KSYL Local News

News For Tuesday 05/15/12


NEWS FOR TUESDAY 051512
BY DAVE GRAICHEN

POLITICAL BLACKMAIL, SOME LAWMAKERS ARE SAYING IT IS. HIGHER EDUCATION AND HEALTH CARE LEADERS OUTLINED DIRE CONSEQUENCES TO SENATORS MONDAY OF THE $25 BILLION BUDGET PROPOSAL PASSED BY THE HOUSE FOR NEXT YEAR. THE PLAN CONTAINS $268 MILLION LESS IN STATE FUNDING THAN WHAT WAS SOUGHT BY GOV. BOBBY JINDAL. HEALTH AND HOSPITALS SECRETARY BRUCE GREENSTEIN SAID HE'D CLOSE CENTRAL STATE HOSPITAL IN PINEVILLE, STRIP STATE FUNDING FOR SCHOOL-BASED HEALTH CENTERS, ELIMINATE AN ADDICTIVE DISORDER TREATMENT PROGRAM AND SHUT DOWN AN EARLY INTERVENTION PROGRAM FOR CHILDREN. MAJOR CUTS WOULD ALSO BE MADE TO EDUCATION. THE JINDAL ADMINISTRATION IS HOPING THE SENATE WILL RESTORE THE SLIGHTLY MORE THAN 1% OF THE FUNDING, WHICH WAS STRIPPED BY GOP LAWMAKERS IN THE HOUSE WHO DIDN'T WANT TO USE ONE-TIME MONEY TO PAY FOR CONTINUING EXPENSES AND PROGRAMS IN THE BUDGET YEAR BEGINNING JULY 1.

JINDAL ADMINISTRATION OFFICIALS AND HIGHER ED LEADERS WENT BEFORE THE SENATE FINANCE COMMITTEE MONDAY TO EXPRESS THEIR CONCERNS ABOUT RECENT CUTS MADE TO THE PROPOSED BUDGET. HOUSE GOP LAWMAKERS CUT 268-MILLION DOLLARS IN ONE-TIME MONEY BEFORE APPROVING IT. JINDAL'S BUDGET ANALYST PAUL RAINWATER SAYS THE ONE-TIME DOLLARS HELP PREVENT STEEP CUTS. BUT, HOUSE GOP LAWMAKERS ARGUE THE ONE-TIME MONEY CAN BE REMOVED FROM THE BUDGET, WHILE NOT MAKING DEEP CUTS TO CRITICAL SERVICES. THEY SAY THE JINDAL ADMINISTRATION SHOULD LOOK AT REDUCING STATE TRAVEL, VACANT JOBS AND IMPLEMENT STATE WORKER FURLOUGHS. DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HOSPITALS SECRETARY BRUCE GREENSTEIN SAYS WITHOUT THE 268-MILLION DOLLARS, DEEP CUTS WILL BE MADE IN HEALTH CARE SERVICES...

AT IT’S MEETING YESTERDAY THE RAPIDES PARISH POLICE JURY AUTHORIZED TAKING BIDS FOR A NUMBER OF LEVEE REPAIR PROJECTS. THE JURY, WITH THE COOPERATION OF LOCAL MUNICIPALITIES, EARMARKED MORE THAN $16 MILLION IN FEDERAL DISASTER RELIEF FUNDS FOR THE NEEDED WORK. WHEN THE FEDERAL EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT AGENCY DE-ACCREDITED LEVEES ON THE RIVER, HOMEOWNERS AND BUSINESSES WERE FACED WITH HAVING TO PURCHASE COSTLY FEDERAL FLOOD INSURANCE. FEMA HAS SINCE BACKED OFF, DELAYING THE ENACTMENT OF NEW MAPS, BUT THE JURY STILL IS MOVING AHEAD WITH REPAIR WORK..

A PROPOSAL TO PRIVATIZE THE AVOYELLES PARISH PRISON APPEARS DEAD FOR THE SESSION. HAUGHTON REPRESENTATIVE HENRY BURNS SAYS IT'S LIKELY HE WON'T MOVE FORWARD WITH A BILL TO HIRE A PRIVATE COMPANY TO RUN THE CORRECTIONAL CENTER. SENATE PRESIDENT JOHN ALARIO ALSO HAS A BILL TO PRIVATIZE THE AVOYELLES PARISH PRISON, BUT THE LEGISLATION HAS YET TO BE HEARD IN A SENATE COMMITTEE.

