KSYL Local News Archives for 2011-06

News For Thursday 06/30/11


NEWS FOR THURSDAY 063011
DAVE GRAICHEN

FORMER ALEXANDRIA CITY ATTORNEY KELVIN SANDERS WAS THE LONE WITNESS WEDNESDAY IN A TRIAL IN U.S. DISTRICT COURT IN ALEXANDRIA TO DETERMINE IF ATTORNEYS BRIDGETT BROWN, JOHN SHARP AND CRAIG DAVIDSON DESERVE TO BE PAID FOR WORK THEY SAID THEY DID IN THE IN THE CITY’S FRAUD LAWSUIT AGAINST CLECO.. SANDERS TOLD THE JUDGE HE HIRED BROWN BECAUSE OF HER COURTROOM EXPERIENCE AND HER ABILITY TO INFLUENCE BLACK CITY COUNCIL MEMBERS AND OTHERS IN THE COMMUNITY. HE ALSO ACKNOWLEDGED THAT BROWN NEVER WROTE ANY LEGAL LETTERS OR OTHER DOCUMENTS IN THE 2005 ALEXANDRIA V. CLECO CASE, AND HAD NO EXPERIENCE IN COURT LITIGATION INVOLVING UTILITIES. THERE WAS NO JURY; U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE DEE DRELL ALONE WILL DECIDE IF THE ATTORNEYS ARE PAID AND HOW MUCH.

REPUBLICAN U.S. SEN. DAVID VITTER IS SUPPORTING HIS FELLOW GOP STATE LEADER, GOV. BOBBY JINDAL, IN HIS RE-ELECTION BID. THAT IN SHARP CONTRAST TO JINDAL'S REFUSAL TO PUBLICLY BACK VITTER A YEAR AGO IN HIS SENATE RACE. VITTER RELEASED AN EMAIL TO HIS SUPPORTERS WEDNESDAY ANNOUNCING HIS JINDAL ENDORSEMENT. JINDAL DIDN'T ENDORSE VITTER IN HIS RE-ELECTION EFFORT LAST YEAR AGAINST DEMOCRAT CHARLIE MELANCON, AN ELECTION THAT CAME THREE YEARS AFTER VITTER WAS TAINTED BY A 2007 PROSTITUTION SCANDAL. VITTER EASILY WON A SECOND TERM WITHOUT THE GOVERNOR'S BACKING. WHILE NOT OVER EMPHASIZING HIS PRAISE OF THE GOVERNOR, VITTER'S SAID JINDAL IS "HONEST AND COMPETENT. HE WANTS TO MAKE GOVERNMENT LEANER AND SMARTER, NOT MORE BLOATED AND INTRUSIVE. VITTER SAIS THAT’S A PATH WE MUST STAY ON.

THE AMERICAN AUTOMOBILE ASSOCIATION IS PREDICTING A SLIGHT DECREASE IN THE NUMBER OF TRAVELERS FOR THIS FOURTH OF JULY COMPARED TO LAST YEAR. TRIPLE-A SPOKESPERSON DON REDMAN SAYS HIGH GAS PRICES ARE CONTRIBUTING IN THE TWO-AND-A-HALF PERCENT DECREASE IN TRAVELERS. THE CURRENT STATEWIDE AVERAGE FOR A GALLON OF REGULAR GASOLINE IS $3.43. REDMAN SAYS OVERALL THEY'RE PROJECTING 39 MILLION AMERICANS WILL TRAVEL 50 MILES OR MORE FROM HOME THIS WEEKEND.

LOUISIANA STATE TROOPERS ARE PLANNING A BUSY FOURTH OF JULY WEEKEND KEEPING AN EYE ON HOLIDAY DRIVERS. TROOPERS AND OTHER POLICE OFFICERS IN THE STATE WILL BE USING OVERTIME GRANTS FOR EXTRA PATROLS AND CHECKPOINTS FOR DRUNKEN DRIVERS. STATE POLICE SAY THEY'LL ALSO BE FOCUSING ON MOTORISTS NOT WEARING SEAT BELTS, UNRESTRAINED CHILDREN IN VEHICLES, SPEEDERS AND DRIVERS FOLLOWING TOO CLOSELY. ACCORDING TO THE LOUISIANA HIGHWAY SAFETY COMMISSION, IN 2007, 16 PEOPLE WERE KILLED ACROSS LOUISIANA IN HIGHWAY CRASHES OVER THE FOURTH OF JULY HOLIDAY. THAT FIGURE FELL TO EIGHT IN 2008, TWO IN 2009 AND TWO IN 2010.
BOTH OF LAST YEAR'S HOLIDAY DEATHS INVOLVED ALCOHOL.

SEVEN LOUISIANA PARISHES ARE NOW UNDER A USDA DROUGHT DISASTER DECLARATION. STATE AGRICULTURE COMMISSIONER MIKE STRAIN SAYS THE DECLARATION COVERS BEAUREGARD, CADDO, CALCASIEU, CAMERON, DESOTO, SABINE AND VERNON PARISHES. STRAIN SAYS FARMERS WITHIN THOSE SEVEN PARISHES WILL BE ELIGIBLE TO RECEIVE FEDERAL ASSISTANCE IN THE FORM OF FARM SERVICE AGENCY EMERGENCY LOANS AND SUPPLEMENTAL REVENUE ASSISTANCE PAYMENTS. THE DISASTER DECLARATION WAS ANNOUNCED BY USDA SECRETARY TOM VILSACK IN RESPONSE TO THE WORST DROUGHT ON RECORD SINCE 1895. STRAIN SAYS FARMERS IN THE SEVEN AFFECTED PARISHES HAVE 8 MONTHS TO APPLY FOR AID, BUT HE ADVISES THEM NOT TO WAIT.

THE LONG DROUGHT AND LOCAL FIREWORKS BANS ARE MAKING LIFE TOUGH FOR THOSE WHO MAKE A LIVING SELLING SKYROCKETS AND SPARKLERS THIS JULY 4TH WEEKEND. RON HATHORN (HATH-ORN), OWNER OF THE HOLIDAY STORES IN THE SHREVEPORT-BOSSIER AREA, SAYS THE LOCAL FIREWORKS BAN IN EFFECT MEANS BIG LOSSES FOR HIS BUSINESS THIS YEAR. LOCAL AUTHORITIES SAY THEY'LL RE-EVALUATE THE FIREWORKS BAN TODAY;
LOOKING AT RECENT RAINS AND OTHER WEATHER FACTORS THAT MAY MAKE FIREWORKS LESS OF A THREAT. HATHORN SAYS HE AND HIS STAFF ARE HOPEFUL THEY'LL BE ABLE TO SELL FIREWORKS STARTING FRIDAY.

BOATERS WHO ARE UNDER THE AGE OF 21 AND DRINKING ILLEGALLY WILL NOW BE SUBJECT TO PUBLIC POSSESSION LAWS. THE GOVERNOR SIGNED THE MEASURE WEDNESDAY.
SPONSORS OF THE BILL IN THE JUST-ENDED LEGISLATIVE SESSION SAID IT WAS DESIGNED TO CLARIFY THAT EXISTING UNDERAGE DRINKING PROHIBITIONS APPLY TO WATERWAYS.
THE MEASURE BY REPUBLICAN REP. EDDIE LAMBERT, OF GONZALES, ALSO REWRITES THE STATE'S CARELESS OPERATION OF A WATERCRAFT LAW, WHICH CARRIES A FINE UP TO $300 OR A JAIL SENTENCE OF UP TO A MONTH.

LOUISIANA'S PRESIDENTIAL PRIMARIES WILL BE PUSHED BACK FROM FEBRUARY TO MARCH.
GOV. BOBBY JINDAL SIGNED THE BILL WEDNESDAY TO SHIFT THE PRIMARY DATE. DURING THE JUST-ENDED LEGISLATIVE SESSION, LAWMAKERS HAD SAID WITHOUT THE CHANGE, THE STATE'S REPRESENTATION AT NATIONAL PARTY CONVENTIONS IN 2012 WOULD BE JEOPARDIZED. REPUBLICAN REP. ALAN SEABAUGH SAID THE REPUBLICAN PARTY OF LOUISIANA WOULD LOSE HALF ITS DELEGATES TO THE GOP'S NATIONAL CONVENTION NEXT YEAR AND THE LOUISIANA DEMOCRATIC PARTY WOULD LOSE ALL OF ITS DELEGATES TO THE DEMOCRATIC NATIONAL CONVENTION — UNLESS THE DATES WERE MOVED.
THE MEASURE WILL SWITCH THE DATE OF THE PRIMARY TO THE THIRD SATURDAY AFTER THE FIRST TUESDAY IN MARCH, SIMILAR TO WHERE IT WAS BEFORE THE 2008 PRIMARY.

A JUDGE IN SHREVEPORT HAS ORDERED THE DEATH PENALTY FOR A MAN CONVICTED OF KILLING A PREGNANT TEENAGER. TWENTY-YEAR-OLD LAMONDRE TUCKER WAS CONVICTED IN MARCH OF KILLING HIS 18-YEAR-OLD EX-GIRLFRIEND PROSECUTORS SAID TUCKER KILLED THE WOMAN BECAUSE SHE TOLD HIM SHE WAS PREGNANT WITH HIS CHILD. DNA TESTING LATER DETERMINED TUCKER WASN'T THE FATHER OF THE VICTIM'S UNBORN BABY.

SPORTING NEWS RANKS LSU NUMBER ONE IN ITS PRESEASON RANKING OF ALL 120 TEAMS IN DIVISION ONE-A COLLEGE FOOTBALL. LSU SPORTS INFORMATION DIRECTOR MICHAEL BONNETTE SAYS THE PRESEASON PUBLICATIONS HAVE THE TIGERS RANKED HIGH BASED ON AN IMPRESSIVE WIN OVER TEXAS A-AND-M IN THE COTTON BOWL AND 16 STARTERS RETURNING THIS SEASON.

SPORTS..

SPORTING NEWS RANKS LSU NUMBER ONE IN ITS PRESEASON RANKING OF ALL 120 TEAMS IN DIVISION ONE-A COLLEGE FOOTBALL. SEVERAL OF LSU'S 2011 OPPONENTS ARE RANKED IN THE TOP 25 ACCORDING TO THE SPORTING NEWS POLL. ALABAMA IS THIRD, OREGON FIFTH, ARKANSAS 11TH, AUBURN 18TH, MISSISSIPPI STATE 20TH AND WEST VIRGINIA 22ND. LSU SPORTS INFORMATION DIRECTOR MICHAEL BONNETTE SAYS ITS A DAUNTING SCHEDULE.

LSU WOMEN'S BASKETBALL HEAD COACH NIKKI CALDWELL HAS ANNOUNCED A MAJOR SIGN OR THE LADY TIGERS 2011-2012 SEASON. HIGHLY-TOUTED HIGH SCHOOL PROSPECT SHELIA BOYKIN IS A 6-FOOT-2 FORWARD FROM LOS ANGELES. THE LADY TIGERS NOW HAVE TWO OF THE NATION'S TOP 30 INCOMING FRESHMAN WHO ARE ELIGIBLE TO COMPETE FOR THE SEASON STARTING THIS YEAR.

FOLLOWING THREE DAYS OF MEETINGS BETWEEN THEIR LEGAL TEAMS IN MINNESOTA, THE OWNERS AND PLAYERS HAVE DECIDED TO MEET FACE TO FACE THEMSELVES TO DISCUSS NEGOTIATIONS OF THE NFL LOCKOUT. THE NFL NETWORK IS REPORTING THAT TODAY'S MEETINGS IN MINNEAPOLIS WILL FEATURE A SELECT GROUP OF OWNERS AND A SELECT GROUP OF PLAYERS AS WELL AS COMMISSIONER ROGER GOODELL AND LAWYERS. WE ASSUME THIS IS A GOOD SIGN THAT THINGS ARE MOVING ALONG.

IF YOU'RE PLANNING ON ATTENDING THE SEPTEMBER 3RD GAME AGAINST LSU AND OREGON IN DALLAS, YOU MAY HAVE TO STAND AT COWBOYS STADIUM. CLOSE TO 80,000 TICKETS HAVE ALREADY BEEN SOLD FOR THE COWBOYS CLASSIC, AND STANDING ROOM ONLY TICKETS WILL LIKELY GO ON SALE NEXT MONTH. LSU FANS BROKE A SCHOOL RECORD FOR A REGULAR-SEASON ROAD GAME BY PURCHASING THE THE ENTIRE SCHOOL'S ALLOTMENT OF 37,000 TICKETS.

SOUTHEASTERN LOUISIANA FOOTBALL COACH MIKE LUCAS ANNOUNCED WEDNESDAY THAT QUARTERBACK NATHAN STANLEY, FORMERLY OF OLE MISS, HAS TRANSFERRED TO PLAY FOR THE LIONS STARTING THIS SEASON. IN TWO SEASONS AT OLE MISS, STANELY COMPLETED 28-OF-55 PASSES FOR 424 YARDS AND FOUR TOUCHDOWNS.

