News for Friday 052915
By Dave Graichen
The National Weather Service predicts that the Red River could reach its highest level in 25 years. NWS predicts it will crest at 33 feet, the highest since a 34.5 foot crest in 1990. Meteorologist Mario Valverde says the Red River is expected to crest in the Shreveport area sometime around June 5th and in Alexandria a couple days later.
This afternoon the LSU baseball team will play Lehigh to open up NCAA Regional play. The Moutain Hawks are the Patriot League Tournament champs but the bring a 25-and-29 losing record into Baton Rouge. Airtime 2:30 on 970 KSYL
UL Lafayette will take on Rice this afternoon in the opening contest of the Houston Regional
A father has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the Rapides Parish Sheriff's Office and Alexandria's utility department, alleging that a prisoner working for the city on a work crew wasn't properly supervised when he escaped and later shot and killed his daughter last summer. The bodies of McKennedy Armstead and Johnnie Kite were found inside a Colfax home the afternoon of his escape. Officials said that Armstead shot and killed the 33-year-old woman and then took his own life.
The water boil advisory that went into effect last week in downtown Pineville has been lifted. The boil advisory was issued last Thursday as a precaution after a fire hydrant was hit by a vehicle, causing a drop in pressure.
Tax returns for 5,700 people are still waiting to be reviewed because of the identity verification process the Louisiana Department of Revenue has implemented to crack down on tax fraud.
Kizzy Payton, who serves as press secretary for the department, said the process could delay refunds for people asked to verify their identity by several months.
The Louisiana Supreme Court has denied an appeal in the case of a 2009 traffic stop in Woodworth. The town had appealed a 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals decision from March that sent the case back to trial court to determine how much in court costs the town would have to pay to Patricia Parker, an Alexandria woman who was stopped on her way to work in January 2009 and eventually was arrested and spent 25 days in jail.
The House did not agree to raise the state sales tax by a penny for road and bridge projects in Louisiana. The measure needed 70 votes to pass but the vote was 50 yeas and 46 nays. The state is currently facing a backlog of $12 billion in road and bridge needs. Governor Bobby Jindal though has promised to veto any bills which raise taxes.
Louisiana’s motorists could be hit with $79 million in fee hikes if budget-balancing proposals under consideration by state legislators become law. Senators have attached a $60 million annual fee increase on two House bills that would have drivers paying $50 more in title fees when they buy a car. Also being discussed in the Senate as a possible add-on to legislation is a nearly $40 hike to the cost of a driver’s license, to raise $19 million a year. Supporters say the changes would cover the costs of providing services, noting the fees haven’t been raised in decades. Whether lawmakers are willing to boost drivers’ costs in an election year remains unclear, with only two weeks remaining in the legislative session.
State police say the Click it or Ticket campaign continues this weekend after five unrestrained motorists were killed last weekend in highway crashes. State police spokesperson Dustin Dwight says more than 400 tickets were issued for seat belt violations over the weekend, unfortunately that wasn’t enough to prevent fatalities. The campaign will continue until the end of the month.
A recent poll shows Governor Bobby Jindal is less popular than President Barack Obama in Louisiana. But Jindal says that’s because he’s made some tough choices, which includes cutting state government spending and implementing important reforms like the statewide school voucher program. Jindal says he’ll announce after the legislative session on whether he’ll run for President. The governor says if he does run, he’ll let the voters know that he’s not afraid to make big changes.
Cops in the LaFourche Parish town of Golden Meadow say they’ve arrested a woman accused of stealing over $12,000 from a non-profit children’s baseball league. 35-year-old Renee Serigny (sehrn-YAY’) was booked with two counts of felony theft . Chief Reggie Pitre says that money was supposed to go towards their Babe Ruth and Cal Ripken league’s account for things like supplies and uniforms from registration fees.
There’s a report that the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries indicate a young black bear has been spotted in woods in West Monroe. They believe he could have come down the bayou of the Ouachita River which is a little high right now. Agents are using live culvert bear traps with donuts to attract the bear and hopefully capture him to place in a more suitable habitat.
The LSU softball team is off to a good start at the Women's College World Series as the Tigers defeated Auburn 6-1 on Thursday afternoon.
News for Thursday 052815
By Dave Graichen
NOAA announced today the 2015 Atlantic Hurricane forecast will see between 6-11 tropical storms, 3-6 hurricanes and either zero-two major strength hurricanes. NOAA Administrator Dr. Kathryn Sullivan says driving the impact this year is the El Nino which has developed in the Pacific Ocean and has the effect of suppressing hurricane activity in the Atlantic. Hurricane season officially runs June 1 through Nov. 30.
Two bills that are key components to a Common Core compromise made it off the House Floor Wednesday. The votes were nearly unanimous. One of the bills lets the public and others review the English and math standards, which could result in changes to Common Core curriculum that the next governor would have to approve. The other proposal seeks to control the state’s participation in tests associated with Common Core. The legislation will next head to the Senate, which is expected to go along with the bills.
Political blogger CB Forgotston says Governor Bobby Jindal violated the state constitution with a press release through the governor’s office that criticizes Presidential candidate Rand Paul. Jindal’s statement, which is on letterhead used by the governor’s office, says Senator Paul is unsuited to be Commander-in-Chief. Forgotston says the state constitution makes it clear that you can’t do that. Forgotston says he’s filed a complaint with Louisiana Inspector General.
The Senate approved medical marijuana legislation received a green light from a House Committee Wednesday. The bill would allow pot to be dispensed in Louisiana to patients with certain ailments. Louisiana Sheriff’s Association executive director, Michael Ranatza, says they’ve dropped their opposition after the bill tightened up. The legislation now heads to the House floor.
A bill that would prohibit hospitals from billing rape victims for their medical exams is one step closer to final passage. New Orleans Representative Helena Moreno’s legislation cleared the Senate in a unanimous vote. The measure now goes back to the House to consider Senate amendments.
Legislation prohibiting what is known as revenge porn is close to final passage. Kenner Representative Julie Stokes’ measure has cleared the House and now has unanimous approval from the Senate. Baton Rouge Senator Sharon Weston Broome says this would make it a crime to share a nude image of someone on the internet without their permission. The bill now heads back to the House to approve Senate amendments.
The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries agent who was shot in the back last week remains in serious condition. LDWF Secretary Robert Barham says doctors were able to remove the bullet from Sgt. Scott Bullitt, but he still can’t use his legs. The suspected shooter, Luke Hust, has been charged with two counts of attempted first degree murder in the incident. Barham says Hust has confessed to the shooting
One of country music’s biggest stars ever is coming to New Orleans. Garth Brooks will play his first concerts in the state in nearly two decades. His world tour with wife Trisha Yearwood will stop at the Smoothie King Center Friday, July 10th and Saturday, July 11th. Tickets go sale Friday, June 5th at 10am. There is an 8 ticket limit.
An FBI agent involved shooting in Bossier City has left a kidnapping suspect dead. Authorities say 9-year-old Caitlyn Williams was allegedly kidnapped in Texas by her uncle, 24-year-old Jesse Williams over the weekend. The pair were tracked to a motel room in Bossier City. When agents encountered Jesse, a struggle ensued and shots were fired. Jesse was fatally shot. An FBI agent was also shot and is expected to make a full recovery.
In an effort to increase its international profile and boost enrollment numbers, Nicholls State University has signed an educational partnership with Galliano-based offshore giant Edison Chouest that will allow their employees and family members earn a degree from the school. University President Bruce Murphy says the deal will waive out-of-state and international fees for students connected to Chouest. The company has approximately 14,000 employees in over a dozen countries worldwide.
Figures released by USA Today show that LSU athletics generated an estimated $133.7 million during the 2013-14 school year. They say that’s the 6th highest among all universities in the nation and second to Alabama in the SEC.
The National Football Foundation & College Hall of Fame announce that LSU play-by-play announcer Jim Hawthorne will be this year’s recipient of the NFF Chris Schenkel Award. It’s presented annually to people who have had long, distinguished careers in broadcasting college football.
The LSU softball team will take on SEC rival Auburn this afternoon in Oklahoma City in the opening round of the Women’s College World Series. It’s the fourth ever WCWS appearance for LSU.
Louisiana has its first female head football coach in history and she’ll be coaching a deaf squad. Susan Gremillion will be taking over the team at the Louisiana School for the Deaf from her husband Darren. The War Eagles are an eight-man football team and they went 7-2 last year.
News for Wednesday 052715
By Dave Graichen
The current maximum prison sentence for multiple marijuana possession offenders here in the state is 20-years, which is one of the toughest penalties in the nation. Two bills are moving through the legislature that seek to reduce prison times for repeat marijuana possession offenders. Similar efforts had failed in the past, but New Orleans Senator JP Morrell says this time around, the Louisiana Sheriff’s Association and the Louisiana District Attorney Association do not oppose the legislation. Morrell’s bill reduces mandatory jail time to 8 years.
