KSYL Local News

News For Thursday 06/09/11


NEWS FOR THURSDAY 060911
BY DAVE GRAICHEN

WITH JUST TWO WEEKS REMAINING IN THIS YEAR'S LEGISLATIVE SESSION, LAWMAKERS STILL HAVE A LOT OF UNFINISHED BUSINESS TO ATTEND TO. POLITICAL ANALYST JOHN MAGINNIS, WITH "LAPOLITICS.COM" SAYS THE BIGGEST TASK IS BALANCING THE STATE'S BUDGET. HE SAYS THE HOUSE STRIPPED OUT KEY FUNDING ELEMENTS PROPOSED BY GOVERNOR JINDAL'S OFFICE. ACCORDING TO MAGINNIS, THIS SESSION HAS EXPOSED A FISSURE BETWEEN GOVERNOR JINDAL AND LAWMAKERS OVER ISSUES LIKE USING ONE-TIME DOLLARS TO FILL REVENUE GAPS, SELLING STATE PRISONS AND RENEWING AN EXPIRING 4-CENT TAX ON CIGARETTES. A NUMBER OF HOUSE BILLS STILL HAVEN'T MADE IT TO THE SENATE, AND VICE VERSA. WITH ONLY TWO WEEKS LEFT, SOME MAY BE LEFT BY THE WAYSIDE. MAGINNIS FEELS ONE OR MORE BILLS AIMED AT ENDING STATE INCOME TAX WILL WIN FINAL PASSAGE THIS YEAR.

FORMER GOVERNOR KATHLEEN BLANCO HAS BEEN DIAGNOSED A RARE FORM OF CANCER TO THE EYE. THE CANCER WAS DISCOVERED DURING A COMPREHENSIVE EYE EXAM LAST WEEK AND CONFIRMED BY SPECIALIST. DOCTORS REPORT THE FORMER GOVERNOR IS IN GOOD HEALTH AND EXPECTS TO BEGIN TREATMENT SHORTLY. DOCTORS SAY HER PROGNOSIS FOR RECOVERY IS GOOD. THE CANCER AFFECTS ROUGHLY SIX OUT OF EVERY ONE-MILLION PEOPLE.

A BILL BY METAIRIE REPRESENTATIVE JOHN LABRUZZO, REQUIRING RANDOM DRUG TESTING FOR PEOPLE RECEIVING CASH WELFARE PAYMENTS, HAS BEEN TABLED FOR A WEEK. THE SENATE HEALTH AND WELFARE COMMITTEE PUT A HOLD ON THE LEGISLATION TO GIVE SENATORS TIME TO CONSIDER A SET OF AMENDMENTS TO THE BILL. THE BILL HAS ALREADY PASSED THE HOUSE. THIS IS LABRUZZO'S THIRD ATTEMPT AT PASSING HIS BILL.

HOUSE AND SENATE LEADERS SAID WEDNESDAY THAT THEY EXPECT TO HEAR FROM FEDERAL OFFICIALS BY JUNE 20 ON WHETHER THEY'LL APPROVE REDESIGNED MAPS FOR LEGISLATIVE DISTRICTS. THE JUSTICE DEPARTMENT IS REVIEWING THE MAPS FOR THE 144 LEGISLATIVE SEATS AND OTHER STATE ELECTION DISTRICTS TO DETERMINE WHETHER THEY COMPLY WITH THE VOTING RIGHTS ACT OF 1965, TO ENSURE AGAINST DISCRIMINATION

A YOUTUBE VIDEO POSTED BY SOLDIERS FROM FORT POLK FORCES DELTA AIRLINES TO CHANGE ITS POLICY WHEN IT COMES TO CHARGING MILITARY PERSONNEL FOR CHECKING EXTRA BAGS. ON THE VIDEO, THE SOLDIERS ARE UPSET THEY HAD TO PAY A 200-DOLLAR FEE FOR A FOURTH BAG, EVEN THOUGH THEIR ARMY ORDERS AUTHORIZE UP TO FOUR BAGS IN THEIR RETURN FLIGHTS FROM AFGHANISTAN. THE SOLDIERS SAY THEIR 34-MEMBER UNIT HAD TO PAY 28-HUNDRED DOLLARS OUT-OF-POCKET WHEN THEY CHECKED IN AT BALTIMORE-WASHINGTON INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT ON THEIR WAY HOME TO FT. POLK FROM.

16 YEAR OLD BRIAN DELOCH OF ELMER WAS KILLED YESTERDAY MORNING IN A ONE CAR ACCIDENT ON HIGHWAY 121 IN SOUTHWEST RAPIDES PARISH, WHEN HIS VEHICLE LEFT THE ROADWAY , HIT A TREE AND OVER TURNED. DELOCH WAS NOT WEARING A SEATBELT AND WAS EJECTED FROM HIS PICKUP, HE DIED AT THE SCENE. A 15 YEAR OLD PASSENGER IN THE VEHICLE RECEIVED MODERATE INJURIES AND WAS TRANSPORTED TO A LOCAL HOSPITAL.

