News for Wednesday 051513
By Dave Graichen
New Orleans Police say they are looking for 19-year-old Akein Scott who they say is a suspect in the mother's day parade shooting that injured 20 people. Three of the victims remain in critical condition after the brutal attack Sunday. Officials say Scott has been arrested many times in the past.
A Senate judiciary committee Tuesday approved a bill aimed at getting around possible future federal gun regulations, by creating a Louisiana-made firearms and ammunition classification. Under the Legislation, as long as the guns or ammo are manufactured within the state, they would not fall under the federally-regulated commerce clause. That bill has already passed the House. It now goes to the Senate floor for what could be final passage.
The Jindal administration’s budget does not contain $42 million in termination pay and unemployment costs for the 5,000-plus state employees losing jobs because of its privatization of LSU hospitals, according to a report issued Monday. The report also notes that there are another $26 million in annually reoccurring “legacy” costs to cover retiree health and life insurance. The legislative auditor’s report looked at various effects of the privatization of hospitals in Baton Rouge, New Orleans, Lafayette, Houma, Bogalusa and Lake Charles.
Today is the final day for Louisiana citizens to submit their 2012 state tax returns. Department of Revenue spokesperson Byron Henderson says they've processed 1.5 million state returns this year, after processing just over two-million the year before. Henderson says taxpayers who waited until today, should file electronically. Henderson says for those who still mail in their returns, the envelope must have today's date as the postmark. He says if a taxpayer needs more time to complete their 2012 state income tax return, they can request an extension to avoid late-filing penalties.
Tonight's Powerball jackpot is up to an estimated $360 million dollars which is the third largest in the game's history. The cash value of tonight's jackpot is a whopping $229.2
A Louisiana House committee refused Tuesday to advance legislation criminalizing sexual contact between psychotherapists and patients. State Rep. Dalton Honoré angered a woman by questioning whether legislation next would be filed to forbid a telephone repairman from dating a client.
Forging motor vehicle safety inspection stickers would be a crime under a House-backed bill approved Tuesday by a Senate committee. State Public Safety officials told the committee that bogus stickers are on the rise. The bill would levee a $5000 fine and up to 5 years in prison for a conviction of counterfeiting inspection stickers.
Next stop: the full Senate for debate and vote.
The Greensburg man who pleaded guilty to driving drunk and killing seven people in a car crash had his prison sentence reduced from 80 years to 35 years today. The lawyer for Brett Gerald fired the motion and asked the judge to consider his client's "extreme remorse" and "lack of intent to cause harm."
The National Transportation Safety Board suggests lowering the allowable blood alcohol level from .08 percent to .05 percent for drivers. The NTSB's study indicates dropping the BAC could cut down on the nearly 10,000 drunk driving related deaths nationwide. Louisiana Highway Safety Commission Col John LeBlanc agrees. However, LeBlanc says the last time the NTSB made a recommendation to lower the BAC standard, it took 21 years for all 50 states to comply. Louisiana made the switch to .08 for drivers in September of 2003.
A bill that would protect a minor-aged girl's right to choose whether or not to have an abortion has been passed by the state House. The legislation provides for intervening between child and parent, if the girl wants to have her baby. The bills sponsor Denham Springs Rep. Valarie Hodges say it would make coercing a minor-age girl into having an abortion an act of child abuse.
A House committee has rejected a bill that would require legislative approval of large rate hikes for the state's property insurer of last resort, Louisiana Citizens. St. Mary Parish Senator Brett Allain's bill has already passed the Senate. In the House Insurance Committee, Insurance Commissioner Jim Donelon argued that, by law,
Citizens' rates must remain at least 10% higher than the private market. He feels Allain's bill - requiring lawmaker approval of rate hikes of 25% or more - will undo that. The committee voted 9-4 against the bill, which kills it for the session.
A congressional effort to delay upcoming flood insurance rate increases for many thousands of Louisiana residents, and others nationwide, was defeated Tuesday by a single senator who threatened to bring this week’s U.S. Senate floor action to a screeching halt. The proposal, by Sen. Mary Landrieu, with the backing of Sen. David Vitter, R-La, was an amendment to Vitter’s water resources infrastructure bill. The amendment would have stalled premium increases of 20 percent or more annually for some residents in the National Flood Insurance Program. But Sen. Pat Toomey, a republican from Pennsylvania, used a procedural move to block all the proposed amendments to the bill from receiving votes, unless Landrieu withdrew her proposal. She did in order to avoid gridlock. Landrieu said afterward that she will file a standalone flood insurance bill that she will push to move quickly.
A state House panel Tuesday endorsed the creation of special courts to divert non-violent offenders with mental health problems into treatment programs instead of prisons. The Administration of Criminal Justice Committee, without objection, approved Senate Bill 71. The legislation would authorize district courts to create divisions that would deal with offenders who have mental health problems, much like there are drug courts today. The mental health courts would be established by rule by each district court. They would not be mandatory. The bill now heads to the House floor for debate.
Louisiana seafood industry leaders and state officials announce the official launch of the state's Seafood Certification program. The program is aimed at boosting confidence in the quality of seafood for retailers, restaurateurs and consumers by allowing easy recognition of products as being from Louisiana. Louisiana Seafood Promotion and Marketing Board director Ewell Smith says the state Department of Wildlife and Fisheries will have oversight. Television ads for "Louisiana Certified Seafood" are already on the air.
Wade Lohse is finally back in a Lafayette Parish jail and authorities don't expect he'll have a chance at freedom for quite some time. Lohse became Acadiana's Most Wanted after he walked out of his vehicular homicide trial in March.
The Dalai Lama will visit Louisiana this week. The Tibetan holy man will make public appearances in New Orleans Friday and Saturday, and will speak at Tulane University's commencement in the Superdome.
State Sen. Gary Smith and his wife went out of state to have their biological children born using a surrogate mom. On Monday, the Montz legislator got a House committee to advance legislation that would regulate the practice if other married couples want to do the same thing in Louisiana. The House Civil Law Committee voted 9-1 for the Senate-passed measure, which was opposed from both ends of the political spectrum. Gay rights advocates complained about exclusion and the Louisiana Family Forum and Louisiana Conference of Catholic Bishops objected on ethical and moral grounds. Senate Bill 162, which cleared the Senate 30-4, now moves to the House floor for debate.
In a sign that the GOP is rallying around Rep. Bill Cassidy as its choice for the 2014 Senate race, all of the Republicans in the state’s congressional delegation are supporting Cassidy at a June fundraiser in Washington. The Republicans want a one-on-one race between Cassidy and incumbent Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La. The invitation for June 11 fundraiser at the National Republican Senatorial Committee headquarters in Washington suggests minimum donations of $500 and touts “special guests” in Sen. David Vitter, and Reps. Rodney Alexander of Quitman, Charles Boustany, of Lafayette; John Fleming of Minden; and Steve Scalise of Jefferson.