Parks Senator Fred Mills will present his medical marijuana bill before the House Health and Welfare Committee Wednesday. The measure cleared the full Senate on a 22-13 vote. He says medical marijuana has been legal in Louisiana since a law was passed back in 1991.
A similar bill by Mills failed to pass committee last year. Mills says he’s worked with the Louisiana Sheriff’s Association to make the bill more acceptable to lawmakers.
Tuesday, Governor Bobby Jindal announced the total number of bills signed for the 2015 Regular Legislative Session which ends June 11th is 18.
Republican Gubernatorial candidate Scott Angelle announces he’ll be touring north Louisiana beginning this week. According to a release, the tour will travel through 27 parishes meeting with local officials, business owners, educators and other residents. Recent polls have shown the Public Service Commissioner Angelle trailing the other three major candidates Democratic Representative John Bel Edwards, Lt. Governor Jay Dardenne and the leader, US Senator David Vitter.
A bill that would ban sex selection abortions in Louisiana stalls in a Senate Judiciary Committee. The proposal by Houma Representative Lenar Whitney would penalize doctors who knowingly end a pregnancy because of sex preference. She says this is a problem in Asian communities where there is a preference for boys. Opponents say there’s no evidence to indicate this is a problem here in the states. The vote was 2-2 so the House approved measure will not go to the Senate floor for now.
Now that shrimp season is under way, local shrimpers are seeing prices at the dock take a nose dive. One shrimper says he’s getting 55-cents per pound for his catch, compared to $2 a year ago. The main reason, according to the Clint Guidry of the Louisiana Shrimp Association, is the increase of imported shrimp. He says he’s hopeful the feds will step in to restrict the number of imports.
Former US Senator Mary Landrieu has landed a new job; joining a Washington DC lobbying firm called Van Ness Feldman. Landrieu will be that firm’s senior policy advisor on energy, natural resources and infrastructure issues.
With the severe weather rolling across the state the past several days, weather experts are pointing to El Nino as a major cause for the above average rainfall. State Climatologist Barry Keim says the state has averaged about six inches of rain over the last month, but some isolated areas have gotten more. Most areas of the state are expecting more rain through the end of the week.
Governor Bobby Jindal could be kept out of the first Republican debate of the 2016 presidential campaign. Fox News will host the debate in August and the network requires contenders to be in the top 10 in an average of five national polls leading up to the event. LSU Political Science Professor Robert Hogan says with Jindal in jeopardy of making the cut, he’ll try to get the attention of party activists.
For a fourth straight season, LSU is a national seed in the NCAA Baseball Tournament, which will get underway when the Tigers host Lehigh University on Friday. The other two teams in the Baton Rouge regional are UNC-Wilmington and Tulane. UL Lafayette has made it to the NCAA Tournament for a third straight season. The Ragin Cajuns received an automatic bid after winning the Sun Belt Tournament and the play Rice on Friday.
A football player for LSU is booked with felony domestic abuse for allegedly choking his fiance in the presence of children. East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff’s office Spokeswoman Casey Hicks say 22-year-old Jevonte Domond was arrested for felony domestic abuse battery by strangulation with minor children present. She says the woman claimed she was strangled by Domond to the point of almost completely blacking out…:(Hicks says the woman’s injuries were consistent with her story and there was also a witness who corroborated the claim.)
A spokesman from the team says Domond has been suspended.
The Greater New Orleans Sports Foundation and the Allstate Sugar Bowl have put in a bid to host the College Football Playoff National Championship game in 2019 or 2020. New Orleans is already competing to host the Super Bowls in those same years. Jay Cicero, Greater New Orleans Sports Foundation President says it would be their hope to get both big games in the same year. It’s being reported as many as 9 cities are bidding to host the big game
News for Friday 052215
By Dave Graichen
A four hour man hunt has led to the arrest of a man accused of shooting a Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries agent last night. The agent was shot in the back Thursday evening near the Wham Brake boat launch.32 year old Sgt. Scott Bullitt is reportedly in in serious condition.
30 year old Luke Hust, from Monroe. It’s believed The officer was one of two who pulled over Hust under suspicion of DUI. It was when Sgt Bullitt was walking back to his vehicle that he was shot in the back.
Some of the worst flooding along the Red River in nearly two decades has closed all riverside recreation areas, including Fort Buhlow Recreation Area. It has also shut down all public boat launches on the river, closed two of the five locks and dams and has led to more restrictions on barge traffic. The Red River is at one of its highest levels in years, and flood warnings have been issued for the Red River at Alexandria, as well as the Calcasieu River near Glenmora.
Due to the threat of rain, The Little Walter Music Festival will take place indoors on Saturday. The festival will be held in the Alexandria Riverfront Center. Music begins at 11 a.m. and will continue until 11 p.m. The event had been scheduled for the Alexandria Levee Park Amphitheatre.
On a 65-37 vote, the state House approved a 24-billion dollar budget for next fiscal year, sending the spending plan to the senate. As it stands now, the budget reduces funding for LSU’s medical schools in New Orleans and Shreveport and the state’s public-private hospital partnerships are also underfunded. House Appropriations Chairman Jim Fannin says some state agencies will also face cuts The Senate Finance Committee will take up the budget next week.
With all of the travel miles Governor Bobby Jindal is logging, state lawmakers in the House voted to have the governor’s office to pay for the State Police Security detail in his out-of-town travel, instead of State Police having to foot the bill. For next year’s budget, Jindal would be on the hook for the money, and have to make cuts within his own office.
A bill that would phase out most of the movement of state dollars from a fund for roads and bridges to State Police won approval Thursday in the Louisiana Senate Transportation Committee. The measure, House Bill 208, earlier won House approval 92-5. It next faces action in the Senate Finance Committee because of its impact on the state budget.
Governor Bobby Jindal’s religious freedom executive order is receiving strong criticism from democrats. The leader of the state democratic party, New Orleans Senator Karen Peterson, says she can’t believe Jindal would issue the order, when businesses and the tourism industry expressed concern the measure could alienate visitors or keep conventions away. Jindal’s controversial order prevents the executive branch of state government from taking adverse action against a person or a business for their belief in traditional marriage. The governor says it re-affirms our first amendment rights. New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu signed his own executive order in response. The mayor says his executive order lets the nation know New Orleans is an accepting, inviting city that thrives on its diversity.
The former teacher of the year in Plaquemine who was arrested for allegedly having sex with three of his students, apparently fathered a child with one of the victim’s when she was 15-years-old. 30 year-old Keavin Keith was arrested Monday on 30 counts of prohibited sex with a student.
State Police say a fire yesterday at their data center has left Office of Motor Vehicles offices across the state unable process any transactions. Major Doug Cain says an electrical panel fire has disabled all automated systems at the Department of Public Safety, including OMV locations statewide. He says he hopeful they will be up and running sometime today.
An Acadia Parish woman has been arrested on charges in connection with the death of her newborn. The baby girl went into cardiac arrest after she was born at home, then died at the hospital. The toxicology report showed high levels of methamphetamine. The woman faces second-degree murder charges.
In Houma cops are searching for a woman they believe spread thumbtacks all over the bed of her ex-boyfriend, then poured boiling water on top of him while he was sleeping. They say 36-year-old Lynette Joseph is wanted for questioning in the crime of aggravated 2nd degree battery. According to a news release, the victim suffered severe burns to his torso, right arm and face and had to be shipped to the burn center in Baton Rouge.
The Metropolitan Crime Commission has asked the state Attorney General’s office to investigate the sentence of the Destrehan High School teacher who had sex with one of her students. Shelley Dufresene admitted to the act in exchange for no jail time and not having to register as a sex offender. The MCC wants the AG’s office to look into whether St. Charles Parish DA Joel Chaisson committed any criminal violations with regards to the plea.
News for Thursday 052115
By Dave Graichen
A Senate bill that will likely result in future TOPS students having to pay a portion of their tuition clears the House Education Committee. Under Mandeville Senator Jack Donahue’s legislation, the TOPS award will match 2016-17 tuition levels but the award will not automatically go up when tuition rises. Donahue says TOPS is unsustainable in its current form and this baseline will ensure its survival. The measure will now be debated on the House floor.
Legislation by Hammond Representative Chris Broadwater that would allow state colleges to raise fees for students passes the state House. Broadwater says a percentage of the revenues generated from additional fees would be set aside for needs based assistance.
