KSYL Local News

News For Thursday 03/29/12


NEWS FOR THURSDAY 032912
BY DAVE GRAICHEN

SOME MEMBERS OF THE REGION VI MENTAL HEALTH ADVISORY COUNCIL SAY THEY ARE CONCERNED THAT THEY HAVEN'T BEEN ASKED FOR INPUT ABOUT MENTAL-HEALTH CARE SINCE GOV. BOBBY JINDAL TOOK OFFICE IN JANUARY 2008. THAT DESPITE THE FACT THE GOVERNOR AND THE DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HOSPITALS HAVE MADE CHANGES AND ARE PLANNING MORE AT CENTRAL STATE HOSPITAL IN PINEVILLE. THE COUNCIL WAS FORMED BY THE STATE DECADES AGO TO WEIGH IN ON MENTAL-HEALTH CARE ON BEHALF OF PATIENTS, BUT THEY FEAR THEY ARE NOW BEING KEPT OUT OF THE LOOP.

THE HOUSE EDUCATION COMMITTEE REJECTED A PROPOSAL TO LIMIT THE AMOUNT OF MONEY AWARDED TO A COLLEGE STUDENT RECEIVING A TOPS SCHOLARSHIP. HOUMA REPRESENTATIVE JOE HARRISON PROPOSED CAPPING THE SCHOLARSHIP AT 16-HUNDRED DOLLARS A YEAR, INSTEAD OF PAYING A STUDENT'S ENTIRE TUITION. LSU STUDENT BODY PRESIDENT CODY WELLS TESTIFIED AGAINST THE MEASURE. WELLS SAYS A CUT TO THE TOPS SCHOLARSHIP PROGRAM COULD PREVENT SOME HIGH SCHOOL GRADUATES FROM ATTENDING A FOUR-YEAR UNIVERSITY. THE HOUSE EDUCATION COMMITTEE AGREED WITH WELLS DEFEATED THE BILL ON A 12 TO 4 VOTE.

IT'S A SENATE COMMITTEE'S TURN TO DEAL WITH TWO HOUSE-PASSED EDUCATION BILLS. ONE CREATES A STATEWIDE SCHOOL VOUCHER PROGRAM; ANOTHER MAKES BROAD CHANGES TO JOB PROTECTIONS FOR LOUISIANA PUBLIC SCHOOL TEACHERS. PASSED BY THE HOUSE AFTER CLOSE TO 16 HOURS OF DEBATE, THE BILLS ARE BEING PUSHED HARD — AND FAST — BY GOV. BOBBY JINDAL'S ADMINISTRATION. THE SENATE EDUCATION COMMITTEE, WHICH WAS SET TO HEAR THE BILLS TODAY, IS ALREADY ON RECORD IN SUPPORT OF THE MEASURES, HAVING APPROVED SIMILAR VERSIONS LAST WEEK.
SINCE THEN, THE HOUSE HAS MADE A FEW CHANGES. THOSE INCLUDE A PROVISION REQUIRING THE STATE EDUCATION DEPARTMENT TO COME UP WITH MORE ACCOUNTABILITY STANDARDS FOR PRIVATE SCHOOLS THAT ACCEPT STUDENTS THROUGH THE GOVERNMENT-FUNDED VOUCHER PROGRAM.

THEY CAUGHT THAT INMATE WHO WALKED AWAY FROM A WORK DETAIL IN MARKSVILLE ON MONDAY. U.S. MARSHALS ARRESTED SHAWN JOLIVETTE YESTERDAY IN PENSACOLA, FLORIDA. DEPUTIES ARRESTED 21-YEAR-OLD LAKEVIA GARDNER IN LAPLACE AND HELD HER WITHOUT BOND IN AVOYELLES PARISH ON A CHARGE OF PRINCIPAL TO SIMPLE ESCAPE.
SHERIFF DOUG ANDERSON SAYS JOLIVETTE LEFT A CITY GRASS-CUTTING CREW NEAR AVOYELLES HOSPITAL IN MARKSVILLE ON MONDAY. INVESTIGATORS ALLEGE THAT GARDNER PICKED HIM UP THERE AND HELPED HIM GET AWAY.

THE HURRICANE FORECASTING TEAM AT COLORADO STATE UNIVERSITY SAYS CLIMATE DATA SUGGESTS WE MAY SEE FEWER HURRICANES THIS YEAR. STATE CLIMATOLOGIST BARRY KEIM SAYS THE SCIENTISTS AT CSU BASE THAT ON CONDITIONS IN THE ATLANTIC, WHICH THEY SAY ARE LESS FAVORABLE FOR STORM DEVELOPMENT. THE COLORADO STATE TEAM WILL RELEASE ANOTHER FORECAST NEXT WEEK, IN WHICH THEY'LL VENTURE A GUESS AT HOW MANY NAMED STORMS WE MAY SEE.

