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The bill to ensure that all TOPS scholarship recipients get at least part of their award has received final legislative passage. Jennings Senator Blade Morrish says the bill will only go into effect if the legislature cannot fully fund the program, which is a real possibility as TOPS is only funded at 48% under the current budget proposal. Morrish says who pays the remainder of the tuition would be at the discretion of the university.

“The universities would have the option of waiving the additional amount or collecting the additional amount, and that would be up to the universities,” Morrish said.

Over 50-thousand Louisiana students are eligible for a TOPS award, and it would take $294 million to cover all those scholarships. Morrish says under the current law if TOPS is underfunded, it becomes a needs/merit based hybrid. He says it isn’t fair to eliminate students with a 21 ACT score before those with a 32, because they both earned it.

“If you graduate medical school first in your class and I’m last in the class, we’re both called doctor. So I think it’s the issue of fairness,” Morrish said.

TOPS is severely underfunded as the budget for next fiscal year stands now. Morrish says for now, the program is probably funded as much as it can be.

“I think that’s probably the best we’re going to do in this legislative session. Now the special session is another story,” Morrish said.

Lawmakers will begin the second special session of 2016 on Monday in an attempt to raise enough revenue to fully fund TOPS and other state services.


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Four people, including a one year old child, died in a fiery head-on Memorial Day crash in East Feliciana Parish. State Police Trooper Bryan Lee says two vehicles were involved in the incident which took place on Louisiana Highway 67, just north of Clinton.

"One of those vehicles was passing two other vehicles in a no passing zone," said Lee. "As he approached the crest of a hill he struck a second vehicle head on. Both of those vehicles became fully engulfed in flames after that crash."

Lee says 1-year-old Hazel Temple, 19-year-old Holley Thomas, 22-year-old Brandon Temple all of Denham Springs, along with 24-year-old Jakyle Hall all died.

He says they believe Brandon Temple was passing two vehicles in a no passing zone when he approached the crest of the hill and slammed into Hall's vehicle.

"You can't see what's coming toward you," said Lee. "And the vehicle that's coming over in the opposite direction can't see you until it's too late. We have determined that the violation was the passing in a no passing zone."

Lee says the 19-year-old and 1 year old were in Temple's vehicle, and Hall was the only occupant of the second vehicles. He says upon impact, both vehicles burst into flames which further hinders other aspects of the investigation.

"Right now we can't speculate on impairment, and we don't know if we're going to be able to perform a toxicology test due to the severity of that crash," Lee said.


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Feral hogs are a big problem in Louisiana, so the LSU AgCenter is hosting a meeting today at their Dean Lee Research Center in Alexandria to give updates on latest research and new regulations that are being implemented. AgCenter area agent Donna Morgan says strides have been made to control the feral pig population.

“The AgCenter started some research about three years ago looking at toxic baits for feral hogs, and Dr. Glenn Gentry is going to be coming to Deal Lee to speak about that, as well as the trapping program that they now offer,” Morgan said.

Morgan says feral hogs are responsible for thousands of dollars in damage every year as they’ve been known to destroy ag fields, golf courses and personal property. She says the AgCenter started research about three years ago looking into toxic baits for the feral swine and they’re looking at additional ways to manage the population.

“You would have to eliminate 70 to 80% of the population right now just to maintain it because they’re so prolific and there’s so many of them. There’s no way to eradicate them,” Morgan said.

Morgan says because the hogs are so widespread, trapping, shooting and toxic bait are methods to manage the population. She hopes the meeting from 1 to 3 PM is educational for everyone who attends.

“A lot more agriculture producers are realizing that it can cause a lot of damage, but it’s not just in the ag community. Hogs are showing up in urban areas, on golf courses,” Morgan said.



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Michelle Southern reporting.
The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute says New Orleans is one of the top ten most challenging places to live with the condition. Director of the Division of Lung Diseases, Dr. James Kiley, says one in 12 children in this country have asthma.

"We know that if they are appropriately managed, they could live a very normal life and do pretty much all the activities any child would be doing in developing and growing," said Kiley.

Kiley says flares are difficult to predict and asthma can limit people's ability to participate in things that matter to them. He says in the state of Louisiana, about 271,000 adults are living with asthma, which is inherited and also caused by environmental factors.

"Exposure to air pollution, cleaning products, animal dander, cock roaches, mold and pollen," said Kiley.

Kiley says with appropriate treatment, nearly all patients should be able to achieve good control with minimum symptoms, normal lung function and normal activity levels.