A Senate committee has approved New Orleans Senator JP Morrell’s bill that would change a second-offense marijuana possession from a felony to a misdemeanor. It also allows a first-time offender to have their record expunged if they are not convicted for another marijuana violation within two years. He says there’s still significant penalties for 3 or more convictions. The bill heads to the full Senate.
The United Health Foundation ranks Louisiana 50th in the nation for Senior Health. That’s last according to the Annual America’s Health Rankings 2015 Senior Report. Katherine Palmier (palm-yay) is the Chief Medical Officer for the East Region of United Health Care. She says while Louisiana is ranked as the least healthy state for older adults, Mississippi is Number 49 this year then Kentucky, Arkansas and Oklahoma. Palmier says in Louisiana there is a high percentage of nursing home residents that are not receiving proper care. She also says a lot of Louisiana seniors struggle with food insecurity which means they wonder if they are going to have enough money to pay for their next meal.
New Orleans has been invited to bid to host the 2019 and 2020 Super Bowls. The Big Easy last hosted the Super Bowl in 2013. Jay Cicero, President of the Greater New Orleans Sports Foundation says Atlanta, Miami, Tampa, and Los Angeles have also received invitations to bid on hosting the big game from the NFL. New Orleans lost out on hosting the 2018 Super Bowl to Minneapolis and their new stadium last year. Cicero says with new stadiums proposed for Atlanta and Los Angeles, the competition will be stiff.
It will likely take a year before the Louisiana Black Bear is taken off the threatened species list, but federal officials are now recommending that delisting. After public input, they could open the door for regulated hunting of the black bear, but State Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Secretary Robert Barham says that’s not happening anytime soon.
After about 3 hours of debate, the Lafayette City-Parish Council has rejected a smoking ban in bars. Supporters of the proposed ban–backed by the Louisiana Campaign for Tobacco-Free Living–expressed health concerns for employees and musicians in clubs. Some opponents argued that decision should be left to club and bar owners. The vote was 5-4.
A recent study by NOAA shows a strong connection between the Deepwater Horizon Gulf oil spill and a high number of dolphin deaths. Dr. Kathleen Colegrove is the study’s lead veterinary pathologist, and she says half of the mammals in Barateria Bay-which was heavily damaged–had the rare adrenal lesions.
A Loreauxville (Lora ville) teen-ager lost his life after he was playing in rain water and accidently fell into a drainage pipe in New Iberia. Rescuers pulled the body of 15 year-old John Michael Steine from the pipe. He was dead at the scene.
The American Automobile Association expects more Americans to travel this Memorial Day weekend than they have in the last 10 years. Spokesman Don Redman says they predict a 5-percent increase from last year in people who will travel for the holiday weekend. He says over 37 milion Americans will travel more than 50 miles from home for the holiday. Redman says if you plan to travel by car this weekend, you can expect to share the road with a lot of people. It’s expected that about 33-million people will be traveling by car. Most drivers can expect to pay the lowest Memorial Day gas prices in five years.
News for Wednesday 052015
By Dave Graichen
An ordinance introduced Tuesday in Alexandria would block expansion of bingo halls and other charitable gaming sites in the city. A moratorium on bingo expansion in Alexandria has been in place for about eight years, but the City Council has lifted the moratorium at least twice. It is expected to come up for a vote in two weeks.
After a lengthy debate over Bossier City Representative Mike Johnson’s religious freedom bill, the House Civil Law Committee overwhelmingly voted to return the bill to the calendar, essentially killing it for the session. Johnson told the panel that his legislation is designed to protect business owners who have deep religious beliefs concerning traditional marriage.
Opposition to the legislation came from the business community and the head of the New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau. Stephen Perry called the bill radioactive. Lawmakers though could have stayed home for the day, After the vote, Governor Bobby Jindal issued an executive order that will do the same thing as the bill. It’s expected lawsuits will follow. Jindal did just what he often criticizes President Barack Obama for doing. When Obama issued his executive order on immigration, for example, Jindal had this to say: “If the President wants to make the case that the law should be changed, he should go make the case to Congress and our people.”
A pro-Governor Bobby Jindal advocacy group has released a television ad in Iowa supporting his candidacy for president. The American Future Project says the ad will run on cable television in Iowa and online for one week. This ad, that positions Jindal as the conservative Republican’s leading voice in the battle over religious freedom, comes on the heels of the governor forming an exploratory committee for a run for the presidency.
A House bill that would allow elementary school students to be taught gun safety is headed to the Senate. The legislation is by Baton Rouge Representative Blake Miguez who says firearm accident prevention and safety would be something kids should learn at a young age . The measure passed on a 93-3 vote. In a somewhat ironic twist, A bid to require that sex education be taught to public school students in grades seven to 12 in New Orleans was crushed Tuesday in the Louisiana House. The vote was 33-59, which is 20 votes short of the minimum needed for final approval.
The LSU baseball team begins play this afternoon at 4:30 in the SEC Tournament in Hoover, Alabama. Coach Paul Mainieri says this week will get them ready for the NCAA Tournament.
LSU has won the last two SEC Tournaments and with Mainieri as the head coach, the Tigers won the SEC Tourney from 2008 through 2011. The coach says they go into this tournament with very little pressure on them, since they know they’ll be a part of the NCAA Tournament.
House lawmakers balked at a proposal that would have let public colleges set their own tuition rates. House Bill 66 would have ended the need for legislative approval for tuition hikes. To stop the increases from hitting the state budget, the bill would have kept the TOPS free college tuition program from covering the additional costs. Only 45 lawmakers in the 105-member House bothered to cast a vote. It needed 53 votes to pass.
The Iberville Parish Sheriff’s Office has booked a 30-year-old teacher on 37 counts of inappropriate behavior with students. They say Keavin Keith’s charges include 30 counts of sex between student and teacher. Keith was named teacher of the year in 2013.
Legislation is headed to the Louisiana House floor that impose a new one-cent sales tax, with the monies from that revenue going toward the funding of 15 major transportation projects. If the bill makes it to the legislature, it is expected to be vetoed by Governor Bobby Jindal.
US Representative Steve Scalise of Metairie, the third highest ranking member in the US House, has endorsed US Senator David Vitter in his bid to become the next governor of Louisiana. This is the fifth endorsement the Senator has received from GOP members of Louisiana’s congressional delegation. Vitter was previously endorsed by Senator Bill Cassidy and Representatives Ralph Abraham, Charles Boustany, and John Fleming.
Today, the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries will make an important announcement at the Governor’s Mansion regarding the Louisiana black bear. It is expected that the black bear will be officially removed from the threatened species list. Secretary Robert Barham says the black bear was put on the threatened list nearly 25 years ago.
According to a recent survey by the LSU Public Policy Research lab, voters in Louisiana are still not tuned in to the upcoming Governor’s race. The numbers show only 25% of people here are following news about the election. All four candidates have favorable ratings.
News for Tuesday 051915
By Dave Graichen
Public schools in Natchitoches Parish are closed today because of heavy rains in the parish on Monday that closed several roads and Cane River Lake. A state of emergency was declared in Natchitoches Parish by Parish President Rick Nowlin because of the flooding.
Rapides Parish Sheriff William Earl Hilton will hold a press conference Thursday at 10 a.m. at the Best Western Inn & Suites On MacArthur Drive in Alexandria, to announce that he is running for reelection this fall. Two other candidates already have declared their intentions to run, Robert Dukes and William “Billy“ Burns Jr.
Eleven revenue generating bills previously approved by the House were also passed by the Senate Revenue and Fiscal Affairs Committee. The measures raise an estimated 615-million dollars. The senate panel also agreed to increase Louisiana’s cigarette tax by 32-cents, to 68-cents for a pack of cigarettes. But New Orleans Senator JP Morrell indicated the proposed tax could go up even more as the bill moves through the legislative process. The bills head to the Senate Finance committee for more discussion.
Today the House Civil Law Committee will hear Bossier City Representative Mike Johnson’s controversial religious freedom bill. Johnson says HB 707 would prevent adverse treatment from the state of any person or entity on the basis of their religious views on marriage, while opponents say it legalizes discrimination. Political analyst Bernie Pinsonat doesn’t think the outlook for this bill is good. The committee is also expected to hear a bill by New Orleans Representative Austin Badon that would protect someone from being fired from a job or denied housing because of their sexual orientation. Pinsonat feels this bill will be shot down as well.
Governor Bobby Jindal has formed an exploratory committee to help him decide on whether or not to make a presidential run. He has been considering a run for several months and has stated he will make a final decision by the end of June.
Ruston Police say an 11-year-old boy died after being trapped in a car swept away during flash flooding yesterday. He was apparently being driven to school by his grandmother who was able to escape the car along with another 7-year-old but the 11 year old did not make it out
Four arrests by the East Baton Rouge Sheriff’s Office have been made in connection of the death of a 54 year-old woman reported missing in April. Those arrested included her ex-husband who alleged planned the murder for hire scheme to kill his wife.
