News for Monday 022916
By Dave Graichen
A Senate committee sends to the Senate floor a bill that would raise the state’s four-cent sales tax by a penny. The panel changed the sunset date of the additional penny from 18-months to five years. New Orleans Senator JP Morrell says an 18-month sunset won’t help their current budget problems, because it couldn’t be used for ongoing expenses like higher education.
The extra penny on the state sales tax would go into effect on April 1st and raise 210-million dollars. Morrell says they also need this additional revenue in place long enough so they can perform long-term budget reform.. Governor John Bel Edwards is disappointed the House didn’t move the tax bills sooner, but is optimistic there’s enough time for the Senate to act.
One of the items the bill includes a $52 million mid-year cut to the state Department of Education, according to the Council for a better Louisiana. CABL President Barry Erwin says this would also take away payments for mandated student testing for the current school year. Erwin says all in all, this would take away 85% of the DOE’s remaining cash on hand for the current fiscal year. He says some deals were made and essentially the House just wanted to make a statement that they wanted to cut the budget further. The special session to address the state’s budget deficit ends March ninth.
The House is expected to take up a bill today that would raise the alcohol tax for the first time since 1948. The author of the measure, Natchitoches Representative Kenny Cox, says every dollar we can raise is important and this tax would generate 27 million dollars a year. Cox says there are a few legislators against raising the alcohol tax, but many are more willing to increase “sin taxes” than sales or income taxes.
Lafayette Man has been charged In what appears to have been a Double Murder-Arson. Investigators with the State Fire Marshal’s Office and the St. Martin Parish Sheriff’s Office were summoned to the scene just after 4:00 p.m. Saturday, when firefighters discovered the two bodies. Investigators say the bodies shows signs of blunt force trauma. Autopsies are scheduled to be conducted today.
A second officer assigned to the US Drug Enforcement Administration task force has been arrested for allegedly stealing and selling drugs seized in raids. Karl Newman, a deputy with the Tangipahoa Parish Sheriff’s Office, was booked on counts of conspiracy to distribute cocaine and abuse of office. Newman’s arrest comes just weeks after another Tangipahoa parish deputy was booked on drug distribution charges.
A campaign launched by the Southwest Louisiana Economic Development Alliance aims to build support for a new I-10 bridge over the Calcasieu River. George Swift, president and CEO of the alliance, says the bridge endures heavy traffic every day, and it will only get worse as more industrial projects move to the area in the next few years.
A jury indicted former Monroe TV personality “Mr. Wonder” on sexual assault charges. According to the Rapides Parish Sheriff’s Office, investigators have identified 7 alleged victims as a result of a 1979 investigation. Selas has been living in California since 1985. He is currently being held in a San Diego jail. Rapides Parish Assistant District Attorney Brian Mosley says Selas will be brought back to Louisiana to face the charges.
The 13 tornadoes that hit Louisiana last Tuesday set a record for the most in a day in February, according to officials at the Storm Prediction Center. The record more than doubled the old record from 2008, which was 6. The most powerful twister hit a mobile home park in Convent, where 2 people were killed and 30 were injured. The weather service upgraded the ranking of the Sugar Hill RV Park tornado to EF-3 with winds up to 140 miles per hour.
The Louisiana National Guard at Jackson Barracks in New Orleans opens a Desert Storm exhibit today to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the conflict. Louisiana National Guard Historian Rhett Breerwood says 16 of our guard’s units were mobilized and nine were sent to the war zone. He says the Boots in the Sand exhibit honors multiple units. Breerwood says as visitors tour the exhibit, they can expect to see original equipment, uniforms and pictures taken by soldiers overseas from 1990 to 1991. He says also many enemy weapons captured by Guardsman will be on display.
The Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals opens a new water testing laboratory in Shreveport on Monday. The lab is expected to speed up the time it takes to test samples from drinking water systems in north Louisiana. Currently water samples from the northern part of the state are shipped to Baton Rouge. DHH spokesperson Bob Johannessen says this will be especially helpful when communities are under a boil water advisory.
In his final regular season game at the Thomas Assembly Center, senior guard Alex Hamilton messed around and recorded a triple-double to help Louisiana Tech beat Rice 88-69 on Saturday night in front of 55-hundred fans. Hamilton had 25 points. 11 rebounds, and 11 assists to register the program’s first triple-double since 1991. Hamilton says to do it on senior night made the accomplishment even sweeter…
Solid pitching and plenty of offense led to an 11-1 victory for the 5th ranked LSU baseball team against Sacramento State on Sunday. Starting pitcher John Valek allowed one run in seven innings and struck out six.