GRAMBLING STATE ANNOUNCED THE RESIGNATION OF ATHLETIC DIRECTOR LIN DAWSON. GSU PRESIDENT FRANK POGUE HAS APPOINTED AARON JAMES TO SERVE AS INTERIM AD. HEAD FOOTBALL COACH DOUG WILLIAMS SAYS THE MOVE "SPEAKS FOR ITSELF AND IS IN THE BEST INTEREST OF THE DEPARTMENT."



News For Wednesday 062911


NEWS FOR WEDNESDAY 062911
BY DAVE GRAICHEN

THE CITY OF ALEXANDRIA’S CASE AGAINST CLECO WAS SETTLED OVER A YEAR AGO. BUT STILL ATTORNEYS WHO REPRESENTED THE CITY IN THE CASE SAY THEY HAVE NOT BEEN PAID. A TRIAL BEGINS TODAY TO DETERMINE WHETHER OR NOT AND HOW MUCH BRIDGETT BROWN AND TWO OTHER ATTORNEYS SHOULD BE PAID FOR WORK THEY SAID THEY PERFORMED IN ALEXANDRIA'S FRAUD LAWSUIT AGAINST CLECO CORP. THE CIVIL TRIAL, SCHEDULED FOR TODAY AND THURSDAY IN U.S. DISTRICT COURT IN ALEXANDRIA. U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE DEE DRELL WILL PRESIDE AND MAKE THE FINAL DETERMINATION ON PAYMENT IF ANY.

FORECASTERS SAY TROPICAL STORM ARLENE IS SLOWLY ORGANIZING AND IS EXPECTED TO STRENGTHEN IN THE GULF OF MEXICO AS IT MOVES TOWARD MEXICO. TROPICAL STORM WARNINGS HAVE BEEN ISSUED FOR THE NORTHERN PART OF MEXICO. THE NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER IN MIAMI SAYS ARLENE IS ABOUT 190 MILES EAST OF TAMPICO, MEXICO AND HAS MAXIMUM SUSTAINED WINDS OF 40 MPH AND IS MOVING WEST-NORTHWEST NEAR 8 MPH. ARLENE IS THE FIRST NAMED STORM OF THE ATLANTIC HURRICANE SEASON.
THE MAIN THREAT TO MEXICO IS HEAVY RAINS THAT COULD CAUSE FLASH FLOODS AND MUDSLIDES. FORECASTERS SAY EXTREME SOUTH TEXAS ALSO COULD GET SOME RAIN.

TELECOMMUNICATIONS PROVIDER CENTURYLINK INC. WILL EXPAND ITS MONROE HEADQUARTERS AND EXPAND ITS PAYROLL IN LOUISIANA BY 800 OVER THE NEXT FIVE YEARS UNDER A STATE INCENTIVE AGREEMENT ANNOUNCED TUESDAY. THE ADDITIONAL POSITIONS WILL BE ADDED TO A 350-JOB EXPANSION ANNOUNCED IN 2009. THE STATE ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT AGENCY SAID THE JOBS WOULD AVERAGE ABOUT $65,000 ANNUALLY.
CENTURYLINK CURRENTLY HAS 1,970 EMPLOYEES IN LOUISIANA. THE STATE IS PROVIDING AN INCENTIVE PACKAGE INCLUDING A GRANT OF $14.9 MILLION TO COVER HALF OF THE COST TO BUILD OR LEASE ADDITIONAL SPACE AND A $3.3 MILLION GRANT TO REIMBURSE RELOCATION COSTS.

THE REMAPPING OF THE LOUISIANA SENATE'S 39 DISTRICTS RECEIVED FEDERAL CLEARANCE TUESDAY, PAVING THE WAY FOR USE OF THE REDESIGNED SEATS IN THE FALL ELECTION ALONG WITH THE 105 HOUSE DISTRICTS THAT ALREADY HAD WON APPROVAL. THE DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE ANNOUNCED THE DECISION IN A LETTER SENT TO SENATE PRESIDENT JOEL CHAISSON. LOUISIANA'S ELECTION DISTRICTS REQUIRE APPROVAL FROM FEDERAL OFFICIALS UNDER THE 1965 VOTING RIGHTS ACT, TO ENSURE THAT THEY ARE FREE OF DISCRIMINATION AGAINST MINORITIES.

THE GOVERNOR HAS SIGNED A BILL DOUBLING THE TAX DEDUCTION FOR PARENTS PAYING PRIVATE SCHOOL TUITION AND OTHER EXPENSES. TARA CUNNINGHAM WITH THE DEPARTMENT OF REVENUE SAYS THE DEDUCTION APPLIES FOR UNIFORMS, SCHOOL SUPPLIES AND STUDY MATERIALS FOR ALL PRIMARY AND SECONDARY SCHOOL STUDENTS. SHE SAYS THE NEW DEDUCTION WOULD BEGIN WITH THE 2011 TAX YEAR.

THE DIRECTOR OF THE GOVERNOR'S OFFICE OF HOMELAND SECURITY & EMERGENCY PREPAREDNESS HAS RESIGNED, TO TAKE A PRIVATE SECTOR JOB. GOHSEP DIRECTOR MARK COOPER SAYS HE'S ACCEPTED A POSITION AS HEAD OF EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT FOR THE ENTIRE WAL-MART CHAIN. COOPER'S EXIT COMES AS THE 2011 ATLANTIC HURRICANE SEASON IS JUST STARTING TO WARM UP. COOPER SAYS DEPUTY DIRECTOR PAT SANTOS WILL TAKE OVER AS INTERIM DIRECTOR, AND HE FEELS THE DEPARTMENT IS IN VERY CAPABLE HANDS. COOPER WAS DEPUTY FIRE CHIEF OF LOS ANGELES COUNTY BEFORE COMING TO GOHSEP IN 2007.

FORMER LEESVILLE POLICE CHIEF BOBBY HICKMAN WAS ARRESTED AT HIS HOME BY THE FEDERAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION FRIDAY, SAID VERNON PARISH SHERIFF SAM CRAFT.
LEESVILLE MAYOR ROBERT ROSE SAID THE ARREST STEMS FROM AN INVESTIGATION INTO HICKMAN'S TENURE AS POLICE CHIEF. HICKMAN WAS TERMINATED EARLIER THIS YEAR.
THE VERNON PARISH SHERIFF'S OFFICE ASSISTED THE FBI IN SERVING TWO WARRANTS FOR HICKMAN'S ARREST. NEITHER ROSE NOR CRAFT KNEW WHAT CHARGES HICKMAN FACES.

AN ORGANIZATION OF INSURANCE INVESTIGATORS SAYS IT WILL ADD $10,000 TO A MEMORIAL FUND ESTABLISHED TO HONOR TWO LOUISIANA INSURANCE FRAUD INVESTIGATORS. THE AGENTS WERE GUNNED DOWN EARLIER THIS MONTH IN VILLE PLATTE. THE INTERNATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF SPECIAL INVESTIGATION UNITS RECENTLY AUTHORIZED THE DONATION TO THE FUND CREATED BY THE LOUISIANA INSURANCE DEPARTMENT AFTER RHETT JEANSONNE AND KIM SLEDGE WERE KILLED. SLEDGE AND JEANSONNE HAD BEEN ON WHAT APPEARED TO BE A ROUTINE ASSIGNMENT TO COLLECT RECORDS FROM A SUSPENDED INSURANCE AGENT IN VILLE PLATTE ON JUNE 7. BUT THE AGENT SHOT THE INVESTIGATORS AND THEN KILLED HIMSELF.

LOUISIANA STATE GOVERNMENT AGENCIES SPENT MORE THAN $8 MILLION ON CELL PHONES AND WIRELESS DEVICES LAST YEAR, AND AN AUDIT SAYS A QUARTER OF THOSE DEVICES WEREN'T USED FOR 10 TO 11 MONTHS. MORE THAN 9,900 WORKERS — OR 11 PERCENT OF STATE EMPLOYEES — HAVE A STATE-ISSUED CELL PHONE, WIRELESS BROADBAND CARD OR OTHER WIRELESS DEVICE, ACCORDING TO A REVIEW BY THE LEGISLATIVE AUDITOR’S OFFICE. MORE THAN A QUARTER OF THE DEVICES HAD NO ACTIVITY FOR 10 OR MORE MONTHS BUT STILL COST THE STATE NEARLY $591,000. SOME ARE STOCKPILED FOR DISASTER RECOVERY NEEDS, BUT OTHERS JUST WEREN'T MONITORED, THE AUDIT SAYS.
THE GOVERNOR'S FINANCIAL OFFICE SAYS STATE AGENCIES WILL DEVELOP POLICIES TO MONITOR THE USE OF WIRELESS DEVICES AND CANCEL THOSE THAT AREN'T NEEDED.

THE PROPOSED EDWIN EDWARDS REALITY SHOW IS FAR FROM A DONE DEAL ACCORDING TO THE FORMER GOVERNOR'S BIOGRAPHER. LEO HONEYCUTT SAYS, IN CONVERSATION WITH EDWARDS, HE WAS TOLD THE TALKS ARE STILL IN THE VERY EARLY STAGES. EDWARDS WILL BE A COMPLETELY FREE MAN ON JULY 6TH. HONEYCUTT SAYS EDWARDS STILL DOESN'T KNOW WHAT ASPECTS OF HIS LIFE THE PRODUCER WOULD LIKE TO HIGHLIGHT IN THE SERIES.

BY THE WAY, IF YOU'RE ONE OF THE THOUSANDS OF PEOPLE THAT HAVE "MADE FRIENDS" WITH FORMER GOVERNOR EDWIN EDWARDS ON FACEBOOK, YOU MAY NOTICE THAT HIS RELATIONSHIP STATUS IS "ENGAGED." EDWARDS MET TRINA SCOTT OF ALEXANDRIA WHILE HE WAS STILL IN PRISON. EDWARDS IS 83 YEARS OLD AND SCOTT IS IN HER 30S.

STATE POLICE SAY THE MAN WHO HAD PIPE BOMBS IN HIS PICKUP TRUCK WHEN HE CRASHED IN LAFOURCHE PARISH MONDAY, PLANNED TO USE THEM TO CELEBRATE THE 4TH OF JULY. STATE TROOPER BRYAN ZERINGUE SAYS ONCE 53-YEAR-OLD TONY BARISICH (BEAR-UH-SICH) IS OUT OF THE HOSPITAL HE FACES 10 FELONY CHARGES OF MANUFACTURING AND POSSESSING THE BOMBS . TROOPERS AND ATF AGENTS SECURED THE PIPE BOMBS AND DISPOSED OF THEM UNDER CONTROLLED CONDITIONS.

News For Tuesday 062811


NEWS FOR TUESDAY 062811
BY DAVE GRAICHEN

THE INVESTIGATION CONTINUES INTO THE DEATH OF A BALL POLICE OFFICER OVER THE WEEKEND. STATE POLICE TROOPER SCOTT MOREAU SAYS 47-YEAR-OLD RUSSELL GEORGE WAS KILLED WHEN HE HIT AN ABANDONED BICYCLE IN THE ROAD WITH HIS CAR. HE APPARENTLY LOST CONTROL AND COLLIDED WITH SEVERAL TREES. THE VEHICLE THEN BECAME ENGULFED IN FLAMES. AUTHORITIES SAY THEY BELIEVE IT WAS A FREAK ACCIDENT.

STATE POLICE SAY A PICKUP TRUCK THAT CRASHED IN LOCKPORT ON MONDAY CONTAINED 10 PIPE BOMBS. THE ONE-VEHICLE ROLLOVER CRASH HAPPENED AROUND 7:30 A.M. ON LOUISIANA HIGHWAY 308. TROOPERS SAID THAT WHEN EMERGENCY CREWS WERE TRYING RIGHT THE TRUCK, THEY NOTICED THE DEVICES. TROOPERS SAID NINE OF THEM WERE MADE WITH PLASTIC PIPE AND ONE WAS MADE WITH GALVANIZED METAL PIPE. OFFICERS BURIED THE BOMBS IN AN EMPTY FIELD AND DETONATED THEM MONDAY AFTERNOON. A STRETCH OF THE HIGHWAY, LOCATED IN A REMOTE AREA OF LAFOURCHE PARISH, WAS CLOSED FOR SEVERAL HOURS. THE DRIVER WAS TAKEN TO A HOSPITAL. AUTHORITIES WOULD NOT RELEASE HIS IDENTITY OR SPECULATE ON WHAT THE BOMBS WERE INTENDED FOR.

GAS PRICES ARE ON THE DECLINE AS WE MOVE TOWARDS ONE OF THE BUSIEST TRAVELING WEEKENDS OF THE YEAR. ACCORDING TO THE AMERICAN AUTOMOBILE ASSOCIATION, THE STATEWIDE AVERAGE PRICE FOR A GALLON OF REGULAR GASOLINE IS BELOW $3.45. TRIPLE-A FUEL ANALYST DON REDMAN SAYS GAS PRICES HAVE FALLEN NEARLY A QUARTER IN THE LAST MONTH.

