News for Tuesday 052113
By Dave Graichen
After tornadoes ripped through northwest Louisiana last week, the National Weather Service says the area could be faced with severe conditions once again today. State Climatologist Barry Keim says the front that produced destructive tornadoes in Oklahoma yesterday could spawn more twisters in north Louisiana today. Keim says there is a slight chance for severe weather in the northern third of the state, and a moderate chance for severe weather in the northwestern part of the state. He says Louisianians should take these forecasts seriously and be prepared for anything.
The state Senate Finance Committee on Monday advanced two proposed constitutional amendments that opponents said would protect more areas of the budget from cuts.
The propositions, contained in House Bills 532 and 533, would provide more financial stability for hospitals, nursing homes, intermediate care facilities and pharmacists through constitutionally protected funds. The committee voted 9-1 to approve the measures. The bills now move to the state Senate floor.
A proposal for Louisiana to tap into federal healthcare overhaul funds available for expanding Medicaid has been stalled in the state senate. The Finance Committee rejected the bill yesterday with all but one Republican voting against expansion. A similar proposal is slated for house action later this week.
Homeowners who use solar power and provide electricity for utility companies are watching a vote that is expected to take place at today's Public Service Commission meeting. Those solar customers are eligible for credits on their utility bill, but P-S-C member Clyde Holloway is proposing smaller credits for those homeowners. Holloway says the proposed change would level the playing field for those utility customers who don't have solar panels. Public Service Commissioner Foster Campbell opposes Holloway's attempt to change the rules with the solar program. Because he says they would be breaking its promise to solar customers.
Governor Jindal has ordered a review of Texas Brine's permits to operate in Louisiana. The Governor says has lost patience with the Houston company, for dragging its feet on property buyouts for residents near the 15-acre Bayou Corne sinkhole. However, Texas Brine is blaming their insurance carrier for the holdup in buying property near the sinkhole. Damage estimates from the massive hole in the ground are estimated at some 40-million dollars. Some folks living near the sinkhole have been evacuated for over nine months
The Senate Finance Committee quickly signed off Monday on multi-year, 4 percent pay raises for Louisiana clerks of court. Under House Bill 174, the clerks could opt for 4 percent pay raises in each of four years. The money to cover the raises would have to come from self-generated funds. State Rep. Jeff Arnold of New Orleans, said the raises are optional and would be the first opportunity in seven years for a pay increase.
The bill now heads to the state Senate floor.
A bid to give judges five years of annual pay raises easily received the backing Monday of the state Senate’s budget committee, after it was changed to require money for the salary hike to come from the annual judicial budget. Judges haven’t had a raise since 2010. The proposal now goes to the full Senate for debate.
The grand opening of the Margaritaville Resort in Bossier City has been set for the July 4th week. Officials say the entire event will include fireworks, live music and more. They are hoping Jimmy Buffett will be able to make an appearance at the grand opening and they say the expectation is high.