announced last week a ban of the confederate flag at all of their events. Denny Hamlin was the winner.
C-N-N has hired Saints safety Malcolm Jenkins as a contributor. Jenkins will continue to play football, but he’ll make himself available to the cable news network to speak on racial and social justice issues.