KSYL Local News

News For Wednesday 05/16/12


NEWS FOR WEDNESDAY 051612
BY DAVE GRAICHEN

THE STATE FIRE MARSHAL'S OFFICE IS INVESTIGATING A HOUSE FIRE THAT CLAIMED THE LIFE OF A VILLE PLATTE MAN. FIRE MARSHAL BUTCH BROWNING SAID IN A NEWS RELEASE THE VILLE PLATTE FIRE DEPARTMENT RESPONDED TO THE FIRE SHORTLY AFTER 2 A.M. TUESDAY. BROWNING SAYS FIREFIGHTERS ARRIVED MINUTES LATER TO DISCOVER THE HOME FULLY INVOLVED IN FLAMES. HE SAYS ONE PERSON IN THE HOUSE ESCAPED THE BLAZE AND FIREFIGHTERS LATER FOUND THE BODY OF 51-YEAR-OLD IRVING ANTOINE IN HIS BEDROOM.

TWO NORTH LOUISIANA LAWMAKERS ARE SCRAPPING THEIR ATTEMPT TO MAKE LSU'S SHREVEPORT CAMPUS A BRANCH OF LOUISIANA TECH UNIVERSITY. REPS. THOMAS CARMODY AND JIM FANNIN SAY THEY DON'T HAVE THE TWO-THIRDS SUPPORT TO GET THE MERGER PROPOSAL THROUGH THE LOUISIANA HOUSE, SO THEY AGREED TO SHELVE THE IDEA TUESDAY WITHOUT A VOTE. THE MERGER IDEA FACED OPPOSITION FROM LSU SYSTEM LEADERS, BUT SUPPORT FROM THE BOARD OF REGENTS THAT OVERSEES PUBLIC HIGHER EDUCATION ACROSS THE STATE. THE TWO CAMPUSES ARE 70 MILES APART. SUPPORTERS SAID THE CONSOLIDATION WOULD IMPROVE EDUCATION IN NORTHWEST LOUISIANA. IT WAS SUGGESTED BY A HIGHER EDUCATION CONSULTANT HIRED BY SHREVEPORT-BOSSIER CITY AREA BUSINESS LEADERS SEEKING TO EXPAND EDUCATIONAL OPPORTUNITIES IN THE STATE'S THIRD LARGEST METROPOLITAN AREA. OPPONENTS SAID LSU-SHREVEPORT NEEDS MORE RESOURCES, NOT A GOVERNANCE CHANGE.

HOUSE-APPROVED LEGISLATION GRANTING TAX REBATES TO CITIZENS OR COMPANIES WHO DONATE MONEY TO PUBLIC SCHOOLS IS HEADING TO THE SENATE FLOOR. UNDER MONROE REPRESENTATIVE KATRINA JACKSON'S BILL, TAXPAYERS CAN RECEIVE A REBATE IF THE CONTRIBUTION GOES TOWARDS IMPROVING PUBLIC EDUCATION. SHE SAYS THE AMOUNT OF THE REBATE IS BASED ON THE LETTER GRADE OF THE SCHOOL.

LOUISIANA TREASURER JOHN KENNEDY ACCUSED GOV. BOBBY JINDAL'S ADMINISTRATION TUESDAY OF USING SCARE TACTICS TO DRUM UP SUPPORT FOR RESTORING HUNDREDS OF MILLIONS OF DOLLARS TO NEXT YEAR'S BUDGET. IN A LETTER TO JINDAL, KENNEDY ASKED HIS FELLOW REPUBLICAN TO "STOP SCARING OUR HEALTH CARE AND HIGHER EDUCATION COMMUNITIES" ABOUT THE $268 MILLION STRIPPED FROM NEXT YEAR'S $25 BILLION BUDGET BY HOUSE GOP LAWMAKERS. THE TREASURER AGAIN PUSHED IDEAS HE HAS PROPOSED FOR THE LAST SEVERAL YEARS OF BUDGET REDUCTIONS. HE SAID THE STATE CAN ELIMINATE VACANT JOBS, REORGANIZE DEPARTMENTS, REDUCE CONSULTING CONTRACTS AND MORE AGGRESSIVELY COLLECT OUTSTANDING DEBTS OWED THE STATE, WHICH HE SAID WOULD CUT THE MONEY WITHOUT HARMING CRITICAL SERVICES.