The US Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee hears legislation today that seeks to expand offshore drilling and provides Louisiana with additional dollars from oil and gas produced in federal waters off the state’s coast. Recently elected Senator Bill Cassidy is the author of the bill that supporters say could create over 200-thousand jobs. Louisiana and three other gulf states currently receive hundreds of millions of dollars for hosting offshore energy production. But there’s a cap on how much the states can receive, Cassidy is calling for a raising of the cap with this bill. Cassidy’s bill would also allow for offshore drilling in the Eastern Gulf of Mexico in 2017.
To recognize National Dog Bite Prevention Week, State Farm compiled claims data and found that Louisiana ranks 14th in the United States in a 2014 analysis of dog bite injury claims. The company says it paid out nearly $3 million dollars here for dog bite claims last year.
The Louisiana Senate approved Monday a measure that would allow some sheriff’s departments to automatically scan the license plates of drivers they pull over. Senate Bill 250, which supporters say will help police crackdown on uninsured motorists and car thieves, was approved on a 33-2 vote and now moves to the House for consideration.
There is a new coach on the reservation at Tioga. He is Kevin Cook. Cook coached at Bunkie last year leading them to the playoffs and before that he was responsible for the turnaround of the Buckeye program. Tioga along with the Grant Cougars, will now be playing in the extremely competitive new District 2-4A, facing Neville, West Ouachita, Franklin Parish, and Bastrop. The search now begins for the Bunkie Program. Word is they will name a coach later this week.
News For Monday 051815
By Dave Graichen
A deadly 3 car crash Friday has killed a husband and wife on I-49 near Bunkie. Their car reportedly rear-ended a wrecker truck, who had rear-ended another vehicle, which apparently had been struck by lightning. Austin and Destinee Jones of Covington were killed, while their 12 month baby in a car seat sustained minor injuries; same for the occupants in the other car. The wrecker driver was not injured.
The Louisiana Highway Safety Commission begins a statewide “Click It or Ticket” campaign today focusing on back seat passengers, pickup trucks, and low compliance areas. Their 2014 seat belt survey showed 84-percent of Louisiana motorists buckled up, the highest rate to date. Executive Director Lt. Col. John LeBlanc says this is a statewide campaign, but they will focus efforts in areas of the state where seat belt compliance is the lowest. Seat belt compliance was lowest in the here in the Alexandria area, 71-percent, followed by Monroe with a 75-percent.
Blue Bell announces layoffs of 1450 employees across the country following the listeria outbreaks. In Louisiana, they are planning 10 layoffs, and about 130 furloughs for disruption sites in Louisiana; including Slidell, Shreveport, Ruston, Lafayette, and Baton Rouge. Bluebell says the clean-up at the infected sites is taking longer than expected.
Alexandria Police arrest a man accused of throwing a baby up against the wall. Deputy Chief Cedric Green says they received a call from the baby’s mother saying 20-year-old Devontee Smith kicked in the back door of her residence and threatened her and the baby. Smith faces charges of domestic abuse battery, home invasion, simple assault, and theft of diapers and milk.
According to a recent statewide survey, almost two-thirds of voters (many of those-parents and graduates) are in favor of the TOPS scholarship program to remain fully funded. This, despite lawmakers efforts to put a cap on the awards. That’s a problem which leaves lawmakers with a bit of a dilemma, given the state budget crisis.
Hollywood South takes center stage in this summer’s blockbuster movie season, starting this weekend with opening of Pitch Perfect 2 filmed in Baton Rouge. Also scheduled is “American Ultra,” “Selfless” and “The Fantastic Four. Louisiana Entertainment Executive Director Chris Stelly, even with adjustments to the film tax credits being considered by the legislature to help ease the state budget deficit, he does not believe this would be a deterrent to film makers.
The Senate Revenue and Fiscal Affairs Committee will discuss today the revenue generating bills that were approved by the House. The lower chamber passed 11 bills that would increase revenues by 615-million dollars. Word is the Senate leadership wants to raise even more revenue to offset a one-point-six billion dollar budget gap. The tax bills up for consideration in the Senate would reduce tax breaks businesses currently enjoy, there’s also legislation that scales back the film tax and solar tax credit programs and raises the cigarette tax to a higher amount than that already agreed upon by the House.
The Revenue Estimating Conference announces that $179 million has been found that can help budget issues for this fiscal year and next. They say $99.4 million would be used for this fiscal year and $79.3 million for the fiscal year beginning July 1.
The Department of Children and Family Services is recruiting Foster Families, especially those who can take larger sibling groups or children with special needs. DCFS Policy Advisor Kaaren Hebert says this month, more than 4300 children will be served by Louisiana’s foster care system and just 2,000 certified foster homes are available. She says that’s a huge deficit for their agency.
New for Friday 051515
By Dave Graichen
State lawmakers Thursday decided residents in Rapides parish weren’t ready yet to vote for or against alcohol sales in the unincorporated area outside of Pineville. Senate Bill 112 by Sen. Rick Gallot did not get the necessary 20 votes to pass on the Senate floor. It received 16 votes for and 15 votes against, with eight senators absent. The other three senators who represent parts of Rapides Parish, Gerald Long, Bob Kostelka, and Neil Riser all voted against the bill.
If you haven’t gotten your state taxes done yet, this is the last day you can procrastinate. Today is the deadline for filing 2014 Louisiana individual income tax returns. The state department of revenue recommends electronic filing.
The bodies of a previously reported missing mother and her two children were found in a car in New Orleans East. NOPD says 25-year-old Michelle McCullum and her children, 5-year-old Caden and 3-year-old Cylie, were all found dead in an apparent murder-suicide.
In a unanimous vote, the state House passed New Orleans Representative Helena Moreno’s bill that would ban hospitals from billing rape victims for their medical exams. The measure would permit health care providers to submit a claim to the victim’s insurance company for payment, but the victim would not be required to pay any share of the costs. The legislation now goes to the Senate for consideration.
The full House has approved legislation that will reduce the maximum penalty for those who are convicted multiple times for simple marijuana possession. Under the bill, a person convicted three times for having a small amount of pot, faces a maximum sentence of eight years, instead of 20 which is current law. The senate will debate the measure next.
One person is dead and another three injured after a pickup truck struck a school bus head-on in Beauregard Parish Thursday morning. State Police say the crash killed a passenger in the truck and injured both drivers. There were no children on the school bus at the time.
The Bossier Parish Sheriff’s Office has charged a substitute teacher on counts of producing and possessing child pornography and carnal knowledge of a juvenile. Lt. Bill Davis says 26-year-old Christopher Kerr of Bossier City used his position as a teacher to get access to children, and he used social media as well. Four girls between the ages of 13 and 16 have been identified, and there are at least 30 more that are unidentified.
The Louisiana House approves legislation that would prohibit gender based abortions. The bill’s author is Houma Representative Lenar Whitney. She says there have been no documented cases in Louisiana, but she cited an article from Forbes about pregnancies ending early in US Asian communities because the sex of the unborn child was a girl. The bill passed 84-2 and now heads to the Senate.
Former LSU Tiger Odell Beckham has been voted to be on the cover of the Maden NFL 16 video game. Beckham beat out Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski a in vote by the fans.
The Baton Rouge-shot “Pitch Perfect 2″ opens nationwide today and expectations that it will be as loved as the first one are high. The sequel will once again be set at the fictional Barden University but was filmed in and around LSU. Ashley Territo is a manager in the office charged with approving all film projects on campus. During filming, producers issued an open invitation casting call to fill in a concert crowd for one of the scenes and over 3000 people showed up so many Louisianians will be looking to see if they made the cut.
A new political action committee targets US Senator David Vitter’s attempt to become governor of Louisiana. Gumbo PAC has launched a website and released a video that takes a critical look at Vitter’s time in political office. Gumbo PAC Chairman Trey Ourso says their mission is to educate voters about Vitter’s record. Ourso says some are concerned because Vitter has served in Congress since 1999 and is basically a “career Washington politician”.
The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries announces that Safe Boating Week begins Saturday. In Louisiana, Safe Boating Week marks the start of the spring and summer boating season. LDWF spokesman Adam Einck says boaters can expect increased patrols and safe boating checks this weekend. Einck says these increased patrols are not designed to stop anyone from having fun, they just want to make sure everyone is safe on the water.
News for Thursday 051415
By Dave Graichen
A deadly crash in Vernon parish last night claimed the life of a Leesville teen. State police report 15 year old Acadia Sanders lost control of the pickup she was driving and struck a tree on LA 465. Sanders, who was not wearing a seat belt was pronounced dead at the scene. An 18 year old passenger, Jon Stuckey, who was wearing a seatbelt survived the crash with moderate injuries. Troopers say the crash remains under investigation.
