KSYL Local News

News For Wednesday 05/09/2012


NEWS FOR WEDNESDAY 050912
BY DAVE GRAICHEN

THE LOUISIANA HOUSE REJECTED A PROPOSAL THAT WOULD STRIP THE CURRENT REQUIREMENT THAT PUBLIC COLLEGE TUITION INCREASES BE APPROVED BY LAWMAKERS BEFORE THEY CAN BE ENACTED. THE BILL (HOUSE BILL 299) BY REP. JOE HARRISON, R-NAPOLEONVILLE, FELL FAR SHORT OF THE 70 VOTES IT NEEDED FOR PASSAGE. IT RECEIVED 36 VOTES. LOUISIANA HAS THE STRICTEST TUITION BOOST REQUIREMENTS IN THE NATION, NEEDING A TWO-THIRDS VOTE OF BOTH THE HOUSE AND SENATE BEFORE COLLEGE TUITION CAN BE RAISED FOR STUDENTS.

HIGHER EDUCATION LEADERS ARE PUSHING THE LEGISLATURE TO PASS A BILL THAT WOULD ALLOW UNIVERSITIES AND COLLEGES TO RAISE FEES ON STUDENTS. IT'S IN RESPONSE TO A POSSIBLE 71-MILLION DOLLAR CUT IN STATE FUNDING FOR NEXT FISCAL YEAR. HIGHER ED COMMISSIONER JIM PURCELL SAYS MANY INSTITUTIONS ARE STRUGGLING AND CONCERNED ABOUT FUTURE BUDGET CUTS. PURCELL AND UNIVERSITY LEADERS ARE PUSHING FOR A "STABILIZATION" FEE OF UP TO 25-DOLLAR PER CREDIT HOUR. THAT WOULD MEAN AN ADDITIONAL $300 DOLLARS OR MORE PER SEMESTER FOR FULL-TIME COLLEGE STUDENTS. PURCELL SAYS THIS NEW FEE COULD BRING IN AS MUCH AS 107-MILLION DOLLARS A YEAR. THE FEE WOULD GO AWAY AFTER THREE YEARS. THE PROPOSED FEE INCREASE COULD BE DEBATED AS EARLY AS TODAY IN THE HOUSE EDUCATION COMMITTEE.

A PROPOSAL TO MERGE LSU-SHREVEPORT AND LOUISIANA TECH GETS APPROVAL IN THE HOUSE EDUCATION COMMITTEE. THE BILL IS PROPOSED BY JONESBORO REPRESENTATIVE JIM FANNIN, WHO SAYS THIS MERGER WILL SAVE THE STATE MONEY IN THE LONG RUN AND IMPROVE HIGHER EDUCATION OPPORTUNITIES FOR THE RESIDENTS OF NORTH LOUISIANA. THE LEGISLATION WAS DRAFTED AFTER A STUDY URGED THAT A MERGER BETWEEN
THE TWO SCHOOLS CAN HELP LSU-SHREVEPORT. LEADING THE OPPOSITION IS LSU SYSTEM PRESIDENT, DOCTOR WILLIAM JENKINS, WHO SAYS NORTHWEST LOUISIANA WOULD BENEFIT BY ALLOWING LSU-S TO GROW INTO A FIRST CLASS RESEARCH INSTITUTION IN THE THIRD BIGGEST CITY IN THE STATE.

THE LOUISIANA WORKFORCE COMMISSION IS GETTING NEARLY $3-MILLION IN FEDERAL DOLLARS TO HELP LAID-OFF WORKERS FIND NEW WORK. LWC EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR CURT EYSINK SAYS THE FUNDS WILL BE USED TO HELP PEOPLE WHO LOST THEIR JOB THROUGH NO FAULT OF THEIR OWN. EYSINK SAYS THE $2.95-MILLION GRANT COMES FROM A FEDERAL RE-EMPLOYMENT AND ELIGIBILITY ASSESSMENT FUND. HE SAYS IT WILL HELP WITH RE-EMPLOYING THOSE WHO HAVE LOST, OR ARE ABOUT TO LOSE, THEIR JOBS TO LARGE-SCALE
LAYOFFS. MORE INFORMATION ON THE PROGRAM IS ON THE DEPARTMENT OF LABOR WEBSITE, AT WWW.DOL.GOV

A CIVIL LAWSUIT HAS BEEN FILED AGAINST FORMER LSU FOOTBALL PLAYERS JORDAN JEFFERSON AND JOSH JOHNS IN CONNECTION WITH THE BAR FIGHT OUTSIDE OF A BATON ROUGH ESTABLISHMENT LAST AUGUST. FOUR MEN SAY JEFFERSON AND JOHNS ATTACKED THEM IN THE PARKING LOT OF SHADY'S BAR. THE SUIT ALLEGES TWO OF THE INDIVIDUALS SUFFERED SERIOUS BACK AND FACIAL INJURIES. THE FIGHT RESULTED IN FELONY BATTERY CHARGES AGAINST JEFFERSON AND JOHNS. CRIMINAL CHARGES AGAINST JOHNS WERE LATER DROPPED, WHILE JEFFERSON IS STILL FACES A CHARGE OF SIMPLE BATTERY.

