KSYL Local News

News For Thuesday 061611


NEWS FOR THURSDAY 061611
BY DAVE GRAICHEN

ALEXANDRIA MAYOR JACQUES ROY SAYING YESTERDAY HOSPITALITY INITIATIVES PARTNERSHIP IS RUNNING OUT OF TIME TO PULL TOGETHER A DEAL FOR THE HOTEL BENTLEY, ALEXANDER FULTON HOTEL AND ALEXANDRIA RIVERFRONT CENTER. THE MAYOR SAYING, AT THIS POINT, THE OUTLOOK DOESN'T LOOK GREAT. DURING THE MAYOR’S WEEKLY PRESS BRIEFING, THE MAYOR SAID HE IS NOW LOOKING INTO SCALING BACK
THE SCOPE OF THE PROJECT AND THAT HE HOPES TO RELEASE A NEW TERM SHEET BY THE END OF THE WEEK THAT IS ROUGHLY 50 PERCENT OF THE CURRENT HOTELS DEAL. THAT TERM SHEET WOULD SEEK ADDITIONAL GROUPS, LOCAL AND NATIONAL, THAT MIGHT
BE INTERESTED IN WORKING A SMALLER DEAL FOR THE BENTLEY AND FULTON. THE CITY HAS BEEN WORKING WITH HIP OFFICIALS FOR THE LAST 20 MONTHS

A HOUSE-BACKED ATTEMPT TO FORCE LOUISIANA'S STATE GOVERNMENT PAYROLL TO SHRINK BY AT LEAST 5,000 JOBS A YEAR FOR THREE YEARS HAS BEEN REJECTED BY THE SENATE'S BUDGET COMMITTEE. THE MEASURE BY THIBODAUX REP. JEROME "DEE" RICHARD HAS BEEN PUSHED BY TREASURER JOHN KENNEDY AS A WAY TO CUT STATE SPENDING. KENNEDY SAYS THE JOBS COULD BE CUT THROUGH ATTRITION, BY NOT FILLING ONE-THIRD OF THE VACANT POSITIONS EACH YEAR. MEMBERS OF THE SENATE FINANCE COMMITTEE SAID THE MEASURE COULD DAMAGE STAFFING LEVELS AT WAR VETERANS' HOMES, MEDICAL FACILITIES AND PRISONS WHERE EMPLOYEE TURNOVER IS HIGHEST BUT THE JOBS ARE NEEDED. THE JINDAL ADMINISTRATION OPPOSED THE BILL. THE COMMITTEE VOTED 5-4 WEDNESDAY AGAINST THE PROPOSAL, LIKELY KILLING IT FOR THE SESSION.

NEW ORLEANS IS HOSTING ONE OF THE LARGEST GATHERINGS OF THE GOP AS THE 2011 REPUBLICAN LEADERSHIP CONFERENCE GETS UNDERWAY TODAY. CONFERENCE PRESIDENT CHARLIE DAVIS SAYS REPUBLICANS IN LOUISIANA ARE DETERMINED TO INCREASE THE NUMBER OF GOP MEMBERS IN THE STATE AND ARE GETTING NATIONAL RECOGNITION. DAVIS SAYS THE CONFERENCE IS A GATHERING OF THE MOST HIGH PROFILE REPUBLICANS IN THE NATION, INCLUDING 2012 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES. DAVIS SAYS GOVERNOR BOBBY JINDAL, WHO WILL SPEAK DURING THE CONFERENCE, IS AN EXTREMELY SOUGHT AFTER SPEAKER WHO IS RECOGNIZED ON A NATIONAL LEVEL. DAVIS SAYS THE FOCUS OF THE COUNTRY IS GOING TO BE ON LOUISIANA DURING THE CONFERENCE AND THIS IS IMPORTANT BECAUSE THE STATE BADLY NEEDS ATTENTION.

