The bill that increases the minimum age for strippers to 21-years-old heads to Governor John Bel Edwards’ desk to be signed into law after the Senate gave final approval. Lake Charles Sen. Ronnie Johns, says he’s authored the bill as a way to combat human trafficking and he’s been working with the Department of Children and Family Services on this issue.
“We broke ground on the very first shelter that will be devoted to minor females rescued from human trafficking.”
This is the same legislation that received the joke amendment by Jackson Rep. Kenny Havard to cap the age of strippers to 28-years-old and weigh no more than 160 pounds. But there were no comments about that amendment when the Senate gave final approval. During the controversy, Johns has been focused on creating a more pro-active approach to human trafficking.
“Louisiana is recognized around the country as having some of the strongest and best human trafficking laws out there.”
Havard has not apologized for proposing his controversial amendment. During work on the House floor on Monday, Havard took some ribbing from Lafayette Rep. Nancy Landry on one of his resolutions on overweight truck movement on state highways.
“Did you know that this subject of weight limits is on that’s befitting the dignity of this body and I appreciate you bringing this bill today.”
Legislation to require retail pet stores in the state to keep records and post breeders names along with licensing information now heads to the House floor for final legislative passage. Author of the bill, Metairie Sen. Danny Martiny, says this specifies where these animals come from and two other requirements.
“The second part deals with a prohibition that they can’t sell a dog or a cat that is less than 8 weeks old. The third one deals with a sign that has to be posted on the cage where the animal is located.”
State Director of the Humane Society of the United States Julia Breaux says currently, if you purchase a dog or a cat from a pets store, you have no way of knowing where the animal originated from. She says the Department of Health and Hospitals is in support of the bill.
“Because it helps them track zoonotical disease outbreaks that may originate through pet stores.”
Breaux says there are some exceptions in the legislation.
“It will not affect any Humane Societies or animal shelters that are offering dogs for adoption at pet stores.”
New Orleans sports officials make their pitch to the NFL owners today to host the 2019 Super Bowl in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Atlanta, Miami, and Tampa are the other cities competing against the Big Easy. CBS Sports.com NFL Insider Jason La Canfora says the age of the Superdome hurts New Orleans’ bid.
“You’ve got some teams now in the mix that have new facilities or at least facilities that will be brand spanking new by the time they’d be in line to host the game. That’s been the leagues protocol, is to reward those teams.”
But La Canfora says New Orleans still has a fighting chance. He says even with the Superdome blackout in the 2013 Super Bowl, the city received outstanding reviews about the great atmosphere leading up to the game.
“Everyone at the network was incredibly thrilled with the different locations, the way we were able to have sets throughout the city. It plays well on TV, it’s a big event city, it’s a destination spot.”
La Canfora says the fact that Saints owner Tom Benson is 88-years-old and this could be his last shot to host the Super Bowl in New Orleans also resonates with some of the NFL owners. He says the vote will be close.
“They kind of go through rounds where they have everybody there and everybody gets voted on and then they start dropping off. I suspect it takes several go-throughs before they ultimately settle it.”
LSU freshman left-hander Jake Latz will start on the mound Tuesday night for the Tigers when they take on Tennessee in the SEC Tournament. Latz has only appeared three games this season as he recovered from elbow surgery. But Coach Paul Mainieri says Latz pitched well on Saturday and hopes his arm troubles are behind him.
“He could be a vital force for us, not only for next year, but for the remainder of the season,” Mainieri said.
Mainieri also had the option to use seven-game winner Alex Lange, who last pitched three innings on Thursday, because the game was halted because of severe weather. Mainieri says Lange will pitch Wednesday night against Florida, if the Tigers win tonight.
“We need Alex to be 100% healthy and ready to go as we go into the NCAA tournament next week, so we just didn’t want to rush him back,” Mainieri said.
LSU enters the SEC Tournament with 11 victories in their last 12 games and they’ve put themselves in a position to possibly be a Top 8 National seed and host up until the College World Series. Mainieri says his team is worthy of Top 8 national seed consideration.
“We could make a good showing here, I hope we would get strong consideration. I like the way our team is developing, and I think we have a chance to make a run in the NCAA tournament,” Mainieri said.
Members of the Tangipahoa Parish Chapter of the NAACP are calling for the resignation of school Superintendent Mark Kolwe. This is because 4.0 African American student and athlete Andrew Jones was not allowed to walk at his graduation ceremony at Amite High School because of his facial hair. Tangipahoa NAACP President Patricia Morris says this has more to do with Jones’ race than his goatee.
