KSYL Local News

News For Friday 062411


NEWS FOR FRIDAY 062411
BY DAVE GRAICHEN

A VAN FULL OF CHURCH MEMBERS HEADING HOME FROM A BIBLE CLASS VEERED OFF A NORTHEAST LOUISIANA HIGHWAY AND HIT A CULVERT, KILLING TWO ADULTS AND TWO CHILDREN AND SENDING SEVEN OTHERS TO A HOSPITAL. THE VAN CRASHED WEDNESDAY NIGHT ON LOUISIANA HIGHWAY 587 IN WEST CARROLL PARISH. THE VAN'S DRIVER AND ONE OTHER PERSON WERE HOSPITALIZED WITH LIFE-THREATENING INJURIES. THE VAN BELONGED TO THE NEW ZION BAPTIST CHURCH, ABOUT EIGHT MILES OUTSIDE OAK GROVE.

THE ALEXANDRIA ANIMAL SHELTER WILL OFFER DOGS FOR ADOPTION FROM 10 A.M. TO NOON SATURDAY AT THE SONIC DRIVE-IN AT 2102 NORTH MALL DRIVE. SONIC WILL DONATE COMMUNITY CARDS FOR VOLUNTEERS TO SELL ON THE LOT WITH ALL PROCEEDS GOING TO THE SHELTER. DONATIONS WILL BE ACCEPTED AT THE EVENT, WHICH IS PART OF SONIC'S DOG DAYS OF SUMMER. PET OWNERS WHO BRING THEIR DOGS WITH THEM CAN GET FREE ATWOOD'S BAKERY GOURMET DOGGIE TREATS.

THE LOUISIANA SENATE DIDN'T FIND OUT BEFORE THE REGULAR SESSION WAS ENDING WHETHER FEDERAL OFFICIALS HAVE CLEARED THE REDESIGN OF THEIR 39 DISTRICTS. SO IF ANY CHANGES ARE REQUIRED, THE LEGISLATURE WILL HAVE TO HOLD A SPECIAL REDISTRICTING SESSION THIS SUMMER. THE HOUSE RECEIVED PRE-CLEARANCE FROM THE U.S. DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE EARLIER THIS WEEK, BUT A VERDICT ON THE SENATE PLAN ISN'T DUE UNTIL NEXT WEEK. SENATE PRESIDENT JOEL CHAISSON, D-DESTREHAN, SAID HE BELIEVES THE REMAPPING OF HIS CHAMBER WILL BE APPROVED.

VOTERS WILL DECIDE ON THIS FALL'S BALLOT WHETHER TO RENEW A 4-CENT CIGARETTE TAX, AFTER THE HOUSE AND SENATE OVERWHELMINGLY AGREED THURSDAY TO THE TAX EXTENSION. IN A LAST-MINUTE COMPROMISE TO ONE OF THE MOST CONTENTIOUS BATTLES OF THE 2011 LEGISLATIVE SESSION, GOV. BOBBY JINDAL AND LAWMAKERS THIS WEEK AGREED TO ALLOW THE TAX EXTENSION TO GO FORWARD VIA A CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT TO FUND COLLEGE SCHOLARSHIPS. THE MEASURE WON'T GO TO JINDAL'S DESK, SO HE CAN'T REJECT IT. THE TAX THAT GENERATES $12 MILLION A YEAR IS SET TO EXPIRE IN 2012, AND JINDAL HAD EARLIER OPPOSED THE MEASURE AS A NEW TAX AND VETOED IT.

TWO OF GOV. BOBBY JINDAL'S APPOINTMENTS TO PUBLIC UNIVERSITY BOARDS HAVE FAILED TO GET SENATE CONFIRMATION, SO THEY'LL HAVE TO GIVE UP THE SEATS. ANN DUPLESSIS, WHO LEFT THE SENATE LAST YEAR TO TAKE A JOB IN NEW ORLEANS MAYOR MITCH LANDRIEU'S ADMINISTRATION, FAILED TO GAIN SENATE BACKING FOR A SEAT ON THE LSU BOARD OF SUPERVISORS. AND RICHARD J. CAITON JR., WHO RECENTLY BECAME A MAXIMUM JINDAL CAMPAIGN CONTRIBUTOR, ALSO WAS NOT CONFIRMED FOR HIS SEAT ON THE SOUTHERN UNIVERSITY BOARD OF SUPERVISORS. SENATORS DIDN'T DEBATE THE CONFIRMATIONS PUBLICLY THURSDAY, SO IT WAS UNCLEAR WHY THE TWO BOARD MEMBERS WEREN'T ACCEPTED.

THE NONPROFIT LOUISIANA HOUSING CORPORATION WILL TAKE OVERSIGHT OF PROGRAMS CURRENTLY SPREAD ACROSS FIVE AGENCIES AND DEVELOP A UNIFIED HOUSING POLICY FOR THE STATE. AN 11-MEMBER BOARD WITH SIX GUBERNATORIAL APPOINTEES WILL RUN THE CORPORATION. THE JINDAL ADMINISTRATION PROPOSAL GOT FINAL PASSAGE THURSDAY WITH UNANIMOUS VOTES OF THE HOUSE AND SENATE. THE CORPORATION WILL OVERSEE RENTAL ASSISTANCE, HOME OWNERSHIP PROMOTION PROGRAMS, HOMELESS PREVENTION, HOUSING-RELATED CHILD CARE AND HURRICANE RECOVERY DOLLARS FOR REBUILDING RENTAL HOUSING. IT WILL TAKE OVER AND DISMANTLE THE LOUISIANA HOUSING FINANCE AGENCY, WHICH GENERATED COMPLAINTS ABOUT BUREAUCRACY AND INEFFICIENT SPENDING AFTER THE 2005 HURRICANES.