LOUISIANA RANKS AMONG THE TOP FIVE "FRIENDLIEST STATES" FOR SMALL BUSINESS, ACCORDING TO A SURVEY BY "THUMBTACK.COM" THE REPORT GIVES OUR STATE A AND A+ GRADES FOR EASE OF STARTING A BUSINESS, ZONING AND MORE. THE SURVEY OF 6000 BUSINESSES COAST-TO-COAST WAS DONE IN PARTNERSHIP WITH THE KAUFFMAN FOUNDATION. IT GIVES LOUISIANA A GRADES FOR TRAINING PROGRAMS, REGULATIONS AND HEALTH & SAFETY. LOUISIANA RANKS #5 OF 50 STATES IN THE SURVEY. THE SURVEY DID GIVE OUR STATE A D GRADE FOR "HIRING COSTS.

AN ACCIDENT YESTERDAY MORNING IN ST. MARTIN PARISH HAS CLAIMED THE LIFE OF ONE OF THE STARS OF THE POPULAR HISTORY CHANNEL SHOW SWAMP PEOPLE. ASSUMPTION PARISH SHERIFF MIKE WAGUESPACK SAYS MITCHELL GUIST WAS LOADING SOMETHING ONTO A BOAT ON THE BELLE RIVER WHEN FELL BACKWARDS INTO THE BOAT. A WITNESS IMMEDIATELY TOOK THE BOAT TO THE DOCK AND CALLED 911, HOWEVER, GUIST WAS PRONOUNCED DEAD A SHORT TIME LATER AT A LOCAL HOSPITAL. THE CAUSE OF DEATH HAS NOT YET BEEN DETERMINED. GUIST WOULD HAVE BEEN 49 THIS WEEK.

IF YOU HAVE A BUSINESS IDEA THAT YOU WOULD LIKE TO GET OFF THE GROUND, THIS MAY BE WHAT YOU ARE LOOKING FOR. A STARTUP WEEKEND WILL BE HELD FOR THE FIRST TIME IN CENTRAL LOUISIANA OVER THE WEEKEND OF JUNE 1-3, AND REGISTRATION IS OPEN NOW. THE WORKSHOP, A 54-HOUR EVENT WHERE PARTICIPANTS TRANSFORM IDEAS PRESENTED FRIDAY NIGHT INTO START-UP COMPANIES BY SUNDAY NIGHT, IS LIMITED TO 100 PEOPLE. REGISTRATION IS OPEN AT WWW.CENTRALLOUISIANASTARTUPWEEKEND.ORG

TOMORROW NIGHT IS A BIG NIGHT FOR WESTLAKE'S JOSHUA LEDET ON AMERICAN IDOL AS HE'LL COMPETE FOR A SPOT IN THE FINALE ON THE HOMECOMING SHOW. LEDET IS COMING OFF A HUGE HOMETOWN CELEBRATION THIS WEEKEND IN WESTLAKE. MAYOR DAN CUPIT SAYS JOSH'S SUCCESS ON THE SHOW HAS BROUGHT HIS COMMUNITY TOGETHER IN A BIG WAY. CUPIT SAYS YOU COULDN'T HAVE HAND PICKED A BETTER PERSON THAN JOSH TO REPRESENT OUR STATE TO AMERICAN IDOL'S NATIONAL AUDIENCE. SOUTHWEST LOUISIANA WILL GET NATIONAL EXPOSURE ON TOMORROW NIGHT'S FOX SHOW THAT AIRS AT 7PM.

GAS PRICES IN LOUISIANA HAVE BEEN NICE TO YOUR WALLETS LATELY. THE CURRENT STATEWIDE AVERAGE FOR A GALLON OF REGULAR GASOLINE IS $3.54 WHICH IS JUST OVER 25-CENTS LESS THAN DRIVERS WERE PAYING A MONTH AGO. AMERICAN AUTOMOBILE ASSOCIATION FUEL ANALYST DON REDMAN SAYS IT'S LIKELY THE PRICE AT THE PUMP WILL CONTINUE TO FALL. REDMAN SAYS THE US DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY HAD ORIGINALLY PREDICTED IN THE SHORT TERM THAT THE NATIONAL AVERAGE GAS PRICE FOR THIS SUMMER WAS GOING TO BE NEAR $4.00. HE SAYS THAT LOOKS NOW TO NOT BE THE CASE.. HE PREDICTS THE AVERAGE STATE GAS PRICE FOR THE SUMMER WILL REMAIN AROUND $3.50 AND AROUND $3.70 NATIONALLY.

