KSYL Local News

News For Tuesday 010312


NEWS FOR TUESDAY 010312
BY DAVE GRAICHEN

AFTER A MILD HOLIDAY SEASON, WE ARE GREETED WITH COLD TEMPERATURES TO BEGIN THE FIRST WORK WEEK OF 2012. STATE CLIMATOLOGIST BARRY KEIM SAYS MOST OF THE STATE IS REPORTING BELOW FREEZING TEMPERATURES.

HERE IN ALEXANDRIA THE CITY'S NEW, EXPANDED SMOKING BAN HAS TAKEN EFFECT. SMOKING AND THE USE OF OTHER TOBACCO PRODUCTS NO LONGER IS ALLOWED IN ANY BAR IN THE CITY. IN ADDITION, BOTH ARE BANNED FROM GAMBLING ESTABLISHMENTS SUCH AS BINGO HALLS, ALL PUBLIC WORKPLACES IN THE CITY AND WITHIN 25 FEET OF ANY PUBLIC PARK OR CITY BUILDING. ALEXANDRIA'S NEW ANTI-SMOKING LAW IS ONE OF THE STRONGEST IN THE STATE.

THE MURDER RATE JUMPED BY 14 PERCENT IN NEW ORLEANS LAST YEAR WITH 199 HOMICIDES, LEAVING RESIDENTS APPALLED AND CITY LEADERS SCRAMBLING TO REIN IN THE VIOLENCE. THE TIMES-PICAYUNE REPORTS THAT LAST YEAR'S UPTICK WILL LIKELY PLACE NEW ORLEANS FAR AHEAD OF OTHER CITIES WITH SERIOUS CRIME AND HOMICIDE PROBLEMS. NEW ORLEANS HAS BEEN STRUGGLING WITH THE HIGHEST PER-CAPITA MURDER RATE IN THE COUNTRY. THE NUMBER OF MURDERS FOR THE PREVIOUS THREE YEARS HAD STABILIZED AT AROUND 175 KILLINGS A YEAR. THE YEAR ENDED WITH THE SHOOTING DEATH OF A TODDLER WHO WAS KILLED BY A STRAY BULLET ON DEC. 18, JUST DAYS BEFORE HER SECOND BIRTHDAY.

AIDS IS NO LONGER THE DEATH SENTENCE IT WAS YEARS AGO. TODAY, PEOPLE LIVE NORMAL LIVES DUE TO THE ADVANCES IN MEDICINE. BUT, THAT MEDICINE IS VERY EXPENSIVE. IN SOME CASES SEVERAL THOUSAND DOLLARS PER MONTH. CURRENTLY LOUISIANA HAS ONE OF THE LONGEST WAITING LISTS IN THE NATION FOR PEOPLE WANTING TO RECEIVE MEDICATION THROUGH A PROGRAM THAT HELPS PEOPLE WHO ARE HIV POSITIVE. LOUISIANA'S WAITING LIST TRAILS ONLY FLORIDA, VIRGINIA AND GEORGIA IN THE NUMBER OF PEOPLE WAITING TO RECEIVE MEDICATION THROUGH THE AIDS DRUG ASSISTANCE PROGRAM. AS OF DEC. 21, LOUISIANA HAD 596 PEOPLE ON A WAITING LIST. THOSE ON THE LIST CURRENTLY RELY ON PATIENT ASSISTANCE PROGRAMS SET UP BY DRUG COMPANIES FOR THEIR MEDICATION. OTHERS COULD BE DOING WITHOUT ENTIRELY.

POLITICS IN LOUISIANA IS ALWAYS INTERESTING AND 2012 SHOULD BE NO DIFFERENT. THE MAJOR ELECTION IN LOUISIANA THIS YEAR WILL BE BETWEEN TWO SITTING CONGRESSMEN, CHARLES BOUSTANY AND JEFF LANDRY. THE REDUCTION IN CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICTS IN LOUISIANA FORCES AN ELECTION THIS FALL. GOVERNOR BOBBY JINDAL'S MAJOR INITIATIVE IN 2012 WILL BE EDUCATION REFORM. A NEW STATE SUPERINTENDENT WILL SOON BE IN PLACE AND THE GOVERNOR IS EXPECTED TO PUSH SEVERAL IDEAS THAT WILL LOOK TO IMPROVE ON NEW STATE RATINGS THAT GAVE NEARLY HALF OF LOUISIANA PUBLIC SCHOOLS A GRADE OF D OR F. BALANCING THE BUDGET WILL ALSO BE A BIG TOPIC WHEN LAWMAKERS CONVENE IN MARCH FOR A REGULAR LEGISLATIVE SESSION. FUNDING FOR
EDUCATION WILL BE A BIG PART OF THAT DISCUSSION.