THE SEVERE DROUGHT ACROSS THE STATE IS IMPACTING EVENTS AND THE ECONOMY. STATE CLIMATOLOGIST BARRY KEIM SAYS IF WE DON'T RECEIVE SIGNIFICANT RAINFALL THIS WEEK THE STATE WILL SET A NEW RECORD FOR THE DRIEST FIRST HALF OF THE YEAR EVER, SURPASSING THE PREVIOUS RECORD SET IN 1963. SO FAR THIS YEAR, JANUARY THROUGH JUNE, THE STATE HAS SEEN 17.2 INCHES OF RAIN. THE PREVIOUS RECORD WAS 17.9 INCHES. THE DROUGHT HAS ALREADY PUT THOUSANDS OF ACRES OF CROPS IN JEOPARDY AND PUT A HUGE STRAIN ON FARMERS BUDGETS TO PAY FOR
IRRIGATION AND HAY FOR LIVESTOCK.

COULD FORMER GOVERNOR EDWIN EDWARDS SOON HAVE HIS OWN REALITY TV SHOW? THE CAJUN PRINCE MADE A POST ON HIS FACEBOOK PAGE SUNDAY SAYING THAT EARLY NEGOTIATIONS ARE BEING MADE WITH A PRODUCER TO DO A SHOW AROUND EDWARDS' PERSONAL LIFE. LSU MEDIA PROFESSOR BOB MANN BELIEVES AN EWE REALITY SHOW WOULD MAKE FOR AN INTERESTING SERIES. AFTER ALL, MANN SAYS, IF THE CAKE BOSS CAN GATHER RATINGS, THEN SO CAN GOVERNOR EDWARDS.

THE SUPREME COURT WILL LEAVE ALONE A STATE COURT ORDER REQUIRING TOBACCO COMPANIES TO PAY $270 MILLION FOR A SMOKING CESSATION PROGRAM IN LOUISIANA.
THE JUSTICES ON MONDAY TURNED AWAY AN APPEAL FROM CIGARETTE MAKERS IN A LONG-RUNNING CLASS-ACTION LAWSUIT FIRST FILED BY LOUISIANA SMOKERS IN MAY 1996.
THE SMOKERS PREVAILED AT EVERY STEP IN STATE COURTS, BUT JUSTICE ANTONIN SCALIA TEMPORARILY BLOCKED PAYMENT OF THE MONEY IN SEPTEMBER, CITING CONCERNS THAT THE CIGARETTE MAKERS MIGHT HAVE BEEN DEPRIVED OF THEIR LEGAL RIGHTS.

A BATON ROUGE MAN HAS PLEADED GUILTY TO CHARGES STEMMING FROM THE 2007 SLAYING OF TWO LSU STUDENTS FROM INDIA. DEVIN PARKER PLEADED GUILTY TO ARMED ROBBERY AND ACCESSORY AFTER THE FACT IN THE KILLING OF 33-YEAR-OLD FOREIGN STUDENT. HE IS ALSO CHARGED WITH THE SECOND DEGREE MURDER OF ANOTHER STUDENT.

RENOVATIONS TO THE LOUISIANA SUPERDOME ARE DUE TO BE COMPLETED IN TIME FOR THE ESSENCE MUSIC FESTIVAL THIS WEEKEND. 336-MILLION DOLLARS IN RENOVATIONS HAVE BEEN DONE TO THE SUPERDOME SINCE HURRICANE KATRINA, 85-MILLION TO RECONFIGURE THE LOWER BOWL ALONE. ROM FOREMAN, CHIEF OF THE GOVERNING BOARD THAT OVERSEES THE SUPERDOME SAYS WILL CREWS WILL WORK RIGHT UP TO THE DEADLINE THIS WEEKEND.

WITH THE FOURTH OF JULY HOLIDAY APPROACHING, FIREWORKS HAVE BEEN BANNED WITHIN THE CITY LIMITS OF MANSFIELD. MONDAY'S BAN BY THE CITY'S BOARD OF ALDERMEN STAYS IN EFFECT UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE. FIRE CHIEF LEE SHAVER ASKED FOR THE BAN, CITING DRY CONDITIONS AND THIS WEEK'S FORECAST OF 100-PLUS DEGREE TEMPERATURES. SHREVEPORT AND BOSSIER CITY HAVE BANNED FIREWORKS SALES THROUGH THE END OF JUNE BECAUSE OF DRY CONDITIONS

A MEMBER OF THE OPELOUSAS BOARD OF ALDERMEN HAS FILED A LAWSUIT SEEKING TO OVERTURN HIS OUSTER THIS MONTH AS MAYOR PRO TEM. ALDERMAN REGINALD TATUM IS SEEKING REINSTATEMENT TO THE POSITION, UNSPECIFIED DAMAGES AND ATTORNEY FEES IN A LAWSUIT FILED FRIDAY IN STATE COURT IN ST. LANDRY PARISH. THE LAWSUIT ALLEGES THAT THE VOTE TO REMOVE TATUM FROM THE PRO TEM POSITION WAS NOT LEGAL AND THAT OPELOUSAS MAYOR DONALD CRAVINS SR. HAD IMPROPERLY MET WITH THREE ALDERMEN TO DISCUSS TATUM’S REMOVAL. TATUM SAID IN THE LAWSUIT THAT HE WAS “EMBARRASSED AND HUMILIATED” BY THE REMOVAL, WHICH CAME AFTER TATUM JOINED AN INFORMAL GROUP THAT IS LOOKING INTO ALLEGED IRREGULARITIES AT THE OPELOUSAS HOUSING AUTHORITY AND THE MAYOR’S OFFICE.

THE U.S. DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE SAYS A 33-YEAR-OLD AIRMAN FROM LOUISIANA HAS DIED IN AFGHANISTAN. DEFENSE DEPARTMENT OFFICIALS SAID TUESDAY THAT TECH. SGT. DANIEL L. DOUVILLE, OF HARVEY, DIED SUNDAY AS A RESULT OF INJURIES SUFFERED FROM AN IMPROVISED EXPLOSIVE DEVICE IN HELMAND PROVINCE, AFGHANISTAN. DOUVILLE WAS ASSIGNED TO THE 96TH CIVIL ENGINEER SQUADRON, EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, FLA.


News For Friday 062411


NEWS FOR FRIDAY 062411
BY DAVE GRAICHEN

A VAN FULL OF CHURCH MEMBERS HEADING HOME FROM A BIBLE CLASS VEERED OFF A NORTHEAST LOUISIANA HIGHWAY AND HIT A CULVERT, KILLING TWO ADULTS AND TWO CHILDREN AND SENDING SEVEN OTHERS TO A HOSPITAL. THE VAN CRASHED WEDNESDAY NIGHT ON LOUISIANA HIGHWAY 587 IN WEST CARROLL PARISH. THE VAN'S DRIVER AND ONE OTHER PERSON WERE HOSPITALIZED WITH LIFE-THREATENING INJURIES. THE VAN BELONGED TO THE NEW ZION BAPTIST CHURCH, ABOUT EIGHT MILES OUTSIDE OAK GROVE.

THE ALEXANDRIA ANIMAL SHELTER WILL OFFER DOGS FOR ADOPTION FROM 10 A.M. TO NOON SATURDAY AT THE SONIC DRIVE-IN AT 2102 NORTH MALL DRIVE. SONIC WILL DONATE COMMUNITY CARDS FOR VOLUNTEERS TO SELL ON THE LOT WITH ALL PROCEEDS GOING TO THE SHELTER. DONATIONS WILL BE ACCEPTED AT THE EVENT, WHICH IS PART OF SONIC'S DOG DAYS OF SUMMER. PET OWNERS WHO BRING THEIR DOGS WITH THEM CAN GET FREE ATWOOD'S BAKERY GOURMET DOGGIE TREATS.

THE LOUISIANA SENATE DIDN'T FIND OUT BEFORE THE REGULAR SESSION WAS ENDING WHETHER FEDERAL OFFICIALS HAVE CLEARED THE REDESIGN OF THEIR 39 DISTRICTS. SO IF ANY CHANGES ARE REQUIRED, THE LEGISLATURE WILL HAVE TO HOLD A SPECIAL REDISTRICTING SESSION THIS SUMMER. THE HOUSE RECEIVED PRE-CLEARANCE FROM THE U.S. DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE EARLIER THIS WEEK, BUT A VERDICT ON THE SENATE PLAN ISN'T DUE UNTIL NEXT WEEK. SENATE PRESIDENT JOEL CHAISSON, D-DESTREHAN, SAID HE BELIEVES THE REMAPPING OF HIS CHAMBER WILL BE APPROVED.

VOTERS WILL DECIDE ON THIS FALL'S BALLOT WHETHER TO RENEW A 4-CENT CIGARETTE TAX, AFTER THE HOUSE AND SENATE OVERWHELMINGLY AGREED THURSDAY TO THE TAX EXTENSION. IN A LAST-MINUTE COMPROMISE TO ONE OF THE MOST CONTENTIOUS BATTLES OF THE 2011 LEGISLATIVE SESSION, GOV. BOBBY JINDAL AND LAWMAKERS THIS WEEK AGREED TO ALLOW THE TAX EXTENSION TO GO FORWARD VIA A CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT TO FUND COLLEGE SCHOLARSHIPS. THE MEASURE WON'T GO TO JINDAL'S DESK, SO HE CAN'T REJECT IT. THE TAX THAT GENERATES $12 MILLION A YEAR IS SET TO EXPIRE IN 2012, AND JINDAL HAD EARLIER OPPOSED THE MEASURE AS A NEW TAX AND VETOED IT.

TWO OF GOV. BOBBY JINDAL'S APPOINTMENTS TO PUBLIC UNIVERSITY BOARDS HAVE FAILED TO GET SENATE CONFIRMATION, SO THEY'LL HAVE TO GIVE UP THE SEATS. ANN DUPLESSIS, WHO LEFT THE SENATE LAST YEAR TO TAKE A JOB IN NEW ORLEANS MAYOR MITCH LANDRIEU'S ADMINISTRATION, FAILED TO GAIN SENATE BACKING FOR A SEAT ON THE LSU BOARD OF SUPERVISORS. AND RICHARD J. CAITON JR., WHO RECENTLY BECAME A MAXIMUM JINDAL CAMPAIGN CONTRIBUTOR, ALSO WAS NOT CONFIRMED FOR HIS SEAT ON THE SOUTHERN UNIVERSITY BOARD OF SUPERVISORS. SENATORS DIDN'T DEBATE THE CONFIRMATIONS PUBLICLY THURSDAY, SO IT WAS UNCLEAR WHY THE TWO BOARD MEMBERS WEREN'T ACCEPTED.

THE NONPROFIT LOUISIANA HOUSING CORPORATION WILL TAKE OVERSIGHT OF PROGRAMS CURRENTLY SPREAD ACROSS FIVE AGENCIES AND DEVELOP A UNIFIED HOUSING POLICY FOR THE STATE. AN 11-MEMBER BOARD WITH SIX GUBERNATORIAL APPOINTEES WILL RUN THE CORPORATION. THE JINDAL ADMINISTRATION PROPOSAL GOT FINAL PASSAGE THURSDAY WITH UNANIMOUS VOTES OF THE HOUSE AND SENATE. THE CORPORATION WILL OVERSEE RENTAL ASSISTANCE, HOME OWNERSHIP PROMOTION PROGRAMS, HOMELESS PREVENTION, HOUSING-RELATED CHILD CARE AND HURRICANE RECOVERY DOLLARS FOR REBUILDING RENTAL HOUSING. IT WILL TAKE OVER AND DISMANTLE THE LOUISIANA HOUSING FINANCE AGENCY, WHICH GENERATED COMPLAINTS ABOUT BUREAUCRACY AND INEFFICIENT SPENDING AFTER THE 2005 HURRICANES.

THE RULES OF LOUISIANA'S "RAINY DAY" FUND WILL BE ADJUSTED, IF VOTERS AGREE THIS FALL, SO THE FUND WOULDN'T HAVE TO BE REPAID AS SOON AS IT'S USED.
THE REPAYMENT PROBLEM HAS RENDERED THE FUND LARGELY USELESS DURING RECENT BUDGET SHORTFALLS. THE PROPOSED CONSTITUTIONAL CHANGE (SENATE BILL 147) WOULD CHANGE THE REPAYMENT TRIGGERS FOR THE FUND, SO MONEY WOULDN'T HAVE TO BE REIMBURSED IN THE YEAR IT IS USED OR THE FOLLOWING YEAR. THE REPAYMENT WOULD BE MADE IN THE THIRD, FOURTH AND FIFTH YEARS, ONE-THIRD AT A TIME.

A MULTIYEAR CONSTRUCTION BUDGET GOT THE BACKING OF STATE LAWMAKERS WHO ARE GIVING THE GOVERNOR'S OFFICE DECISION-MAKING POWER OVER WHICH NEW PROJECTS ACTUALLY ADVANCE IN THE NEXT FISCAL YEAR. LOUISIANA HAS A CAP ON ANNUAL BORROWING THAT LIMITS SPENDING ON CONSTRUCTION PROJECTS TO $340 MILLION IN THE FISCAL YEAR THAT BEGINS JULY 1. ABOUT $236 MILLION WILL COVER ONGOING PROJECTS AND ITEMS GIVEN LINES OF CREDIT IN PREVIOUS YEARS, INCLUDING LEGISLATORS' PROJECTS ADDED IN THE PAST. THAT LEAVES $104 MILLION REMAINING FOR NEW PROJECTS.
LAWMAKERS INCLUDED $10 MILLION MORE THAN THERE IS SPENDING CAPACITY, SO THE JINDAL ADMINISTRATION WILL DECIDE WHICH PROJECTS TO FORWARD TO THE STATE BOND COMMISSION FOR LINES OF CREDIT.