A JEANERETTE BOAT COMPANY WILL MORE THAN DOUBLE ITS WORKFORCE, AFTER LANDING A BIG CONTRACT TO BUILD BOATS FOR THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT. MATTHEW UNGER, WITH METAL SHARK BOATS, SAYS THEY WON $192-MILLION CONTRACT WITH THE U.S. COAST GUARD. UNGER SAYS METAL SHARK WILL BUILD 500 COAST GUARD "RESPONSE BOATS" OVER THE NEXT SEVEN YEARS, AND SO WILL HIRE ABOUT 100 NEW WORKERS. HE SAYS THE COMPANY IS HOLDING A JOB FAIR THIS WEEK FOR APPLICANTS. UNGER SAYS THE JOB FAIR IS THIS FRIDAY, AT SOUTH LOUISIANA COMMUNITY COLLEGE IN NEW IBERIA. HE SAYS THEY ARE LOOKING FOR WELDERS, FITTERS, MARINE MECHANICS & ELECTRICIANS AND GENERAL SHOP HANDS. INFORMATION IS ONLINE AT WWW.METALSHARKBOATS.COM

THE SENATE APPROVES A BILL THAT CALLS FOR STATE WORKERS TO PAY TWO PERCENT MORE FOR THEIR RETIREMENT, BUT IT COULD BE A FEW YEARS BEFORE THE INCREASE WILL GO INTO EFFECT. THE BILL'S AUTHOR, OPELOUSAS SENATOR ELBERT GUILLORY, AMENDED THE BILL SO THAT STATE EMPLOYEES WILL NOT PAY MORE TOWARDS THEIR RETIREMENT, UNTIL THEY GET A MERIT PAY RAISE. IT'S UNCLEAR WHEN STATE WORKERS WILL RECEIVE ANOTHER MERIT PAY HIKE. MOST STATE EMPLOYEES HAVEN'T SEEN SUCH A RAISE IN THE LAST TWO OR THREE YEARS, BECAUSE OF TOUGH BUDGET TIMES. THE MEASURE HEADS TO THE HOUSE FOR FURTHER DEBATE.

THE STATE SENATE GAVE FINAL LEGISLATIVE APPROVAL FOR A TAX BREAK OF NEARLY 37-MILLION DOLLARS TO THE NEW ORLEANS HORNETS. THE LEGISLATION IS A CRITICAL PIECE OF A PROPOSED LONG-TERM DEAL TO KEEP THE NBA TEAM IN LOUISIANA THROUGH THE 2024 SEASON. SENATE PRESIDENT JOHN ALARIO SAYS THE BILL WILL ACTUALLY SAVE THE STATE MONEY. BY PROVIDING A TAX BREAK, THE STATE WILL BE RELIEVED OF GIVING THE HORNETS AN ANNUAL SUBSIDY. THE MEASURE PASSED ON A 28-7 VOTE. OPPONENTS SAY THE STATE CAN'T AFFORD TO GIVE A PROFESSIONAL FRANCHISE A TAX REBATE. BUT ALARIO SAYS THE HORNETS PROVIDES THE STATE WITH JOBS AND TAX REVENUE.

THE DEPARTMENT OF ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT WILL BE ABLE TO CONTINUE SHIELDING RECORDS FROM PUBLIC VIEW, IF THE DOCUMENTS ARE INVOLVED IN ACTIVE NEGOTIATIONS TO ATTRACT OR KEEP COMPANIES TO LOUISIANA. A BILL (HOUSE BILL 208) BY REP. ERICH PONTI, R-BATON ROUGE, TO EXTEND THE PUBLIC RECORDS EXEMPTION INDEFINITELY RECEIVED FINAL LEGISLATIVE PASSAGE MONDAY WITH A UNANIMOUS HOUSE VOTE. THE EXEMPTION HAD BEEN SET TO EXPIRE THIS YEAR. ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT SECRETARY STEPHEN MORET HAS SAID THE SECRECY IS NEEDED TO COMPETE WITH OTHER STATES FOR PROJECTS. PONTI'S BILL HEADS TO THE DESK OF THE GOVERNOR, WHO SUPPORTS IT.