2012 IS EXPECTED TO BE A GOOD YEAR FOR ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT IN SOUTHWEST LOUISIANA, BUT THE SAME CAN'T BE SAID FOR THE NEW ORLEANS AREA. LSU ECONOMIST, DR. LOREN SCOTT, SAYS THE CLOSURE OF THE AVONDALE SHIPYARDS AND A REDUCTION IN CONSTRUCTION SPENDING WILL KEEP THE STATE FROM SEEING A HUGE INCREASE IN JOBS IN 2012. SCOTT SAYS THE LAKE CHARLES AREA WILL SEE THE BIGGEST JOB GROWTH IN THE
STATE AS A RESULT OF TWO HUGE CONSTRUCTION PROJECTS. SCOTT SAYS AN EXPANDING CHEMICAL INDUSTRY WILL HELP GROW THE BATON ROUGE MARKET. HE SAYS NORTH LOUISIANA IS A BIT OF A MIXED BAG. HE SAYS THE NATURAL GAS INDUSTRY WILL CONTINUE TO GROW, BUT A MAJOR AUTO MANUFACTURING PLANT SHUTS ITS DOORS THIS SUMMER.

LOUISIANA HOMEOWNERS SHOULD NOT EXPECT A BREAK IN 2012 WHEN IT COMES TO PROPERTY INSURANCE RATES. IN FACT THE STATE'S LARGEST INSURER OF HOMES, STATE FARM, IS RAISING ITS RATES BY AN AVERAGE OF NEARLY EIGHT PERCENT THIS YEAR. INSURANCE COMMISSIONER JIM DONELON SAYS HOMEOWNERS INSURANCE RATES HAVE LEVELED OFF IN RECENT YEARS, BUT WE CONTINUE TO SEE SLIGHT INCREASES, BECAUSE THE INSURANCE INDUSTRY IS BRACING FOR MORE NATURAL DISASTERS. DONELON SAYS IT'S POSSIBLE FOR POLICYHOLDERS TO SEE SAVINGS, IF THEY SHOP FOR BETTER DEALS. HE SAYS THERE ARE SEVERAL NEW COMPANIES WRITING POLICIES IN THIS STATE.

A NEW LAW IS NOW IN EFFECT FOR 2012 THAT REQUIRES LITTER EDUCATION TO BE A PART OF DRIVERS ED BEFORE YOU CAN GET YOUR DRIVERS LICENSE. THE BILL WAS SPONSORED BY ST. MARTINVILLE SENATOR FRED MILLS. HE SAYS THE IDEA IS TO TEACH YOUNG PEOPLE THE FINANCIAL AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT EFFECTS OF LITTERING. MILLS SAYS THE ADDITIONAL CURRICULUM WAS DEVELOPED BY KEEP LOUISIANA BEAUTIFUL AND THE COURSE WORK WAS UPGRADED BY THE STATE OFFICE OF MOTOR VEHICLES. HE SAYS YOUNG DIVERS WILL BE EDUCATED ON THE MILLIONS OF DOLLARS THE STATE LOSES EACH YEAR, BECAUSE OF LITTERING.

THE DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENTAL QUALITY SAYS LOUISIANA PRODUCES MORE GARBAGE IN THE MONTH OF DECEMBER THAN ANY OTHER MONTH. DEQ SPOKESPERSON RODNEY MALLETT SAYS YOU CAN RECYCLE AND REUSE TO REDUCE TRASH WHILE TAKING CARE OF THE ENVIRONMENT. HE SAYS YOU CAN START BY RECYCLING YOUR CHRISTMAS TREE. MALLETT SAYS USING RECHARGEABLE BATTERIES FOR TOYS AND OTHER GADGETS
KEEPS OLD BATTERIES OUT OF LANDFILLS. HE ALSO SAYS MOST CARDBOARD AND WRAPPING PAPER CAN BE REUSED. MALLETT SAYS RECYCLING IDEAS CAN BE FOUND ON THEIR WEBSITE AT DEQ.LOUISIANA.GOV/RECYCLING.


SPORTS..

THE SAINTS TAKE AN EIGHT-GAME WINNING STREAK INTO THE PLAYOFFS, BUT COACH SEAN PAYTON SAYS HIS TEAM UNDERSTANDS THE SEASON CAN END IN A HURRY, IF THEY DON'T PLAY WELL ON SATURDAY NIGHT AGAINST DETROIT.. NEW ORLEANS CRUSHED THE CAROLINA PANTHERS SUNDAY 45-17, AND WILL NOW TAKE ON THE DETROIT LIONS IN THE PLAYOFFS SATURDAY AT 7PM.

THE FLOCK OF OUT-OF-TOWNERS HEADED TO THE BIG EASY TO CHEER ON THEIR TEAMS THIS WEEK IS GIVING A BIG BOOST TO THE ECONOMIES OF NEW ORLEANS AND THE ENTIRE STATE. LSU PROFESSOR OF ECONOMICS DR JAMES RICHARDSON SAYS THE CITY IS ALREADY SEEING BIG CROWDS FOR THE SUGARBOWL TONIGHT, AND THE BCS TITLE GAME NEXT WEEK.





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