The Red River Waterway Commission announced yesterday that public boat launching ramps on the Red River are closed til further notice due to high water. These include the ramps in Rapides, Natchitoches, Grant, Avoyelles, Caddo, Bossier and Red River parishes. The commission says the boat launches will be re-opened as soon as conditions permit the public to utilize the ramps safely.
Supporters and opponents of Common Core have come together on legislation that puts a process in place that could lead to new public school education standards. Lake Charles Representative Brett Geymann, an outspoken critic of Common Core, says the compromise legislation, which was approved by the House Education committee Wednesday, allows for more public input in developing academic standards. The plan calls for BESE to approve new education standards in March 2016, but the next governor could reject them. The Governor’s office says they don’t like the veto mechanism and also have concerns that BESE would set up a standard’s commission filled with Common Core Supporters.
In a narrow vote, the state Senate advances an equal pay bill to the House. According to recent Census data, Louisiana has the largest gender pay gap in the nation. The bill also lays out a course of legal action if a worker is not paid the same as another doing the same job. Opponents say this would set businesses up for hoards of litigation but New Orleans Senator Karen Carter Peterson says this bill is about shrinking the gender pay gap, not promoting lawsuits. The bill passed the Senate on a 21-16 vote.
The Grant Parish Sheriff’s office has arrested a man accused of leaving his truck in the middle of the road then breaking into someone’s home and dancing naked under a water hose at another house. They say 27-year-old Tristan Yenzer of Alexandria was booked with unauthorized entry, aggravated obstruction of a roadway, theft of utilities and 2 counts of criminal trespassing.
Retired Army Lieutenant General Russel Honore, who gained fame in his no-nonsense approach to relief efforts in post-Katrina New Orleans, says he’s considering running for Governor. On a Baton Rouge Talk Show, Honore says if he does decide to run, he would do so under “No Party” and make an announcement before July 4th. He says he’d be in it to win it and even though it’s late in the game, raising money for a campaign would be no problem.
A bill that would ban someone from getting an abortion based on sex selection is scheduled for debate on the House Floor today. The measure by Houma Rep. Lenar Whitney made it out of committee without objection. Louisiana Right to Life says the use of abortion as a means of sex selection is a major social problem in a number of Asian countries where male children are widely preferred over females. However, opponents of the bill say, this isn’t China and the bill is just another roadblock being put in front of women who want an abortion in the state.
Governor Bobby Jindal’s approval rating in Louisiana is at an all-time low according to a new survey. Bernie Pinsonat conducts the Southern Media and Opinion Research Poll. He says they found Jindal got a 31.8% positive job performance rating from likely Louisiana voters.
Pinsonat says that rating is lower that President Barack Obama.
A Louisiana based oil company is set to drill near the site of the BP well blowout that killed 11 workers and caused the nation’s largest offshore oil spill. LLOG (log) Exploration Offshore has been approved to drill into the Macondo reservoir. Associate Director of the Tulane Energy Institute, Professor Eric Smith, says this shouldn’t cause people to be concerned. He says the BP blowout was the cause of human error and the reservoir is safe to drill.
The state house approves a bill that would let some motorists get an inspection sticker every five years. Currently the brake tags are $10 a year and drivers can get either a one or two year sticker. Stonewall Rep. Richard Burford says his bill would only apply to vehicles 7 years old or less. The vote was 58-33 and the measure now heads to the Senate for further consideration.
Senior Jared Foster is expected to start at second base tonight when the number one ranked LSU baseball team visits South Carolina. Foster, who was ruled academically ineligible last week, was reinstated after an “obscure” NCAA rule was uncovered that restored his eligibility.
News for Wednesday 051315
By Dave Graichen
A bill to allow for an election on alcohol sales in the unincorporated area of District B around Pineville got Senate committee approval Tuesday. The committee advanced SB 112 to the full Senate without objection.
The debate legislation that would remove the controversial Common Core education standards from public schools and replace it with one developed by Louisiana residents hits committee Today. Alexandria Representative Lance Harris authors the bill and he says Common Core was implemented with little public input and now parents see it’s not good for our students. But, not everyone agrees. Barry Erwin, president of the Council for a Better Louisiana, says ditching Common Core for another education curriculum is a wrong move for the state. The bill comes up in the House Education Committee.
State Treasurer John Kennedy says the state needs far more oversight and transparency in state government contracts in light of a recent report by the state Legislative auditor. It indicates Louisiana has nearly 15,000 contracts worth about $21 billion with no real way to keep track of many of them. Kennedy says this is unacceptable. Kennedy says many of these contracts are wasteful spending and millions could be saved with better oversight.
A new statewide poll shows Republican Senator David Vitter is separating himself even more as the front-runner in the governor’s race. In a survey conducted by Southern Media and Opinion Research, 38-percent of respondents said they would vote for Vitter, his closest challenger is Democrat John Bel Edwards at 25-percent. Republican Jay Dardenne finished third in the poll as he received support from 17-percent of those surveyed, while Republican Scott Angelle got five-percent.
The Attorney General’s office says two former St. John the Baptist Parish Water Works employees were convicted Tuesday for covering up their failure to properly collect water samples from testing sites. The Department of Health and Hospitals later found a brain eating amoeba at those sites. Both were sentenced to one year in parish prison, with that sentence suspended, and 6 months’ probation.
A bill by Gonzales Representative Johnny Berthelot that would double littering fines is headed to the full Senate. The House bill advanced out of the Senate Environmental committee Tuesday. Berthelot says the additional revenue would go towards law enforcement retirement.
Under the measure, first offense fines for simple lit erring would go to $150 up from $75.
In a stunning move, the Pelicans announced the firing of head coach Monty Williams after five seasons, which included two trips to the playoffs. Jake Madison, a writer for a blog website called Bourbon Street Shots, says the move is surprising considering Owner Tom Benson recently wrote a letter expressing support for Williams, who just guided the Pels to the postseason. But Madison says general manager Dell Demps apparently wanted to go in another direction.
A stand-off Tuesday morning with Shreveport Police, Caddo Parish Sheriff’s deputies and some federal agents has ended with two people dead, and another injured. A woman was shot and killed at the residence, and the second victim was taken to University Hospital with a gunshot wound to the leg. Officers later discovered the unidentified shooter was found dead inside the home from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot.
The Champion Square image of Tracy Porter interception to seal the deal for the Saints Super Bowl win in 2010 is coming down. The issue is not with the former Port Allen High School star; the problem is Darren Sharper running behind him. With Sharper pleading guilty to sex crimes in three states, Saints officials say they say some images need to be “freshened up.”
News for Tuesday 051215
By Dave Graichen
A 24-billion dollar budget that funds higher education at the same level as this year heads to the full House for a vote next week. The House Appropriations Committee has approved next fiscal year’s spending plan and Chairman Jim Fannin says revenue generating bills approved by the House last week will prevent any cuts to public colleges and universities. The House approved 615-million dollars in additional revenue last week, by raising the state’s cigarette tax and suspending or reducing tax benefits many businesses currently enjoy.
Legislative leaders in the state House of Representatives say they are committed to an override veto session if Governor Jindal vetoes the revenue generating bills they have passed.
Jindal has said consistently that he will not approve any tax hike unless there is a tax reduction elsewhere.
The Senate has advanced a bill that would let colleges raise their own tuition without legislative approval. The vote was 33-4 Monday and the authority would only come if another proposal which seeks to control the TOPS scholarship program also advances.
Dozens of Acadiana’s top employers will screen potential employees Tuesday at the annual LEDA Job Fair from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Cajundome Convention Center. Organized by the Lafayette Economic Development Authority, the LEDA Job Fair is in its 20th year. The fair is free to attend and will offer free services to those seeking jobs.
The Caddo Parish Sheriff’s Office has arrested a Vivian teenager accused of stabbing his parents. Authorities say 17-year-old Shane Alexander is charged with two counts of attempted first degree murder. Spokesperson Cindy Chadwick says Shane went into his parents’ bedroom around 3 o’clock Monday morning wielding a knife. 61-year-old LaDonna Alexander, was stabbed once in the chest and his father, 64-year-old Jerry Alexander was stabbed in the back and arm. Both survived the attack.
A high speed crash in St. Tammany Parish has claimed the life of one adult and one teen. State Trooper Dustin Dwight says they first pulled the vehicle over, then conducted an impairment test with the driver. That’s when a 21 year-old passenger jumped into the driver’s seat and took off with a teen passenger in the back seat. Troopers combed the area looking for the boys and a short time later came upon the scene of a crash. It appears the driver of the car lost control and left the road striking some trees. Both boys were pronounced dead at the scene.