He says if you suffer with asthma, you should take notice of your symptoms, and see your physician for an appropriate diagnosis and treatment plan.

"And you should have a written action plan that tells you and others what to do if you have an asthma attack," said Kiley. "Take your medications as directed."


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The Senate Finance Committee has made their changes to the proposed budget for next fiscal year and sent it to the Senate floor. Amendments made to the budget only fund 48% of the TOPS scholarship program. Ville Platte Senator Eric LaFleur says they hope to have more money to fund the program after the special session.

“We have a commitment that one-third of the additional revenue, assuming additional revenue comes out of the special session, will be allocated to TOPS,” LaFleur said.

Under the committee’s version of the budget, all waiver programs that assist the elderly and families with developmentally disabled children are funded. However, Commissioner of Administration Jay Dardenne says other important services are still underfunded.

“Waivers are taken care of, so we don’t need to address that, but there are obviously other shortfalls and other areas of government that have needs,” Dardenne said.

Louisiana DHH undersecretary Jeff Reynolds says fully funding the waiver program took away from funding the state’s safety net hospitals, which provide care for the poor.

“The $60 million hole that was affecting the waivers, that funding has been restored, but there is also another $60 million in state general funds reduction that’s been applied to the partnerships,” Reynolds said.


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The "Ban the Box" bill, which would remove the requirement that applicants for state jobs disclose criminal history, is awaiting a signature from the governor to become law.

US Justice Action Network Executive Director Holly Harris says they applaud the Louisiana legislature. 
She says people with records should have the opportunity to change their lives.

"Find jobs, support their families and live crime free lives," said Harris.

Harris says individuals who have been incarcerated work nine fewer weeks a year, and take home 40% less annual pay than their colleagues.

"And of course when they can't find jobs, what do they do? They very often return to crime, prison and the taxpayers dime," said Harris.

Harris says they look forward to Governor John Bel Edwards signing this bill as soon as possible. She says a misconception during debate of this measure was that employers wouldn't be able to ask about criminal history in an interview, but she says that's not the case.

"What is does allow is for the individual to have the opportunity to explain the circumstances of the offense and how they've been able to rehabilitate themselves," said Harris.


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The LSU Tigers are an #8 national seed in the NCAA Baseball Tournament. Which means the Bayou Bengals will get to host a Super Regional, if they are able to win the Baton Rouge regional this weekend.

A record four teams from the SEC received national seeds, Florida, Texas A&M and Mississippi State, are the three other teams.

So here's a look at the Baton Rouge Regional...LSU is the number one seed and they'll play Utah Valley at 2 PM on Friday afternoon. The Wolverines won the Western Athletic Conference Tournament.

The number two-seed is the Rice Owls and the three-seed is Southeastern Louisiana. Coach Matt Riser's team gets in, despite losing to Sam Houston State 7-4 in the Southland Tournament championship game. Rice and SLU will play each other on Friday night at 7 PM.

LSU's regional is matched up with the North Carolina State regional. Coastal Carolina, St. Mary's and Navy are the other teams in the Raleigh Regional.

Louisiana Tech is in the NCAA Baseball Tournament for the first time since 1987. The Bulldogs will compete in the Starkville Regional, which will be hosted by sixth-seeded Mississippi State. Tech will face Cal State Fullerton on Friday afternoon in a two versus three-seed match-up.

The Starkville Regional is paired with the Lafayette Regional, hosted by the Ragin Cajuns. UL Lafayette will host Sam Houston State, Princeton and Arizona in its Regional. The Cajuns will play Princeton at 7 PM on Friday, while Arizona takes on Sam Houston State at 1 PM.

And Tulane is the fifth school from Louisiana in the NCAA Baseball Tournament. The Green Wave is the two seed in the Oxford Regional and Tulane will play Boston College on Friday. The other match-up in Oxford is Ole Miss versus Utah.


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On Monday June 6th, the regular legislative session will come to a close at the State Capitol and on that same day, legislators will begin a special session. With the state looking at a 600-million dollar revenue shortfall, Communications Director for Governor Edwards, Richard Carbo, says the state will seek to raise revenue responsibly in order to ensure TOPS, healthcare, K-12 education and higher ed are fully funded.