COLLECTIVE BARGAINING AGREEMENTS WILL HAVE TO BE MADE AVAILABLE TO THE PUBLIC ONLINE FOR AT LEAST FIVE DAYS BEFORE IT CAN BE APPROVED BY A GOVERNMENT AGENCY.
THE PROPOSAL (HOUSE BILL 89) BY REP. TONY LIGI, R-KENNER, RECEIVED FINAL LEGISLATIVE PASSAGE WITH A 92-0 HOUSE VOTE MONDAY. LIGI HAD INITIALLY PROPOSED A MORE SWEEPING BILL THAT WOULD HAVE OPENED COLLECTIVE BARGAINING NEGOTIATIONS BETWEEN LOCAL GOVERNMENT AGENCIES AND LABOR UNIONS TO THE PUBLIC. BUT THAT IDEA RAN INTO COMPLAINTS FROM UNIONS THAT NEGOTIATE FOR FIREFIGHTERS, POLICE OFFICERS AND TEACHERS.

FEMALE GENITAL MUTILATION WILL BE AN OUTLAWED CRIME IN LOUISIANA. THE BILL (HOUSE BILL 759) BY REP. NANCY LANDRY, R-LAFAYETTE, WAS SENT TO THE GOVERNOR'S DESK WITH A 92-0 VOTE FROM THE HOUSE. LANDRY SAID THE PRACTICE, WHICH USUALLY INVOLVES THE REMOVAL OF THE CLITORIS, IS BANNED BY 18 STATES AND BY THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT. THE CRIME WOULD CARRY A PRISON SENTENCE OF UP TO 15 YEARS.

SOLDIERS WHO RE-ENLIST IN THE MILITARY WILL REMAIN ELIGIBLE FOR THE STATE'S FREE COLLEGE TUITION PROGRAM CALLED TOPS IF THEY MET THE REQUIREMENTS WHEN THEY GRADUATED HIGH SCHOOL. THE SENATE GAVE FINAL PASSAGE TO THE CHANGE (HOUSE BILL 945) THAT WILL ALLOW THE SOLDIERS TO BE ELIGIBLE FOR THE TUITION AID WITHIN ONE YEAR OF LEAVING THE MILITARY.

SPORTS..

THE SAINTS' REVAMPED COACHING STAFF SAID MONDAY THAT THEY ARE GOING TO HAVE TO GET USE TO THE HUGE VOID LEFT BY SEAN PAYTON'S SUSPENSION FOR HIS ROLE IN THE TEAM'S BOUNTY SYSTEM. THEY ALSO MIGHT HAVE TO GET USE TO LIFE WITHOUT DREW BREES. INTERIM COACH JOE VITT AND THE REST OF THE COACHING STAFF MET WITH REPORTERS MONDAY FOLLOWING THE TEAM'S ROOKIE MINICAMP, DURING WHICH 64 NEWCOMERS PRACTICED FIVE TIMES FROM FRIDAY TO SUNDAY. BREES, STILL REMAINS UNSIGNED AFTER THE SAINTS PUT THE FRANCHISE TAG ON HIM IN MARCH. THE LAST DAY HE CAN SIGN A LONG-TERM CONTRACT WITH THE TEAM IS JULY 16, AND AN AGREEMENT IS UNLIKELY BEFORE THE TEAM'S FIRST FULL-SQUAD OFFSEASON PRACTICE NEXT TUESDAY.
THE ONLY SIGNED QUARTERBACKS ON THE ROSTER ARE CHASE DANIEL AND SEAN CANFIELD.

THE LOUISIANA LEGISLATURE IS ASKING THE NFL TO RECONSIDER THE PENALTIES IMPOSED ON THE NEW ORLEANS SAINTS BECAUSE OF ITS BOUNTY PROGRAM. THE FORMAL REQUEST RECEIVED FINAL LEGISLATIVE PASSAGE WITH A 28-1 SENATE VOTE MONDAY. IN THE RESOLUTION, LAWMAKERS SAY THERE IS "WIDESPREAD PUBLIC OPINION THROUGHOUT THE STATE OF LOUISIANA AND BEYOND THAT THE PENALTIES IMPOSED UPON THE SAINTS ARE TOO HARSH AND SHOULD BE RECONSIDERED."








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