THE LOUISIANA HOUSE OVERWHELMINGLY APPROVED PROPOSALS TO FORCE REDUCTIONS IN STATE WORKERS AND CONTRACTS, DESPITE OPPOSITION FROM THE JINDAL ADMINISTRATION. ONE PROPOSAL WOULD MANDATE THAT EXECUTIVE BRANCH AGENCIES CUT AT LEAST 5,000 JOBS EACH YEAR FOR THE NEXT THREE BUDGET YEARS AND WOULD REQUIRE A $500 MILLION ANNUAL SAVINGS FROM THE MOVE BY THE 2015-16 BUDGET YEAR.
THE SECOND MEASURE WOULD REQUIRE THE STATE TO SPEND 10 PERCENT LESS ON CONSULTING AND PROFESSIONAL SERVICES CONTRACTS NEXT YEAR. SUPPORTERS SAID THE PROPOSALS WOULD GENERATE SAVINGS AND COULD HELP PROTECT SERVICES FOR TAXPAYERS. THE GOVERNOR'S BUDGET OFFICE HAS CALLED THE PROPOSALS ARBITRARY AND UNWORKABLE. THE PROPOSALS HEAD NEXT TO THE SENATE FOR DEBATE.

THE LOUISIANA HOUSE HAS AGREED TO REQUIRE DRUG TESTING OF WELFARE RECIPIENTS, AMID CHARGES FROM OPPONENTS THAT THE MANDATE EQUALS CLASS WARFARE BY TARGETING POOR MOTHERS. THE PROPOSAL WAS SENT TO THE SENATE WITH A 65-26 VOTE.
THE BILL HAS BEEN REPEATEDLY REJECTED IN RECENT YEARS. REPUBLICAN REP. SHERMAN 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 SAY THEY WANT TO MAKE SURE WELFARE CHECKS PAY FOR FAMILY NEEDS. OPPONENTS SAY THE PROPOSAL UNFAIRLY ASSUMES POOR MOTHERS ARE MORE LIKELY TO BE ON DRUGS THAN OTHERS WHO RECEIVE TAXPAYER-FUNDED AID.

A BID BY LOUISIANA HIGHER EDUCATION LEADERS TO BOOST CHARGES ON COLLEGE STUDENTS STALLED TUESDAY AFTER FACING RESISTANCE FROM HOUSE LAWMAKERS WHO QUESTIONED IF STUDENTS AND FAMILIES COULD AFFORD ANOTHER FEE HIKE. REP. CHRIS BROADWATER SHELVED HIS FEE INCREASE BILL IN THE HOUSE EDUCATION COMMITTEE, LIKELY DOOMING THE PUSH FOR HIGHER COLLEGE STUDENT FEES FOR THE LEGISLATIVE SESSION. THE PROPOSAL COULD HAVE RAISED AS MUCH AS $107 MILLION A YEAR FOR CAMPUSES THAT FACE BUDGET CUTS OF UP TO $225 MILLION IN THE COMING FISCAL YEAR, ON TOP OF SEVERAL YEARS OF MULTIMILLION-DOLLAR REDUCTIONS THAT HAVE ONLY BEEN PARTIALLY OFFSET WITH TUITION INCREASES.

A $3.9 BILLION, MULTI-YEAR STATE CONSTRUCTION BUDGET STARTED ADVANCING TUESDAY IN THE LEGISLATURE, GETTING ANOTHER $32 MILLION IN PROJECTS ADDED BY THE HOUSE WAYS AND MEANS COMMITTEE BEFORE APPROVAL. LOUISIANA HAS A CAP ON ANNUAL BORROWING THAT LIMITS SPENDING ON CONSTRUCTION PROJECTS TO $350 MILLION IN THE FISCAL YEAR THAT BEGINS JULY 1. THE JINDAL ADMINISTRATION PROPOSED A LIST OF PROJECTS TO USE UP ALL THAT CAPACITY AND MORE, WHEN SUBMITTING THE BILL (HOUSE BILL 2) TO LAWMAKERS. AS BACKED BY THE HOUSE PANEL, THE BUDGET CONTAINS $40 MILLION MORE THAN THE STATE HAS MONEY TO SPEND. THAT LEAVES THE GOVERNOR'S OFFICE TO DETERMINE WHICH PROJECTS WOULD BE SUBMITTED TO THE STATE BOND COMMISSION FOR LINES OF CREDIT. THE "CAPITAL OUTLAY" BILL ALSO INCLUDES FEDERAL HIGHWAY MONEY AND OTHER FUNDING SOURCES SET ASIDE FOR STATE CONSTRUCTION.

