News for Monday 033114
By Dave Graichen
Louisiana's unemployment rate fell to its lowest level since mid 2008 in the month of February according to the US Department of Labor. The state's unemployment rate was 4.9 percent in January and was 4.5 percent last month.
Today is the last day to sign-up for private health insurance plans offered through the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Louisiana spokesperson Robin Mayhall says the federal government is not requiring the uninsured to purchase a plan by the end of today, but start the process if you want coverage in 2014. The federal government reports there's been an increase in the last week in the number of uninsured people signing up for coverage through
the Health Insurance Marketplace.
State officials announce that the Phelps Correction Center in Dequincy will re-open. The state closed the facility in November 2012, resulting in 300 employees losing their jobs or being
transferred to another prison. But the prison is re-opening and it will house about three-hundred adult men, who are non-violent offenders that are within four years within their release date.
Today lawmakers will discuss legislation that would put regulations on traffic cameras that issues tickets. New Orleans Representative Jeff Arnold has filed bills in the past to put certain restrictions on the cameras that can issue tickets, and one of the three bills before committee today deals with issuing citations through the mail. House Bill 859 would require that automated traffic enforcement
systems use the standardized yellow light time. Arnold says studies have shown that the best way to reduce accidents is to extend the caution light time.
The House Commerce committee will hear legislation today that will prohibit an employer or a school from asking for a person's log-in and password information for their personal e-mail or social media page. The bill by Baton Rouge Representative Ted James also states that an employer can't fire someone if they don't give up that information.
On April 5th there are several local governments in Louisiana that have tax measures on the ballot and voter turnout for that election will likely be low. That's why state senator Bret Allain of Franklin (ah-Leh) has filed a constitutional amendment to require at least a voter turnout of 20% before any tax measure would be implemented. Allain doesn't think it's right that very small percentages of people show up at the polls then vote on a tax that will apply to everyone in their municipality.
After months of arguments outside the State Capitol, lawmakers are set to cast their first votes Wednesday on the future of the academic standards known as Common Core. In an unusual move, the House Education Committee will devote what may be a daylong hearing, and possibly more, strictly to the bills that would repeal or revamp the classroom goals, which were adopted by Louisiana and 44 other states.
A Boston-based hedge fund is threatening to shut down a major pipeline that provides natural gas to thousands in Louisiana and Mississippi. ArcLight Capital Partners is threatening to abandon the American Midstream Pipeline , which was built in the 1920, that runs from Ouachita Parish to as far south as East Baton Rouge Parish. It provides natural gas to Jonesville, Ferriday, Sicily Island, Vidalia, Slaughter and Clayton as well as Natchez, Miss. Vidalia Mayor Hyram Copeland said the company is asking towns to pay $200 million to replace the line.
The Natchitoches Parish School Board says 13 people have applied for the position of school superintendent. The applicants are being vetted for minimum eligibility. Derwood Duke, superintendent in Natchitoches since 2009, announced in January that he would resign April 30.
The first round of interviews to determine finalists to become Duke’s successor will be April 8-10.
Louisiana State Police say a deputy with the Richland Parish Sheriff's office is under arrest for sexual battery and Malfeasance. They say 39-year-old Dewey Allen of Rayville committed battery on a female without her consent while in his patrol unit. Bond is set at $40,000 and Allen was terminated. He faces up to 15 years in prison and a $5,000 fine if convicted.
The St. Helena Parish Sheriff's office says a 6 month old baby died Thursday after drowning when a vehicle rolled into a pond. They say the child was in the care of her grandparents who could not stop the car from sinking after it fell off a 20 foot cliff into the water while the infant was strapped inside. First responders could not reach the baby in time. The incident is under investigation.
This season's shrimp harvest so far has been smaller than normal and that has caused prices at the market to go up for consumers. Louisiana Shrimp Association President Clint Guidry says most of the shrimp we eat is imported and there has been a decline in imported shrimp as well. It’s hoped prices will come down the closer we get to summer.