News for Friday 052413
By Dave Graichen
On Saturday and Sunday the state is offering a state sales tax holiday on items residents need for the upcoming hurricane season. Louisiana Department of Revenue spokesperson, Byron Henderson, says during the next two days, consumers will not have to pay the state's 4-percent sales tax on items like flashlights, batteries and generators. Henderson says the exemption applies to the first 15-hundred dollars of
the purchase price of each item. Henderson says a complete list of the items exempt from the state's sales tax on Saturday and Sunday can be found on the Department of Revenue's website.
Fewer people are expected to take trips this Memorial Day weekend. Louisiana AAA ("triple A") spokesman Don Redman says just under 35- million Americans will travel 50 or more miles for the holiday; a dip of about 1% below last year. He says highway travelers will likely not notice any difference.
The state Commissioner of Administration Kristy Nichols announced Thursday, The total operating expense associated with the privatization of nine LSU hospitals will hit $1 billion during the new fiscal year. That’s more than is in the current year’s budget of $955 million for the state to operate the charity hospitals. And substantially more than the $626 million Gov. Bobby Jindal proposed for private companies to operate the public hospitals in the fiscal year that begins July 1. Nichols said the administration would submit amendments to the state Senate Finance Committee to close the funding gap, recommending using some money from hospital leases as well as other state and local revenues.
A plan to privatize operations at Huey P. Long Medical Center, which could close the Pineville hospital and move operations to England Airpark in Alexandria, will be considered Tuesday. Commissioner of Administration Kristy Nichols said Thursday that operating agreements are expected to be signed by the end of next month for private and public hospitals or foundations to take over nine hospitals currently operated through the LSU Health System. Rapides Regional Medical Center and Christus St. Francis Cabrini Hospital will be providing medical care at the airpark facility While the effective transfer date for the Monroe and Shreveport hospitals is Oct. 1, Huey P. Long’s transfer won’t be complete until October 2014. The hospital will continue providing care in Pineville, through most of next year until the Airpark facility is ready.
The state Attorney General's Office says a special grand jury has been selected to look at possible criminal activity in the awarding of a $200-million Medicaid contract by the Jindal Administration. The contract holder, CNSI is the former employer of former Health & Hospitals head Bruce Greenstein, who resigned when the seeming impropriety came to light. The state abruptly cancelled the CNSI contract as well.
An amendment to the federal Farm Bill to deny food stamp benefits to convicted rapists, pedophiles and murderers, has been added by Senator David Vitter. He notes in Louisiana alone, from 2010 through 2012 over a million dollars’ worth of food stamp benefits were issued to people who were in prison. This would be a lifetime ban that no state could opt out of it. While Vitter's amendment passed, the Farm Bill itself is still under debate.
The state Legislative Auditor is requesting financial documents from the Louisiana Republican and Democratic Parties, but the state GOP is questioning whether the request is politically motivated. Auditor Darryl Purpera says he asked for the financial documents after learning state law requires both parties to file yearly reports. Louisiana Republican Party executive director Jason Dore says the request came after the state republican party fought against proposed tax increases that House members were discussing. He says they already file campaign finance reports with the state ethics board and the federal elections commission. Purpera says there's no political agenda at play. The State Democratic party submitted the requested paperwork.
Louisiana's Congressional delegates are attempting to stave off big impending rate hikes for the National Flood Insurance Program. Metairie Congressman Steve Scalise says he and New Orleans Congressman Cedric Richmond are co-sponsoring a bill to delay those premium increases for three to five years. Scalise says the 2012 Flood Insurance Reform Act would mean rate hikes of up to 20% a year over a four-year span, in an effort to keep the program well-funded. Scalise says those proposed increases are unrealistic.
A bill allowing clerks of court to receive a 4 percent pay raise zipped through the state Senate Thursday. The Senate voted 27-7 in favor of House Bill 174, giving the proposal final legislative passage. To be eligible for the pay increase, clerks would have to complete annual certification updates and other education requirements. State Sen. Ed Murray, D-New Orleans, said the pay boosts would not cost the state anything. He said the money would come from the clerks’ budgets.
Attempts to stop AGL Resources from expanding its salt mine in Lake Peigneur (Pin-your) has been defeated in the state senate. The company has requested a permit that would allow them to use up to 5-million gallons of water every day. The bill would have called for an Environmental Impact Statement first.
Fire officials in Lafayette say nine horses are dead after the barn they were in caught on fire. They say upon arrival the smoke was already venting through the sides of the barn and the flames were too intense for firefighters to make entry and it was too late for the nine horses inside. It is believed the blaze started from a lightning strike.
It’s not nice to fool with the IRS.. 42-year old Roderick Dewitt Aguillard the Third has pleaded guilty to not filingt income tax returns over a four year period. The former Denham Springs resident reportedly earned 2.3 million dollars during that four year period. He was sentenced to eight months in federal prison.
Hurricane season begins in 10 days, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration forecasts a highly active season. NOAA expects 13 - 20 named storms, 7 - 11 hurricanes. three to six of those could be major hurricanes of Category 3 strength or higher. The season officially begins June 1st and ends November 30th...though storms have occurred both before and after those dates in recent years.
The Governor's Office of Homeland Security & Emergency Preparedness launches a new smartphone app to let you receive emergency alerts as they happen. GOHSEP director Kevin Davis says the Alert FM app is a free download for iPhone or Android systems. The app receives special alerts sent out by GOHSEP, which could be related to disasters, weather emergencies and even Amber Alerts. It can be downloaded free at the online Apple store, or from GooglePlay.
Governor Bobby Jindal has signed into law a bill that will assist and encourage Louisiana military servicemen and women to come home to the Bayou State. House Bill 312 does that by extending the time allowed for returning military to renew any state or professional licenses they may have had before going into active service. New Orleans Rep. Nick Lorusso's bill met no opposition in the House or the Senate.
After losing to Arkansas yesterday 4 to 1. The LSU Tigers will face Alabama again today in the SEC baseball tournament. Airtime 2:30p