KSYL Local News

News For Wednesday 062211


NEWS FOR WEDNESDAY 062211
BY DAVE GRAICHEN

IT TOOK A FEDERAL JURY IN A CIVIL TRIAL LESS THAN AN HOUR TO EXONERATE TWO PINEVILLE POLICE OFFICERS, DECIDING THEY DID NOT USE EXCESSIVE FORCE ON AN INTOXICATED MAN ARRESTED IN APRIL 2006 AFTER HE WAS FOUND SITTING BARE-BOTTOM ON A SIDEWALK WITH HIS PANTS AROUND HIS ANKLES. THE EIGHT-MEMBER JURY OF SIX MALES AND TWO FEMALES DELIBERATED FOR ABOUT 50 MINUTES MONDAY BEFORE REACHING THE VERDICT IN U.S. DISTRICT COURT IN ALEXANDRIA. JAMES GREGORY BENNETT FILED A LAWSUIT IN APRIL 2007 AGAINST PINEVILLE OFFICER CODY GRIFFITH AND FORMER OFFICER KYLE MARTIN, CLAIMING THEY VIOLATED HIS CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS IN THE FORCE THEY USED TO SUBDUE HIM AT THE PINEVILLE POLICE STATION.

A RAPIDES PARISH CORONER’S OFFICE REPORT HAS RULED THAT THE FEBRUARY DEATH OF A MENTALLY ILL ALEXANDRIA MAN IN POLICE CUSTODY WAS ACCIDENTAL, PROBABLY FROM A COMBINATION OF HIS SCHIZOPHRENIA AND A HIGH LEVEL OF COCAINE HE INGESTED BEFORE HE WAS ARRESTED. ROBERT RICKS WAS STUNNED BY A TASER TWICE, ONCE BY AN ALEXANDRIA POLICE OFFICER AND ONCE BY A RAPIDES PARISH SHERIFF’S DEPUTY, BUT THE CORONER SAYS HE BELIEVES THAT DID NOT CONTRIBUTE TO THE MAN’S DEATH. ACCORDING TO AUTHORITIES, RICKS, WHO WAS RELEASED ONLY DAYS BEFORE FROM A MENTAL HEALTH FACILITY, WAS COMBATIVE AND RESISTED POLICE WHO RESPONDED TO A CALL BY RICKS’ GRANDMOTHER.

THE STATE HOUSE HAS GIVEN FINAL LEGISLATIVE PASSAGE TO THE $25-BILLION STATE BUDGET FOR THE FISCAL YEAR THAT STARTS JULY 1ST. THE BILL RETURNED FROM THE SENATE WITH $200-MILLION IN CUTS RESTORED. NEVERTHELESS, HOUSE MEMBERS VOTED 101-0 TO APPROVE THOSE SENATE CHANGES AND SEND THE BUDGET TO GOVERNOR JINDAL'S DESK. THE LEGISLATIVE SESSION ENDS TOMORROW.

THE LOUISIANA SENATE VOTED TUESDAY TO SCRAP A METAIRIE LAWMAKER'S PROPOSAL TO REQUIRE DRUG TESTING OF WELFARE RECIPIENTS WHO RECEIVE CASH ASSISTANCE, SHELVING A PROPOSAL THAT HAS REPEATEDLY FAILED TO WIN FINAL PASSAGE OVER THE YEARS. REPUBLICAN REP. JOHN LABRUZZO SAID RANDOM SCREENING WOULD HELP BREAK THE CYCLE OF ADDICTION AMONG WELFARE RECIPIENTS. BUT CRITICS SAY IT IS INACCURATE AND POTENTIALLY RACIST TO ASSUME THAT PEOPLE ON WELFARE USE MORE DRUGS THAN THE GENERAL POPULATION. THE SENATE VOTED 20-12 ON THE PROCEDURAL MOTION, FALLING SHORT OF THE TWO-THIRDS VOTE NEEDED TO EVEN HOLD A DEBATE.

LAWMAKERS HAVE AGREED TO SHIFT THE UNIVERSITY OF NEW ORLEANS INTO A DIFFERENT COLLEGE SYSTEM. UNDER THE PROPOSAL THAT RECEIVED FINAL PASSAGE TUESDAY, UNO WILL MOVE FROM THE LSU SYSTEM AND INTO THE UNIVERSITY OF LOUISIANA SYSTEM. THE MEASURE HEADS TO GOV. BOBBY JINDAL, WHO SUPPORTS THE CHANGE.

VETERAN STATE LAWMAKER NOBLE ELLINGTON, OF WINNSBORO, HAS DECIDED NOT TO SEEK ANOTHER TERM IN THE LEGISLATURE. AFTER 24 YEARS IN THE HOUSE, THEN THE SENATE, THEN THE HOUSE AGAIN...ELLINGTON SAYS HE NOW WANTS TO SPEND MORE TIME WITH HIS FAMILY AND HIS BUSINESS. ELLINGTON IS 69 YEARS OLD. ONE OF HIS CROWNING LEGISLATIVE ACHIEVEMENTS WAS AUTHORING THE BOLL WEEVIL ERADICATION PROGRAM, WHICH HAS RID THE STATE OF THE COTTON DESTROYING PESTS.