A PRIVATE HAZARDOUS-MATERIAL FIRE RESPONSE COMPANY QUICKLY BROUGHT A CHEMICAL FIRE IN NEW IBERIA UNDER CONTROL WEDNESDAY AFTER IT HAD BURNED FOR MORE THAN 24 HOURS. IT TOOK THE HAZ-MAT FIRE COMPANY SIX HOURS TO DEVELOP A PLAN AND ONLY 12 MINUTES TO EXTINGUISH THE BLAZE. THE CAUSE OF THE FIRE AND EXPLOSION IS UNDER INVESTIGATION.

THE SENATE FINANCE COMMITTEE VOTES TO SEND THE STATE BUDGET BILL TO THE SENATE FLOOR FOR DEBATE. SHOULD THE SENATE PASS THE BILL WHEN IT COMES UP FOR DEBATE ON FRIDAY THE LEGISLATION WOULD THEN GO TO A CONFERENCE COMMITTEE TO WORK OUT THE DIFFERENCES BETWEEN THE HOUSE AND SENATE VERSIONS OF THE BILL. SCOTT SAYS A BIG STUMBLING BLOCK WILL BE HOW SOURCES OF INCOME ARE CLASSIFIED AS EITHER CONTINUING OR ONE TIME DOLLARS.

ANOTHER SENATE COMMITTEE ADVANCES A BILL THAT WOULD DRUG TEST RANDOMLY SELECTED STATE WELFARE CASH BENEFIT RECIPIENTS. THE BILL, BY METAIRIE REP. JOHN LABRUZZO, PASSED THE SENATE HEALTH & WELFARE COMMITTEE VOTED 5-2 TO SEND THAT BILL TO THE SENATE FLOOR FOR DEBATE.

LAWMAKERS ON THE HOUSE AND SENATE'S JOINT BUDGET COMMITTEE REVERSED COURSE WEDNESDAY AND APPROVED A $37 MILLION TUITION INCREASE ACROSS PUBLIC COLLEGE CAMPUSES THIS FALL THAT HAD BEEN STALLED PREVIOUSLY BY SENATORS. SENATORS ON THE COMMITTEE VOTED 8-5 FOR THE COST HIKE ON STUDENTS, WHILE THE HOUSE MEMBERS VOTED 13-4 FOR IT. THE APPROVAL GIVES IT FINAL PASSAGE AND MAKES IT ONE OF THE ONLY TUITION BOOSTS THAT WILL LIKELY ESCAPE THE LEGISLATURE DURING THE CURRENT SESSION. ABOUT $85 MILLION IN COLLEGE TUITION AND FEE INCREASES REMAIN STALLED IN THE HOUSE AMID STRONG OPPOSITION. OPPONENTS CALLED THE TUITION HIKE A TAX ON STUDENTS, WHILE SUPPORTERS SAID IT WAS NEEDED TO FILL IN BUDGET GAPS AT COLLEGES AFTER SEVERAL ROUNDS OF STATE BUDGET CUTS.

SENATORS WORKING ON NEXT YEAR'S CONSTRUCTION BUDGET STRIPPED OUT $45 MILLION IN NEW PROJECTS ADDED BY THE JINDAL ADMINISTRATION AND ADDED $4 MILLION FOR SEVEN PROJECTS VETOED BY THE GOVERNOR LAST YEAR. AFTER BEING REWORKED BY THE SENATE REVENUE AND FISCAL AFFAIRS COMMITTEE, THE CAPITAL OUTLAY BILL (HOUSE BILL 2) HEADS NEXT TO THE FULL SENATE FOR DEBATE.

A WEEK AFTER TWO UNARMED LOUISIANA INSURANCE FRAUD INVESTIGATORS WERE SHOT AND KILLED WHILE LOOKING INTO A CASE, STATE LAWMAKERS ARE WORKING TO GIVE THE INVESTIGATORS' FAMILIES SOME COMPENSATION. THE LOUISIANA SENATE UNANIMOUSLY AGREED WEDNESDAY TO EXPAND EXISTING LAW TO MAKE THE INVESTIGATORS' FAMILIES ELIGIBLE FOR PAYMENTS THE STATE MAKES TO SURVIVORS OF LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICERS KILLED IN THE LINE OF DUTY. SPOUSES CAN RECEIVE A $250,000 PAYMENT AND DEPENDENT CHILDREN $25,000. THE COMPENSATION PROPOSAL HEADS NEXT TO THE HOUSE FOR DEBATE.