Two LSU students have developed a smart phone app that allows people to record and upload videos of police encounters and share it with media outlets. The Police Officer Watchdog Events Reporter, or POWER, app was developed by Wilborn Nobles and Elbis Bolton. Bolton says this app can be used to spread both negative and positive interactions with police. The app would become a hub to share those videos with newsrooms nationwide. The POWER App is currently available for download for Android devices. Bolton says they are working on an iPhone version.
New Orleans Representative Austin Badon believes his anti-discrimination legislation has a decent chance of passing this year. House Bill 612 would ban discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. He says it needs to be realized that, across the board, all men and women are created equal.
The number one ranked LSU baseball team plays its final non-conference game of the season tonight as they visit the UNO Privateers. On paper this looks like a big mismatch as the Tigers 43-and-8 overall, while the Privateers are 14-and-36.
News for Monday 051115
By Dave Graichen
The deputy secretary of the state Department of Economic Development is getting a promotion to the top spot. Governor Bobby Jindal announced Friday that Steven Grissom will succeed Secretary Stephen Moret who, as of today, is the President and CEO of the LSU Foundation.
Across the border in Mississippi, authorities continue to investigate the shooting deaths of two Hattiesburg police officers Saturday night during, what the officers believed to be, a routine traffic stop. Authorities say three suspects are in custody, including two who are charged with capital murder.
State lawmakers have about a month left to pass a budget for next fiscal year. The House has approved a package of bills that raises 664-million dollars that will go towards mitigating budget cuts to higher education and health care. Governor Bobby Jindal says he’s okay with legislation that puts a stop to “corporate welfare.” That’s cases where businesses receive more in tax benefits than they pay in taxes. But he says some of the tax bills passed in the House, like the cigarette tax, will need to be offset with a tax break somewhere else.
The EPA has approved the Louisiana Military Department’s recommended incineration method of disposal of the 15 million pounds of M6 propellant at Camp Minden. State Representative Gene Reynolds says this is a victory for the community who had strong objections to the original plan of the federal government to conduct an open burn to get rid of the explosives.
The method to be used will be a contained incineration burn method by the company Explosive Service International. The incinerator still needs to be built before the burn begins.
A bill headed to the House floor would provide free HIV tests for inmates being released from prison. Natchitoches Representative Kenny Cox says before a person leaves a state jail for parole, they should be tested and if needed, treated as a way to help prevent AIDS from spreading further. Cox says Louisiana has the fourth highest number of men and women living with AIDS in the nation. Cox says that in 9 state prisons, about 3 percent of inmates are HIV positive.
Construction is underway to build a “lazy river” on the LSU campus in the shape of the letters L-S-U and some wonder if this is appropriate considering the potentially huge budget cuts facing the school. Student Body President, Andrew Mahtook, says the funding for this project is completely separate from any state appropriations. In 2011, students passed a resolution asking for a student recreation fee increase to expand the recreation center, which includes the building of the “lazy river.” Professor Kevin Cope, LSU Faculty Senate President, says this shows a flaw in how colleges prioritize funds.
New Orleans Police say an alligator is to blame for a fatal accident on I-10 Friday. Authorities say the gator was attempting to cross the interstate when it appears a van came to a complete stop after hitting the alligator. The van was then struck from behind by another vehicle. Police say the driver of that vehicle was pronounced dead at the scene. Two other people were injured in the crash.
The St. Mary Parish Sheriff’s office says a teacher is under arrest for allegedly telling one of his students to punch another one. They say 34-year-old Randy Louis of Baldwin, a teacher at the St. Mary Parish Alternative Program school, restrained a 9-year-old male student while instructing another student to strike him. Louis is charged of contributing to the delinquency of juveniles and simple battery.
The LSU baseball team swept the weekend series against Missouri and extended their SEC lead to a game and a half over Vanderbilt and two games over Texas A&M in the SEC West. Heading into the regular-season series finale at South Carolina next weekend, the Tigers control their own destiny, needing two wins at Carolina to lock up the SEC regular-season title ,no matter what the Commodores and Aggies do.
LSU confirms senior second baseman Jared Foster is no longer going to play ball as he’s been ruled academically ineligible for the remainder of the season. Foster is tied for the team lead with eight home runs. LSU now has the best team in the SEC after beating Missouri 8-3 last night.
Louisiana Tech men’s basketball coach Michael White has accepted the head coaching job at the University of Florida. “Bleed Tech Blue” Publisher Jonathan Ford believes there will be plenty of interest in the opening at Tech. In White’s four years leading the Bulldogs, he accumulated a 101-40 record.
News for Friday 050815
By Dave Graichen
Two juveniles and an adult have been indicted in connection to the case of a man found dead March 1 in the City Park area of Alexandria. Z’various Mason and Richard Ambush were arrested on March 5, both charged with first-degree murder in the death of 21year-old Kendrick Hayes. At the time, their names were not released, Mason was 15 at the time of the shooting, while Ambush was 16. The Alexandria Police Department had requested that both be charged as adults. Also indicted in the case is Desmond Harris. All three were indicted on a charge of second-degree murder.
The state police report 57-year-old William Powell of Hineston died Wednesday afternoon in a wreck that shut down La. Highway 112 for several hours. Powell, who was not wearing a seat belt, was driving a 2015 Western Star dump truck loaded with gravel. It appears he lost control of the truck causing it to leave the roadway and over turn. Powell was pronounced dead at the scene. The crash is under investigation, and routine toxicology tests are pending.
The state House advances a package of bills to the Senate that would raise 670-million dollars that can be used to cover a one-point-six billion dollar shortfall. The legislation heading to the senate raises the tax on cigarettes and scales back tax programs. Political Analyst Bernie Pinsonat says more work needs to be done to solve this budget crisis. Pinsonat says what the House did on Thursday is a good start, but even with these revenue generating bills heading to the senate, there’s still a big shortfall out there. The revenue generating bills passed in the House face an uncertain future in the Senate and may get vetoed by the governor if they make it through the legislative process.
The House approved a measure that would limit the amount of credits issued as part of the film tax program to $200 million dollars despite objections from lawmakers who thought the cap should be lower. Alexandria Representative Lance Harris tried to amend it to $150 million dollars saying that other $50 million needs to be used elsewhere. But the amendment failed with opponents saying the $150 million dollar cap would run the industry out of town. The bill now heads to the Senate.
Another bill that passed on the House Floor Thursday would double Louisiana’s littering fines. Gonzales Representative Johnny Berthelot’s bill would take a $75 first offense littering fine and make it $150 with $1,000 for subsequent offenses. After the 90-2 vote the bill now heads to the Senate.
Two bills that seek to control the wild hog population in Louisiana pass the House Natural Resources Committee. One of the bills would authorize a lifetime hunting license to shoot the hogs. The bills head to the Full House
34 people were busted by state police accused of committing insurance fraud. Sgt. Nick Manale says these people are charged with faking car accidents in order to collect the insurance money. He issues the warning that they aren’t the only ones watching for these cases as insurance companies are watching too. Manale says these insurance fraud cases affect insurance rates and policies across the state
Former LSU offensive lineman La’el Collins is now a Dallas Cowboy. The Baton Rouge product signed a three-year, 1.65 million dollar guaranteed contract, after not getting drafted. NFL teams were scared to select Collins, because he was wanted for questioning about the murder of a pregnant woman. Authorities have never called Collins a suspect in the murder of the woman and her child.
There’s buzz in New Orleans that Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie are moving as their home goes on the market. Realtors show the French Quarter property is going for $6.5 million dollars.
It appears that the first shot has been fired in Louisiana’s governor’s race. Lt. Governor Jay Dardenne issued a statement calling US Senator David Vitter an absentee Senator after he missed a budget vote in the Senate. Political analyst Clancy Dubos says this is a sign of things to come. Dardenne says instead of casting a Senate vote, Vitter was in Louisiana having a beer with New Jersey Governor Chris Christie in an effort to boost his gubernatorial bid.
Governor Bobby Jindal has reportedly set a self-imposed deadline on when he’ll make a decision about whether or not to run for president. Jindal now says he’ll make an announcement at the end of June. Previously he said he would announce after the session ends June 11th.
News for Thursday 050715
By Dave Graichen
Here in Alexandria, the parents of twins who were killed in a fire last December have been indicted on criminal charges. Andrea Aaron, the mother of the two-year-old twins, faces two counts of second degree murder and the father has been charged with two counts of accessory after the fact.
Today is decision making day for House leaders as they will vote on what changes to make when it comes to tax hikes and scaling back incentives in order to balance the state’s budget. LaPolitics-dot-com Publisher, Jeremy Alford, says this entire legislative session is about the budget and filling a $1.6 billion shortfall. He says today we’ll find out which way the budget will lean. Among the issues up for debate are repealing of tax breaks for businesses and an increase in the state’s cigarette tax.
