KSYL Local News

News For Monday 04/16/12


NEWS FOR MONDAY 041612
BY DAVE GRAICHEN


THE HOUSE TRANSPORTATION COMMITTEE DEBATES TODAY THE ISSUE OF PROHIBITING THE USE OF HAND-HELD CELLPHONES WHILE DRIVING AND TOUGHER PENALTIES FOR TEXTING BEHIND THE WHEEL. HIGHWAY SAFETY ANALYST COL. JIM CHAMPAGNE SAYS THERE'S NO DOUBT THAT CELL PHONE USE IS MAKING OUR HIGHWAYS MORE DANGEROUS. SOME LAWMAKERS FEEL IT WOULD BE ENOUGH SIMPLY TO BAN THE USE OF HAND HELD PHONES. CHAMPAGNE SAYS THAT DOESN'T GO FAR ENOUGH, BECAUSE IT DOESN'T MATTER WHAT KIND OF PHONE IT IS, CELLPHONES POSE A HAZARD TO MOTORIST.

ON THE HOUSE FLOOR TODAY, INCLUDED IN THE BILLS LAWMAKERS WILL DEBATE IS HB 378 BY REP. FRANK HOFFMANN, R-WEST MONROE. THE BILL WOULD BAN SMOKING WITHIN 25 FEET OF THE ENTRANCE TO A BUILDING OR A WHEELCHAIR RAMP, AND ALLOWS EMPLOYERS TO ESTABLISH NO-SMOKING ZONES BEYOND 25 FEET.
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THE HOUSE TODAY ALSO IS SCHEDULED TO DEBATE SB 581 BY SEN. CONRAD APPEL, R-METAIRIE, WHICH ESTABLISHES AN ACADEMIC GRADING SCALE FOR CHILD-CARE CENTERS SO PARENTS CAN SEE HOW WELL THEY HANDLE EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION.

THE HOUSE APPROPRIATIONS COMMITTEE TODAY AND TUESDAY WILL HEAR PUBLIC TESTIMONY ON THE PROPOSED BUDGET THAT GOES INTO EFFECT JULY 1. AFTERWARD, THE COMMITTEE WILL CONSIDER WHAT'S EXPECTED TO BE A LENGTHY SET OF AMENDMENTS BEFORE SENDING THE BILL TO THE FULL HOUSE FOR DEBATE. CHAIRMAN REP. JIM FANNIN, D-JONESBORO, HAS EXPRESSED CONCERN ABOUT THE USE OF ONE-TIME DOLLARS IN HB 1, THE BUDGET BILL, AND THE FUNDING IN THE BILL THAT'S CONTINGENT ON THE PASSAGE OF OTHER LEGISLATION. IN THE PAST SEVERAL YEARS, FANNIN HAS LED THE COMMITTEE IN TAKING OUT CONTINGENCIES AND MAKING CUTS OR REPLACING THEM WITH WHAT HE CALLS "REAL DOLLARS."

THE SENATE REVENUE AND FISCAL AFFAIRS COMMITTEE HAS ON ITS SCHEDULE TODAY HB 969 BY REP. KIRK TALBOT, R-RIVER RIDGE, WHICH CREATES A SYSTEM FOR FUNDING VOUCHERS FOR PUBLIC SCHOOL STUDENTS TO SWITCH TO PRIVATE SCHOOLS.
THE BILL, WHICH HAS CLEARED THE HOUSE, SAYS THE STATE WILL REBATE TO CONTRIBUTORS 95 PERCENT OF DONATIONS TOWARD FUNDING VOUCHERS. ONLY THE AMOUNT USED FOR VOUCHERS WOULD BE REBATED. OPPONENTS POINTED OUT THAT THE STATE IS ACTUALLY PAYING FOR THE VOUCHERS. THE 5 PERCENT IS KEPT BY A NONPROFIT "SCHOOL TUITION ORGANIZATION" THAT'S TO BE CREATED TO HANDLE THE PAPERWORK OF DISPERSING THE VOUCHERS.

LOUISIANA’S STATE SUPERINTENDENT OF EDUCATION WILL DECIDE WHAT TESTS AND OTHER SCRUTINY PRIVATE AND PAROCHIAL SCHOOLS FACE IF THEY ACCEPT STUDENTS WHO GET STATE SUBSIDIES. ONE OF THE MOST CRITICAL ISSUES THAT REMAINS UNSETTLED, IS EXACTLY WHAT SORT OF ACCOUNTABILITY SCHOOLS AND STUDENTS WHO TAKE PART WILL FACE. THAT INCLUDES ANY PUBLIC SCHOOL STANDARDIZED TESTS, WHETHER STUDENTS HAVE TO PASS THEM FOR PROMOTION, LETTER GRADES FOR SCHOOLS THAT PARTICIPATE AND TEACHER EVALUATIONS. THE FINAL VERSION OF ANY RULES WILL HAVE A BIG IMPACT ON HOW MANY SCHOOLS TAKE PART, INCLUDING LOUISIANA’S 187 ROMAN CATHOLIC SCHOOLS THAT ENROLL ABOUT 80,000 STUDENTS. THE ACCOUNTABILITY REQUIREMENT WAS ADDED DURING HOUSE DEBATE, AND HAS TO BE IN PLACE BY AUG. 1


THE FULL HOUSE WILL DEBATE A BILL TODAY THAT ATTEMPTS TO PREVENT WELFARE RECIPIENTS FROM USING THEIR GOVERNMENT BENEFITS ON LIQUOR, GAMBLING, OR IN STRIP CLUBS. NEW ORLEANS REPRESENTATIVE CAMERON HENRY SAYS CURRENTLY THOSE ON WELFARE GET THEIR FEDERAL BENEFITS ON A DEBIT CARD AND HIS BILL WOULD PREVENT THEM FROM MAKING CASH WITHDRAWALS FROM THOSE CARDS. HENRY SAYS HE'S SEEN EVIDENCE THAT WELFARE RECIPIENTS IN LOUISIANA ACCUMULATED 50-THOUSAND DOLLARS IN ATM FEES IN ONE MONTH. HE SAYS UNFORTUNATELY, IN MANY CASES, THAT MONEY IS GOING TO CASINOS, DAIQUIRI SHOPS AND STRIP CLUBS.