BOATERS WHO ARE UNDER THE AGE OF 21 AND DRINKING ILLEGALLY WILL BE SUBJECT TO PUBLIC POSSESSION LAWS. THE PROPOSAL WON FINAL PASSAGE THURSDAY WITH VOTES OF THE HOUSE AND SENATE. SPONSORS SAID IT WAS DESIGNED TO CLARIFY THAT EXISTING UNDERAGE DRINKING PROHIBITIONS APPLY TO WATERWAYS.

THE LOUISIANA SENATE CONFIRMED THE APPOINTMENT OF HEALTH AND HOSPITALS SECRETARY BRUCE GREENSTEIN, DESPITE CRITICISM OF HIS HANDLING OF A LUCRATIVE MEDICAID CONTRACT SET TO GO TO HIS FORMER EMPLOYER. GREENSTEIN'S CONFIRMATION, ALONG WITH A LIST OF OTHER APPOINTEES BY GOV. BOBBY JINDAL, WAS APPROVED IN A 30-5 SENATE VOTE THURSDAY IN THE FINAL HOURS OF THE LEGISLATIVE SESSION. THERE WAS LITTLE QUESTION GREENSTEIN'S APPOINTMENT WOULD WIN APPROVAL UNTIL EARLIER THIS MONTH WHEN IT WAS REVEALED THAT HIS FORMER COMPANY, MARYLAND-BASED CNSI, WAS SLATED TO GET A $300 MILLION CLAIMS PROCESSING AND INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY CONTRACT FROM GREENSTEIN'S DEPARTMENT. GREENSTEIN WORKED FOR CNSI FROM 2005 TO 2006. SENATORS ON THE CONFIRMATION COMMITTEE THEN GRILLED HIM, AND GREENSTEIN DENIED ANY INVOLVEMENT IN CNSI'S SELECTION.

A FUEL ANALYST SAYS THE DECISION BY THE U-S AND OTHER OIL-PRODUCING NATIONS TO RELEASE 60-MILLION BARRELS OF OIL FROM RESERVES COULD DROP GASOLINE PRICES BELOW THREE-DOLLARS A GALLON. DON REDMAN, WITH THE AMERICAN AUTOMOBILE ASSOCIATION, SAYS THE RELEASE OF 60-MILLION BARRELS ON THE MARKET WILL HAVE AN IMPACT. ACCORDING TO TRIPLE-A, THE STATEWIDE AVERAGE PRICE FOR A GALLON OF
REGULAR GASOLINE IS $3.50. REDMAN SAYS TAPPING INTO OIL RESERVES SHOULD HELP PUSH THE PRICE AT THE PUMP LOWER. THE DECISION TO USE OIL RESERVES WAS MADE BECAUSE OF DISRUPTIONS IN SUPPLY CAUSED BY LIBYA'S CIVIL WAR. REDMAN SAYS THIS IS ONLY A SHORT TERM FIX...









News For Friday 062411


NEWS FOR FRIDAY 062411
BY DAVE GRAICHEN

A VAN FULL OF CHURCH MEMBERS HEADING HOME FROM A BIBLE CLASS VEERED OFF A NORTHEAST LOUISIANA HIGHWAY AND HIT A CULVERT, KILLING TWO ADULTS AND TWO CHILDREN AND SENDING SEVEN OTHERS TO A HOSPITAL. THE VAN CRASHED WEDNESDAY NIGHT ON LOUISIANA HIGHWAY 587 IN WEST CARROLL PARISH. THE VAN'S DRIVER AND ONE OTHER PERSON WERE HOSPITALIZED WITH LIFE-THREATENING INJURIES. THE VAN BELONGED TO THE NEW ZION BAPTIST CHURCH, ABOUT EIGHT MILES OUTSIDE OAK GROVE.

THE ALEXANDRIA ANIMAL SHELTER WILL OFFER DOGS FOR ADOPTION FROM 10 A.M. TO NOON SATURDAY AT THE SONIC DRIVE-IN AT 2102 NORTH MALL DRIVE. SONIC WILL DONATE COMMUNITY CARDS FOR VOLUNTEERS TO SELL ON THE LOT WITH ALL PROCEEDS GOING TO THE SHELTER. DONATIONS WILL BE ACCEPTED AT THE EVENT, WHICH IS PART OF SONIC'S DOG DAYS OF SUMMER. PET OWNERS WHO BRING THEIR DOGS WITH THEM CAN GET FREE ATWOOD'S BAKERY GOURMET DOGGIE TREATS.

THE LOUISIANA SENATE DIDN'T FIND OUT BEFORE THE REGULAR SESSION WAS ENDING WHETHER FEDERAL OFFICIALS HAVE CLEARED THE REDESIGN OF THEIR 39 DISTRICTS. SO IF ANY CHANGES ARE REQUIRED, THE LEGISLATURE WILL HAVE TO HOLD A SPECIAL REDISTRICTING SESSION THIS SUMMER. THE HOUSE RECEIVED PRE-CLEARANCE FROM THE U.S. DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE EARLIER THIS WEEK, BUT A VERDICT ON THE SENATE PLAN ISN'T DUE UNTIL NEXT WEEK. SENATE PRESIDENT JOEL CHAISSON, D-DESTREHAN, SAID HE BELIEVES THE REMAPPING OF HIS CHAMBER WILL BE APPROVED.

VOTERS WILL DECIDE ON THIS FALL'S BALLOT WHETHER TO RENEW A 4-CENT CIGARETTE TAX, AFTER THE HOUSE AND SENATE OVERWHELMINGLY AGREED THURSDAY TO THE TAX EXTENSION. IN A LAST-MINUTE COMPROMISE TO ONE OF THE MOST CONTENTIOUS BATTLES OF THE 2011 LEGISLATIVE SESSION, GOV. BOBBY JINDAL AND LAWMAKERS THIS WEEK AGREED TO ALLOW THE TAX EXTENSION TO GO FORWARD VIA A CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT TO FUND COLLEGE SCHOLARSHIPS. THE MEASURE WON'T GO TO JINDAL'S DESK, SO HE CAN'T REJECT IT. THE TAX THAT GENERATES $12 MILLION A YEAR IS SET TO EXPIRE IN 2012, AND JINDAL HAD EARLIER OPPOSED THE MEASURE AS A NEW TAX AND VETOED IT.

TWO OF GOV. BOBBY JINDAL'S APPOINTMENTS TO PUBLIC UNIVERSITY BOARDS HAVE FAILED TO GET SENATE CONFIRMATION, SO THEY'LL HAVE TO GIVE UP THE SEATS. ANN DUPLESSIS, WHO LEFT THE SENATE LAST YEAR TO TAKE A JOB IN NEW ORLEANS MAYOR MITCH LANDRIEU'S ADMINISTRATION, FAILED TO GAIN SENATE BACKING FOR A SEAT ON THE LSU BOARD OF SUPERVISORS. AND RICHARD J. CAITON JR., WHO RECENTLY BECAME A MAXIMUM JINDAL CAMPAIGN CONTRIBUTOR, ALSO WAS NOT CONFIRMED FOR HIS SEAT ON THE SOUTHERN UNIVERSITY BOARD OF SUPERVISORS. SENATORS DIDN'T DEBATE THE CONFIRMATIONS PUBLICLY THURSDAY, SO IT WAS UNCLEAR WHY THE TWO BOARD MEMBERS WEREN'T ACCEPTED.

THE NONPROFIT LOUISIANA HOUSING CORPORATION WILL TAKE OVERSIGHT OF PROGRAMS CURRENTLY SPREAD ACROSS FIVE AGENCIES AND DEVELOP A UNIFIED HOUSING POLICY FOR THE STATE. AN 11-MEMBER BOARD WITH SIX GUBERNATORIAL APPOINTEES WILL RUN THE CORPORATION. THE JINDAL ADMINISTRATION PROPOSAL GOT FINAL PASSAGE THURSDAY WITH UNANIMOUS VOTES OF THE HOUSE AND SENATE. THE CORPORATION WILL OVERSEE RENTAL ASSISTANCE, HOME OWNERSHIP PROMOTION PROGRAMS, HOMELESS PREVENTION, HOUSING-RELATED CHILD CARE AND HURRICANE RECOVERY DOLLARS FOR REBUILDING RENTAL HOUSING. IT WILL TAKE OVER AND DISMANTLE THE LOUISIANA HOUSING FINANCE AGENCY, WHICH GENERATED COMPLAINTS ABOUT BUREAUCRACY AND INEFFICIENT SPENDING AFTER THE 2005 HURRICANES.

THE RULES OF LOUISIANA'S "RAINY DAY" FUND WILL BE ADJUSTED, IF VOTERS AGREE THIS FALL, SO THE FUND WOULDN'T HAVE TO BE REPAID AS SOON AS IT'S USED.
THE REPAYMENT PROBLEM HAS RENDERED THE FUND LARGELY USELESS DURING RECENT BUDGET SHORTFALLS. THE PROPOSED CONSTITUTIONAL CHANGE (SENATE BILL 147) WOULD CHANGE THE REPAYMENT TRIGGERS FOR THE FUND, SO MONEY WOULDN'T HAVE TO BE REIMBURSED IN THE YEAR IT IS USED OR THE FOLLOWING YEAR. THE REPAYMENT WOULD BE MADE IN THE THIRD, FOURTH AND FIFTH YEARS, ONE-THIRD AT A TIME.

A MULTIYEAR CONSTRUCTION BUDGET GOT THE BACKING OF STATE LAWMAKERS WHO ARE GIVING THE GOVERNOR'S OFFICE DECISION-MAKING POWER OVER WHICH NEW PROJECTS ACTUALLY ADVANCE IN THE NEXT FISCAL YEAR. LOUISIANA HAS A CAP ON ANNUAL BORROWING THAT LIMITS SPENDING ON CONSTRUCTION PROJECTS TO $340 MILLION IN THE FISCAL YEAR THAT BEGINS JULY 1. ABOUT $236 MILLION WILL COVER ONGOING PROJECTS AND ITEMS GIVEN LINES OF CREDIT IN PREVIOUS YEARS, INCLUDING LEGISLATORS' PROJECTS ADDED IN THE PAST. THAT LEAVES $104 MILLION REMAINING FOR NEW PROJECTS.
LAWMAKERS INCLUDED $10 MILLION MORE THAN THERE IS SPENDING CAPACITY, SO THE JINDAL ADMINISTRATION WILL DECIDE WHICH PROJECTS TO FORWARD TO THE STATE BOND COMMISSION FOR LINES OF CREDIT.

BOATERS WHO ARE UNDER THE AGE OF 21 AND DRINKING ILLEGALLY WILL BE SUBJECT TO PUBLIC POSSESSION LAWS. THE PROPOSAL WON FINAL PASSAGE THURSDAY WITH VOTES OF THE HOUSE AND SENATE. SPONSORS SAID IT WAS DESIGNED TO CLARIFY THAT EXISTING UNDERAGE DRINKING PROHIBITIONS APPLY TO WATERWAYS.

THE LOUISIANA SENATE CONFIRMED THE APPOINTMENT OF HEALTH AND HOSPITALS SECRETARY BRUCE GREENSTEIN, DESPITE CRITICISM OF HIS HANDLING OF A LUCRATIVE MEDICAID CONTRACT SET TO GO TO HIS FORMER EMPLOYER. GREENSTEIN'S CONFIRMATION, ALONG WITH A LIST OF OTHER APPOINTEES BY GOV. BOBBY JINDAL, WAS APPROVED IN A 30-5 SENATE VOTE THURSDAY IN THE FINAL HOURS OF THE LEGISLATIVE SESSION. THERE WAS LITTLE QUESTION GREENSTEIN'S APPOINTMENT WOULD WIN APPROVAL UNTIL EARLIER THIS MONTH WHEN IT WAS REVEALED THAT HIS FORMER COMPANY, MARYLAND-BASED CNSI, WAS SLATED TO GET A $300 MILLION CLAIMS PROCESSING AND INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY CONTRACT FROM GREENSTEIN'S DEPARTMENT. GREENSTEIN WORKED FOR CNSI FROM 2005 TO 2006. SENATORS ON THE CONFIRMATION COMMITTEE THEN GRILLED HIM, AND GREENSTEIN DENIED ANY INVOLVEMENT IN CNSI'S SELECTION.