“They’ve let white kids with beards walk across the stage from different schools, and nothing was said about it,” Morris said.
Morris says this race war in the school district goes beyond just not letting a student walk at graduation. She also believes Jones was targeted because he was also the school’s valedictorian.
“If a black child gets the valedictorian status, years ago they would shave points from the kid’s grades to give a white child the advantage,” Morris said.
Morris says Jones was told to shave his beard for the first time just before the ceremony, and when he refused, the school tried to take his awards.
“They did not give him the opportunity to march. In fact, they took his robe from him, they disrobed him, and tried to take all his credentials, including his cap,” Morris said.
Superintendent Kolwe has issued a statement saying it’s regrettable that any student, particularly an honor student, should not get to participate in the graduation ceremony. However, the statement says, Jones made that decision himself by failing to comply with the rules applicable to all other students and gave him multiple opportunities to shave before the ceremony started.
The victim in a Baton Rouge fatal shooting early this morning has been identified as 34-year-old Broderick Brooks, who was a school board member in East Feliciana Parish. Brooks had been a member of the school board for about five and a half years. Fellow school board member Beth Dawson says the news of Brooks’ death came as a shock to everyone.
“He was just an all-around good person and helped in so many ways,” Dawson said.
Brooks was reportedly found dead in the driver’s seat of his vehicle in north Baton Rouge with multiple gunshot wounds around 3:30 this morning. There are no known motives or suspects, and investigation is ongoing. Dawson says Brooks was very active in the school board and in the community.
“He had just became a minister and had just delivered his first sermon, and he has his own church,” Dawson said.
Brooks also worked as the community outreach director for RKM, a health clinic in Clinton, for about seven years, and he previously served as editor of the Baker Observer, a newspaper that closed in 2009. Dawson says she’s known Brooks since he was in middle school. She says he has always been there when someone needed him.
“Even as a student, he was a leader, very much so,” Dawson said.
Governor John Bel Edwards legislative agenda for this regular session has not done well. A proposal to increase the state’s minimum wage has been bottled up in the Senate, an effort to require women and men receive equal pay for equal work was killed by a House committee. Political analyst Bernie Pinsonat says republicans in the legislature have no problem voting against these issues.
“That’s what happens when you have a Democratic governor who’s trying to pass legislation the Republicans back home aren’t that crazy about,” Pinsonat said.
The governor’s attempts to limit charter schools or vouchers has also fallen on deaf ears by a legislative body that has a republican majority. Pinsonat says Louisiana is a red state and there’s not much support for a higher minimum wage or fewer charter schools.
“Republicans can easily vote against it with no retribution. In fact, what they’re doing is popular in their base,” Pinsonat said.
Pinsonat says Edwards’ inability to get a majority of his legislative agenda accomplished in the regular session, could hurt his efforts during an anticipated special session next month that would seek to raise revenue to address a $600 million budget shortfall.
“Right now there’s not a great outlook for getting additional revenue, especially if it requires two-thirds vote by the legislature,” Pinsonat said.
The House Transportation Committee gave the green light today to a Senate approved measure that would make it the law for oncoming traffic to stop for a school bus on a two-lane road with a continuous turn left turn lane.
Metairie Senator Danny Martiny says the rule would apply on roadways with that lane in the middle where you could either turn left or right.
"This will allow those cameras to say, if you're on a road like that, and the school bus stops and extends the stop signs, traffic in both directions has to stop," said Martiny.
New Iberia Representative Terry Landry says this bill is needed because many motorists get confused about the law.
"I think that the turn lanes are not a divided road and I think we're putting our children at risk because some of them cross those lanes," said Landry.
The measure passed without objection and now heads to the House floor.
LSU’s mascot, Mike the Tiger, has been diagnosed with a rare
form of cancer, spindle cell sarcoma. Mike’s attending vet, Dr. David Baker,
says they’ve discovered a tumor in the right side of Mike’s skull. Baker says
because of the proximity to normal tissues in Mike’s head, the tumor is inoperable,
and the condition is incurable. He says Mike will undergo radiation treatment,
but there could be complications with the anesthesia.
“The biggest challenge in anesthetizing these animals safely is that their kidneys don’t tend to tolerate the anesthesia too well. That will be quite a challenge. It’s possible that he might not even survive those anesthetic episodes,” Baker said.
