KSYL Local News

News For Monday 04/29/13


News for Monday 042913

By Dave Graichen

 

Nearly $500 million likely will melt away when legislators start making changes to the proposed state spending plan today. The Louisiana House Appropriations Committee will start tackling the $24.7 billion state operating budget that Gov. Bobby Jindal  presented for the fiscal year that starts July 1. The committee will make changes after weeks of testimony that raised concerns about the amount of one-time, or nonrecurring, money piled into the budget. Some changes are certain to please both legislators and the public. The Jindal administration, for example, agreed last week to rethink planned cuts to battered women’s shelters, cancer screenings and a program that helps senior citizens find free or discount prescriptions.

 

At the State Capitol, the House Appropriations Committee will begin work  on the annual state budget by trying to trim a half-a-billion dollars  from Governor Jindal's proposed budget plan. House Speaker Chuck  Kleckley says the issue is about $500-million of what's proposed by the  Governor, that being non-recurring revenue. Last Spring the House adopted the Geymann Rule, authored by Lake Charles  Rep. Brett Geymann, which mandates NO use of one-time money on recurring  expenditures. Kleckley says that leaves the Appropriations Committee  with the unenviable task of finding where to cut the budget to meet the  new rule. It may all be for nothing though since the Senate has no Geymann Rule, and could add the one- time money back into the budget bill.

 

Food banks around  the  state  are  lobbying  lawmakers  to  include $5-million  in  next  fiscal year's budget to help their efforts  to feed the needy. The Food Bank of Central Louisiana, says hunger is a real issue in our state  and state Agriculture Commissioner Dr. Mike Strain agrees. He'd like to  see  that  $5-million in the budget, to help  food  banks  buy  and  distribute  food to  the  thousands  of Louisiana  residents who have trouble putting  food  on  the  dinner plate. The  House  Appropriations Committee begins its work  on  the  state budget today. Currently there is nothing in there for Food Banks.

 

Legislators who have tried and failed to pass laws that would rein in the runaway costs of TOPS, the state’s merit-based college scholarship, could find broader support by focusing on the program’s academic requirements rather than its financial cost to the state. A survey of nearly 1,000 Louisiana residents has been noticed by officials. Part of the 2013 Louisiana Survey, conducted by the LSU Public Policy Research Lab, reported that 78 percent of respondents are against reducing the total amount of money students receive from the program. Another majority, 57 percent of the survey’s respondents,  support increasing the academic requirements for the Tops program.

 

Former  state  Department  of Health and Hospitals  Secretary  Bruce Greenstein exchanged "hundreds  of  telephone calls and thousands of text messages" with a former employer  who  was  bidding on a claims processing contract with the agency, according to  a letter released by the state Division of Administration. Greenstein  worked for CNSI before  working  for the state. The contract was worth $200-million,

but was abruptly cancelled  when  the  seeming  impropriety  came to light. Greenstein's last day on the job is Wednesday.

 

A bill to require Internet vendors to charge to all applicable state and local sales taxes on your purchases is moving  through  the U.S. Senate.  Senator  Mary  Landrieu  is  in support. She says Louisiana loses out on hundreds of millions in tax revenue yearly. Republicans say   this  represents  a  new  tax  on  consumers,   but   Landrieu

Disagrees, saying it simply enforces collection of a tax already on the books.

 

LSU running back Jeremy Hill faces an uncertain future after he was  arrested outside of a nightclub near campus. Hill faces a simple battery  charge after he allegedly punched a victim outside of Reggie's Bar. East  Baton Rouge D-A Hillar Moore says Hill may have violated his probation  stemming from a previous arrest. The former prep star at Redemptorist in Baton Rouge, pleaded guilty in  January 2012 for engaging in a sexual act with a 14-year-old girl in the  school locker room. Hill received a suspended six-month prison sentence  and placed on probation for 2 years. Moore says Judge Bonnie Jackson  will determine if Hill violated his probation.  Moore says that could mean ordering Hill to serve his six-month prison .

 

A new survey report ranks Louisiana among America's Top Five Least- Stressed States. The Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index report ranks us  #2, behind only Hawaii for average stress levels of our citizens. You can read the whole report online at "well-beingindex.com

 

Preliminary data by the Department of Health and Hospital's Birth  Outcomes Initiative indicates babies born in Louisiana are spending  fewer days in intensive care. DHH Medicaid Medical Director Dr. Rebecca  Gee says this shows the efforts of the 58 birthing hospitals in the  state's pledge to end elective deliveries before 39 weeks, is working.  Gee says from the time they began in Births Outcomes Initiative in 2010

to 2012, Louisiana's babies have spent 20,000 fewer days in the NICU.

 

A Lake Charles man known for organizing "Just  For Jesus" rallies is facing  drug  charges.  Calcasieu  Parish deputies  arrested  James Bertrand Jr. last  week for possession  of  crack  cocaine  and  drug distribution.  Bertrand  has  been  arrested  four  times  before on various charges; one of those was less than two weeks ago at a local casino--for possessing cocaine.

 

It was a tough weekend for the LSU baseball team. They lost 2 of 3 to South Carolina. Up next, the Tigers welcome McNeese to the box Tuesday night.

 

 

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