Baton Rouge Representative Dalton Honore has decided to pull his bill from further discussion that would have put recreational marijuana legalization on an upcoming ballot for voters to decide. Honore says maybe in the future, Louisiana residents should have the option to decide, but not right now.
In the same committee room, New Orleans Representative Austin Badon’s bill to reduce penalties for simple marijuana possession passed. Jill Trahan’s son is currently serving a 15-year prison sentence for simple marijuana possession. Trahan wants lawmakers to really consider the penalties imposed on marijuana possession convictions. The vote was 10-4 and now heads to the House Floor.
Legislation that would legalize the sale of raw milk in Louisiana did not make it out of a Senate Committee. The bill’s author, Ville Platte Senator Eric LaFleur, says there are many who believe purchasing raw milk is a basic human right and not something for government to be involved in. But State Health Officer Dr. Jimmy Guidry says it’s far too risky to consume raw milk and he testified in opposition.
A bill that would prohibit sex-selection abortions in Louisiana receives the approval of the House Health and Welfare Committee. Houma Representative Lenar Whitney says, even though there have been no known incidents here in Louisiana, in several Asian countries, abortions are performed when the mother finds out she’s having a girl. The bill heads to the House floor for more discussion.
Two bills that seek to control the wild hog population in Louisiana pass the House Natural Resources Committee. One measure would approve year-round hunting seasons on razorbacks and the other would create a lifetime hunting license for the animal. The bills now head to the Full House.
The Terrebonne Parish Sheriff’s office says a man is under arrest for allegedly beating his pregnant girlfriend so badly, the unborn child’s heart stopped beating. Captain Dawn Foret says they received a complaint that 36-year-old Tyson Cheavis of Gibson repeatedly abused his 27-year-old pregnant girlfriend. Cheavis was arrested and charged with second degree feticide and two counts of second degree battery.
A man who applied to be a youth baseball coach in Bossier Parish ended up making off with nearly $3000 in payments from players and sponsors. Lt. Bill Davis says 25-year-old Robert Martin III is wanted for felony theft. Detectives believe Martin may have fled the area or the state. He says it’s obvious Martin had no intention of every coaching the children.
The Lafayette Parish Sheriff’s office has arrested the former school bus driver who got into a crash on March 12th for operating while intoxicated. They say John Bernard was booked into jail on $40,000 bond. No students were seriously injured in the crash. Investigators say tests showed Bernard had a blood alcohol level of .04 percent at the time of the crash.
TMZ is reporting that former LSU Tiger La’el Collins told police that he was in New Orleans attending a Pelicans playoff game the night his former girlfriend, who was eight months pregnant, was murdered. Sources say his GPS records on his cell phone will back up his story. Authorities spoke with Collins on Monday.
News for Wednesday 050615
By Dave Graichen
The House committee on the budget needs some decisions by Monday on ways they plan to repair the state’s $1.6 billion dollar budget shortfall. Thursday will be decision making day when it comes to House leaders asking what changes lawmakers want to make when it comes to tax hikes and scaling back incentives.
The legislation by Baton Rouge Representative Dalton Honore that would let voters decide whether or not recreational marijuana should be legal in Louisiana gets a hearing today. LSU Public Policy Polling Research Director Mike Henderson says they’ve surveyed residents and there seems to be a decline in opposition to pot for adult use over the past couple of years.
The bill will be heard in House Criminal Justice. The survey found support for legalization of marijuana for personal use is at 45 percent, lagging opposition at 52 percent.
Proposed tax increases to help fund repairs for state roads and bridges has been approved by the House Ways and Means Committee. One bill would increase the state sales tax by one percent; the other was amended to have a ten cent increase of the tax for a gallon and gas. The bill’s author-Plaquemine Representative Karen St. Germain-says it’s time. The bills now head to the floor.
AARP rallied on the steps of the State Capitol Tuesday saying 90 percent of Louisiana voters express they want to stay home as they age. Interim State Director, Denise Bottcher, says at-home care services are necessary for seniors to live outside of a nursing home. She says their survey shows that 83-percent of respondents support funding to provide more services for seniors living at home.
This is the last week Stephen Moret will be the Louisiana Economic Development Secretary before he begins his job as LSU Foundation President. He says one of the most rewarding things about the last 7 years for him is how much Louisiana’s business climate ranking has improved. Site Selection has rated Louisiana’s economic development efforts No. 2 in the nation in its ranking for Top Competitive States for 2014. Moret says the ranking is a tribute to the professional, diligent efforts of the outstanding staff at LED. Moret says no LED Secretary successor has been named yet, but he believes it will be within in the next few days.
Governor Bobby Jindal has announced he has new book coming out in entitled “American Will: The Forgotten Choices That Changed Our Republic.” Experts say Jindal needs to show relevance; especially since he will not even announce his intent to run until after the legislative session.
Baton Rouge Police say the missing two year old girl, whose mother was located murdered Saturday, has been found safe. Corporal L’Jean McKneely says the child was discovered alone. He says the child’s father will likely take custody, as he is not a suspect. That investigation is on-going.
A Slidell mother is arrested on second-degree murder charges as Slidell Police believe she discarded her baby inside a trash compactor. Chief Randy Smith says 22 year-old Antwonetta Jones gave birth to the child in a bathtub and within 12 hours, the child died. Smith says Jones lived with her mother, but no one knew she was pregnant.
Dow Chemical announces they will be reducing their workforce about 3 percent in preparation to have Olin Chemical take over a significant portion of Dow’s chlorine operations. Dow employs about 300 people in local facilities, but the company did not release details of the cuts at any specific locations.
There will be a homecoming celebration tonight in Abbeville for a local Top 6 finalist on NBC’s “The Voice”, Koryn Hawthorne. The aspiring young singer will ride in a homecoming parade at 5pm then put on a special concert in Magdalen Square downtown. Abbeville Mayor Mark Piazza says Koryn has been singing in their community since she was a child and they couldn’t be more proud of her.
News for Tuesday 050515
By Dave Graichen
The Louisiana Supreme Court has approved an agreement to place Rapides Parish District Attorney Phillip Terrell Jr. on probation for five years in an attorney disciplinary proceeding.
The action comes following an investigation by the court’s Office of Disciplinary Counsel into allegations that Terrell failed to properly supervise a non-lawyer employee, allowing the employee to commingle and convert client funds. Upon learning of the situation Terrell personally replaced all the funds that belonged to the third parties and fully cooperated with the Office of Disciplinary Counsel.
The state police report 27-year-old Jessica Short of Pineville was killed Sunday when the SUV she was driving left interstate 49 near Carencro and struck several trees. Short was critically injured and was transported to Lafayette General, where she later died. Police say impairment is not believed to have been a factor in the crash.
A judge on Monday refused to reduce the bail of a former Avoyelles Parish sheriff’s deputy accused of allowing an Assumption Parish prisoner to leave a jail transport van to buy drugs and then providing false information when the prisoner didn’t return. The Judge said 47 year old Michelle George failed to understand the risk the incident posed to the community and to prisoners and refused to reduce her bail from $250,000 to $20,000.
Legislation that aims to give tuition-setting authority to Louisiana colleges and universities is heading to the full Senate for consideration. The Senate Committee on Revenue and Fiscal Affairs signed off on Senate Bill 155 on Monday without opposition. The bill would ask Louisiana voters to decide by constitutional amendment whether college and university systems should have control over how much students pay to go to college or if that power should remain with the state Legislature. Currently, Louisiana is one of three states that lets state lawmakers set tuition and fee prices.
A bill that allows for the dispensing of medicinal marijuana to patients who suffer from certain medical conditions makes it off the Senate floor. New Iberia Senator Fred Mills says under the proposed law, medical marijuana could only be prescribed by a doctor for someone clinically diagnosed with glaucoma, spastic quadriplegia (kwod-ruh-plee-jee-uh) or suffering symptoms from chemotherapy cancer treatment. The vote count was 22-13 and the measure now heads to the House.
Two different tax increases proposed by Plaquemine Representative Karen St. Germain to help fund road projects will be heard in the House Ways and Means Committee today. The state currently has a $12 billion backlog of road and bridge projects. HB 777 would raise the state’s gas tax dependent on the price at the pump and HB 778 would increase the state’s sales tax by one percent. Revenue from both bills would pay for road and bridge projects.