THE RULES OF LOUISIANA'S "RAINY DAY" FUND WILL BE ADJUSTED, IF VOTERS AGREE THIS FALL, SO THE FUND WOULDN'T HAVE TO BE REPAID AS SOON AS IT'S USED.
THE REPAYMENT PROBLEM HAS RENDERED THE FUND LARGELY USELESS DURING RECENT BUDGET SHORTFALLS. THE PROPOSED CONSTITUTIONAL CHANGE (SENATE BILL 147) WOULD CHANGE THE REPAYMENT TRIGGERS FOR THE FUND, SO MONEY WOULDN'T HAVE TO BE REIMBURSED IN THE YEAR IT IS USED OR THE FOLLOWING YEAR. THE REPAYMENT WOULD BE MADE IN THE THIRD, FOURTH AND FIFTH YEARS, ONE-THIRD AT A TIME.

A MULTIYEAR CONSTRUCTION BUDGET GOT THE BACKING OF STATE LAWMAKERS WHO ARE GIVING THE GOVERNOR'S OFFICE DECISION-MAKING POWER OVER WHICH NEW PROJECTS ACTUALLY ADVANCE IN THE NEXT FISCAL YEAR. LOUISIANA HAS A CAP ON ANNUAL BORROWING THAT LIMITS SPENDING ON CONSTRUCTION PROJECTS TO $340 MILLION IN THE FISCAL YEAR THAT BEGINS JULY 1. ABOUT $236 MILLION WILL COVER ONGOING PROJECTS AND ITEMS GIVEN LINES OF CREDIT IN PREVIOUS YEARS, INCLUDING LEGISLATORS' PROJECTS ADDED IN THE PAST. THAT LEAVES $104 MILLION REMAINING FOR NEW PROJECTS.
LAWMAKERS INCLUDED $10 MILLION MORE THAN THERE IS SPENDING CAPACITY, SO THE JINDAL ADMINISTRATION WILL DECIDE WHICH PROJECTS TO FORWARD TO THE STATE BOND COMMISSION FOR LINES OF CREDIT.

BOATERS WHO ARE UNDER THE AGE OF 21 AND DRINKING ILLEGALLY WILL BE SUBJECT TO PUBLIC POSSESSION LAWS. THE PROPOSAL WON FINAL PASSAGE THURSDAY WITH VOTES OF THE HOUSE AND SENATE. SPONSORS SAID IT WAS DESIGNED TO CLARIFY THAT EXISTING UNDERAGE DRINKING PROHIBITIONS APPLY TO WATERWAYS.

THE LOUISIANA SENATE CONFIRMED THE APPOINTMENT OF HEALTH AND HOSPITALS SECRETARY BRUCE GREENSTEIN, DESPITE CRITICISM OF HIS HANDLING OF A LUCRATIVE MEDICAID CONTRACT SET TO GO TO HIS FORMER EMPLOYER. GREENSTEIN'S CONFIRMATION, ALONG WITH A LIST OF OTHER APPOINTEES BY GOV. BOBBY JINDAL, WAS APPROVED IN A 30-5 SENATE VOTE THURSDAY IN THE FINAL HOURS OF THE LEGISLATIVE SESSION. THERE WAS LITTLE QUESTION GREENSTEIN'S APPOINTMENT WOULD WIN APPROVAL UNTIL EARLIER THIS MONTH WHEN IT WAS REVEALED THAT HIS FORMER COMPANY, MARYLAND-BASED CNSI, WAS SLATED TO GET A $300 MILLION CLAIMS PROCESSING AND INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY CONTRACT FROM GREENSTEIN'S DEPARTMENT. GREENSTEIN WORKED FOR CNSI FROM 2005 TO 2006. SENATORS ON THE CONFIRMATION COMMITTEE THEN GRILLED HIM, AND GREENSTEIN DENIED ANY INVOLVEMENT IN CNSI'S SELECTION.

A FUEL ANALYST SAYS THE DECISION BY THE U-S AND OTHER OIL-PRODUCING NATIONS TO RELEASE 60-MILLION BARRELS OF OIL FROM RESERVES COULD DROP GASOLINE PRICES BELOW THREE-DOLLARS A GALLON. DON REDMAN, WITH THE AMERICAN AUTOMOBILE ASSOCIATION, SAYS THE RELEASE OF 60-MILLION BARRELS ON THE MARKET WILL HAVE AN IMPACT. ACCORDING TO TRIPLE-A, THE STATEWIDE AVERAGE PRICE FOR A GALLON OF
REGULAR GASOLINE IS $3.50. REDMAN SAYS TAPPING INTO OIL RESERVES SHOULD HELP PUSH THE PRICE AT THE PUMP LOWER. THE DECISION TO USE OIL RESERVES WAS MADE BECAUSE OF DISRUPTIONS IN SUPPLY CAUSED BY LIBYA'S CIVIL WAR. REDMAN SAYS THIS IS ONLY A SHORT TERM FIX...









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