A HOUSE HEALTH CARE COMMITTEE MOVED AHEAD TUESDAY WITH A PROPOSAL THAT WOULD MANDATE DRUG TESTING OF WELFARE RECIPIENTS, OVER THE OBJECTIONS OF CATHOLIC LEADERS WHO SAID THE BILL RAISES MORAL ISSUES BY VILIFYING POOR MOTHERS. THE BILL HAS BEEN REPEATEDLY REJECTED IN THE LOUISIANA LEGISLATURE IN RECENT YEARS, AND ITS CHIEF SPONSOR DIDN'T WIN HIS RE-ELECTION BID. BUT NEW STATE REP. SHERMAN MACK, R-LIVINGSTON, REVIVED THE IDEA AGAIN THIS SESSION. MACK'S BILL WOULD REQUIRE 20 PERCENT OF ADULTS WHO RECEIVE AID THROUGH THE FAMILY INDEPENDENCE TEMPORARY ASSISTANCE PROGRAM TO BE DRUG-TESTED. ANYONE WHO TESTS POSITIVE WOULD BE REQUIRED TO RECEIVE DRUG TREATMENT TO CONTINUE GETTING WELFARE. SUPPORTERS SAID THEY WANT TO MAKE SURE WELFARE CHECKS PAY FOR FAMILY NEEDS, NOT DRUGS.

A FORMER RADIO DISPATCHER WITH THE MAMOU POLICE DEPARTMENT HAS FILED A FEDERAL LAWSUIT AGAINST THE CITY'S POLICE CHIEF. PAMELA MANUAL ALLEGES SHE WAS ARRESTED WITHOUT A WARRANT IN MAY 2011 AND HELD IN THE TOWN'S JAIL FOR THREE DAYS WITHOUT FOOD, RUNNING WATER AND ACCESS TO HER RESPIRATORY INHALER.
THE SUIT NAMES CHIEF GREG DUPUIS, DETECTIVE MARIE POTTER AND THE TOWN OF MAMOU AS DEFENDANTS. THE SUIT SAYS MANUAL PARTICIPATED IN AN INVESTIGATION THAT RESULTED IN DUPUIS' REMOVAL FROM OFFICE. DUPUIS WAS CONVICTED OF MALFEASANCE FOR IMPROPER RECORD-KEEPING. HE LATER HAD THE FELONY CONVICTION EXPUNGED FROM HIS RECORD AND HIS CONVICTION DISMISSED, WHICH ALLOWED HIM TO RUN AND BE RE-ELECTED TO OFFICE IN 2004.

A PUSH BY GOV. BOBBY JINDAL'S ADMINISTRATION TO MERGE THE GOVERNOR'S OFFICE OF ELDERLY AFFAIRS INTO THE STATE HEALTH DEPARTMENT APPEARS TO BE DEAD FOR THE SESSION, AFTER FACING STRONG OPPOSITION FROM PARISH COUNCILS ON AGING AROUND LOUISIANA. THE HOUSE APPROPRIATIONS COMMITTEE STRIPPED THE IDEA FROM NEXT YEAR'S $25 BILLION BUDGET PROPOSAL. LEADERS OF PARISH COUNCILS ON AGING AND ELDERLY RESIDENTS WHO RECEIVE SERVICES THROUGH PROGRAMS OVERSEEN BY THE OFFICE OF ELDERLY AFFAIRS SAID THE OFFICE WOULD BE SWALLOWED UP IN THE MASSIVE DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HOSPITALS' BUREAUCRACY.

THE ST. TAMMANY PARISH SHERIFF'S OFFICE ISSUES AN ARREST WARRANT IN THE CASE OF A MOTHER FOUND DEAD ALONGSIDE I-12 IN COVINGTON OVER THE WEEKEND. THE WOMAN HAS BEEN IDENTIFIED AS 31-YEAR-OLD NICOLE JEFFERSON. HER EX-HUSBAND, CALVIN JEFFERSON TURNED HIMSELF INTO AUTHORITIES LAST NIGHT AND WILL BE CHARGED WITH 2ND-DEGREE MURDER. THE MANDEVILLE MOTHER OF FOUR HAD BEEN MISSING LAST WEEK AFTER SHE FAILED TO SHOW UP FOR WORK AS A T-S-A AGENT AT ARMSTRONG INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT.