A FUEL ANALYST SAYS THE DECISION BY THE U-S AND OTHER OIL-PRODUCING NATIONS TO RELEASE 60-MILLION BARRELS OF OIL FROM RESERVES COULD DROP GASOLINE PRICES BELOW THREE-DOLLARS A GALLON. DON REDMAN, WITH THE AMERICAN AUTOMOBILE ASSOCIATION, SAYS THE RELEASE OF 60-MILLION BARRELS ON THE MARKET WILL HAVE AN IMPACT. ACCORDING TO TRIPLE-A, THE STATEWIDE AVERAGE PRICE FOR A GALLON OF
REGULAR GASOLINE IS $3.50. REDMAN SAYS TAPPING INTO OIL RESERVES SHOULD HELP PUSH THE PRICE AT THE PUMP LOWER. THE DECISION TO USE OIL RESERVES WAS MADE BECAUSE OF DISRUPTIONS IN SUPPLY CAUSED BY LIBYA'S CIVIL WAR. REDMAN SAYS THIS IS ONLY A SHORT TERM FIX...









A look at what passed, failed in the Legislature


A look at what passed, failed in the Legislature
Lawmakers wrapped up their two-month regular legislative session Thursday. A look at what won approval and what fell short of passage:

WHAT PASSED:

—BUDGET: A $25 billion budget will finance ongoing operations of state agencies, services and programs in the fiscal year that begins July 1, while closing a $1.6 billion budget gap with a patch of one-time funds, cuts and other financing changes. An estimated $323 million in one-time money is slated to pay for ongoing agency expenses, and about 3,450 jobs will be eliminated.

—COLLEGES: Tuition hikes will fall on students at community and technical college campuses and public medical schools. The University of New Orleans will be moved away from the LSU System and into the University of Louisiana System. Public colleges will get freedom from some contracting, purchasing and budgeting requirements put on other state agencies, if they meet certain performance benchmarks on graduation rates and student improvement.

—TAX BREAKS: Tax breaks were given to an array of businesses, including those in the digital media industry, those that grant high-paying jobs with benefits and those that develop software. Sales tax exemptions will be granted for breastfeeding items, bottled water and property involved in a hurricane recovery program in New Orleans.

—CIGARETTES: A 4-cent cigarette tax renewal will be on the fall ballot for voters to decide if they want to extend the tax beyond its June 2012 expiration date.

—REDISTRICTING: Political district lines for the eight elected seats to the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education were redrawn.

—CRIME: Probation and parole fees were increased. State prisoners will be barred from establishing a Facebook account or using any other social networking sites, along with certain sex offenders who were convicted of sex offenses against a minor and who are out of jail. Low-risk offenders will be eligible for parole after serving fewer years of their sentences. Chemicals sold as bath salts and snorted like cocaine were banned, and an existing prohibition on synthetic marijuana sold like incense was broadened.

—ABORTION: Abortion clinics must give more information to women before they can terminate a pregnancy, including new signs telling pregnant women that they cannot be coerced into abortion, that fathers are liable for child support and that adoptive parents may pay for prenatal care and birth expenses.

—IMMIGRATION: Penalties were boosted for employers who knowingly hire illegal immigrants. Contractors with the state will have to verify the citizenship status of workers on any project funded by the state.

—HEALTH CARE: Legislative reauthorization will be required in 2014 to continue Gov. Bobby Jindal's plan to turn over much of Louisiana's Medicaid program to private insurance companies.

—MILITARY: Retroactive benefits were given to the families of Louisiana National Guard soldiers who died while on active duty to Sept. 11, 2001, to pick up 32 families who aren't able to get the lump sum payments under current law.

—ELECTIONS: Louisiana's presidential primaries will be pushed back from February to March. Candidates who aren't affiliated with a political party will be listed as 'independent' on Louisiana ballots beginning in 2012.

—EDUCATION: Businesses will be able to get a share of charter school board seats if they provide a facility or land for a charter school or significant upgrades to an existing campus. In exchange, the business can get a minority percentage of seats on the board that runs the school and will be assured 50 percent of the school's enrollment capacity for its workers' children.

—INSURANCE SHOOTINGS: Compensation will be given to the families of two unarmed Louisiana insurance fraud investigators who were shot and killed earlier this month while looking into a fraud case.

—HOUSING: State housing assistance program management will be consolidated under a new corporation.

—RAINY DAY FUND: The rules of Louisiana's "rainy day" fund will be adjusted, if voters agree this fall, so the fund wouldn't have to be repaid as soon as it's used.

___

WHAT FAILED:

—BUDGET: No legislative earmarks were added to next year's budget.

—TAXES: A bid to repeal the state's personal income tax was shelved, along with a proposal to expand the state's property tax exemption for homeowners. A proposed 70-cent per pack cigarette tax hike failed.

—PRISONS: Three state prisons won't be sold.

—RETIREMENT: Retirement contributions by state employees won't be boosted.

—COLLEGES: The historically black Southern University at New Orleans won't be consolidated with the largely white University of New Orleans. The governing boards of public colleges and universities won't be merged into one management board. The largest tuition increases proposed for four-year college students failed.

—SALARIES: Limits for the pay packages of higher education system presidents and public college leaders were removed from the budget.

—WELFARE: Welfare recipients won't face random, mandatory drug testing.

—IMMIGRATION: Toughened immigration laws, similar to the controversial enforcement law in Arizona, won't be enacted here.

—PUBLIC RECORDS: Most records in the governor's office will continue to be shielded from public scrutiny.

—ABORTION: An outright ban on abortion was derailed.

—BIRTHER BAN: A requirement that President Barack Obama and other presidential candidates prove their U.S. citizenship before their names can be included on a state ballot never got out of committee.

—TEN COMMANDMENTS: A monument of the Ten Commandments won't be placed at the Louisiana Capitol.

—TEXTBOOKS: A law that allows public school science teachers to use supplemental materials in their classrooms beyond state-approved textbooks wasn't repealed. Lawmakers also refused to give more freedom to local school districts to choose the textbooks they want to use.

—OIL SPILL: Dispersants won't be banned in responding to oil spills in Louisiana waters.

—OTHER ITEMS: Bans on hand-held cell phone use while driving and smoking in bars and casinos failed. Lawmakers didn't allow concealed weapons on college campuses. They also wouldn't agree to let two unmarried, same-sex adults to adopt a child together in the state.

___

Online:

Louisiana Legislature: www.legis.state.la.us

News For Thursday 062311


NEWS FOR THURSDAY 062311
BY DAVE GRAICHEN

PINEVILLE OFFICIALS YESTERDAY ANNOUNCED THEY EXPECT TO ONCE AGAIN BE FORCED TO DIP INTO THE CITY'S SAVINGS ACCOUNT TO COVER THE COST OF CITY EXPENSES NEXT YEAR. MANY OF THOSE COSTS, INCLUDING STATE-MANDATED PENSION COSTS FOR FIRE AND POLICE PERSONNEL THAT ARE TRENDING UPWARD. PINEVILLE CITY COUNCIL MEMBERS WEDNESDAY VOTED TO PUBLISH THE PROPOSED 2011-12 BUDGET AND TO HOLD A FINAL MEETING ON THE BUDGET AT NOON NEXT THURSDAY.

THE TWO-MONTH REGULAR LEGISLATIVE SESSION IS DRAWING TO A CLOSE THIS EVENING.
LAWMAKERS PLANNED TO COMPLETE NEXT YEAR'S STATE CONSTRUCTION BUDGET AND DECIDE WHETHER TO RENEW A 4-CENT STATE CIGARETTE TAX BEFORE WRAPPING UP THEIR WORK BY 6 P.M. THE SESSION IS MARKED BY DEFEAT OF MANY OF GOV. BOBBY JINDAL'S KEY INITIATIVES, AS LAWMAKERS SHOWING SIGNS OF INDEPENDENCE SHELVED JINDAL PROPOSALS TO RAISE COLLEGE TUITION, MERGE TWO NEW ORLEANS UNIVERSITIES, SELL STATE PRISONS AND RAISE STATE EMPLOYEE RETIREMENT COSTS. THE GOVERNOR GOT WHAT HE WANTED OUT OF THE BUDGET, BUT LEGISLATORS WENT THEIR OWN WAY IN DECIDING HOW TO FINANCE IT ALL.

A WESTWEGO SENATOR HAS AGREED TO ACCEPT THE CIGARETTE TAX RENEWAL THAT THE HOUSE TACKED ONTO HIS BILL TO FUND A POPULAR COLLEGE SCHOLARSHIP PROGRAM.
THE COMPROMISE IS EXPECTED TO BRING TO A CLOSE ONE OF THE MOST CONTENTIOUS BATTLES OF THE LEGISLATIVE SESSION, ALL BUT ENSURING THAT THE BILL WILL EMERGE FROM A CONFERENCE COMMITTEE WITH THE 4-CENT TAX EXTENSION INTACT. REPUBLICAN JOHN ALARIO HAD SPONSORED THE JINDAL ADMINISTRATION BILL TO REDIRECT A STREAM OF TOBACCO SETTLEMENT MONEY TO THE STATE'S TOPS PROGRAM. GOV. BOBBY JINDAL OPPOSES THE RENEWAL OF THE STATE'S CIGARETTE TAX. BUT JINDAL SAID TUESDAY — AND ALARIO AGREED WEDNESDAY — THAT TOPS IS A BIGGER PRIORITY THAN ENSURING THAT THE CIGARETTE TAX EXPIRES.

LAWMAKERS AGREED TO BOOST PENALTIES FOR EMPLOYERS WHO KNOWINGLY HIRE ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS. THE MEASURE (HOUSE BILL 646) BY REP. KIRK TALBOT, R-RIVER RIDGE, WILL INCREASE THE FINE FOR A FIRST VIOLATION FROM $250 TO $500, ON A SECOND VIOLATION FROM $500 TO $1,000 AND ON A THIRD VIOLATION FROM $1,000 TO $2,500. THIRD-TIME VIOLATORS ALSO WILL FACE JAIL TIME OF AT LEAST 30 DAYS AND UP TO SIX MONTHS.
THE CHANGED PENALTIES, HOWEVER, WON'T APPLY TO HEALTH CARE FACILITIES LICENSED BY THE STATE HEALTH DEPARTMENT, WHICH HAS OTHER RESTRICTIONS AND REQUIREMENTS. THE BILL WAS SENT WEDNESDAY TO THE GOVERNOR WITH AN 89-0 HOUSE VOTE.

DESPITE SOME HEADWINDS HITTING THE NATIONAL ECONOMY, LOUISIANA'S JOB GROWTH PICKED UP SLIGHTLY IN MAY. THE LOUISIANA WORKFORCE COMMISSION SAID WEDNESDAY THAT THE STATE RECORDED 15,000 NON-FARM JOBS MORE LAST MONTH THAN IN MAY 2010, INCLUDING A JUMP OF 10,200 FROM APRIL. THE APRIL-TO-APRIL COMPARISON SHOWED A GAIN OF 14,500 JOBS, WHILE THE MARCH-TO-MARCH GAIN WAS 9,200 JOBS. IN A CONTINUATION OF A RECENT TREND, THE PRIVATE SECTOR PROVIDED ALL OF THE GROWTH, ADDING 31,800 JOBS OVER 12 MONTHS. GOVERNMENT EMPLOYMENT AT ALL LEVELS DROPPED 16,800 JOBS. ALEXANDRIA GAINED 1,400 JOBS OVER 12 MONTHS, INCLUDING 300 IN THE GOODS-PRODUCING SECTOR AND 1,100 IN THE SERVICE-PROVIDING SECTOR.

GOVERNOR JINDAL HAS SIGNED A BILL BY LAFAYETTE REPRESENTATIVE RICKY HARDY INTO LAW REQUIRING LOUISIANA HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS TO CARRY A C AVERAGE IN ORDER TO PARTICIPATE IN SPORTS. THE NEW LAW MIRRORS A RULE BY THE LOUISIANA HIGH SCHOOL ATHLETIC ASSOCIATION DUE TO TAKE EFFECT THIS FALL. HARDY SAYS THE C AVERAGE IS STANDARD IN ALL OF OUR NEIGHBORING STATES. HE SAYS IF WE WANT TO CHANGE THE DIRECTION WE'RE HEADING IN WE NEED TO START BY HOLDING OURSELVES TO A HIGHER STANDARD.

THE FORMER MAYOR OF NEW ROADS, IN POINTE COUPEE PARISH, HAS BEEN CONVICTED OF FEDERAL RACKETEERING AND WIRE FRAUD CHARGES. TOMMY NELSON WAS ACCUSED OF TAKING BRIBES IN CONNECTION WITH A CONTRACT FOR A GARBAGE CAN CLEANING SERVICE.

A CREAMERY KNOWN FOR ITS ORGANIC MILK HAS BURNED DOWN AFTER A MASSIVE EXPLOSION IN WASHINGTON PARISH. AN INVESTIGATION INTO THE MOUNT HERMON EXPLOSION AND FIRE IS UNDERWAY, BUT STATE FIRE MARSHAL BUTCH BROWNING SAYS THIS WAS A GAS/VAPOR EXPLOSION. OFFICIALS SAY NO ONE WAS THERE AT THE TIME AND THERE ARE NO REPORTS OF INJURIES.

LAWMAKERS HAVE GIVEN FINAL APPROVAL TO A BILL THAT WOULD REQUIRE INFORMATION TO BE GIVEN TO WOMEN IN ABORTION CLINICS BEFORE THEY CAN TERMINATE A PREGNANCY. WEST MONROE REP. FRANK HOFFMAN SAYS THE NEW LAW WOULD REQUIRE ABORTION CLINICS TO POST SIGNS INFORMING WOMEN THAT THEY CAN NOT BE FORCED TO HAVE AN ABORTION BY ANYONE. THE BILL NOW HEADS THE GOVERNOR'S DESK FOR HIS SIGNATURE.