HOMES HIT BY FORECLOSURE FILINGS DROPPED LAST MONTH IN LOUISIANA. IRVINE, CALIFORNIA BASED REALTYTRAC SAYS THAT 1,835 HOMES RECEIVED SOME SORT OF FORECLOSURE ACTION IN MAY, RANGING FROM AN INITIAL NOTICE OF DEFAUT TO REPOSSESSION BY A LENDER. THAT'S DOWN 19.8 PERCENT FROM APRIL, BUT UP 5.9 PERCENT FROM MAY 2010.NATIONALLY, FORECLOSURE ACTIONS WERE AIMED AT ONE IN EVERY 605 HOUSING UNITS. THAT WAS A 2 PERCENT DECREASE FROM APRIL AND A 33 PERCENT DECREASE FROM MAY 2010.

A SENATE COMMITTEE PUTS THE BRAKES ON A HOUSE-APPROVED BILL TO ERECT A TEN COMMANDMENTS MONUMENT ON THE STATE CAPITOL GROUNDS. THE BILL IS SPONSORED BY SHREVEPORT REP. PATRICK WILLIAMS. SENATE GOVERNMENTAL AFFAIRS COMMITTEE MEMBER ROB MARIONNEAUX, OF LIVONIA, SAYS SEVERAL GROUPS HAVE ALREADY VOWED TO SUE THE STATE OVER THE TEN COMMANDMENTS MONUMENT, AND TAKE IT TO THE HIGHEST COURTS POSSIBLE. THE COMMITTEE VOTED 5-2 TO INVOLUNTARILY DEFER WILLIAMS' BILL--MEANING IT'S DEAD FOR THIS SESSION.

A MEASURE THAT WOULD GIVE A LARGER TAX BREAK TO PARENTS WHO PAY PRIVATE SCHOOL TUITION AND OTHER SCHOOL EXPENSES HAS BEEN GIVEN FINAL LEGISLATIVE PASSAGE IN THE HOUSE. THE BILL WOULD REMOVE A 50% CAP ON THE AMOUNT OF SCHOOL TUITION OR SCHOOL-RELATED EXPENSES THE CAN BE DEDUCTED, AND ALLOW THE FULL
AMOUNT OF UP TO $5000 PER CHILD. THAT BILL PASSED 84-13 AND GOES NOW TO GOVERNOR JINDAL'S DESK.

THE LOUISIANA NATIONAL GUARD SAYS IT EXPECTS TO SPEND NEARLY 8-MILLION DOLLARS RESPONDING TO THE MISSISSIPPI RIVER FLOODING AND THE PREPARATION FOR HIGH WATERS AROUND LOUISIANA. THE BILL INCLUDES THE COSTS OF ACTIVATING MORE THAN 1,100 LOUISIANA NATIONAL GUARDSMEN PLUS FUEL, SUPPLIES AND AVIATION SUPPORT. THE LEGISLATURE'S JOINT BUDGET COMMITTEE AGREED TO ALLOCATE MORE THAN 7-MILLION DOLLARS FROM THE STATE'S EMERGENCY RESPONSE FUND TO COVER MOST OF THE COSTS.

STATE AGRICULTURE COMMISSIONER MIKE STRAIN SAYS THE RECORD-SETTING DROUGHT IN LOUISIANA RAISES THE RISK OF WILDFIRES TO DANGEROUS LEVELS. STRAIN SAYS LDAF FIREFIGHTERS HAVE BEEN STAYING BUSY OF LATE; TOO BUSY. STRAIN SAYS LDAF HAS ALREADY RESPONDED TO 197 WILDFIRES THIS MONTH. STRAIN SAYS GROUND VEGETATION, TWIGS AND LEAVES ON THE GROUND ARE SO DRY THAT EVEN THE SLIGHTEST SPARK CAN TRIGGER A WILDFIRE. HE REMINDS US THAT A STATEWIDE BAN ON OUTDOOR BURNING REMAINS IN EFFECT. HE SAYS A WILDFIRE NEAR DEQUINCY BURNED OVER 690 ACRES OVER THE PAST WEEKEND.