AN ACCIDENT AT THE INTERSECTION OF COLISEUM BOULEVARD AND VANDENBURG DRIVE YESTERDAY MORNING SENT TWO PEOPLE TO THE HOSPITAL, INCLUDING ONE IN SERIOUS CONDITION. ALEXANDRIA POLICE SAID THE WRECK OCCURRED AROUND 6:30 A.M. AND BLOCKED TRAFFIC FOR A WHILE. ACCORDING TO POLICE, BOTH DRIVERS WERE INJURED. ONE OF THE DRIVERS WAS DESCRIBED AS SUFFERING "PRETTY SERIOUS" INJURIES.

A DRUG OPERATION CALLED THE 90 DAYS OF HEAT, HAS LED TO THE ARRESTS OF FOUR RAPIDES PARISH RESIDENTS. 26 YEAR OLD STEPHEN DANIELS, 34 YEAR OLD DAVID E. GIBBS AND 48 YEAR OLD CHERYL L. WIGGINS ALL OF ALEXANDRIA AND 56 YEAR OLD JOSEPH SILAS OF PINEVILLE. RAPIDES PARISH SHERIFF CHUCK WAGNER SAYS THIS IS THE SECOND YEAR FOR THE OPERATION AIMED AT GETTING DRUGS OFF THE STREET. THIS YEARS CAMPAIGN BEGAN ON THE FIRST OF THE MONTH.

EXXON MOBIL CORP. SAID WEDNESDAY IT IS THE FIRST COMPANY TO DISCOVER OIL FROM A NEW DEEP-WATER WELL IN THE GULF OF MEXICO SINCE LAST YEAR'S MASSIVE OIL SPILL.
THE OIL GIANT SAID ITS EXPLORATION PROJECT 250 MILES SOUTHWEST OF NEW ORLEANS HIT OIL AND GAS AFTER DRILLING A WELL IN 7,000 FEET OF WATER. EXXON SAID PLANS TO DRILL THE WELL LAST YEAR WERE HALTED AS THE U.S. IMPOSED A TEMPORARY BAN ON DEEP-WATER DRILLING BECAUSE OF THE DEVASTATING OIL SPILL SOUTH OF LOUISIANA. ACCORDING TO COMPANY OFFICIALS, "THIS IS ONE OF THE LARGEST DISCOVERIES IN THE GULF OF MEXICO IN THE LAST DECADE,"

HOUSE-BACKED LEGISLATION SEEKING TO URGE CONGRESS TO CUT FEDERAL DOLLARS FROM PLANNED PARENTHOOD STALLED IN THE SENATE HEALTH AND WELFARE COMMITTEE.
THE PROPOSAL (HOUSE CONCURRENT RESOLUTION 54) BY REP. FRANK HOFFMANN, R-WEST MONROE, WOULDN'T CARRY THE WEIGHT OF LAW, BUT WOULD LODGE A FORMAL REQUEST FROM LOUISIANA LAWMAKERS TO DEFUND PLANNED PARENTHOOD BECAUSE THE ORGANIZATION PERFORMS ABORTIONS AROUND THE COUNTRY.

IN THE WAKE OF THE FATAL SHOOTINGS OF TWO DEPARTMENT OF INSURANCE FRAUD INVESTIGATORS TUESDAY IN VILLE PLATTE, INSURANCE COMMISSIONER JIM DONELON SAYS POLICIES ARE UNDER REVIEW TO SEE TO IT THIS NEVER HAPPENS AGAIN. DONELON SAYS THE TWO INVESTIGATORS, RHETT JEANSONNE AND KIM SLEDGE, WENT ON A ROUTINE TRIP TO GET FILES AND RECORDS FROM THE OFFICES OF LAVERGNE INSURANCE IN VILLE PLATTE. HE SAYS THEY HAD NO REASON TO THINK THEY WERE IN ANY DANGER. JEANSONNE AND SLEDGE WERE SHOT AND KILLED BY INSURANCE AGENT MELVIN LAVERGNE, WHO THEN COMMITTED SUICIDE. THE AGENTS WERE UNARMED. DONELON WOULD LIKE TO SEE THAT CHANGE.

A CONTROVERSIAL BILL TO MAKE ABORTIONS ILLEGAL IN LOUISIANA IS DEALT A BLOW WHEN THE HOUSE AGREES TO SEND IT TO A SECOND COMMITTEE HEARING. APPROPRIATIONS COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN JIM FANNIN SAYS THE BILL'S COST IS SUFFICIENT TO TRIGGER A HOUSE RULE MANDATING A REVIEW BY THE MONEY COMMITTEE. THE BILL WILL MOST LIKELY NOT HAVE TIME TO BE HEARD BEFORE THE END OF THE SESSION.

