KSYL Local News

News For Monday 04/09/12


NEWS FOR MONDAY 040912
BY DAVE GRAICHEN

CENTRAL LOUISIANA OFFICIALS AND SUPPORTERS OF THE AVOYELLES CORRECTIONAL CENTER IN COTTONPORT SAY THEY WILL FIGHT LEGISLATION CALLING FOR SELLING THE PRISON TO A PRIVATE OPERATOR. IT IS EXPECTED THAT THE APPROPRIATIONS COMMITTEE WOULD DEBATE HOUSE BILL 850 BY REP. HENRY BURNS, R-HAUGHTON, TUESDAY MORNING. THE HEARING WAS ORIGINALLY SCHEDULED FOR APRIL 16TH & 17TH. REP. ROBERT JOHNSON, D-MARKSVILLE, SAID HE WAS SURPRISED BY A TELEPHONE CALL FROM A GOVERNOR'S OFFICE STAFF MEMBER TELLING HIM THE DATE HAD BEEN MOVED UP. TUESDAY IS A SCHEDULED TRAINING DAY," HE SAID. "THE TWO SHIFTS THAT WOULD BE OFF ARE HAVING TRAINING DAY," SO GUARDS WHO HAVE NOT BEEN ABLE TO PERFORM THEIR MANDATORY 40 TRAINING HOURS WOULD NOT BE ABLE TO COME TO THE CAPITOL TO PROTEST THE SALE. JOHNSON SAYS HE MEET WITH THE GOVERNOR IN DECEMBER AND WAS TOLD THE SALE OF THE PRISON WAS NOT ON THE TABLE. THEN THE BUDGET CAME OUT AND THERE IT WAS.

THE WALL STREET JOURNAL IS REPORTING THAT ROYAL DUTCH SHELL PLC MIGHT BUILD A $10 BILLION PLANT IN THE STATE THAT WOULD MAKE DIESEL FUEL OUT OF NATURAL GAS. LSU ECONOMIST DR. LOREN SCOTT SAYS IT MAKES SENSE BECAUSE LOUISIANA IS THE NUMBER THREE PRODUCER OF NATURAL GAS IN THE UNITED STATES. HE ALSO SAYS ANOTHER ENERGY COMPANY IS CONSIDERING A SIMILAR PLANT IN LOUISIANA. SCOTT SAYS SASOL IS ALSO CONSIDERING BUILDING A GAS-TO-LIQUIDS PLANT IN THE LAKE CHARLES AREA. HE SAYS IF BOTH FACILITIES DECIDE TO BUILD HERE, IT WOULD BE A MAJOR BOOST TO LOUISIANA'S ECONOMY.

A JOB FAIR IS SET FOR TUESDAY FOR THE COUSHATTA CASINO RESORT, WHICH SAYS IT NEEDS EMPLOYEES FOR ITS NEW CASINO-HOTEL DEVELOPMENT IN KINDER AND OTHER CORPORATE POSITIONS. THE EVENT WILL TAKE PLACE FROM 8 A.M.-2 P.M. AT THE NORTHWEST COMMUNITY CENTER IN EUNICE. IT'S CO-SPONSORED BY THE LOUISIANA WORKFORCE COMMISSION. APPLICANTS MUST BE AT LEAST 18 AND BRING A VALID DRIVER LICENSE.

THE STATE'S EDUCATION SUPERINTENDENT SAYS WORK WILL BEGIN IMMEDIATELY TO IMPLEMENT EDUCATION REFORMS PASSED LAST WEEK BY THE LEGISLATURE. THE GOVERNOR IS EXPECTED TO SIGN THE MEASURES INTO LAW THIS WEEK. SUPERINTENDENT JOHN WHITE SAYS FIRST UP IS SETTING UP THE PRIVATE AND PAROCHIAL SCHOOL VOUCHERS PROGRAM. WHITE SAYS, ONCE GOVERNOR JINDAL SIGNS THE SCHOOL CHOICE ACT INTO LAW, HE AND HIS TEAM WILL BEGIN IMPLEMENTING THE PROGRAM AND AN APPLICATION PROCESS FOR PARENTS. WHITE SAYS "SCHOLARSHIPS" FOR KIDS IN FAILING PUBLIC SCHOOLS WILL BE AVAILABLE FOR THE FALL 2012 SCHOOL YEAR. WHITE SAYS DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION OFFICIALS AND BESE WILL START LAYING GROUNDWORK FOR THE NEW LAW OVERHAULING TEACHER TENURE AND ANNUAL PERFORMANCE REVIEWS AS WELL.