Mike will receive an innovative stereotactic radiotherapy treatment at the Mary Bird Perkins cancer treatment facility in Baton Rouge, and with treatment he could live another year or two. Baker says this kind of treatment has never been done on a tiger before. He says the center will absorb much of the costs for the radiation treatment.
“Our friends at Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center are absorbing the cost of this therapy. There will be some expense here at the veterinary school, and I haven’t worked out what that will be,” Baker said.
Baker says the logistics of transporting the 10-year-old tiger to the facility will be more time-consuming than the treatment itself. But he says at this point they are just worried about getting Mike the treatment he needs. He says Mike doesn’t appear to be in any pain.
“We haven’t seen any changes in behavior. He’s still tearing bushes up in his yard, playing with his ball, going for swims. He’s still chuffing, which is a happy sound of greeting,” Baker said.
Just two weeks are left in the regular session, and the budget is still the biggest issue for lawmakers. Jeremy Alford with LaPolitics.com says legislators are trying to fund priorities like TOPS and safety net hospitals with a $600 million budget shortfall.
“There’s so much uncertainty in the process that there’s just as much uncertainty today as there was in January when we didn’t even know who the Speaker of the House was going to be,” Alford said.
Alford says legislators are working on funding all of the public-private hospitals that care for the poor, and parents of TOPS students are also paying close attention to the debate over the funding for the scholarship program.
“There’s a lot of back and forth on whether TOPS will be fully funded and if so, how do you go about doing that,” Alford said.
Alford says there are a lot of moving pieces to the budget problem, including an entirely separate budget bill requested for the Attorney General’s Office. Alford says lawmakers may not be able to address everything during this session.
“It’s complicated further by the fact that there could be a second special session that the governor has talked about where lawmakers will come back and raise the money needed to fill that $600 million hole or there about,” Alford said.
Health experts will share information about the Zika Virus with the public during a 5:30 PM meeting at LSU Health New Orleans Human Development Center. A panel of experts will discuss where the virus is, where it’s expected to go, and other important information. Dr. Robert Maupin with LSU Health New Orleans says the CDC has released a report showing the number of Zika cases in the US, but local transmission has yet to occur in the states.
“It appears to be approximately 280 cases of Zika identified amongst pregnant women in either US territories or mainland US,” Maupin said.
Health leaders want people who live in the southeastern states to be as prepared as possible for a potential Zika outbreak. Maupin says the biggest risk for contracting the disease right now is still in countries where it is prevalent, such as South America and the Caribbean. He says once travelers return home they can spread the disease, and at the meeting they will address how to avoid spreading the virus.
“If they return to their home communities, there is a risk of sexual transmission as well, principally from men to women based on the current evidence,” Maupin said.
Maupin says most people with Zika do not show symptoms at all, but those that do will see symptoms similar to the flu. At tonight’s meeting, the panel will inform the public about testing recommendations and how to recognize Zika symptoms. He says pregnant women, in particular, need to take precautions to prevent getting the disease because it can lead to serious birth defects.
“In that particular instance we’ve seen clear evidence from the cases that have been reported in Brazil that there’s a risk for serious neurological fetal birth defects,” Maupin said.
Faculty experts at LSU Health New Orleans and state health secretary Dr. Rebekah Gee will be on the panel at the meeting, and they will provide essential information about the virus and share types of preparation that are underway at the state level.
New Orleans is seeking to host the Super Bowl in 2019 and those who will present a bid to the NFL owners on Tuesday are already in Charlotte putting the finishing touches on their presentation. New Orleans competition to host the 2019 Super Bowl is Atlanta, Miami and Tampa Bay.
President and CEO of the Greater New Orleans Sports Foundation Jay Cicero says they go in as the underdogs.
“We’re really facing tough competition this year with the new stadium in Atlanta, with a significantly renovated stadium in Miami, and Tampa being a traditionally good host of the Super Bowl.”
The NFL will also award Super Bowl bids for 2020 and 2021 but New Orleans can’t host those years because the College Football National Championship has already been awarded to the Crescent City in 2020 and Mardi Gras falls during the Super Bowl weekend in 2021. Cicero says while New Orleans doesn’t have a new stadium it’s still a great Super Bowl destination.
“The most hotel rooms within walking distance of the facility, with 20,000. The lowest cost of doing business of any other city and because of the number of seats in the Superdome.”