A NATIONAL MOVEMENT TO CHANGE THE WAY WE ELECT PRESIDENTS HAS LEGISLATION IN THE HOUSE GOVERNMENTAL AFFAIRS COMMITTEE. TOM TANCREDO SPOKESPERSON FOR SUPPORT POPULAR VOTE, SAYS OUR CURRENT SYSTEM OF PICKING PRESIDENTS IS OUT OF TOUCH. HE SAYS ITS TIME WE ELECTED THE PRESIDENT BASED ON THE VOTES OF ALL THE PEOPLE. TANCREDO SAYS THE ELECTORAL COLLEGE SYSTEM CONCENTRATES POWER IN A
HANDFUL OF SO-CALLED BATTLEGROUND STATES. HE SAYS POLITICAL PARTIES, AND THEIR CANDIDATES, FOCUS THEIR EFFORTS AND THEIR DOLLARS ON THOSE STATES WHILE PRACTICALLY IGNORING THE REST. HE SAYS THAT CREATES THE TEMPTATION TO MISUSE POLITICAL POWER FOR POLITICAL GAIN. TANCREDO SAYS DOING AWAY WITH THE ELECTORAL COLLEGE WOULD FORCE CANDIDATES TO ADDRESS THE CONCERNS OF ALL THE PEOPLE.

SAINTS OWNER TOM BENSON IS NOW THE NEW OWNER OF THE NBA NEW ORLEANS HORNETS. THE LEAGUE APPROVED THE SALE OF THE FRANCHISE TO BENSON FOR 338-MILLION DOLLARS. EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF THE GREATER NEW ORLEANS SPORTS FOUNDATION, JAY CICERO, SAYS THIS IS ALSO GREAT NEWS FOR THE HORNETS FANBASE, WHO BOUGHT UP 10-THOUSAND SEASON TICKETS EVEN WHEN THE BEES DIDN'T HAVE AN OWNER. BENSON SAYS HE IS CONSIDERING CHANGING THE NAME OF THE TEAM TO SOMETHING THAT WOULD RELATE TO NEW ORLEANS.

THE NAME IRENE IS BEING RETIRED FROM THE LIST OF STORM NAMES BECUASE OF THE HAVOC IT CAUSED. THE 2011 HURRICANE KLLED 49 PEOPLE AND CAUSED MORE THAN $15 BILLION DAMAGE. THE NATIONAL OCEANIC AND ATMOSPHERIC ADMINISTRATION SAYS THE NAME IRENE WILL BE REPLACED WITH IRMA.

GRAMBLING STATE FOOTBALL COACH DOUG WILLIAMS IS SUING G-S-U, BECAUSE HE CLAIMS THE UNIVERSITY HAS GONE BACK ON WHAT THEY ORIGINALLY SAID THEY WOULD PAY HIM. WILLIAMS WAS RE-HIRED AT GRAMBLING LAST SEASON AND HAS BEEN WORKING WITHOUT A CONTRACT.

EVEN IF THE AIR FORCE DISMANTLES A UNIT OF AIR TRAFFIC CONTROLLERS WHO RUN THE ALEXANDRIA INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT CONTROL TOWER, AIRPORT OFFICIALS SAY THEY PLAN TO KEEP THE AIRPORT RUNNING 24 HOURS DAY TO SUPPORT MILITARY AND COMMERCIAL OPERATIONS. OFFICIALS AT ENGLAND AIRPARK, WHICH OPERATES AEX, ARE WAGING A CAMPAIGN TO KEEP THE 259TH. JON GRAFTON, THE AIRPARK EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR IN AEX SAYS THOUGH, IF THE AIR FORCE TRANSFERS THE 259TH, IT COULD PUT A FINANCIAL BURDEN ON THE AIRPORT. THE FEDERAL AVIATION ADMINISTRATION NOW PAYS THE AIR FORCE ABOUT $250,000 A YEAR FOR THE 259TH'S SERVICES, GRAFTON SAID. THE FAA WOULD CONTINUE TO PAY FOR TOWER CONTROLLERS, GRAFTON SAID, BUT THE COSTS OF RUNNING A 24-HOUR OPERATION AT AEX WOULD EXCEED WHAT THE FAA ALLOTS.

THE STATE HOUSE APPROVES LEGISLATION THAT WOULD PROHIBIT THE SELLING OF CATS AND DOGS ON THE SIDE OF THE ROAD OR AT OTHER PUBLIC LOCATIONS. THE BILL'S AUTHOR, METAIRIE REPRESENTATIVE TONY LIGI SAYS THERE ARE TOO MANY CASES OF PEOPLE BUYING A CUTE PUPPY ALONG THE HIGHWAY ONLY FOR THAT DOG TO END UP IN A SHELTER. THE MEASURE PASSED ON A 64-23 VOTE AND HEADS TO THE SENATE FOR FURTHER DEBATE.

LSU BASEBALL IS TIED WITH KENTUCKY FOR THE BEST CONFERENCE RECORD IN THE SEC AFTER SWEEPING ALABAMA THIS PAST WEEKEND. THE TIGERS COMPLETED THE SWEEP WITH A FIVE TO ONE WIN OVER THE CRIMSON TIDE ON SUNDAY.





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