A bill that would use funds from unclaimed gambling winnings to pay for rape victims forensic medical exams clears House appropriations. New Orleans Representative Helena Moreno says under her measure, money from expired winning tickets from casinos and race tracks would go into the crime victims reparations fund. Wade Duty, of the Louisiana Casino Association, says while they don’t oppose the bill on its merits, they don’t approve of the funding mechanism. He says winning money is the property of the gaming establishment until the player cashes the ticket. The bill passed without opposition and now heads to the House floor.
State Treasurer John Kennedy says he’s endorsing David Vitter for Governor because the US Senator respects tax payer dollars and has the ability to take on Louisiana’s fiscal challenges.
When asked if Kennedy was going to go after the US Senate seat if Vitter becomes Governor each said they are taking things one election at a time.
The House appropriations committee approves a plan that would allow the state to draw down federal money that can be used to expand Medicaid coverage. House speaker Chuck Kleckley says it would save $200 million for the state’s budget and is real money that can be put in the general fund. Since this measure is a concurrent resolution, Governor Jindal cannot veto the legislation, but it does need a two-thirds vote of both houses for passage.
According to a legislative auditor’s report released yesterday, Louisiana’s elderly and developmentally disabled wait longer than people in other states to get community-based services through Medicaid. As of October 2014, the auditor said 54,677 people remained on lists for the various Medicaid programs with wait times ranging from two-and-a-half to 10 years.
The auditor wrote that most applicants may never receive the home and community-based services they request.
Former LSU offensive lineman La’el Collins met with Baton Rouge police detectives Monday as part of an investigation into the shooting death of a pregnant woman on April 24th. Collins meeting with detectives lasted about an hour and a half. Authorities insist Collins is still NOT a suspect in Brittany Mills’ homicide
Authorities in St. Tammany Parish are investigating a case of a deceased baby in a trash compactor at a Slidell apartment complex. The St. Tammany Parish Coroner is working with Police to determine the cause of death and the age of the baby. The investigation is ongoing.
Shreveport Police are investigating a fatal shooting that claimed the life of a four-year-old boy. Cpl. Marcus Hines says officers were called to a hotel room and found the boy, identified as Cameron Morris, suffering from a single gunshot wound to the head. Hines says the other child was 6 and they are working to determine who was responsible for watching the children.
News for Monday 050415
By Dave Graichen
Despite Very low voter turnout, Central Louisiana voters approved all eight tax referendums in Saturday's elections, including two Rapides Parish school tax renewals. In all, voters approved four tax propositions in Rapides Parish, two in Vernon Parish, and one each in Grant and Winn parishes.
The full Senate has approved a measure that would require public school systems to promote the online homework assistance service which is offered through state and local libraries. The bill is by Napoleonville Senator Troy Brown who says under this proposal, schools would have to include information about the HomeworkLA-dot-org program in their handbooks. The bill now moves to the House for consideration.
Baton Rouge Police say the infant child of murder victim Brittney Mills has died. Authorities say Brenton Mills passed away at a local hospital Friday. Doctors rushed to deliver the baby after Brittney Mills, who was 8 months pregnant, was shot and killed on April 24th. It is reported that former LSU offensive lineman La’el Collins plans to take a paternity test to learn if he was the father of the child. Collins, who has not been named a suspect, is scheduled to meet with police Monday about the case.
Planned Parenthood supporters from across the state plan to gather at the Capitol Monday morning to support reproductive health care access in Louisiana. Spokeswoman Raegan Carter says the plan is to talk to our elected officials about the importance of women having access to high quality healthcare they provide in Louisiana. Carter says the Jindal administration has made it clear they plan to launch a full-blown attack on the true needs of the people of Louisiana.
A federal judge in Washington has ruled the US Government is liable for some of the Hurricane Katrina flooding. A 2005 lawsuit points the blame in the direction of a now-closed Mississippi River Gulf Outlet or Mr. Go, that has been blamed for flooding in St. Bernard Parish and New Orleans’ Lower Ninth Ward. It’s still not clear how much money the feds are on the hook for, but many observers speculate mediation will be involved. Judge Susan Braden has set a hearing for next Wednesday.
The St. Landry Parish Sheriff’s office arrests three in connection with a tragic drug overdose death and cover up. Lt. Clay Higgins says a woman allegedly gave some sort of drug cock tail to 26-year-old Lance Gordon who got extremely ill. He says instead of calling cops, 29-year-old Jessica Stelly brought Gordon to his house with the help of 27-year-old Stephan Godeaux and 34-year-old Gene Dunbar, who all face serious charges. The trio left Gordon on the sofa of his home where he later died.
This is National Tourism Week and Lt. Governor Jay Dardenne will tour the state to commemorate the event. The purpose of this trip is to celebrate the tourism industry state wide. Stops include Lake Charles, Bossier City, Alexandria, and Lafayette. The tour runs through Saturday. Dardenne says almost 29 million people visited Louisiana last year, which is over a million more people than the previous record. He says those tourists spent over $11 billion in the state.
According to a recent InsuranceQuotes-dot-com study, Louisiana is the fifth most expensive state for car insurance. They say rates in Louisiana are 33-percent higher than the national average. Insurance Commissioner Jim Donelon says high insurance premiums have been a problem in Louisiana for quite a while. The biggest reason for the state’s high auto insurance rates, according to Donelon, is the state’s litigation rate…
Three weeks are in the books for the current legislative session and many say lawmakers are still not close to finding a solution to the state’s $1.6 billion dollar budget shortfall. Jeremy Alford of Lapolitics.com says there is just as much uncertainty today as there was in January.
Alford predicts it’ll be 15 days out of the end of the session before any real plan starts to take shape. He says legislators could go with an inventory tax repeal which business is in favor of and local governments are opposed to or make certain tax credits non-refundable which the administration is pushing but business is against.
News for Friday 050115
By Dave Graichen
43 year Charles Lampkins of Alexandria was killed early yesterday morning when the motorcycle he was driving collided into an SUV that turned directly into his path on Jackson Street Ext. The APD reports No charges have been filed at this time, pending the results of toxicology and other forensic test.
This weekend will be a busy one in Central Louisiana With Alex River Fete and other events as well. But, did you know there is also an election Saturday in Rapides Parish. On the ballot, two parish wide school taxes that generate more than $7 million a year for school operations and maintenance. Both are continuations of a property tax already in place.
The National Boat Racing Association is holding boat races through Sunday on Kincaid Lake.
The races are taking place near Tunk's Cypress Inn, located off La. Highway 28 West, southwest of Alexandria. Featured in the competition is stock and modified outboard hydroplane and runabout racing.
A big surprise for fans of Louisiana College Basketball yesterday, Gene Rushing announced he is retiring. Rushing came to LC back in 1967 as a basketball player. He went on to serve as Asst. coach for 11 years and 29 years as the head basketball coach. Rushing is a very young 67 years old.
An effort to change the formula by which some Louisiana teachers are evaluated failed in a Senate committee Thursday. Senate Bill 32 by Sen. Fred Mills proposed changing from 50 percent to 25 percent the weight of the Value-added Assessment Model that is used among factors in evaluating about 30 percent of Louisiana teachers. The legislation would have put greater weight on other evaluation factors, including classroom observations.
The Rapides parish sheriff’s office reports a search for an all-terrain vehicle stolen from a Forest Hill nursery led to a Pineville address, where detectives found it for sale. 26 year old Johnathan Mashburn and 23 year old Curtis Newman were arrested and were booked into the Rapides Parish Detention Center.
At the State Capitol Thursday, a very vocal group of some 500 LSU students gathered to protest proposed massive cuts to the university. LSU President F. King Alexander says he certainly understands their feelings, because if these cuts go through it will adversely affect students, faculty and the campus. King adds, unless adjustments are made, colleges in the state face filing for bankruptcy.
Former LSU football star La-el Collins is not a suspect in the murder of a pregnant woman in Baton Rouge, but police still want to talk to him, since he might have some information in the case. Collins reportedly had a previous relationship with 29 year-old Brittney Mills, and BRPD reports they will talk to Collins after the NFL draft. Even though police say he is not a suspect in the case, many believe Collins will be worth less in the draft.
The Senate Education committee approves a bill that would prohibit the suspension or expulsion of a student between Kindergarten and third grade, unless the child poses a safety threat. The author of the measure, Baton Rouge Senator Sharon Weston Broome, says when you send a child home at such a young age, they aren’t getting an opportunity to learn. The full senate will debate the bill next.
The St. Landry Parish Sheriff’s Office has arrested a Beau Chene High School an assistant football coach and teacher for allegedly kissing a student inside a classroom. 25-year-old Gregory Fontenot is charged with one count of prohibited sexual conduct between an educator and a student. Fontenot denies the allegations.
A nine state operation by several law enforcement agencies has resulted in the rescue of 6 exploited or missing children. Louisiana State Police Lt. JB says the operation also saved one adult victim, made four initial arrests and launched three investigations.
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