THE BILL THAT WOULD BAN SO CALLED "BATH SALTS" AND OTHER SYNTHETIC FORMS OF DRUGS IS HEADED TO THE GOVERNOR'S DESK FOR HIS SIGNATURE. THE BILL BY GRETNA REP. RICKY TEMPLET WOULD MAKE HALLUCINOGENIC PRODUCTS ILLEGAL ON JULY 15TH. TEMPLET SAYS THE PENALTY FOR POSSESSING OR DISTRIBUTING SUCH PRODUCTS WILL BE SIMILAR TO THOSE OF POSSESSING OR DISTRIBUTING MARIJUANA OR COCAINE.

FIFTY-ONE PEOPLE HAVE BEEN ARRESTED IN CONNECTION WITH A MEDICAID FRAUD INVESTIGATION IN LOUISIANA. THE STATE ATTORNEY GENERAL SAYS 50 OF THOSE ARRESTED WERE MEDICAID RECIPIENTS. THE OTHER WAS A FORMER PHARMACIST IN METAIRIE. ATTORNEY GENERAL JAMES D. CALDWELL SAYS CHARGES INCLUDE MEDICAID FRAUD AND DISPENSING DANGEROUS DRUGS BY FRAUD. HE SAYS THE INVESTIGATION BEGAN AFTER THE STATE DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH HOSPITALS ALLEGED THAT FRAUDULENT PRESCRIPTIONS FOR NARCOTICS WERE ISSUED BY A NON-EXISTENT MEDICAL CLINIC CLAIMING TO BE IN BATON ROUGE. THE MAJORITY OF THE PRESCRIPTIONS HAD BEEN FILLED IN METAIRIE AT ONE PHARMACY. CALDWELL SAYS MORE ARRESTS ARE EXPECTED.

LOUISIANA'S LONG DROUGHT WILL PROVE TO BE MORE A PROBLEM FOR AGRICULTURE THAN THE RECENT FLOODING. LSU AGCENTER ECONOMIST KURT GUIDRY SAYS IT'S TOO EARLY TO PREDICT THE DROUGHT'S EFFECTS ON CROPS, BUT IT IS PLAIN THAT 2011 WON'T BE AS GOOD AS 2010. GUIDRY SAYS EARLIER HARVESTED CROPS, LIKE CORN, HAVE ALREADY SUFFERED MORE FROM THE DROUGHT THAN OTHERS.



News For Wednesday 062211


NEWS FOR WEDNESDAY 062211
BY DAVE GRAICHEN

IT TOOK A FEDERAL JURY IN A CIVIL TRIAL LESS THAN AN HOUR TO EXONERATE TWO PINEVILLE POLICE OFFICERS, DECIDING THEY DID NOT USE EXCESSIVE FORCE ON AN INTOXICATED MAN ARRESTED IN APRIL 2006 AFTER HE WAS FOUND SITTING BARE-BOTTOM ON A SIDEWALK WITH HIS PANTS AROUND HIS ANKLES. THE EIGHT-MEMBER JURY OF SIX MALES AND TWO FEMALES DELIBERATED FOR ABOUT 50 MINUTES MONDAY BEFORE REACHING THE VERDICT IN U.S. DISTRICT COURT IN ALEXANDRIA. JAMES GREGORY BENNETT FILED A LAWSUIT IN APRIL 2007 AGAINST PINEVILLE OFFICER CODY GRIFFITH AND FORMER OFFICER KYLE MARTIN, CLAIMING THEY VIOLATED HIS CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS IN THE FORCE THEY USED TO SUBDUE HIM AT THE PINEVILLE POLICE STATION.

A RAPIDES PARISH CORONER’S OFFICE REPORT HAS RULED THAT THE FEBRUARY DEATH OF A MENTALLY ILL ALEXANDRIA MAN IN POLICE CUSTODY WAS ACCIDENTAL, PROBABLY FROM A COMBINATION OF HIS SCHIZOPHRENIA AND A HIGH LEVEL OF COCAINE HE INGESTED BEFORE HE WAS ARRESTED. ROBERT RICKS WAS STUNNED BY A TASER TWICE, ONCE BY AN ALEXANDRIA POLICE OFFICER AND ONCE BY A RAPIDES PARISH SHERIFF’S DEPUTY, BUT THE CORONER SAYS HE BELIEVES THAT DID NOT CONTRIBUTE TO THE MAN’S DEATH. ACCORDING TO AUTHORITIES, RICKS, WHO WAS RELEASED ONLY DAYS BEFORE FROM A MENTAL HEALTH FACILITY, WAS COMBATIVE AND RESISTED POLICE WHO RESPONDED TO A CALL BY RICKS’ GRANDMOTHER.

THE STATE HOUSE HAS GIVEN FINAL LEGISLATIVE PASSAGE TO THE $25-BILLION STATE BUDGET FOR THE FISCAL YEAR THAT STARTS JULY 1ST. THE BILL RETURNED FROM THE SENATE WITH $200-MILLION IN CUTS RESTORED. NEVERTHELESS, HOUSE MEMBERS VOTED 101-0 TO APPROVE THOSE SENATE CHANGES AND SEND THE BUDGET TO GOVERNOR JINDAL'S DESK. THE LEGISLATIVE SESSION ENDS TOMORROW.

THE LOUISIANA SENATE VOTED TUESDAY TO SCRAP A METAIRIE LAWMAKER'S PROPOSAL TO REQUIRE DRUG TESTING OF WELFARE RECIPIENTS WHO RECEIVE CASH ASSISTANCE, SHELVING A PROPOSAL THAT HAS REPEATEDLY FAILED TO WIN FINAL PASSAGE OVER THE YEARS. REPUBLICAN REP. JOHN LABRUZZO SAID RANDOM SCREENING WOULD HELP BREAK THE CYCLE OF ADDICTION AMONG WELFARE RECIPIENTS. BUT CRITICS SAY IT IS INACCURATE AND POTENTIALLY RACIST TO ASSUME THAT PEOPLE ON WELFARE USE MORE DRUGS THAN THE GENERAL POPULATION. THE SENATE VOTED 20-12 ON THE PROCEDURAL MOTION, FALLING SHORT OF THE TWO-THIRDS VOTE NEEDED TO EVEN HOLD A DEBATE.

LAWMAKERS HAVE AGREED TO SHIFT THE UNIVERSITY OF NEW ORLEANS INTO A DIFFERENT COLLEGE SYSTEM. UNDER THE PROPOSAL THAT RECEIVED FINAL PASSAGE TUESDAY, UNO WILL MOVE FROM THE LSU SYSTEM AND INTO THE UNIVERSITY OF LOUISIANA SYSTEM. THE MEASURE HEADS TO GOV. BOBBY JINDAL, WHO SUPPORTS THE CHANGE.

VETERAN STATE LAWMAKER NOBLE ELLINGTON, OF WINNSBORO, HAS DECIDED NOT TO SEEK ANOTHER TERM IN THE LEGISLATURE. AFTER 24 YEARS IN THE HOUSE, THEN THE SENATE, THEN THE HOUSE AGAIN...ELLINGTON SAYS HE NOW WANTS TO SPEND MORE TIME WITH HIS FAMILY AND HIS BUSINESS. ELLINGTON IS 69 YEARS OLD. ONE OF HIS CROWNING LEGISLATIVE ACHIEVEMENTS WAS AUTHORING THE BOLL WEEVIL ERADICATION PROGRAM, WHICH HAS RID THE STATE OF THE COTTON DESTROYING PESTS.

ATTEMPTS TO EXTEND A 4-CENT CIGARETTE TAX HAVE STALLED IN THE STATE SENATE, WITH LAWMAKERS AND GOV. BOBBY JINDAL'S ADMINISTRATION HAGGLING OVER THE RENEWAL IN THE FINAL DAYS OF THE SESSION. THE HOUSE ATTACHED THE TAX EXTENSION TO A JINDAL ADMINISTRATION BILL TO REDIRECT A STREAM OF TOBACCO SETTLEMENT MONEY TO THE STATE'S FREE COLLEGE TUITION PROGRAM, CALLED TOPS. THE LEGISLATION IS A CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT. SO, IF THE TAX AMENDMENT ADD-ON IS BACKED BY THE SENATE, THE MOVE WOULD BYPASS JINDAL AND HEAD STRAIGHT TO VOTERS FOR THEIR CONSIDERATION. THEY WOULD DECIDE WHETHER TO RENEW THE TAX.

LOUISIANA'S PRESIDENTIAL PRIMARIES WILL BE PUSHED BACK FROM FEBRUARY TO MARCH.
THE HOUSE GAVE FINAL PASSAGE TO THE SHIFT WITH A UNANIMOUS VOTE, SENDING THE MEASURE (HOUSE BILL 509) TO THE GOVERNOR. LAWMAKERS SAID WITHOUT THE CHANGE, THE STATE'S REPRESENTATION AT NATIONAL PARTY CONVENTIONS IN 2012 WOULD BE JEOPARDIZED. THE MEASURE WILL SWITCH THE DATE OF THE PRIMARY TO THE THIRD SATURDAY AFTER THE FIRST TUESDAY IN MARCH, SIMILAR TO WHERE IT WAS BEFORE THE 2008 PRIMARY.

POLICE AND FIREFIGHTERS MAY SEE THE CONTRIBUTIONS THEY MAKE TOWARD THEIR RETIREMENT SYSTEMS GO UP, UNDER A PROPOSAL GIVEN FINAL PASSAGE.
THE BILL (HOUSE BILL 332) BY REP. KEVIN PEARSON, R-SLIDELL, SETS OUT SCENARIOS UNDER WHICH FIREFIGHTERS COULD SEE THEIR CONTRIBUTIONS GO FROM THE CURRENT 8 PERCENT TO AS MUCH AS 10 PERCENT. FOR POLICE, THE CONTRIBUTION COULD GO FROM 7.5 PERCENT TO 10 PERCENT. FACTORS GUIDING THE PROPOSED INCREASES WILL INCLUDE THE EMPLOYEE'S SALARY AND LEGAL REQUIREMENTS GOVERNING THE MONEY THAT MUST GO INTO THE SYSTEM EACH YEAR.

THE LEGISLATURE HAS AGREED TO REMOVE A SIX-MONTH RESIDENCY REQUIREMENT BEFORE SOMEONE CAN GET A CONCEALED HANDGUN PERMIT IN LOUISIANA. THE BILL (HOUSE BILL 489) BY REP. ALAN SEABAUGH, R-SHREVEPORT, RECEIVED FINAL BACKING WITH A 92-3 HOUSE VOTE AND GOES NEXT TO THE GOVERNOR'S DESK.

CERTAIN LOW-RISK OFFENDERS WILL BE ELIGIBLE FOR PAROLE AFTER SERVING FEWER YEARS OF THEIR SENTENCES, UNDER A PROPOSAL (HOUSE BILL 416) HEADED TO GOV. BOBBY JINDAL. THE MEASURE BY REP. JOE LOPINTO, R-METAIRIE, IS PART OF A PACKAGE OF BILLS TO TWEAK SENTENCING LAWS FOR NONVIOLENT, NON-SEX OFFENDERS IN LOUISIANA.

CARENCRO REP. BOBBY BADON WAS PULLED OVER IN JANUARY OF 2010 AND BOOKED WITH A DWI, AND THE VIDEO OF HIS TRAFFIC STOP HAS BEEN RELEASED. TROOPER JAMES LAZARD STOPPED BADON AFTER HIS TRUCK CROSSED OVER A FOG LINE DURING A LEFT TURN. 15TH JUDICIAL DISTRICT JUDGE HERMAN CLAUSE RULED LAST WEEK THAT
THERE WAS NO BASIS FOR THE TRAFFIC STOP BECAUSE THE WIDE LEFT TURN WAS IN COMPLIANCE WITH STATE LAW. THIS RULING MEANS THAT ALL EVIDENCE GATHERED AFTER THE STOP WAS NOT ADMISSIBLE IN COURT.

ANOTHER ATTEMPT TO BRING UP A SENATE-PASSED BILL TO REPEAL STATE PERSONAL INCOME TAXES FOR A VOTE HAS FAILED. IT LOOKS LIKE THE CLOCK WILL RUN OUT ON THIS ONE AS WELL. MANY HOUSE AND SENATE MEMBERS WORRY ABOUT PASSING A TAX REPEAL WITHOUT PROPER ARRANGEMENTS FOR REPLACING THE STATE REVENUES THAT WOULD BE LOST.

AN ATTEMPT TO ADD LEGISLATIVE ROADBLOCKS TO CONSTRUCTION OF A NEW PUBLIC MEDICAL CENTER IN NEW ORLEANS FAILED TO GAIN PASSAGE IN THE HOUSE, KILLING THE PROPOSAL FOR THE SESSION. THE PROPOSAL, REJECTED IN A 54-37 HOUSE VOTE AGAINST IT, WOULD HAVE REQUIRED ANOTHER LAYER OF LEGISLATIVE APPROVAL FROM BOTH THE FULL HOUSE AND SENATE BEFORE DOLLARS COULD BE BORROWED OR CONTRACTS COULD BE MADE TO BUILD THE HOSPITAL.