ATTEMPTS TO EXTEND A 4-CENT CIGARETTE TAX HAVE STALLED IN THE STATE SENATE, WITH LAWMAKERS AND GOV. BOBBY JINDAL'S ADMINISTRATION HAGGLING OVER THE RENEWAL IN THE FINAL DAYS OF THE SESSION. THE HOUSE ATTACHED THE TAX EXTENSION TO A JINDAL ADMINISTRATION BILL TO REDIRECT A STREAM OF TOBACCO SETTLEMENT MONEY TO THE STATE'S FREE COLLEGE TUITION PROGRAM, CALLED TOPS. THE LEGISLATION IS A CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT. SO, IF THE TAX AMENDMENT ADD-ON IS BACKED BY THE SENATE, THE MOVE WOULD BYPASS JINDAL AND HEAD STRAIGHT TO VOTERS FOR THEIR CONSIDERATION. THEY WOULD DECIDE WHETHER TO RENEW THE TAX.

LOUISIANA'S PRESIDENTIAL PRIMARIES WILL BE PUSHED BACK FROM FEBRUARY TO MARCH.
THE HOUSE GAVE FINAL PASSAGE TO THE SHIFT WITH A UNANIMOUS VOTE, SENDING THE MEASURE (HOUSE BILL 509) TO THE GOVERNOR. LAWMAKERS SAID WITHOUT THE CHANGE, THE STATE'S REPRESENTATION AT NATIONAL PARTY CONVENTIONS IN 2012 WOULD BE JEOPARDIZED. THE MEASURE WILL SWITCH THE DATE OF THE PRIMARY TO THE THIRD SATURDAY AFTER THE FIRST TUESDAY IN MARCH, SIMILAR TO WHERE IT WAS BEFORE THE 2008 PRIMARY.

POLICE AND FIREFIGHTERS MAY SEE THE CONTRIBUTIONS THEY MAKE TOWARD THEIR RETIREMENT SYSTEMS GO UP, UNDER A PROPOSAL GIVEN FINAL PASSAGE.
THE BILL (HOUSE BILL 332) BY REP. KEVIN PEARSON, R-SLIDELL, SETS OUT SCENARIOS UNDER WHICH FIREFIGHTERS COULD SEE THEIR CONTRIBUTIONS GO FROM THE CURRENT 8 PERCENT TO AS MUCH AS 10 PERCENT. FOR POLICE, THE CONTRIBUTION COULD GO FROM 7.5 PERCENT TO 10 PERCENT. FACTORS GUIDING THE PROPOSED INCREASES WILL INCLUDE THE EMPLOYEE'S SALARY AND LEGAL REQUIREMENTS GOVERNING THE MONEY THAT MUST GO INTO THE SYSTEM EACH YEAR.

THE LEGISLATURE HAS AGREED TO REMOVE A SIX-MONTH RESIDENCY REQUIREMENT BEFORE SOMEONE CAN GET A CONCEALED HANDGUN PERMIT IN LOUISIANA. THE BILL (HOUSE BILL 489) BY REP. ALAN SEABAUGH, R-SHREVEPORT, RECEIVED FINAL BACKING WITH A 92-3 HOUSE VOTE AND GOES NEXT TO THE GOVERNOR'S DESK.

CERTAIN LOW-RISK OFFENDERS WILL BE ELIGIBLE FOR PAROLE AFTER SERVING FEWER YEARS OF THEIR SENTENCES, UNDER A PROPOSAL (HOUSE BILL 416) HEADED TO GOV. BOBBY JINDAL. THE MEASURE BY REP. JOE LOPINTO, R-METAIRIE, IS PART OF A PACKAGE OF BILLS TO TWEAK SENTENCING LAWS FOR NONVIOLENT, NON-SEX OFFENDERS IN LOUISIANA.

CARENCRO REP. BOBBY BADON WAS PULLED OVER IN JANUARY OF 2010 AND BOOKED WITH A DWI, AND THE VIDEO OF HIS TRAFFIC STOP HAS BEEN RELEASED. TROOPER JAMES LAZARD STOPPED BADON AFTER HIS TRUCK CROSSED OVER A FOG LINE DURING A LEFT TURN. 15TH JUDICIAL DISTRICT JUDGE HERMAN CLAUSE RULED LAST WEEK THAT
THERE WAS NO BASIS FOR THE TRAFFIC STOP BECAUSE THE WIDE LEFT TURN WAS IN COMPLIANCE WITH STATE LAW. THIS RULING MEANS THAT ALL EVIDENCE GATHERED AFTER THE STOP WAS NOT ADMISSIBLE IN COURT.

ANOTHER ATTEMPT TO BRING UP A SENATE-PASSED BILL TO REPEAL STATE PERSONAL INCOME TAXES FOR A VOTE HAS FAILED. IT LOOKS LIKE THE CLOCK WILL RUN OUT ON THIS ONE AS WELL. MANY HOUSE AND SENATE MEMBERS WORRY ABOUT PASSING A TAX REPEAL WITHOUT PROPER ARRANGEMENTS FOR REPLACING THE STATE REVENUES THAT WOULD BE LOST.

AN ATTEMPT TO ADD LEGISLATIVE ROADBLOCKS TO CONSTRUCTION OF A NEW PUBLIC MEDICAL CENTER IN NEW ORLEANS FAILED TO GAIN PASSAGE IN THE HOUSE, KILLING THE PROPOSAL FOR THE SESSION. THE PROPOSAL, REJECTED IN A 54-37 HOUSE VOTE AGAINST IT, WOULD HAVE REQUIRED ANOTHER LAYER OF LEGISLATIVE APPROVAL FROM BOTH THE FULL HOUSE AND SENATE BEFORE DOLLARS COULD BE BORROWED OR CONTRACTS COULD BE MADE TO BUILD THE HOSPITAL.




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