News for Monday 022414
By Dave Graichen
A single vehicle crash in grant Parish early Sunday morning has claimed the life of 21 year old Chad Chandler of Dry prong. State police say he lost control of his vehicle and ran off of Race Track Road, flipping the vehicle. Chandler, who died at the scene and and four passengers in the pickup were not wearing seatbelts. The passengers all received moderate injuries. Alcohol was, according to the state police, believed to be a factor.
District 29 State Sen. Rick Gallot has filed a bill to ban the sale of electronic cigarettes to anyone under 18. Gallot has introduced the bill for consideration in the legislative session that begins March 10. It would add e-cigarettes and other “alternative nicotine products” to the list of items that can’t be sold to minors in Louisiana.
A Louisiana lawmaker has pre-filed a bill for the upcoming legislative session that would guarantee protections for biological parents who seek surrogacy. Currently in Louisiana parents of a child being carried by another woman have to adopt their own baby after it is born which Metairie Representative Joe Lopinto says as it stands right now in Louisiana, a surrogate's name initially goes onto the child's birth certificate then the parents have to go through the courts to have that changed after the child is born. . He says this exact bill was overwhelming passed last year, but Governor Bobby Jindal, under pressure from the Louisiana Family Forum, vetoed it.
A new survey from Gallup ranks Louisiana as the 10th most miserable state in the country. The Well-Being Index considered several factors, one of those is that only 61% of respondents felt safe walking home alone at night, lowest rate in the U.S. Gallup Researcher Dan Witters say safety is a big part of community well-being. Witters says based on the survey's results, many people are concerned with violent crime and property crime in their area. He says Louisiana also gets its low raking because of a high smoking rate and a lack of healthy eating by many who were surveyed. 2,600 randomly selected Louisiana residents took the survey.
Governor Bobby Jindal along with governors from across the country will meet with President Barack Obama in Washington D-C today. LSU Professor Bob Mann, who also served as former governor Kathleen Blanco's communications director, says the President will not be the only one
talking during this annual gathering. He expects President Obama to push governors to support legislation that would raise the minimum wage in their individual states. He says health care will also be a big topic.
During his appearance on "Face the Nation," Governor Jindal was asked if he will run for President in 2016. The governor's answer was "I don't know." He says the focus needs to be on winning congressional and gubernatorial races across the country this year.
The Coast Guard says a 65-mile stretch of the Mississippi River is closed until further notice while crews clean up oil from a barge that hit a towboat between Baton Rouge and New Orleans. The collision happened Saturday afternoon near Vacherie, 47 miles west of New Orleans. In nearby St. Charles Parish, officials say public drinking water intakes on the river are closed as a precaution.
The author of a bill to reduce penalties for those convicted of simple possession of marijuana believes his legislation now has a better chance at passing since it's being supported by the Louisiana Sentencing Commission. New Orleans Representative Austin Badon says the proposed bill only reduces penalties for marijuana possession, not dealers or smugglers with larger amounts. Badon says it would reduce the costs associated with locking people up for marijuana possession.
Older drivers are actually in fewer accidents than younger drivers according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Their study shows drivers 70 and older are less likely to be in accidents than previous generations. The report also shows older driver are driving more miles than in the past.
A legal battle over the delivery of food services at a Louisiana military base has led to $365,000 in attorney bills for the state. It’s also sparked a feud between the Jindal administration and a group of legally blind vendors. Central to the fight is a state-managed trust fund that takes money from vending operations in courthouses and other state or federal properties and uses it to help the legally blind run snack stands, cafeterias and vending machines. What’s aggravating some blind vendors is that money is being withdrawn from their trust fund for the legal fight. The trust fund doesn’t pay all of the programs’ cost, but it does supply dollars for health insurance, equipment and repairs. The federal government might pick up part of the legal tab, but the state’s portion of the bill depletes the trust fund.
The Louisiana Supreme Court is cracking down on judges using tax dollars to pay for exotic junkets.
Supreme Court Chief Justice Bernette Johnson has signed an order that bans the use of public dollars for international travel for meetings, unless the travel is approved by the state Supreme Court. The judicial rule goes into effect May 1 for all Louisiana judges. The rule was issued just a month after The Advocate reported about the frequent publicly funded travels of City Court Judge Yvette Alexander, who most recently spent a week in January at a judicial conference in Morocco. Between 2007 and 2012, Alexander took 37 trips and spent $52,704 in public funds.
The Coushatta Casino Resort in Kinder reopened Sunday morning, more than 12 hours after what officials called “a small electrical fire” forced the casino to be evacuated. The fire was discovered around 9:30 p.m. Saturday. No patrons were injured, and the damage was minimal.
The Vernon Parish Police Jury wants the state Department of Wildlife and Fisheries to add Vernon Lake to its list of alligator harvesting locations. The parish fish and game commission recommended the lake be placed in the lottery for alligator hunting. Commission Chairman Jason Nolde says up to six alligator permits might be issued for the lake. Alligator hunting has been permitted for years at Anacoco Lake, which also is in Vernon Parish. The lake will be in the lottery again this year. Nolde says the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission has the final say on the Vernon Lake matter and should make a decision before alligator season begins in September.