PERSONAL INCOMES ARE UP IN LOUISIANA. A FEDERAL REPORTS SHOWS A 4.8% INCREASE IN INCOMES OVERALL DURING 2011. ON A PER-PERSON BASIS, THAT RANKS LOUISIANA 3RD AMONG THE 12 STATES THAT MAKE UP THE SOUTHEASTERN REGION OF THE U.S.

THE MULTI-STATE MEGA-MILLIONS JACKPOT IS NOW AT $500-MILLION FOR FRIDAY NIGHT'S DRAWING. AT A HALF-BILLION BUCKS, THIS IS THE BIGGEST LOTTERY JACKPOT EVER IN
NORTH AMERICA.

NO WINNERS OF THE POWERBALL LAST NIGHT.. THAT PRIZE GOES TO AN ESTIMATED $60 MILLION FOR SATURDAY NIGHT’S DRAWING.

A BILL THAT WOULD INCREASE THE PENALTIES FOR STEALING COPPER PASSED EASILY IN THE HOUSE CRIMINAL JUSTICE COMMITTEE TODAY. UNDER THE LEGISLATION JUDGES CAN FINE METAL THIEVES FOR BOTH THE COSTS OF REPLACING WHAT WAS STOLEN AND DAMAGES COMMITTED WHILE STEALING THE METAL.


VOTERS IN EACH PARISH WOULD DECIDE WHETHER THEY WANT TO ENACT TERM LIMITS ON THEIR LOCAL SCHOOL BOARDS UNDER A PROPOSAL HEADED TO THE HOUSE FLOOR FOR DEBATE WITH A 5-3 COMMITTEE VOTE WEDNESDAY. THE MEASURE WOULD CALL FOR THE LOCAL OPTION VOTES ON THE NOV. 6 BALLOT. IF APPROVED IN A PARISH, LOCAL SCHOOL BOARD MEMBERS THERE WOULD BE LIMITED TO THREE CONSECUTIVE FOUR-YEAR TERMS, LIKE STATE LAWMAKERS. SUPPORTERS, INCLUDING SEVERAL BUSINESS GROUPS, SAID TERM LIMITS WOULD ALLOW FOR FRESH IDEAS AND NEW PEOPLE ON THE BOARDS THAT DETERMINE EDUCATION POLICY FOR THOUSANDS OF PUBLIC SCHOOL STUDENTS. CURRENTLY, TWO PARISHES IN LOUISIANA, JEFFERSON AND LAFAYETTE PARISHES, HAVE TERM LIMITS.

THE LOUISIANA HOUSE WILL CONSIDER A PROPOSAL TO OPEN UP COLLECTIVE BARGAINING NEGOTIATIONS BETWEEN LOCAL GOVERNMENT AGENCIES AND LABOR UNIONS TO THE PUBLIC. THE HOUSE AND GOVERNMENTAL AFFAIRS COMMITTEE VOTED 8-2 WEDNESDAY FOR THE MEASURE BY REPUBLICAN REP. TONY LIGI. LIGI SAYS HE PROPOSED THE IDEA AFTER THE JEFFERSON PARISH SCHOOL BOARD NEGOTIATED A CONTRACT WITH ITS TEACHERS THAT NO ONE WAS ALLOWED TO SEE BEFORE IT WAS APPROVED. HE SAYS TAXPAYERS SHOULD HAVE "A RIGHT TO BE AT THE TABLE."

THE SENATE AGREED TO LIMIT THE NUMBER OF CREDIT HOURS IT WOULD TAKE MOST LOUISIANA PUBLIC COLLEGE STUDENTS TO GET A DEGREE FROM A FOUR-YEAR UNIVERSITY. SUPPORTERS SAID THE BILL WOULD MAKE IT MORE LIKELY FOR STUDENTS TO GET OUT OF COLLEGE IN FOUR YEARS. THE PROPOSAL, HEADED TO THE HOUSE FOR DEBATE, WOULD CAP THE REQUIREMENT AT 120 HOURS OF CREDIT. IT INCLUDES AN EXCEPTION FOR THOSE DEGREES THAT REQUIRE MORE COURSE HOURS UNDER CERTIFICATION RULES, LIKE ENGINEERING PROGRAMS.

SENATOR MARY LANDRIEU SAYS SHE AND OTHER LOUISIANA CONGRESSIONAL DELEGATES ARE PUSHING THE VETERANS ADMINISTRATION TO EXPEDITE NEW VA CLINICS IN SOUTHERN LOUISIANA. LANDRIEU SAYS NEW VA CLINICS IN LAFAYETTE AND LAKE CHARLES WERE SUPPOSED TO BE UNDER CONSTRUCTION BY NOW...BUT THAT'S BEEN DELAYED BY A VA CLERICAL ERROR IN THE BIDDING PROCESS. CURRENTLY THERE IS ONLY ONE VA CLINIC IN ALL OF SOUTHWESTERN LOUISIANA, THAT BEING IN JENNINGS.