"I think you'll find a mix of individual and business taxes on there, the governor really tried to balance it out," Carbo said.
The Republican Party of Louisiana says they oppose any increase in taxes. The statement goes on to say that the problem with Democrats, is that they never have enough money. 
With a week to go in the regular legislative session, legislators are having a difficult time figuring out how much money should go to the TOPS scholarship, public colleges, safety net hospitals that provide care for the poor and programs that assist families with developmentally disabled children.
"Lawmakers are finding that we can not craft a budget in the way that funds programs that people all across the state consider to be priorities," Carbo said.
Carbo says they'll also use the second special session to clean up the unintendenced consquences of the first special session, like collecting sales tax on Girl Scout cookies.  


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Summer is known as a slow season for Louisiana travel, but Lt. Governor Billy Nungesser hopes that's not the case this year. He says there's hundreds of festivals during the summer months that showcase our food music, culture, and our people.

“The passion they have in every corner of the state and it comes out this time of year.”
Louisiana is coming off another record breaking year for tourism. Nungesser hopes the low gas prices will encourage residents from surrounding states to drive into Louisiana. 

“We welcome the visitors that come here by car and we do expect more people to travel because of the low prices.”

Nungesser says the people of Louisiana make our visitors feel like family. He says even though the temperature is so hot during the summer months, that doesn’t stop people from traveling to our festivals or historic locations.

“So we see a great influx throughout the summer and they bear the heat because the food, the music, the people, it’s just such a great time and you can put up with the heat if you’re having fun.”



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In honor of Memorial Day, Louisiana Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary, Joey Strickland encourages families to honor those who have died in war. He says many brave Louisianans have fought for our freedom.

“Just in the past year alone, Louisiana has lost 7 young troops in Afghanistan and in Iraq, in addition to the thousands that have paid the ultimate price in wars past,” Strickland said.

Strickland says no matter how people feel about the war, they should still honor our veterans. Strickland says there is plenty that people can do for our veterans to honor their sacrifice and salute their service.

“My hope is that people will reach out to our younger Afghan, Iraq veterans with jobs and opportunities so that they can reintegrate peacefully and effectively within our communities,” Strickland said.

Today at 3pm is the National Moment of Remembrance. Strickland says it’s important to keep our veterans in mind as families are gathering for crawfish boils and cookouts.

“With their family, take a moment to remember and talk about the sacrifices that our veterans, and maybe even their loved ones, have made in the defense of freedom,” Strickland said.

Strickland says there are events celebrating veterans around the state today, including one he will speak at in the Port Hudson National Cemetery in Zachary. Governor Edwards is scheduled to speak at the Northeast Louisiana Veterans Cemetery in Rayville. Other events today are also taking place at the Louisiana Veterans Cemeteries in Slidell and Keithville.



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LSU fans will help choose the taste of the official beer of LSU. Cofounder of Tin Roof Brewery in Baton Rouge, William McGehee, says people age 21 and over can go to TinRoofBeer.com to register to be part of a tasting panel that will select the new LSU brew from different ales and lagers.

“We’re doing a tasting panel on Jun 14 and June 18, where the people who get selected will get to taste between 8 and 10 test batches that we’ve done,” McGehee said.

McGehee says registration to be on the panel continues through June 8. He says the new beer should be ready in time for the start of the 2016 football season and be the perfect tailgating beer.

“We’re shooting to release this just before Labor Day, which is when LSU kicks off Wisconsin. That’ll give us plenty of time from whenever we name the winner to get in all of our ingredients and brew it on the big scale,” McGehee said.

McGehee says Tin Roof Brewery was selected to brew the LSU beer after a series of conversations with LSU officials.

“We had some meetings, and people thought that it could be a good idea. So we started there and then it eventually got approval from, I guess, everyone who had to give it approval at LSU, and here we are,” McGehee said.



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The rally possum must have taken the Memorial Day weekend off. He was no where to be found on Saturday in Hoover, Alabama, as four Florida pitchers struck out 11 LSU hitters in a 1-0 blanking of the Tigers.
The loss ends the Tigers run in the SEC Tournament and the Bayou Bengals will wait to find out if they've done enough to be a national seed in the NCAA Tournament. The pairings come out on Monday.  
Florida left-hander Scott Moss (4-0) started the game. He only pitched 16.1 innings coming into the contest, but tossed six shutout innings against the Tigers, striking out seven.
Shaun Anderson earned his 12th save as he worked around a lead-off hit in the 9th to secure the victory.  
LSU's starting pitcher was freshman Caleb Gilbert (4-4), who had the honor of pitching in his hometown. Gilbert was the tough luck loser as he allowed one run in 5.2 innings.
The Gators scored the only run of the game when third baseman Jonathan India lined one down the left field line to score Dalton Guthrie in the 6th inning.  
It looked like LSU would provide some more late inning dramatics in the 9th inning as Kramer Robertson led off with a single. Robertson advanced to second on a wild pitch. But Bryce Jordan, Brody Wofford and Beau Jordan could not deliver the big hit to bring home the tying run. 
It's only the second time LSU has been shutout in the SEC Tournament. The last time was in 2004. 
It's also the second straight year Florida has eliminated the Tigers from Hoover. Last year the Gators won 2-1 in the semifinals.  
This year, Florida advances to play Texas A&M in the SEC Tournament Championship game.
LSU heads into NCAA Regional action with a 42-18 record.  


