KSYL Local News

News For Friday 05/24/13

News for Friday 052413

By Dave Graichen


On Saturday and Sunday the state is offering a state sales tax holiday  on items residents need for the upcoming hurricane season. Louisiana  Department of Revenue spokesperson, Byron Henderson, says during the  next two days, consumers will not have to pay the state's 4-percent  sales tax on items like flashlights, batteries and generators.  Henderson says the exemption applies to the first 15-hundred dollars of

the purchase price of each item. Henderson says a complete list of the items exempt from the state's  sales tax on Saturday and Sunday can be found on the Department of Revenue's website.


Fewer people are expected to take trips this Memorial Day weekend.  Louisiana AAA ("triple A") spokesman Don Redman says just under 35- million Americans will travel 50 or more miles for the holiday; a dip of  about 1% below last year. He says highway travelers will likely not  notice any difference.


The state Commissioner of Administration Kristy Nichols announced Thursday, The total operating expense associated with the privatization of nine LSU hospitals will hit $1 billion during the new fiscal year. That’s more than is in the current year’s budget of $955 million for the state to operate the charity hospitals. And substantially more than the $626 million Gov. Bobby Jindal proposed for private companies to operate the public hospitals in the fiscal year that begins July 1. Nichols said the administration would submit amendments to the state Senate Finance Committee to close the funding gap, recommending using some money from hospital leases as well as other state and local revenues.


A plan to privatize operations at Huey P. Long Medical Center, which could close the Pineville hospital and move operations to England Airpark in Alexandria, will be considered Tuesday. Commissioner of Administration Kristy Nichols said Thursday that operating agreements are expected to be signed by the end of next month for private and public hospitals or foundations to take over nine hospitals currently operated through the LSU Health System. Rapides Regional Medical Center and Christus St. Francis Cabrini Hospital will be providing medical care at the airpark facility While the effective transfer date for the Monroe and Shreveport hospitals is Oct. 1, Huey P. Long’s transfer won’t be complete until October 2014. The hospital will continue providing care in Pineville, through most of next year until the Airpark facility is ready.


The state Attorney General's Office says a  special  grand  jury has been  selected to look at possible criminal activity in the awarding of a $200-million  Medicaid  contract  by the Jindal Administration. The  contract holder,  CNSI is the former employer  of  former  Health  & Hospitals head Bruce  Greenstein,  who  resigned  when  the  seeming impropriety  came  to  light.  The state abruptly cancelled the CNSI contract as well.


An amendment to the federal Farm Bill to deny food stamp benefits to convicted  rapists,  pedophiles  and  murderers,  has  been added by Senator David Vitter. He notes in Louisiana alone, from 2010 through 2012 over a million dollars’ worth of food stamp benefits were issued to people who were in prison. This would be a lifetime ban  that  no state could opt out of it. While Vitter's amendment passed, the Farm Bill itself is still under debate.


The state Legislative Auditor is requesting financial documents from the Louisiana Republican and Democratic  Parties,  but the state GOP is questioning whether the request is politically motivated. Auditor Darryl  Purpera  says  he  asked  for the financial documents  after learning state law requires both parties to file yearly reports. Louisiana Republican Party executive  director  Jason  Dore says the request  came  after  the  state  republican  party  fought  against proposed  tax increases that House members were discussing. He  says they already  file  campaign  finance  reports with the state ethics board and the federal elections commission. Purpera says there's no political agenda at play. The State Democratic party submitted the requested paperwork.


Louisiana's Congressional delegates are attempting to stave off big  impending rate hikes for the National Flood Insurance Program. Metairie  Congressman Steve Scalise says he and New Orleans Congressman Cedric  Richmond are co-sponsoring a bill to delay those premium increases for  three to five years. Scalise says the 2012 Flood Insurance Reform Act would  mean rate hikes of up to 20% a year over a four-year span, in an effort  to keep the program well-funded. Scalise says those proposed increases  are unrealistic.


A bill allowing clerks of court to receive a 4 percent pay raise zipped through the state Senate Thursday. The Senate voted 27-7 in favor of House Bill 174, giving the proposal final legislative passage. To be eligible for the pay increase, clerks would have to complete annual certification updates and other education requirements. State Sen. Ed Murray, D-New Orleans, said the pay boosts would not cost the state anything. He said the money would come from the clerks’ budgets.


Attempts to  stop  AGL Resources from expanding its salt mine in Lake Peigneur (Pin-your)  has  been  defeated  in  the  state senate. The company has requested a permit that would allow them  to  use  up to 5-million gallons of water every day. The bill would have called for an Environmental Impact Statement first.


Fire officials in Lafayette say nine horses  are dead after the barn they  were in caught on fire. They say upon arrival  the  smoke  was already  venting  through  the sides of the barn and the flames were too intense for firefighters  to  make entry and it was too late for the nine horses inside. It is believed  the  blaze  started  from  a lightning strike.


It’s not nice to fool with the IRS.. 42-year old Roderick  Dewitt  Aguillard the Third has pleaded guilty to not filingt income tax returns  over  a  four  year  period.  The former Denham Springs resident reportedly earned 2.3 million dollars during that four year period.  He was sentenced to eight  months  in federal prison.


Hurricane season  begins  in  10  days, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration forecasts  a  highly  active season. NOAA expects  13 - 20 named storms, 7 - 11 hurricanes. three  to  six  of those could  be  major hurricanes of Category 3 strength or higher. The  season  officially   begins   June   1st   and   ends  November 30th...though storms have occurred both before and after  those dates in recent years.


The  Governor's Office of Homeland Security & Emergency Preparedness launches a new smartphone app to let you receive emergency alerts as they happen.  GOHSEP director Kevin Davis says the Alert FM app is a free download for iPhone or Android systems. The app receives  special  alerts sent out by GOHSEP, which could be related to disasters, weather  emergencies and even Amber Alerts. It can  be  downloaded  free  at  the  online   Apple  store,  or  from GooglePlay.


Governor Bobby Jindal has signed into law a bill  that  will  assist and  encourage  Louisiana military servicemen and women to come home to the Bayou State.  House  Bill 312 does that by extending the time allowed for returning military  to  renew  any state or professional licenses  they may have had before going into  active  service.  New Orleans Rep.  Nick  Lorusso's bill met no opposition in the House or the Senate.


After losing to Arkansas yesterday 4 to 1. The LSU Tigers will face Alabama again today in the SEC baseball tournament. Airtime 2:30p




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