News for Thursday 050913
By Dave Graichen
The Louisiana House of Representatives is scheduled to vote today on a 24-billion dollar budget for next fiscal year. Many lawmakers do not like the governor's budget because of the use of one-time dollars, but insiders say the votes are not there for an alternative plan that would reduce state tax credits as a way to raise revenues. A group of republican lawmakers known as "fiscal hawks" were working with democrats on a proposed budget that the Jindal administration criticized as a tax increase on businesses. But that plan fell apart when the governor put pressure on republican legislators.
Senator David Vitter has introduced legislation to end the free cell phone program for the poor. The Senator says the Lifeline Program, introduced in 1984, was originally about expanding land line phone service to rural areas and low income households--at a relatively low cost to taxpayers. But, the Lifeline Program has somehow become a dispensary of free cell phones that currently costs taxpayers over $2-billion a year.
According to a new survey, Louisiana is the second best state in the nation to retire. The study by Bankrate.com says besides jazz and beignets, our state offers retirees an excellent combination of low taxes and balmy weather. Analyst Chris Kahn says people like to retire in places where it's warm. Kahn says popular places with warm weather, beaches and other major attractions are great places to visit, but they don't make good places to retire due to overall tax rates and high cost of living.
The House Health and Welfare Committee has approved a bill to tap into federal dollars available to expand Medicaid coverage to more of Louisiana's working poor. Testifying before the panel, former state Health and Hospitals Secretary David Hood says the state should take the federal money. Also testifying on the bill, acting Health and Hospitals head Kathy Kliebert who says the expansion will eventually become unsustainable. The Jindal Administration has resisted the Medicaid expansion. The committee passed the measure by a close 10-9 vote, sending it to the House floor.
A bill to increase student fees at LSU advances in House Education today. The bill by Baton Rouge Representative Franklin Foil would implement a $60 a year fee to go towards campus maintenance projects. If passed it would go into effect this fall and could top out at $300 a year by fall of 2017. It now heads to the House floor.
A USA Today report shows LSU's athletic department took in 114 million dollars in revenues in 2012 which is the seventh highest figure among public universities. LSU Associate athletics director Herb Vincent says the report is accurate and the study also shows LSU's athletic department is one of the few in the country that does not rely on subsidies. Ticket sales, contributions and right licensing help make up the
revenue totals. Vincent says LSU expects to see its revenue numbers continue to grow with the launch of the SEC Television Network in August 2014.
The House has passed West Monroe Rep. Frank Hoffman's bill to prohibit smoking within 25 feet of state-owned buildings. Hoffman amended his bill to make it apply only to office buildings, the Capitol and nothing else. Hoffman's legislation passed the House by 84-11 vote. It now goes to the Senate for committee review in that chamber.
A Senate committee has approved a House-passed bill that would place criminal penalties on anyone who makes public information on Louisiana's holders of concealed weapon carry permits. That bill now goes to the full Senate, where it will be up for final passage.
The "I'm a Cajun" license plate bill has made it another step further. The legislation by State Senator Fred Mills that would start offering the specialty plate passes the Senate and now heads to the House for further consideration.
An Abbeville man has been indicted on a second-degree murder charge in the death of his girlfriend's 3-month-old daughter. Police say 25-year-old Shane Jude Vincent was arrested without incident. Vincent was also charged with tampering with evidence in the death of Jayla Broussard last November.
Federal regulators are investigating whether workers at the Shaw Modular Solutions facility in Lake Charles, which supplies parts to nuclear plants, broke quality control rules and falsified records. CB&I, which acquired the facility’s owner, Baton Rouge-based Shaw Group, in February, said it is cooperating in the probe and has turned over all the requested documents.
The Louisiana House on Wednesday voted 99-0 to allow public high school students with disabilities to avoid taking the ACT and other standardized tests.
State Rep. John Bel Edwards, D-Amite and sponsor of the plan, said the exclusion would apply to students who are not pursuing a high school diploma and who have an exceptionality listed in state law. The proposal does not cover gifted and talented students. The legislation, which next faces action in the state Senate, is the latest move aimed at revamping rules of the state Department of Education.
A state Senate-passed bill that would spell out details of a 2012 law to overhaul early childhood education in Louisiana cleared the House Education Committee on Wednesday. The measure, Senate Bill 130, next faces action on the Louisiana House floor. Last year’s law calls for early learning performance guidelines for those from zero to age 3 and academic standards for 3- and 4-year-olds. In addition, pre-kindergarten centers and schools will get letter grades, and state aid will be linked to how the centers perform. The changes take effect in the 2015-16 school year.
The number three LSU baseball team is in College Station, Texas, preparing for a three-game series that starts tonight against the Texas A-and-M Aggies. Head coach Paul Mainieri says he's excited about the opportunity to play on the road in a new environment and in front of a raucous crowd. You can hear all three games of that series on 970 KSYL.