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A pregnant Thibodaux woman has been arrested after having a sexual relationship with a juvenile. Thibodaux Police Cpl. David Melancon says 24-year-old Alison Thibodaux had an inappropriate relationship with a teenager, which ended last December.

“The juvenile and Alison Thibodaux ended up meeting at someone’s home and developed a friendship which eventually turned sexual in nature, having sex about one time a week for the next several months,” Melancon said.

Melancon says Thibodaux has been charged with felony carnal knowledge of a juvenile, but more charges could be filed pending an investigation. He says Thibodaux also sent inappropriate pictures to the juvenile via text message. Melancon says the juvenile and his mother came forward when they learned Thibodaux was pregnant.

“Alison Thibodaux ended up becoming pregnant within the time frame that this improper relationship was going on. We haven’t determined yet if the juvenile is actually the father,” Melancon said.


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An arrest has been made in the murder of East Feliciana School Board member, Broderick Brooks, who was found dead in his vehicle in north Baton Rouge earlier this week. Cpl. L’Jean Mckneely says 19-year-old Jaquez Griffin has been charged with first degree murder.

“We were able to collect sufficient evidence that allowed us to bring him down to police headquarters, and upon questions we were able to get what we needed that lead us to arrest him for first degree murder,” Mckneely said.

Brooks was found dead of multiple gunshot wounds at 3:30 am on May 23. Mckneely says Griffin has been booked into the East Baton Rouge Parish Prison. He says the motive for the shooting is still under investigation.

“We’re not very clear as to what transpired, what things led to him being shot by Mr. Griffin,” Mckneely said.

Brooks was said to be an active member of the school board, who was loved by everyone.



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The National Oceanic and Atmosphere Administration has released its 2016 Atlantic Hurricane season forecast. NOAA Administrator Dr. Kathryn Sullivan says there is a 70% chance of 10 to 16 named storms during this season.

“4 to 8 of those are expected to become hurricanes and between one and 4 of those are hurricanes are expected to grow to category three or higher.”

The average season typically includes around 12 named storms. The Colorado State forecast team has predicted 13 named storms. Sullivan admits this year’s forecast is challenging because of various factors related to sea surface temperatures and how strong La Nina and its impacts will be.

“So, there is uncertainty as to whether these forces will be reinforcing each other or competing with respect to tropical storm formation.”

Sullivan says El Nino, which hinders tropical storm production, is dissipating and the Climate Prediction Center is forecasting a 70-percent chance that a La Nina will form.

“In the Atlantic, La Nina favors more hurricane activity, but model predictions show uncertainty as to how strong the La Nina impacts will be.”



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Grillers are in luck as there is plenty of beef to cook up this Memorial Day weekend. CEO of the Cattle Producers of Louisiana Dave Foster says beef was sold to retailers at a lower price compared to previous years and so consumers should see some good deals out there.

“Will the retailers pass those savings on to the customers is the first thing and if they do then a lot of product will move through this weekend.”

Foster says this is a big part of the season for beef producers, especially because Father’s Day is also around the corner. He says meat lovers should enjoy decent prices for the summer, because cattle prices on the market are lower this year.

“The live cattle were somewhere in that $1.25 range and a year ago at this time they were up into the $1.30’s- $1.40’s.”

Foster says we’ve really turned into a hamburger society and ground beef seems to be the most popular type of beef bought in stores. He says half of the cow is used for ground beef and the other half is used for primal cuts.

“The first thing I would say is ground beef is going to be a major thing, the next thing of course is your steaks and that will be a big thing for Memorial Day for sure.”



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A Louisiana man has died after being stung by more than a thousand bees in a park in Arizona. Maricopa County Sheriff’s Deputy Joaquin Enriquez says 23-year-old Alex Bestler of Elton and a friend were hiking in the Usery Mountain Park when they were attacked by a swarm of bees. He says Bestler’s friend was able to escape into a bathroom, but Bestler was overcome by the swarm.