Cicero says the NFL can get everything they want by giving New Orleans the bid for 2019 and the newer stadiums the chance to host in the following years. He says they’ve worked hard with the Saints to improve their proposal after losing the 2018 bid to Minneapolis.
“We did go through our bid and make changes that we felt like were geared towards what the owners may be thinking.”
Before the SEC showdown with Florida, LSU fans heard a lot about the Gators pitching staff that came into the final 3 games of the regular season with the best team ERA in the league.
That great pitching didn't surface until the final game of the series as two Florida pitchers held LSU to a couple of single runs in a 6-2 win over the Tigers.
Florida's starter Alex Faedo allowed two runs in 5.1 innings for his 11th win on the year. LSU's Caleb Gilbert (4-3) suffered the loss as he allowed four runs in 4.1 innings.
A bright spot on the mound was Jake Latz. The left-hander made his first appearance in an SEC game and recorded three strikeouts.
Third baseman Chris Reid led the Tigers at the plate with two hits, including an RBI double.
The loss ended the Bayou Bengals 11-game winning streak. The defeat also forces LSU to play in the opening round of the SEC Tournament because they finish 5th in the league standings, so they'll play 12th seeded Tennessee on Tuesday at around 8 PM.
It's the first time LSU has had to play in the opening round of the league tournament since it expanded to a 12-team tourney a few years back.
In the first game of the day, LSU built on the momentum it gained from Friday night's thrilling 5-4 win to beat the top ranked Gators again on Saturday afternoon. The Tigers defeated 7-3 in the completion of Thursday night's game that was halted because of severe weather.
LSU led 2-1 going into the 5th inning and the Tigers broke it up open with a 5-run 5th inning. Greg Deichmann's bases loaded clearing double was the big hit.
Deichman finished with two hits and 4 RBIs. He also had an RBI single in the 4th to break a 1-1 tie.
Riley Smith was the winning pitcher. He was on the mound for the Tigers as they resumed play today. Smith allowed three runs in three innings, but it was good enough to improve his record to 2-0.
Parker Bugg was fantastic out of the bullpen as he threw three shutout innings for his third save. Bugg did not allow a hit and struck out two.
Between one representative’s not-so-funny joke about strippers and the legislature shooting down a proposal to get equal pay for men and women, it hasn’t been a good week for women in Louisiana. One state lawmaker hopes to change that with a new campaign for women’s rights called “It’s No Joke.” New Orleans Representative Helena Moreno says she started this campaign to combat gender inequality.
“This clearly has highlighted that we do have a problem in Louisiana regarding the way that women are treated. So let’s up our efforts and start pushing even more than we have before for some significant changes,” Moreno said.
Moreno says she wants to work towards ending sexism and inequality. She says this online petition, using the hashtag #ItsNoJoke, is raising awareness about women’s issues. She hopes that once legislators hear from constituents about this, it could bring about real change.
“We’re going to highlight different things that we’d like to change in Louisiana regarding pay equity. We’d like to change the amount of violence there is against women. We’d like to increase healthcare access for women,” Moreno said.
Moreno says there are many feminist groups in the state, and she wants to bring them all together so real progress can be made towards equality. She says the campaign is not just for women. Supporters of women’s rights can also get involved.
“We’re going to start doing even more, launching a website, launching different events, and just building a network all across the state with women and supporters,” Moreno said.
More information about the #ItsNoJoke campaign is available at morenocampaign.com.
As we approach a big travel weekend, motorists can expect to see prices at the pump up more than 6 cents from the prior week. Senior Petroleum Analyst Gregg Laskoski from GasBuddy.com says they've got the current statewide average for a gallon of regular at about $2.06.
"We would expect it would probably rise another 5-6 cents next week, because we're moving closer to that Memorial Day weekend," said Laskoski.
Laskoski says prices haven't been this low since 2008. He says even though we're seeing these increases, prices in Louisiana are still down almost 40 cents from this time last year.
"It's still very good news for consumers, and this is another one of the reasons I think why so many people are planning to get out and go places this summer."
Governor John Bel Edwards’ daughter Samantha is getting married tomorrow to Jonathan Ricau. The wedding ceremony will be in Amite at St. Helena Catholic Church and the reception will follow a few hours later at the Governor’s Mansion. Edwards says the planning is going well and Samantha is excited.
“I’ll just tell you it will be one of the proudest days of my life to be able to walk her down the aisle.”
