News for Monday 042213
By Dave Graichen
The House Ways and Means Committee will consider legislation this morning that would raise tobacco taxes. Monroe Representative Katrina Jackson proposes to increase the tax on a pack of cigarettes from 36-cents to 68-cents. Jackson is moving forward with her bill, even though Governor Jindal has said he'll "veto" any bill that raises taxes. Jackson says her proposed cigarette tax increase would bring in 129-million dollars a year in additional revenue. She says that's much needed money for a state that has a large revenue shortfall for next fiscal year.
The Louisiana Workforce Commission reports 31 consecutive months of jobs growth in the private sector; meaning a record of nearly 2-million people currently employed in Louisiana. LWC Executive Director Curt Eysink says the data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics shows the state with a March unemployment rate of 6.2-percent; significantly lower than the national average.
A political battle is brewing between the Governor and state lawmakers over privatization of state hospitals. Both the House and Senate have passed resolutions saying privatization plans for state hospitals now run by LSU should be approved by a Joint Budget Committee, but Mr. Jindal says those resolutions do not carry the weight of law. Governor Jindal says he'll consider a bill that would change state law where his hospital plans are concerned, but so far one hasn't emerged.
Nearly a year after Gov. Bobby Jindal declared that Louisiana wouldn’t tap into billions of federal dollars to expand Louisiana’s Medicaid program, lawmakers will take their first vote on whether to challenge his stance. Political squabbling over the federal health care law championed by President Barack Obama will be the nearly sole focus of Wednesday’s House Health and Welfare Committee hearing. Five measures on the agenda, all sponsored by Democrats, seek to enact the Medicaid expansion under the law. Similar proposals await debate in the Senate.
Saturday marked three years since the explosion of BP's Deepwater Horizon oil rig in the Gulf, which began a months-long struggle to contain the biggest environmental disaster in U.S. history. Governor Bobby Jindal says about 200 miles of Louisiana marshes and beaches still have oil, sheen and tar balls. He says there have been measurable impacts on sea life in the Gulf as well. The Governor says BP needs to stop saying they'll make it right in commercials, and actually put up the money to get the job done.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Louisiana ranks 17th in the nation for the number of infants who are immunized by two years of age. State Immunization Director Dr. Frank Welch says 75-percent of two-year olds in Louisiana are up-to-date on their shots. Welch says this week is National Infant Immunization week and the goal is to encourage parents to make sure their child's immunizations are up to date. Also this week, The Louisiana Shots for Tots Coalition is sending reminder cards to parents of children who are behind on their shots.
A University of New Orleans study says Super Bowl 47 had a 480-million dollar economic impact for the region. John Williams, Dean of U-N-O's College of Business Administration, says that's a higher dollar figure than expected. He says it helped that the fans of the Super Bowl teams had to fly in and spent several nights in a hotel. The study also shows Super Bowl 47 generated 21 million dollars in state tax revenue and local governments in the greater New Orleans area received nearly 14-million dollars.
Governor Jindal threatens to veto proposed legislation that would add a 2-cent fee to all cell phone bills, and dedicate it to services for the hearing & speech-impaired. Mr. Jindal says, as written, he can't back it because it means extra tax revenue when the goal is revenue neutrality. Shreveport Rep. Patrick Williams, the bill's sponsor, says an existing 5-cent monthly fee on land lines to fund services for the deaf brings in less each year, as more people move to cell phones. Mr. Williams says by reducing that fee to 2-cents, and adding it to all cell phone accounts, $1-million yearly will be raised for the LA Commission for the Deaf.
The Eunice Police Department says a 30-year-old woman is under arrest after her pit bulls attacked and injured a mailman. Nicole Courville is booked with cruelty to animals, negligent injury and dogs running loose. Authorities say when officers responded one of the officers was attacked and that's when shots were fired. He said one dog was shot dead and two others were captured by animal control.
The Coast Guard closed the Mississippi River at Vicksburg after barges hit a railroad bridge there and about 30 barges broke free from the towboat “Captain Buck Lay.”
Petty Officer Ryan Tippets says nine towboats with 134 barges were waiting to get through Sunday evening. Every barge was accounted for, but the river remained closed with no word on when it might reopen. Tippets says three barges carried grain and the rest held coal. Tippets says one barge sank in the traffic channel. He did not know whether it must be removed before the channel can reopen.
The LSU Tigers completed spring practice on Saturday with the white team blanking the purple team 37-0. Quarterback Zach Mettenberger threw for 236 yards and two touchdowns and Odell Beckham led all receivers with six catches for 202 yards and two TDs. Coach Les Miles told the press, he liked what he saw.
In LSU tiger baseball, the boys took 2 from Alabama over the weekend. The Tigers lost for just the second time in 20 games, falling to 37-4 overall and 15-3 in Southeastern Conference play. LSU remains atop the SEC West standings, four games ahead of second-place Arkansas. A huge SEC homestand begins Friday against South Carolina.