FAILURE TO REPORT THE SEXUAL ABUSE OF A CHILD COULD LAND SOMEONE IN JAIL, UNDER A BILL (HOUSE BILL 577) HEADED TO THE GOVERNOR. THE MEASURE, INSPIRED BY THE PENN STATE SEX ABUSE SCANDAL, WILL CARRY A PENALTY OF UP TO THREE YEARS IN PRISON FOR A "MANDATORY REPORTER" DESCRIBED IN LAW NOT TO NOTIFY AUTHORITIES OF THE ABUSE. THE MEASURE BY REP. JOE LOPINTO, R-METAIRIE, ALSO REQUIRES THAT ANY ADULT WHO WITNESSES THE SEXUAL ABUSE OF A CHILD AND FAILS TO REPORT IT CAN BE IMPRISONED FOR UP TO FIVE YEARS.

STATE LAWMAKERS HAVE AGREED TO CREATE A NEW SPECIALIZED LICENSE PLATE IN LOUISIANA TO HELP DRUM UP MONEY FOR HONEYBEE RESEARCH. THE "PROTECT THE HONEYBEE" LICENSE TAG WILL BE DESIGNED BY THE NORTH LIVE OAK ELEMENTARY SCHOOL OF WATSON AND THE LOUISIANA BEEKEEPERS ASSOCIATION. THE MONEY GENERATED BY THE BILL (HOUSE BILL 234) WILL PAY FOR SCHOLARSHIPS FOR GRADUATE STUDENTS WORKING ON HONEYBEE RESEARCH, UNDER THE MEASURE HEADED TO THE GOVERNOR'S DESK WITH A FINAL VOTE FROM THE HOUSE.

FACEBOOK AND OTHER SOCIAL NETWORKING SITES ARE AGAIN OFF-LIMITS FOR A LIST OF CERTAIN SEX OFFENDERS IN LOUISIANA. A SIMILAR PREVIOUS LAW WAS DECLARED UNCONSTITUTIONAL BY A FEDERAL JUDGE, SO LAWMAKERS REWROTE THE PROVISION, HOPING TIGHTENED LANGUAGE COULD STAND UP TO JUDICIAL SCRUTINY. THE HOUSE GAVE FINAL PASSAGE TO THE REWRITE TUESDAY WITH A 93-0 VOTE THAT SENT IT TO THE GOVERNOR, WHO SUPPORTS THE MEASURE.

IF YOU DECIDE TO GET YOUR HAIR DONE, DON’T SCHEDULE IT WHEN YOU’RE A POTENTIAL JUROR IN JUDGE THOMAS YEAGER’S COURTROOM. STATE DISTRICT JUDGE THOMAS YEAGER SENTENCED LAMAR HUNTER TO SEVEN DAYS IN JAIL FOR CONTEMPT OF COURT. HUNTER WAS AMONG 15 RAPIDES PARISH RESIDENTS ON THE FIRST PANEL OF A JURY POOL IN THE SECOND-DEGREE MURDER TRIAL OF JOSEPH ANTON CHEHARDY JR. JURORS WERE INSTRUCTED TO RETURN FROM THE LUNCH BREAK NO LATER THAN 1:30. WHEN HE WALKED IN AT 2:45 HE TOLD THE JUDGE HE WAS AT WORK. JUDGE YEAGER CHECKED. THE JUDGE WAS NOT AMUSED TO FIND OUT HUNTER WAS GETTING A NEW DO..

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