“A nearby Good Samaritan and park personnel tried to reach him several times, but they were unable to because of the aggressiveness of the bees,” Enriquez said.

Enriquez says sheriff’s deputies, firefighters, and EMS were immediately called to the scene. He says Sgt. Romer with the Sheriff’s Lake Patrol suited up in his jacket and gloves and duct taped his sleeves to the gloves before commandeering a utility vehicle and braving the swarm to retrieve Bestler.

“They were driving away, and the swarm of bees is still following them as they’re extracting him from the location. They were able to get him where the fire personnel were. They used repellant to get the rest of the bees off of him,” Enriquez said.

Enriquez says the park is closed through the weekend pending an investigation. He says Bestler was completely covered in bees.

“For every three to four square inches, there was about two to three hundred bees on him. So obviously he was in very bad shape,” Enriquez said.

Enriquez says Bestler was transported to a local hospital where he was pronounced deceased. An examination of the body showed over 1,000 bee stings.

 (photo courtesy of Facebook)


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Governor John Bel Edwards is expected to issue the call for another special session any day now, according to Jeremy Alford, publisher of LaPolitics.com. Edwards has said a second session is needed to raise revenues to address a $600 million budget deficit for next fiscal year. Alford says it’s likely lawmakers will not get a break from the State Capitol.

“The governor seems to want to start the special session right after the regular session ends. There’s been talk of actually starting it maybe even at 6:01 pm, which would be one minute after adjournment,” Alford said.

When the call is issued, lawmakers will know when the session will run, as well as what kinds of bills they will be able to submit. Alford says the call could include reductions to personal or corporate income tax credits and addressing issues not covered in the previous session.

“Folks in the administration are talking about a variety of issues, one being itemized deductions for individual income taxes. They’re looking at doing some fixes that are left over from the first special session,” Alford said.

Alford says the special session may only last as long as two and a half weeks. He says we won’t know for sure what will be on the call until it’s released. But he says there have been a few hints dropped on how to increase state revenues and avoid cuts to critical services.

“You’re looking at some deductions. You’re looking at some credits. I’ve been told the movie tax credit will not be on the call. Tobacco will not be on the call,” Alford said.



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NOAA will issue its outlook for the 2016 hurricane season today. State climatologist Barry Keim expects the federal forecasters will predict an average season. He says there are two factors working against each other, cooler than normal sea surface temperature, which is an indication for fewer storms, and La Nina coming later this season, which is an indicator for more storms.

“The general thinking right now is that these two factors are likely to cancel each other out for the most part, giving us something very close to a normal season,” Keim said.

Keim says an average season typically includes around 12 storms. Last year there was 11 named storms. Hurricane Isaac in 2012 was the last hurricane to make landfall in Louisiana. Keim says Louisianans should still be prepared, even though we are not looking at an above-average season.

“It certainly by no means, means that we’re off the hook. We always need to be on guard here in Louisiana,” Keim said.

2016 has already produced Hurricane Alex in January, which did not affect land and now we have a tropical disturbance that could impact the Carolinas this weekend. Keim says if this season does lean in one direction, it would probably lean towards a more active season.

“Having an early storm system at least suggests that the conditions are early on conducive to having some activity. So it’s not a great sign, but it’s probably not a strong indicator of what the rest of the season is going to be,” Keim said.



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The Edwards administration is urging the Senate to reject the House amendments that were made to the proposed budget for next fiscal year. Commissioner of Administration Jay Dardenne told the Senate Finance committee that the spending plan the House approved is not acceptable, because it will result in deep cuts to programs that assist the elderly and disabled.

“This is not the budget that you want, and it’s not the budget that we want, but it is about the most responsible way we think we can deal with a $600 million shortfall,” Dardenne said.

One of the major changes the House made to HB1 was reallocating money towards TOPS and away from hospitals that provide care for the poor. Dardenne explained what would happen under the current proposal, with TOPS fully funded.

“Our public-private partnership hospitals are decimated. Waiver programs are hugely at risk, and we have a wholly unacceptable budget,” Dardenne said.

The Senate Finance committee is expected to approve its own version of the budget in the coming days. Legislators have been struggling with how to fund state services, because of a 600-million dollar shortfall. Dardenne says the House’s attempt to shift money around will not work.

“We’re not appropriating $600 million for those needs because we don’t have it. So we’ll only be appropriating the money that we have available to us right now,” Dardenne said.



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