Samantha and Jonathan met in 2012 and both graduated from Southeastern Louisiana University. She is the oldest daughter of the governor and First Lady Donna. Edwards says it’s a miracle he gets to walk Samantha down the aisle.
“While Donna was pregnant with Samantha, we had no idea if she would ever walk at all because we knew that she had spina bifida. We had no idea how bad it might be.”
Governor John Bel Edwards has signed two pro-life bills into law, one measure increases the wait time for a woman to receive an abortion to 72 hours and the second requires doctors performing abortions to be board certified.
Louisiana Right to Life Legislative Director Deanna Wallace says the legislation increasing wait time gives women more of a chance to reach out before being forced to have an abortion if they don’t want to have one.
“Victims of human trafficking are sometimes forced into abortions when they become pregnant. 24 hours is not enough time for them to be able to access the resources they need to save both themselves and their unborn children.”
Wallace says the bill to require an abortionist to be board certified or under the direct supervision of a board certified physician is common sense legislation to protect the health and safety of women. She says currently all doctors that perform abortions in Louisiana are board certified, this just codifies that standard of care.
“So that as these doctors retire that they are not replaced with those who have lower credentials, lower experience and protecting women that way.”
Wallace says this truly is a victory for women in the state. She says she’s thankful Governor John Bel Edwards signed these two bills into law.
A new rule from the White House goes into effect on December 1 that would require employers to pay their workers overtime if they work more than 40 hours a week and make less than about $47,000 a year. This would affect about 35% of salaried workers. LSU Economist Stephen Barnes says this will impact business owners more than anyone.
“This is something that’s going to increase their cost structure, and it’s something that they’re going to have to adapt to. It’s going to be at least a little bit painful, for some businesses perhaps fairly painful,” Barnes said.
Critics says this is too drastic of a change for employers. Barnes says employees will be affected in a variety of ways depending on their pay scale and their work load.
“Some workers are going to be getting overtime. Other workers may see a bit of a change in their pay scale, and then there may be additional folks who see new job opportunities as employers react and try to figure out how to get that work done,” Barnes said.
The new threshold will be updated every 3 years, and the Labor Department estimates this could result in an additional $12 billion in pay for workers over the next 10 years. Barnes says some workers may feel more pressure to get more work done in a 40 hour period. But he says for the most part, workers should enjoy this.
“That’s going to either mean less pressure on them to do additional work beyond 40 hours or compensation for that. So I think workers are going to be happy about that,” Barnes said.
Organizations that represent small businesses say this will result in entry-level management positions disappearing and those employees falling back into hourly jobs.
Authorities say someone crashed a stolen 18-wheeler in Caddo parish early this morning. Caddo Parish Sheriff Spokesperson Cindy Chadwick says they got a call around 6am from someone saying an 18-wheeler had overturned on I-49 North at Louisiana Highway Two.
“A passerby saw this 18-wheeler. It was down in a ditch, and it had turned over on its side,” Chadwick said.
Chadwick says the 18-wheeler was stolen from a truck stop in Texarkana, Arkansas, just before the crash, and the theft is still under investigation. She says the driver who stole the 18-wheeler has not been located.
“It’s a possibility that they just fled the scene because it was a stolen vehicle, and we’ll be looking into that as well,” Chadwick said.
Chadwick says she doesn’t understand why someone would steal an 18-wheeler because it would not be very low key.
“It was a sleeper cab with a flatbed on the back, and the flatbed was hauling two work trucks for AT&T, so that’s what they were hauling. Why somebody would take that, I have no idea,” Chadwick said.
A bill is nearing final legislative passage that would allow universities to lower their out of state tuition in an effort to attract more students from neighboring states. There was concern about lowering tuition in light of the budget deficit. But Ruston Representative Robert Shadoin says bringing in more students could help curb those losses.
“If we recruit more out of state students than we have now, just the quantity will make up for any difference that we’re experiencing,” Shadoin said.
Vice President for External Affairs for the University of Louisiana system Rachel Kincaid this would also help universities bring in more international students. She says it’s a good way for the state to bring in more money.
“This is really an opportunity for the state to raise some revenues for the institutions and give them some additional support without charging the in resident students.” Kincaid said.
The measure has passed the House and it cleared the Senate Education committee earlier this week. Metairie Senator Conrad Appel sits on that panel and says out of state students would not take precedence over in state students.
“All of those efforts are not going to displace opportunities for Louisiana students,” Appel said.