THE SALE OF DOGS, CATS AND OTHER KINDS OF HOUSEHOLD PETS WOULD BE BARRED FROM ROADSIDES, FLEA MARKETS AND PARKS IF LAWMAKERS AGREE TO A PROPOSAL THAT RECEIVED THE BACKING OF THE HOUSE CRIMINAL JUSTICE COMMITTEE IN A 9-3 VOTE. SEVERAL MUNICIPALITIES AROUND THE STATE HAVE ENACTED SIMILAR LOCAL ORDINANCES. VIOLATION WOULD CARRY UP TO A $250 FINE THE FIRST TIME, THEN UP TO $1,000 FOR SUBSEQUENT OFFENSES. THE MEASURE HEADS NEXT TO THE FULL HOUSE FOR DEBATE.

THE HOUSE AND GOVERNMENTAL AFFAIRS COMMITTEE AGREED WITHOUT OBJECTION TO CONTINUE LOUISIANA'S PUBLIC RECORDS EXEMPTION FOR THE DEPARTMENT OF ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT, WHICH SHIELDS FROM PUBLIC VIEW RECORDS INVOLVED IN ACTIVE NEGOTIATIONS TO ATTRACT OR KEEP COMPANIES TO THE STATE. THE BILL WOULD CONTINUE THE EXEMPTION UNTIL 2016. IT IS SET TO EXPIRE THIS YEAR. THE PROPOSAL GOES NEXT TO THE HOUSE.

A NEW ORLEANS CONGRESSMAN OBJECTED WEDNESDAY TO A JINDAL ADMINISTRATION PLAN TO REDIRECT FEDERAL HURRICANE RECOVERY MONEY FROM HOUSING AID PROGRAMS TO SUPERDOME UPGRADES. U.S. REP. CEDRIC RICHMOND SENT A LETTER TO FEDERAL HOUSING AND URBAN DEVELOPMENT SECRETARY SHAUN DONOVAN AND GOV. BOBBY JINDAL ASKING FOR THE MONEY SHIFT TO BE SCRAPPED, SAYING THE PLAN IS ILL-ADVISED BECAUSE PEOPLE STILL ARE STRUGGLING TO REBUILD MORE THAN SIX YEARS AFTER HURRICANE KATRINA. THE JINDAL ADMINISTRATION HAS PROPOSED MOVING $6.6 MILLION FROM SEVERAL RECOVERY PROGRAMS, INCLUDING FISHERIES ASSISTANCE, SMALL BUSINESS LOANS AND HOUSING AID, TO ANOTHER PROGRAM THAT WOULD HELP PAY FOR IMPROVEMENTS TO THE SUPERDOME.

IT HAS BEEN A PRETTY WARM SPRING SO FAR IN LOUISIANA, WHICH BEGS THE QUESTION, "HOW HOT MIGHT THE SUMMER BE?" STATE CLIMATOLOGIST BARRY KEIM SAYS THERE REALLY IS NO METEOROLOGICAL CORRELATION BETWEEN THE TWO. KEIM SAYS A WARM SPRING IS NO INDICATOR OF A WARM SUMMER TO COME. THAT BEING SAID, KEIM ADMITS FEDERAL WEATHER OFFICIALS EXPECT ANOTHER SCORCHER. KEIM SAYS THERE WAS PRACTICALLY NO WINTER TO SPEAK OF IN LOUISIANA THIS YEAR BECAUSE ANY COOL AIR WE GOT WAS COMING IN FROM THE PACIFIC, INSTEAD OF FROM CANADA, AND THAT'S WHY OUR WINTER & SPRING HAVE BEEN SO WARM.

FOUR LOUISIANA CITIES ARE GETTING A TOTAL OF $575,000 TO HELP HOUSE HOMELESS VETERANS. U.S. SENATOR MARY L. LANDRIEU AND REP. CEDRIC RICHMOND SAID THE MONEY IS GOING TO HOUSING AUTHORITIES IN EAST BATON ROUGE, NEW ORLEANS AND LAFAYETTE, AND TO BOSSIER PARISH. IT'S UNDER A DEPARTMENT OF HOUSING AND URBAN DEVELOPMENT PROGRAM FOR PUBLIC HOUSING AGENCIES THAT AGREE TO PARTNER WITH ELIGIBLE VETERANS ADMINISTRATION MEDICAL FACILITIES.










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