GOVERNOR BOBBY JINDAL SIGNS INTO LAW A MEASURE THAT WOULD PROHIBIT PROHIBIT CERTAIN SEX OFFENDERS FROM USING SOCIAL NETWORKING SITES LIKE FACEBOOK. STATE POLICE SPOKESPERSON, LT. DOUG CAIN, SAYS THE LEGISLATION IS DESIGNED TO KEEP CHILD PREDATORS FROM INTERACTING WITH CHILDREN ON SOCIAL NETWORKING SITES. SEX OFFENDERS WHO WERE CONVICTED OF AN OFFENSE INVOLVING A MINOR WILL NOT BE ABLE TO USE SOCIAL NETWORKING SITES AS OF AUGUST 15TH. CAIN SAYS THE LAW WILL GIVE LAW ENFORCEMENT ANOTHER TOOL TO MAKE SURE REGISTERED SEX OFFENDERS ARE NOT COMMUNICATING WITH CHILDREN. VIOLATORS OF THIS NEW LAW FACE UP TO TEN YEARS IN JAIL.

STATE SENATORS HAVE REJECTED A SLIDELL LAWMAKER'S PROPOSAL THAT WOULD BAN THE USE OF DISPERSANTS IN RESPONDING TO OIL SPILLS IN LOUISIANA WATERS.
REPUBLICAN A.G. CROWE SAYS HE PROPOSED THE BAN BECAUSE THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT HASN'T RESPONDED TO REQUESTS TO SWITCH THE OIL SPILL STRATEGY TO A LESS-TOXIC ALTERNATIVE. DISPERSANTS BREAK UP OIL INTO SMALLER PARTICLES. THEY ARE GENERALLY LESS TOXIC THAN OIL. USE OF THE CHEMICALS BECAME A CONCERN FOR ENVIRONMENTAL GROUPS AFTER DISPERSANTS WERE USED IN RESPONSE TO LAST YEAR'S DEEPWATER HORIZON OIL SPILL. STATE AND INDUSTRY OFFICIALS SAY CROWE'S PROPOSAL COULD PREVENT A NECESSARY STRATEGY IN THE CASE OF ANOTHER SPILL. THE SENATE VOTED 21-10 AGAINST CROWE'S BILL WEDNESDAY, LIKELY KILLING IT FOR THE REGULAR SESSION.

A SENATE PANEL SHELVED A HOUSE-APPROVED PROPOSAL TO PUSH BACK LOUISIANA'S PRESIDENTIAL PRIMARIES FROM FEBRUARY TO MARCH, WHICH COULD JEOPARDIZE THE STATE'S REPRESENTATION AT NATIONAL PARTY CONVENTIONS. THE MEASURE (HOUSE BILL 509) BY REP. NITA HUTTER, R-CHALMETTE, WOULD HAVE CHANGED THE DATE OF THE PRIMARY TO THE FIRST SATURDAY AFTER THE FIRST TUESDAY IN MARCH, BACK TO WHERE IT WAS BEFORE THE 2008 PRIMARY. THERE WAS LITTLE DISCUSSION OF THE MEASURE BEFORE IT WAS KILLED BY THE SENATE AND GOVERNMENTAL AFFAIRS COMMITTEE IN A 6-1 VOTE.

REP. M.J. "MERT" SMILEY'S ANNUAL ATTEMPT TO RID LOUISIANA OF INACTIVE BOARDS AND COMMISSIONS IS NEARING FINAL LEGISLATIVE PASSAGE. THE HOUSE HAS PASSED THE PROPOSAL (HOUSE BILL 639) TO ABOLISH 13 PANELS, AND THE SENATE AND GOVERNMENTAL AFFAIRS COMMITTEE AGREED WEDNESDAY TO ADVANCE IT TO THE FULL SENATE. ON THE LIST FOR ABOLITION IS THE COMPENSATION REVIEW COMMISSION, WHICH WAS ESTABLISHED TO SUGGEST WHETHER SALARIES FOR STATEWIDE ELECTED OFFICIALS AND THE LEGISLATURE SHOULD BE INCREASED.





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