REPORTS ARE SURFACING OF A NEW OIL SLICK IN THE GULF OF MEXICO SOUTH OF PLAQUEMINES PARISH. STATE OFFICIALS ARE INVESTIGATING. BOATER RICK SEITHER IS AN EYE WITNESS. HE SAYS THE SLICK COVERS A LARGE AREA OF THE GULF WITH HEAVY OIL. THE SOURCE OF THE SLICK IS UNKNOWN. SEITHER SAYS THE SLICK IS ALREADY INTERACTING WITH FISH, BIRDS AND OTHER WILDLIFE IN THE AREA. THE U.S. COAST GUARD. PARISH OFFICIAL SAYS THEY DOUBT THE OIL IS FROM LAST YEAR'S BP SPILL, BUT THEY CANNOT YET RULE IT OUT.

A SENATE COMMITTEE HEARS EMOTIONAL TESTIMONY OVER A BILL THAT WOULD SUSPEND A PERSON'S DRIVERS LICENSE IF THEY'VE BEEN CHARGED WITH VEHICULAR HOMICIDE. LISA ALLEN'S SON AND DAUGHTER-IN-LAW WERE KILLED IN A CAR ACCIDENT AND SHE'S UPSET THE PERSON RESPONSIBLE FOR THE ACCIDENT WAS STILL ABLE TO DRIVE UNTIL HE WAS FOUND GUILTY. THE BILL IS NOW HEADING TO THE SENATE FLOOR FOR FINAL LEGISLATIVE DEBATE.

THE FULL HOUSE WILL DEBATE A PROPOSAL REQUIRING SALARIES OF $156,000 OR ABOVE FOR STATE EMPLOYEES TO GET APPROVAL FROM LAWMAKERS, AFTER THE HOUSE AND GOVERNMENTAL AFFAIRS COMMITTEE APPROVED THE IDEA. REP. BRETT GEYMANN, R-LAKE CHARLES, SAID HE SET HIS PROPOSAL AT 120 PERCENT OF THE GOVERNOR'S SALARY. THE BILL WOULD EXCLUDE DOCTORS AT UNIVERSITY HOSPITALS, COLLEGE PROFESSORS AND COACHES AND WOULDN'T APPLY TO EXISTING EMPLOYEES. THE COMMITTEE VOTED 12-6 FOR THE PROPOSAL, OVER THE OPPOSITION OF GOV. BOBBY JINDAL'S OFFICE, WHICH SAID THE BILL COULD HURT RECRUITMENT AT AGENCIES AND WOULD INTERFERE WITH HOW CABINET SECRETARIES WANT TO RUN THEIR DEPARTMENTS.

THE FULL LEGISLATURE AGREED THAT MILITARY VETERANS SHOULD BE ABLE TO GET MEDALS FROM THE STATE HONORING THEIR SERVICE BY MAIL, RATHER THAN WAITING FOR A PRESENTATION BY THE GOVERNOR. AFTER MONTHS OF CRITICISM THAT GOV. BOBBY JINDAL WAS USING THE CEREMONIES TO CAMPAIGN, THE JINDAL ADMINISTRATION CHANGED ITS HANDLING OF THE MEDALS, ALLOWING VETERANS TO SKIP THE CEREMONY. A BILL (HOUSE BILL 28) REQUIRING THE OPTION HEADS TO THE GOVERNOR'S DESK WITH A UNANIMOUS VOTE OF THE SENATE.

A $1 FEE ON LOUISIANA DRIVERS' LICENSES TO PAY FOR LITTER ABATEMENT AND ENFORCEMENT PROGRAMS SHOULD BE RENEWED, THE HOUSE AND SENATE HAVE DECIDED. THE FEE WAS FIRST ENACTED IN 2003 AND WOULD CONTINUE TO BE LEVIED ON EVERY FOUR-YEAR DRIVER'S LICENSE. WITHOUT LEGISLATIVE APPROVAL, THE FEE THAT GENERATES AN ESTIMATED $700,000 A YEAR WILL EXPIRE AUG. 15. THE HOUSE MUST AGREE TO SENATE CHANGES BEFORE THE PROPOSAL GOES TO THE GOVERNOR.

UNDER INTENSE PRESSURE FROM STATE SENATORS, LOUISIANA HEALTH AND HOSPITALS SECRETARY BRUCE GREENSTEIN HAS ACKNOWLEDGED THAT HIS DEPARTMENT WANTS TO HIRE HIS FORMER EMPLOYER FOR A $34 MILLION STATE MEDICAID CONTRACT. GREENSTEIN ANNOUNCED THE RECOMMENDED SELECTION OF CNSI ON WEDNESDAY BEFORE THE SENATE AND GOVERNMENTAL AFFAIRS COMMITTEE, DURING A CONFIRMATION HEARING ON HIS APPOINTMENT BY GOV. BOBBY JINDAL. GREENSTEIN INSISTED THAT HE REMOVED HIMSELF FROM THE RECOMMENDATION PROCESS AND HAD NO HAND IN CHOOSING CNSI FOR THE CONTRACT TO HANDLE MEDICAID CLAIMS PROCESSING AND INFORMATION SYSTEMS. HE SAYS HE HAD KEPT THE SECRET, PENDING A YET TO BE SCHEDULED LEGISLATIVE OVERSIGHT HEARING, ON THE ADVICE OF HIS LAWYERS.








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