News for Thursday 042513
By Dave Graichen
An independent investigation, conducted by a new Orleans law firm, looking into the actions of Louisiana College President Joe Aguillard, found he “engaged in falsehoods and misrepresented material information to the Board of Trustees on countless occasions.” However, A special committee of the LC board found Aguillard “has not acted improperly.” That committee is due to report back to the board at a special meeting scheduled for Tuesday on the LC Pineville campus .
Central Louisiana community leaders spent Tuesday and Wednesday at the U.S. Capitol and the Pentagon making the case with the U.S. Army for the sustained viability of Fort Polk and its multibillion-dollar annual impact in the state. Baton Rouge economist Loren Scott estimated that Fort Polk has an annual $1.86 billion economic impact, including a $980 million payroll, which makes Fort Polk the largest federal employer in the state. (Scott calculated that a reduction of 5,300 troops would result in an annual loss to the state government of more than $24 million and more than $7 million in local government revenues. Counting families, contractors and more, the troop reduction would mean a total population of more than 20,700 people.)
LSU System President Dr. William L. Jenkins has named a 20-member search committee of faculty, staff and students, as well as community leaders to help select the next chancellor for LSU-Alexandria. The panel that will recommend finalists for the post to the LSU Board of Supervisors, who will ultimately choose the new chancellor to succeed David P. Manuel, who is set to begin serving as chancellor of Drury University in Springfield, Mo., in May.
The House Health and Welfare committee votes down a proposal that would require Louisiana to cover more uninsured people through the state's Medicaid program. An expansion of the Medicaid program is part of the federal health care reforms. Governor Jindal lobbied against it. Supporters of the Medicaid expansion say it will help cover 400-thousand Louisiana residents who currently lack health insurance. But Jindal says the Medicaid Program is inefficient and outdated and it doesn't make sense to expand it.. A Medicaid expansion bill was also heard in Senate Health and
Welfare but was deferred one week.
The controversial bill to allow optometrists to perform eye procedures currently only allowed to ophthalmologists was pulled from House debate today, by its author Monroe area Rep. Frank Hoffman. Hoffman asked to return the bill to the calendar, while he worked on some amendments that would make the measure more
acceptable to ophthalmologists. Ophthalmologists are medical doctors; most optometrists are not.
A proposal seeking to create a seamless network of early childhood education programs and standards for kindergarten readiness cleared the Senate without opposition. Under Senate Bill 130 the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education would oversee all publicly-funded programs that provide education services to children from birth to age 5. The bill would require BESE to establish and implement common standards for kindergarten readiness, assessment and accountability. The system would be in place by the 2015-2016 school year. The bill now moves to the house.
Another attempt to place a cap on TOPS performance based college tuition grants is scheduled in the Senate Education Committee tomorrow. Jennings Senator Blade Moorish is the sponsor. He says he supports TOPS, but it's becoming unsustainable. His bill would cap it at its current level plus ten percent. TOPS costs taxpayers about
$168-million a year, and it's projected to double in cost by 2017.
The House of Representatives has passed a bill that would allow residents to apply for a lifetime permit to carry a concealed weapon. The bill is sponsored by freshman Rep. Barry Ivey, of Baton Rouge, who says the measure is simply an option for approved CCP holders at a $500 cost. The House passed the bill by 64-19 vote; sending it over to the Senate.
Attorney General Buddy Caldwell announces 9 people have been arrested in the latest undercover investigation targeting child predators across Southern Louisiana. HE says the Louisiana Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force works tirelessly to pursue people who exploit and victimize children online. Additional arrests are
possible as the investigations continue.
According to a report by the Council For A Better Louisiana, public schools are still facing "chronic challenges." CABL's review is called the Louisiana Report Card on Major Education Initiatives. CABLE President Barry Erwin says 72.3 percent of high school students graduated on time last year and the number of dropouts has
dramatically declined in recent years. He hopes that policy makers will use the report to understand the urgency in keeping momentum going.
Pointe Copuee Parish deputies are investigating the murder of a 92-year-old woman inside her New Roads home. Sheriff Bud Torres says Buelleur Morris was found beaten to death yesterday by her family. He says whoever killed the elderly woman was let into the home, and did not force entry.
On the heels of last week's tragedy in Boston, a Vermillion Parish company has seen a high demand from law enforcement agencies for their trained bomb-sniffing dogs. US K9 Unlimited owner Roger Abshire says his dogs have been in demand across the country, even locally here in Louisiana.
Legislation aimed at ensuring that women and men are compensated equally for doing the same work stalled Wednesday in the state Senate and Governmental Affairs Committee. The panel deadlocked in a 4-4 vote for Senate Bill 153 by state Sen. Ed Murray, D-New Orleans. Murray could try to revive the measure at another meeting.