A STATE TEACHERS UNION IS PROMISING A LEGAL CHALLENGE OF THE JUST-PASSED SCHOOL CHOICE ACT, WHICH PROVIDES PRIVATE SCHOOL TUITION VOUCHERS FOR KIDS IN FAILING PUBLIC SCHOOLS. LOUISIANA FEDERATION OF TEACHERS PRESIDENT STEVE MONAGHAN THE FUNDING FOR THOSE VOUCHERS IS AT QUESTION. MONAGHAN SAYS LANGUAGE OF THE STATE CONSTITUTION SUGGESTS THAT FUNDS FROM THE PUBLIC SCHOOL FUNDING FORMULA, THE SO-CALLED MINIMUM FOUNDATION PROGRAM (MFP), SHALL GO TO PUBLIC SCHOOLS IN THE STATE'S DISTRICTS. HE SAYS USING PART OF THOSE FUNDS TO PAY PRIVATE AND PAROCHIAL TUITIONS GOES AGAINST THAT.

GOVERNOR JINDAL HAS ONE MAJOR VICTORY IN THE LEGISLATIVE SESSION, WITH THE PASSAGE OF HIS EDUCATION REFORM PACKAGE. NOW THE GOVERNOR AND HIS STAFF WILL PUT THEIR EFFORTS TOWARDS MAKING CHANGES TO THE RETIREMENT SYSTEM FOR STATE WORKERS. JINDAL SAYS ITS NECESSARY, BECAUSE THE STATE NEEDS TO ADDRESS AN 18-BILLION DOLLAR RETIREMENT DEBT. MANY STATE WORKERS ARE NOT HAPPY WITH THE JINDAL'S PROPOSALS OF PAYING MORE TOWARDS THEIR PENSION AND RAISING THE RETIREMENT AGE. JINDAL SAYS HE'S TRYING TO PASS SOMETHING THAT'S FISCALLY RESPONSIBLE FOR THE TAXPAYER AND THE STATE WORKER. INITIALLY THE GOVERNOR HIMSELF AND HIS OFFICE WAS EXCLUDED FROM THE RETIREMENT CHANGES. SINCE THEN HIS STAFF HAS ISSUED STATEMENT THAT THEY WOULD AMEND THE BILL TO INCLUDE THE GOVERNOR'S OFFICE. JINDAL SAYS HE'S OPEN TO CHANGES TO THE RETIREMENT MEASURES THAT HAVE ALREADY BEEN FILED.

GOVERNOR JINDAL'S NAME IS ONCE AGAIN BEING FLOATED AS A POTENTIAL VICE- PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE. SENATOR JOHN MCCAIN SAYS LIKELY REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE MITT ROMNEY SHOULD CONSIDER JINDAL AND A WASHINGTON POST ARTICLE SAYS JINDAL WOULD BE A GOOD CHOICE. JINDAL HAS SAID SINCE HE WAS ELECTED GOVERNOR THAT HE HAS THE JOB THAT HE WANTS. BUT MOST INSIDERS SAY IT WOULD BE DIFFICULT FOR THE GOVERNOR TO PASS UP A VP GIG. FOUR YEARS AGO, JINDAL WAS CONSIDERED A RUNNING MATE FOR REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE JOHN MCCAIN. BUT JINDAL'S RISING STAR STATUS TOOK A HIT WHEN HE GAVE WIDELY PANNED SPEECH AFTER PRESIDENT OBAMA'S ADDRESS TO CONGRESS IN 2009.