News for Tuesday 062111


NEWS FOR TUESDAY 062111
BY DAVE GRAICHEN

AFTER A SENATE COMMITTEE STRIPPED MILLIONS OF DOLLARS IN PROJECTS FROM A HOUSE-PASSED STATE CONSTRUCTION PROGRAM, THE SENATE ON MONDAY RESTORED ALL OF THE PROJECTS AND ADDED SOME. AS APPROVED, HB2 TOTALS $2.68 BILLION. ABOUT $1.6 BILLION IS IN PRIORITY 1, THE TOP PRIORITY THAT CONTAINS MANY PROJECTS FUNDED WITH CASH AND PROJECTS THAT HAVE RECEIVED FUNDING IN PREVIOUS YEARS. PRIORITY 2, WHICH WILL BE FUNDED WITH BONDS TO BE SOLD, TOTALS $122 MILLION. PRIORITY 5 HAS $904 MILLION IN PROJECTS THAT COULD BE STARTED WITH NON-CASH LINES OF CREDIT. IN PAST YEARS, PROJECTS HAVE BEEN PLUGGED INTO PRIORITIES 3 AND 4 BUT NOT FUNDED FOR YEARS, IF EVER.

IN A SURPRISE MOVE BY MANY, THE U.S. DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE HAS APPROVED THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES PLAN FOR DRAWING NEW ELECTION DISTRICTS FOR THIS FALL'S ELECTIONS, BUT THAT DOESN'T MEAN THERE WON'T BE FURTHER CHALLENGE. THIS IS THE FIRST TIME IN THE STATE’S HISTORY THAT WE HAVE GOTTEN PRECLEARANCE ON A FIRST SUBMISSION.

TODAY IS THE FIRST OFFICIAL DAY OF SUMMER. STATE CLIMATOLOGIST BARRY KEIM SAYS THE TREND OF ABOVE-AVERAGE TEMPERATURES WILL CONTINUE. KEIM SAYS THE LANINA EFFECT HAS PRODUCED A SERIOUS DROUGHT ACROSS MOST OF THE STATE. HE SAYS THE DRY, PARCHED GROUND IS THE REASON FOR THE HIGHER THAN NORMAL TEMPERATURES. KEIM SAYS THE EXPECTATION FOR MORE RAINFALL DURING THE SUMMER WILL COME TO FRUITION OVER THE NEXT COUPLE OF DAYS AS MOST OF THE STATE SHOULD SEE SIGNIFICANT RAIN.

A NEARLY $3.4 BILLION SPENDING PLAN FOR STATE PUBLIC SCHOOL DISTRICTS RECEIVED FINAL PASSAGE FROM THE LEGISLATURE WITH A UNANIMOUS SENATE VOTE MONDAY.
THE 2011-12 FUNDING FORMULA WILL KEEP FUNDING STATIC FOR ANOTHER YEAR, NOT PROVIDING DISTRICTS WITH THE ANNUAL 2.75 PERCENT INCREASES THEY HAD GROWN ACCUSTOMED TO RECEIVING TO COVER RISING HEALTH AND RETIREMENT COSTS. BUT IT AVOIDS THE TYPES OF CUTS THAT HAVE BEEN LEVIED ACROSS MANY STATE AGENCIES.
LAWMAKERS, GOV. BOBBY JINDAL AND THE STATE EDUCATION BOARD SAID THE STATE COULDN'T AFFORD AN INCREASE IN SUCH TIGHT BUDGET TIMES. IT'S THE THIRD YEAR IN A ROW WITHOUT NEW MONEY.

STATE FARM FIRE & CASUALTY CO., LOUISIANA'S LARGEST INSURER OF HOMES, IS ASKING STATE INSURANCE REGULATORS FOR PERMISSION TO BOOST PREMIUMS BY AN AVERAGE 8.5 PERCENT. IN A FILING RELEASED MONDAY BY THE STATE INSURANCE DEPARTMENT, STATE FARM SAID THE REQUESTED HIKE FOR JUST OVER 301,000 POLICYHOLDERS WOULD INCREASE RATES BY $32.7 MILLION ANNUALLY. THE INSURER WANTS THE HIGHER RATES TO GO INTO EFFECT FOR NEW POLICIES ON AUG. 15 AND BE ADDED TO RENEWED POLICIES ON OCT. 1. IN MARCH, INSURANCE COMMISSIONER JIM DONELON REJECTED A STATE FARM REQUEST FOR AN AVERAGE 14.3 PERCENT INCREASE, SAYING IT WAS NOT JUSTIFIED. THAT INCREASE WOULD HAVE RAISED HOMEOWNER RATES BY $55 MILLION ANNUALLY.

IT'S BEEN ABOUT SEVEN WEEKS SINCE OSAMA BIN LADEN WAS KILLED BY US NAVY SEALS AND MINDEN CONGRESSMAN JOHN FLEMING HAS VIEWED THE CONTROVERSIAL "DEATH PHOTOS." FLEMING VIEWED THE PHOTOS YESTERDAY AT C-I-A HEADQUARTERS. THE CONGRESSMAN SAYS THE GRAPHIC PHOTOS WERE TAKEN AT VARIOUS ANGLES. FLEMING SAYS BIN LADEN WAS CLEANED UP PRIOR TO HIS BURIAL AT SEA. FLEMING IS ALSO A DOCTOR AND HE SAYS ONE THING HE NOTICED ABOUT THE PHOTOS CONTRARY TO WHAT MANY BELIEVE, BIN LADEN WAS NOT AN ILL MAN.

LEGISLATION TO TRANSFER THE UNIVERSITY OF NEW ORLEANS FROM ONE COLLEGE SYSTEM TO ANOTHER IS CLOSER TO FINAL PASSAGE. ON THE SENATE FLOOR, THE SENATE PASSED THE HOUSE BILL 35-4, AND SENT IT BACK TO THE HOUSE. IN THE HOUSE, SPEAKER JIM TUCKER AMENDED THE BILL TO CLEAR UP WHICH SYSTEM PAYS FOR WHAT PARTS OF THE COST OF THE TRANSFER. WITH BOTH HOUSE AND SENATE VERSIONS OF THE LEGISLATION FINALLY PASSED, NOW THE TWO CHAMBERS MUST CONFER ON WHICH ONE GOES TO THE GOVERNOR.

LAWMAKERS RESURRECT LEGISLATION TO RENEW AN EXPIRING 4-CENT CIGARETTE TAX, AFTER THE BILL WAS VETOED LAST WEEK BY GOVERNOR JINDAL. THE MEASURE RETURNED AS AN AMENDMENT TO A BILL TO COMMIT MORE TOBACCO SETTLEMENT DOLLARS TO TOPS GRADES-BASED SCHOLARSHIPS. IT WAS BROUGHT BY BOGALUSA REP. HAROLD RITCHIE. THE TOPS BILL--WITH THE CIGARETTE TAX INCLUDED--PASSED BY 92-8 VOTE. IT GOES BACK TO THE SENATE FOR CONCURRENCE ON RITCHIE'S AMENDMENT. BILL AUTHOR SEN. JOHN ALARIO SAYS HE'LL OBJECT TO THE CHANGE AND SEND THE BILL TO A CONFERENCE COMMITTEE.

PUBLIC SCHOOLS IN LOUISIANA WILL GET LETTER GRADES BASED ON PERFORMANCE STARTING IN THE FALL. BOARD OF ELEMENTARY AND SECONDARY EDUCATION PRESIDENT PENNY DASTUGUE SAYS BASED ON SPRING PERFORMANCE SCORES, NEARLY HALF OF LOUISIANA SCHOOLS WOULD RECEIVE A "D" OR "F" UNDER THE NEW LETTER GRADE SYSTEM. DASTUGUE SAYS THE GRADE LETTERS ARE BEING USED SO THAT PARENTS AND LEADERS CAN GET A BETTER UNDERSTANDING OF HOW SCHOOLS ARE PERFORMING IN THEIR COMMUNITIES.

AUTHORITIES ARE TRYING TO DETERMINE WHO KILLED TWO TEENAGE GIRLS IN MADISON PARISH OVER THE WEEKEND. THE VICTIMS HAVE BEEN IDENTIFIED AS 18-YEAR-OLD NIKESHA WASHINGTON AND 18 YEAR OLD JASMINE SMITH BOTH OF TALLULAH. STATE POLICE SPOKESMAN TROOPER MARK DENNIS HAD LITTLE TO SAY OTHER THAN THEY ARE FOLLOWING UP ON LEADS.

CAN THE SHREVEPORT-BOSSIER MARKET SUSTAIN SIX RIVERBOAT CASINOS. THERE'S TALK OF A CASINO LICENSE MOVING FROM LAKE CHARLES TO BOSSIER CITY. ANY PROJECTED TIME TABLE FOR THE MOVE WOULD HAVE A SIXTH CASINO IN THE MARKET IN TWO OR THREE YEARS.

LOUISIANA CITY MAYORS ARE CONCERNED ABOUT LOSING FEDERAL FUNDING DUE TO BIG BUDGET CUTS UNDERWAY IN CONGRESS. SPEAKING FROM THE 79TH ANNUAL MEETING OF THE U.S. CONFERENCE OF MAYORS IN BALTIMORE, BATON ROUGE MAYOR KIP HOLDEN SAYS HE AND COLLEAGUES ARE DISCUSSING THE POTENTIAL LOSS OF COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT BLOCK GRANTS. HOLDEN SAYS HE AND FELLOW MAYORS HOPE THEIR COMBINED MESSAGE WILL CARRY WEIGHT WITH CONGRESS AND THE WHITE HOUSE, TO SPARE THE BLOCK GRANTS FROM THE BUDGET AXE.

THE FEDERAL DEPARTMENT OF HOUSING AND URBAN DEVELOPMENT IS ALLOCATING JUST UNDER $17 MILLION TO HELP LOUISIANA HOMEOWNERS FACING FORECLOSURE. PARTICIPANTS HAVE TO BE INVOLUNTARILY UNEMPLOYED OR UNDEREMPLOYED DUE TO ECONOMIC CONDITIONS OR A MEDICAL CONDITION. THOSE DECLARED ELIGIBLE CAN GET A NO-INTEREST, FORGIVABLE LOANS THAT COVER PAST-DUE PAYMENTS AND A PORTION OF THE MONTHLY MORTGAGE PAYMENT FOR UP TO 24 MONTHS, OR UP TO $50,000, WHICHEVER COMES FIRST. CONGRESS HAS PROVIDED $1 BILLION FOR THE PROGRAM NATIONWIDE.






News For Monday 062011


NEWS FOR MONDAY 062011
BY DAVE GRAICHEN

THE ARMY CORP OF ENGINEERS SAYS IT WILL CLOSE THE LAST BAYS ON THE BONNET CARRE SPILLWAY TODAY. THE CORPS BEGAN OPENING THE SPILLWAY ON MAY 9 TO DIVERT FLOODWATERS IN THE MISSISSIPPI RIVER AWAY FROM NEW ORLEANS AND INTO LAKE PONTCHARTRAIN. ULTIMATELY, 330 OF THE SPILLWAY'S 350 BAYS WERE OPENED. THE CORPS STARTED CLOSING BAYS JUNE 12 AS RIVER LEVELS BEGAN TO FALL AFTER THE OPENING OF MORGANZA SPILLWAY. ONE BAY REMAINS OPEN ON THE MORGANZA SPILLWAY.

AS THE REGULAR LEGISLATIVE SESSION PREPARES TO CLOSE THE NEXT POLITICAL SEASON IS GETTING UNDERWAY. PLAQUEMINES PARISH PRESIDENT BILLY NUNGESSER IS EXPECTED TO ANNOUNCE TODAY HE WILL RUN FOR LT. GOVERNOR. POLITICAL ANALYST CLANCY DUBOS SAYS NUNGESSER CAME CLOSE TO RUNNING FOR THE OFFICE IN 2009. DUBOS SAYS NUNGESSER IS A STRONG CANDIDATE, BUT INCUMBENT LT. GOVERNOR, JAY DARDENNE, IS THE ODDS ON FAVORITE TO WIN RE-ELECTION. HE SAYS DARDENNE HAS THE DEEP POCKETS NEEDED TO RUN. THERE'S ALSO BEEN REPORTS THAT NEW ORLEANS BUSINESSMAN JOHN GEORGES IS CONSIDERING A RUN AT LT. GOVERNOR.

LOUISIANA SENATORS ARE TAKING THEIR TURN AT CRAFTING A $25 BILLION BUDGET FOR NEXT YEAR, WITH FEWER CUTS THAN THE HOUSE SOUGHT. THE FULL SENATE WAS DEBATING THE SPENDING PLAN SUNDAY. SENATE LEADERS ARE HOPING THEY CAN SWAY THE HOUSE ON THEIR IDEAS, WHICH INCLUDE $200 MILLION MORE IN SPENDING THAN THE HOUSE PROPOSED. SENATORS SAY THEY TRIED TO WORK WITHIN THE SPIRIT OF NEW HOUSE RESTRICTIONS ON THE USE OF ONE-TIME MONEY ON ONGOING STATE PROGRAMS AND SERVICES. THEY SAY THEY MATCHED UP ONE-TIME MONEY WITH ONE-TIME EXPENSES AND THEN STAYED WITHIN THE CONFINES SET BY THE HOUSE. HOUSE LEADERS ARE STILL COMBING THROUGH THE SENATE PLANS.