GOV. BOBBY JINDAL SAYS A BATON ROUGE-BASED INDUSTRIAL EQUIPMENT SUPPLIER PLANS TO SPEND $10 MILLION TO BUILD A NEW HEADQUARTERS IN THE CITY. JINDAL'S OFFICE ANNOUNCED TUESDAY THAT DMC CARTER CHAMBERS INC. PLANS TO CONSOLIDATE ITS CORPORATE OFFICE IN BATON ROUGE WITH ITS OPERATIONS IN GONZALES AND PRAIRIEVILLE AND BUILD A 90,000-SQUARE-FOOT FACILITY. THE PROJECT IS EXPECTED TO CREATE 80 NEW JOBS OVER THE NEXT NINE YEARS. CONSTRUCTION IS EXPECTED TO BEGIN THIS YEAR AND BE COMPLETED BY FALL 2013.

THE HOUSE HAS PASSED A BILL THAT WOULD STRIP STATE OFFICIALS CONVICTED OF FELONIES OF MOST OF THEIR RETIREMENT BENEFITS. BILL SPONSOR TONY LIGI, OF METAIRIE, SAYS HIS BILL WOULD APPLY TO STATE WORKERS, LAWMAKERS AND MORE. LIGI'S BILL IS A PROPOSED CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT, THAT WILL GO TO VOTERS IF IT WINS TWO-THIRDS MAJORITY VOTES IN BOTH THE HOUSE AND SENATE. LIGI SAYS IT WOULD APPLY IF THE FELONY WAS RELATED TO THE PUBLIC OFFICIAL'S POSITION. THE BILL NOW MOVES OVER TO THE SENATE FOR COMMITTEE REVIEW.

A REWRITING OF A STATE LAW TO BAN CERTAIN SEX OFFENDERS FROM FACEBOOK AND OTHER SOCIAL NETWORKING SITES NEARED FINAL PASSAGE TUESDAY WITH UNANIMOUS BACKING OF THE SENATE. THE EXISTING LAW WAS DECLARED UNCONSTITUTIONAL BY A FEDERAL JUDGE. A BILL (HOUSE BILL 620), SPONSORED BY REP. LEDRICKA THIERRY, D-OPELOUSAS, WOULD MORE NARROWLY DEFINE WHAT SITES ARE PROHIBITED.

PENALTIES WILL BE INCREASED FOR CERTAIN CRIMES OF BATTERY WHEN THE VICTIM IS AN ACTIVE MEMBER OF THE MILITARY OR A DISABLED VETERAN. THE SENATE GAVE FINAL LEGISLATIVE PASSAGE TO A BILL (HOUSE BILL 18) THAT WILL REQUIRE SUCH CRIMES TO CARRY A MANDATORY MINIMUM SENTENCE OF ONE YEAR IN JAIL IF THE BATTERY WAS COMMITTED BECAUSE OF A PERSON'S MILITARY STATUS. THE MEASURE HEADS TO THE GOVERNOR.

THE LEGISLATURE IS CLOSE TO BANNING THE SALE OF DOGS AND CATS FROM ROADSIDES, PUBLIC PARKS AND PUBLIC PLAYGROUNDS. BOTH THE HOUSE AND SENATE HAVE APPROVED VERSIONS OF THE PROPOSAL (HOUSE BILL 231) BY REP. TONY LIGI, R-KENNER. 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.

VOLUNTEER FIREFIGHTERS AND LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICERS SHOULDN'T BE REQUIRED TO UNDERGO THE HOUR OF ETHICS TRAINING EACH YEAR THAT OTHER PUBLIC EMPLOYEES ARE REQUIRED TO HAVE, THE HOUSE DECIDED IN A 77-17 VOTE. SUPPORTERS OF THE BILL (HOUSE BILL 321) BY REP. JIM FANNIN, D-JONESBORO, SAID THE ETHICS REQUIREMENT DISCOURAGES PEOPLE FROM VOLUNTEERING. OPPONENTS SAID THE TRAINING ISN'T BURDENSOME. THE PROPOSAL HEADS TO THE SENATE FOR DEBATE. LOUISIANA'S OFFICIAL BOAT WILL BE THE PIROGUE. THE SENATE GAVE FINAL PASSAGE TO THE MEASURE (HOUSE BILL 746) BY REP. CHARLES "BUBBA" CHANEY, R-RAYVILLE, SENDING IT TO THE GOVERNOR'S DESK.

LOUISIANA HEALTH OFFICIALS SAY THEY CLOSED AN OYSTER HARVESTING AREA AND ORDERED A RECALL OF OYSTERS TAKEN THERE SINCE APRIL 26 AFTER 14 PEOPLE BECAME ILL WITH NOROVIRUS. THE CLOSURE, EFFECTIVE TUESDAY, WAS EXPECTED TO LAST AT LEAST 21 DAYS, THE AMOUNT OF TIME IT WOULD TAKE OYSTERS TO PURGE THEMSELVES OF THE VIRUS.. IN ADDITION TO THE NEW ORLEANS AREA, SOME OF THE OYSTERS WERE SHIPPED TO MARYLAND, TEXAS AND GEORGIA.









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