A BILL THAT WOULD GIVE VOTERS AN OPPORTUNITY TO DECIDE IF THEY WANT TO IMPOSE TERM LIMITS ON SCHOOL BOARD MEMBERS CLEARED THE STATE HOUSE LAST WEEK. PONCHATOULA REPRESENTATIVE STEVE PUGH'S LEGISLATION HEADS TO THE SENATE FOR MORE DISCUSSION. PUGH SAYS TERM LIMITS WOULD ALLOW FOR NEW IDEAS AND PEOPLE TO DETERMINE IMPORTANT EDUCATION POLICY. IF PUGH'S BILL BECOMES LAW, VOTERS WILL DECIDE ON THE NOVEMBER SIXTH BALLOT, IF THEY WANT TERM LIMITS FOR THEIR LOCAL SCHOOL BOARD MEMBERS.

THE ARMY CORPS OF ENGINEERS WANTS TO END 24-HOUR OPERATION OF THE OUACHITA RIVER'S FOUR LOCKS THIS SUMMER. SHIPPERS AND OTHERS SEE IT AS THE FIRST STEP IN ABANDONING A NAVIGATION PROJECT DATING TO THE 1920S. THE CORPS' PROPOSAL WOULD CUT OPERATING HOURS TO 18 HOURS A DAY AT TWO LOUISIANA LOCKS AND TO 16 HOURS AT TWO IN ARKANSAS.

NEW REGULATIONS THAT COULD PASS AS EARLY AS MAY WOULD ALLOW FOR YEAR-ROUND NIGHT HUNTING AND TRAPPING OF FERAL HOGS. THE STATE DEPARTMENT OF WILDLIFE AND FISHERIES HAS AN EIGHT-MONTH SEASON ON FERAL HOGS. BUT WILDLIFE AGENTS HAVEN'T BEEN TICKETING ANYONE FOR TRAPPING FERAL HOGS OUT OF SEASON. WHEN HOGS ROOT UP THE GROUND FOR FOOD, IT CAN COST LOUISIANA WETLANDS HABITAT AND COST FARMERS THEIR CROPS. ONE HOG CAN HAVE AS MANY AS THREE LITTERS OF SIX TO EIGHT PIGLETS A YEAR. BIOLOGISTS SAY THE PROBLEM HAS BEEN MADE WORSE WHERE PEOPLE BROUGHT HOGS ONTO THEIR PROPERTY FOR SPORT.

SPORTS..

LESS THAN 24 HOURS AFTER HIS TEAM LOST IN THE OPENING ROUND OF THE NIT LAST MONTH, TRENT JOHNSON SAT BEHIND A TABLE IN THE PETE MARAVICH ASSEMBLY CENTER, DISCUSSING HIS FOURTH AND FINAL SEASON AS THE LSU MEN’S BASKETBALL COACH. AT ONE POINT, HE SPOKE OF THE TIGERS’ FUTURE. “I DON’T LIKE WHAT WE HAVE COMING BACK,” JOHNSON SAID. “I LOVE WHAT WE HAVE COMING BACK.” AS IT TURNS OUT, JOHNSON HIMSELF WON’T BE AROUND TO SEE IT. LSU ATHLETIC DIRECTOR JOE ALLEVA CONFIRMED SUNDAY THAT JOHNSON RESIGNED AFTER A FOUR-YEAR STAY LOADED WITH UPS AND DOWNS — INCLUDING ONE SOUTHEASTERN CONFERENCE TITLE AND AN NCAA TOURNAMENT APPEARANCE, TWO UGLY LAST-PLACE FINISHES, A HANDFUL OF MISSED RECRUITS AND A BOUNCE-BACK YEAR THAT ENDED WITH A FLAMEOUT IN THE NIT. ACCORDING TO MULTIPLE REPORTS, JOHNSON WILL TAKE OVER AT TCU.

God Bless America!

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