STATE HOUSE MEMBERS FIND OUT TODAY IF THE FEDERAL JUSTICE DEPARTMENT APPROVES REDISTRICTING PLANS FOR THEIR CHAMBER. HOUSE GOVERNMENTAL AFFAIRS COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN RICK GALLOT, OF RUSTON, SAYS HE'S NOT SURE THE HOUSE PLAN WILL PASS FEDERAL MUSTER, BECAUSE SOME OF THE NEW DISTRICTS LACK RACIAL DIVERSITY. GALLOT SAYS PACKING MINORITIES--WHICH HE SAYS HAPPENED IN SHREVEPORT AND OTHER AREAS--USUALLY RESULTS IN LOPSIDED REPRESENTATION. THE HOUSE WILL FIND OUT TODAY WHETHER THE JUSTICE DEPARTMENT AGREES. IF THE FEDS REJECT THE PLAN, WHAT ARE LAWMAKERS' OPTIONS? GALLOT SAYS THERE ARE OTHER DISTRICT MAP PLANS TO FALL BACK ON.

THIS IS THE FINAL WEEK OF THE 2011 LEGISLATIVE SESSION. WHAT HAVE LAWMAKERS ACCOMPLISHED AND WHAT'S YET TO BE DONE? JOHN MAGINNIS, PUBLISHER OF "LAPOLITICS.COM," SAYS THE STATE BUDGET IS THE BIGGEST PRIORITY. MAGINNIS SAYS THERE'S A DISAGREEMENT BETWEEN THE TWO CHAMBERS OVER A COUPLE OF HUNDREDS OF MILLIONS DOLLARS. THE FISCAL YEAR THAT STARTS JULY 1ST HAS BEEN CALLED A "CLIFF YEAR" BY MANY; A YEAR IN WHICH MILLIONS IN FEDERAL MEDICAID AND DISASTER RECOVERY DOLLARS QUIT FLOWING TO THE STATE. MAGINNIS SAYS, CONSIDERING THE SESSION STARTED WITH A BILLION-DOLLAR DEFICIT, A SPAT BETWEEN CHAMBERS OVER SPENDING $200-MILLION IS NOT SO BAD.

THE PRICE AT THE GAS PUMP CONTINUES TO SLOWLY FALL. TRIPLE-A FUEL ANALYST DON REDMAN SAYS HOW FAR PRICES WILL DROP DEPENDS ON WHAT HAPPENS IN THE NEWS AND IN THE TROPICS. HE SAYS IF GOOD CONDITIONS HOLD WE COULD SEE SUBSTANTIAL RELIEF. STATEWIDE AVERAGE PRICE FOR A GALLON OF REGULAR GASOLINE IS $3.55, DOWN 25-CENTS FROM A MONTH AGO. BUT, IT STILL COSTS ABOUT A DOLLAR A GALLON MORE TO FILL UP YOUR VEHICLE THAN A YEAR AGO.

ANOTHER SEASON FOR THE WEST NILE VIRUS IS SET TO BEGIN IN LOUISIANA. THERE WERE 18 HUMAN CASES OF THE MOSQUITO-BORNE DISEASE IN THE BAYOU STATE LAST YEAR. KYLE MOPPERT, MEDICAL ENTOMOLOGIST WITH THE OFFICE OF PUBLIC HEALTH, SAYS THEY ARE HOPING TO ONLY SEE A HANDFUL OF CASES THIS YEAR. WEST NILE SEASON USUALLY RUNS FROM JUNE TO SEPTEMBER, WITH PEAK ACTIVITY IN LATE JULY AND EARLY AUGUST. MOPPERT SAYS THE DRY WEATHER SHOULD KEEP MOSQUITO NUMBERS DOWN.

SHUTTERFLY ANNOUNCES ITS TEN MOST JOYOUS CITIES IN AMERICA LIST FOR 2011, AND THREE LOUISIANA CITIES MADE THE TOP 10. BEHIND NEW YORK, BATON ROUGE AND NEW ORLEANS CAME IN AT #2 AND #3 ON THE JOY LIST, AND LAFAYETTE CAME IN AT #7. SHUTTERFLY CHIEF STORYTELLER HEATHER MADDEN SAYS THE PURPOSE OF THE STUDY WAS TO SPOTLIGHT LOCATIONS THAT HAVE A GREAT STORY.

THE FEDERAL PROGRAM THAT HAS OFFERED FREE MEALS FOR DECADES TO SCHOOL-AGE CHILDREN DURING THE SUMMER BREAK IS SUFFERING A GRADUAL DEMISE IN RAPIDES PARISH BECAUSE OF LOW PARTICIPATION. TWO LOCATIONS OF THE 33 IN RAPIDES PARISH HAVE BEEN SHUT DOWN BECAUSE OF LOW TURNOUT. THE TWO DISTRIBUTION SITES CLOSED WERE AT JULIUS PATRICK ELEMENTARY SCHOOL IN ALEXANDRIA AND ANOTHER THAT SERVED THE TOWN OF CHENEYVILLE. SOME OFFICIALS BELIEVE THE DAYS OF THE REMAINING LOCATIONS MAY BE NUMBERED, UNLESS ATTENDANCE INCREASES.

A NEW FLOOD MAP FOR LAFAYETTE PARISH IS EXPECTED TO OFFER A MIXED BAG, SHRINKING FLOOD ZONES IN SOME AREAS WHILE MAKING LARGE TRACTS OF VACANT LAND MORE DIFFICULT TO DEVELOP. THE FINAL VERSION OF THE FEDERAL EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT AGENCY FLOOD MAP, THE FIRST UPDATE FOR THE PARISH SINCE 1996, HAS NOT BEEN RELEASED, BUT CITY-PARISH OFFICIALS SAY IT SHOULD BE IN THEIR HANDS WITHIN A FEW WEEKS AND COULD BE IN PLACE BEFORE THE END OF THE YEAR.
THE MAP IS USED TO DETERMINE FLOOD INSURANCE RATES, TO SET ELEVATIONS FOR NEW CONSTRUCTION IN FLOOD ZONES AND TO REGULATE DEVELOPMENT TO REDUCE FLOODING IMPACTS.

THE NAME OF THE NEWLY OPENED BRIDGE BETWEEN ST. FRANCISVILLE AND NEW ROADS WILL REMAIN NAMED AFTER JOHN JAMES AUDUBON RATHER THAN TWO U.S. MARINE CORPS GENERALS. THE LOUISIANA HOUSE ACCEPTED CHANGES MADE BY THE STATE SENATE ON A VOTE 80 TO 11. STATE REP. TOM MCVEA, R-ST. FRANCISVILLE, PUSHED HOUSE BILL 200 THAT WOULD NAME THE BRIDGE AFTER JOHN A. LEJEUNE AND ROBERT H. BARROW. MCVEA SAID HE WANTED TO HONOR TWO OF THE NATION’S MOST-DECORATED SOLDIERS WHO HAPPENED TO GROW UP ON EITHER SIDE OF THE $409 MILLION BRIDGE. BUT THE STATE SENATE AMENDED THE LEGISLATION TO NAME THE PARKWAY APPROACHES AFTER THE GENERALS AND REQUIRE MONUMENTS TO BE ERECTED TO THEIR MEMORIES, BUT TO LEAVE THE BRIDGE AFTER AUDUBON.

SPORTS…

SOUTHEASTERN CONFERENCE TEAMS ARE 3-AND-0 IN THE COLLEGE WORLD SERIES.
LAST NIGHT. SOUTH CAROLINA RALLIED FROM A 4-0 DEFICIT TO BEAT TEXAS A-AND-M FIVE TO FOUR. SCOTT WINGO'S BASES LOADED SINGLE IN THE BOTTOM OF THE NINTH WAS THE GAME WINNER FOR THE DEFENDING NATIONAL CHAMPIONS. SOUTH CAROLINA ADVANCES TO A BRACKET 2 WINNERS GAME AGAINST VIRGINIA ON TUESDAY NIGHT.

FLORIDA AND VANDERBILT BOTH WON ON SATURDAY AND THEY'LL FACE EACH OTHER TONIGHT IN A WINNER'S BRACKET CONTEST. IT WILL BE THE FIFTH TIME THESE TWO TEAMS HAVE MET THIS YEAR. THE GATORS WON THREE OF THE PREVIOUS FOUR MEETINGS THIS SEASON, INCLUDING THE SEC TOURNAMENT CHAMPIONSHIP GAME.

IN MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL, FORMER NEW ORLEANS ZEPHYRS MANAGER EDWIN RODRIGUEZ ANNOUNCED HIS RESIGNATION AS THE SKIPPER OF THE FLORIDA MARLINS. FLORIDA WON ONLY ONE GAME IN THE MONTH OF JUNE. EIGHTY-YEAR-OLD JACK MCKEON WILL REPORTEDLY TAKE OVER AS AN INTERIM MANAGER. HE GUIDED THE MARLINS TO A 2003 WORLD SERIES TITLE.

ALSO IN THE BIG LEAGUES...FORMER LSU PITCHER LOUIS COLEMAN GAVE UP A HOME RUN TO ALBERT PUJOLS, BUT PUJOLS (PULL-HOS) WOULD LATER LEAVE THE GAME AFTER INJURING HIS WRIST IN A COLLISION AT FIRST BASE. PUJOLS WILL BE REEVALUATED TODAY, BUT WILL LIKELY BE PUT ON THE D-L. THE CARDINALS ENDED UP WINNING THE GAME, FIVE TO FOUR OVER THE KANSAS CITY ROYALS.

TWENTY-TWO-YEAR-OLD RORY MCILROY (MAC-IL-ROY) CRUISED TO AN EASY WIN AT THE U-S OPEN. MCILROY DOMINATED THE CONGRESSIONAL GOLF COURSE AND FINISHED AT 16-UNDER-PAR FOR THE FOUR DAY TOURNAMENT. FORMER LSU GOLFER DAVID TOMS FAILED TO MAKE THE CUT.

LOSING STREAKS ARE RARE FOR MICHAEL PHELPS BUT THE MOST RECOGNIZED SWIMMER IN THE WORLD LOST FOR THE THIRD STRAIGHT TIME FINISHING A TENTH OF A SECOND BEHIND AUSTRALIA'S NICHOLAS D'ARCY IN THE 200 METER BUTTERFLY SUNDAY NIGHT AT THE SANTA CLARA INTERNATIONAL GRAND PRIX.

DENNY HAMLIN RACED TO HIS FIRST NASCAR SPRINT CUP VICTORY OVER THE YEAR SUNDAY AT MICHIGAN INTERNATIONAL SPEEDWAY. HAMLIN WON EIGHT TIMES LAST YEAR AND WAS CONTENDED FOR THE SERIES TITLE BUT WAS UNABLE TO MATCH JIMMIE JOHNSON. HE WAS THUS FAR, WINLESS THIS SEASON AND ENTERED THE RACE 12TH IN THE POINTS STANDINGS. THE VICTORY MOVES HIM UP TO NINTH.




 

Morning News For Friday 061711


NEWS FOR FRIDAY 061711
BY DAVE GRAICHEN

A BILL SPONSORED BY ALEXANDRIA REPRESENTATIVE CHRIS ROY MOVES FORWARD. LOCAL LEGISLATORS WORKED OUT A COMPROMISE ON A BILL THAT WILL CHANGE HOW ALEXANDRIA CIVIL SERVICE COMMISSION MEMBERS ARE APPOINTED, TAKING OUT LANGUAGE THAT WOULD HAVE GIVEN THE CITY'S MAYOR VETO POWER OVER APPOINTEES. HOUSE BILL 581 HEADS TO THE FULL SENATE FOR PROBABLE PASSAGE AFTER THE SENATE LOCAL AND MUNICIPAL AFFAIRS PASSED THE AMENDED BILL THURSDAY AFTERNOON.

NO END IN SITE TO THE OPPRESSIVE TEMPS OVER THE PAST SEVERAL WEEKS. YESTERDAY, FOR THE FOURTH DAY IN A ROW, THE HIGH TEMPERATURE EITHER SET OR TIED THE RECORD HIGH FOR THE DATE. NORMALLY IN MID-JUNE, THE HIGH TEMPERATURE IS 90 DEGREES. WE HAVE BEEN AVERAGING ABOUT 10 DEGREES ABOVE THAT.

A PROPOSAL TO REPEAL THE STATE'S PERSONAL INCOME TAX STALLED THURSDAY AFTER A MAJORITY OF LAWMAKERS IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES BACKED STUDYING HOW TO MAKE UP THE MULTIBILLION-DOLLAR LOSS OF REVENUE RATHER THAN REMOVING THE TAX OUTRIGHT. THE HOUSE VOTED 57-35 FOR A CHANGE BY REP. CHRIS ROY, D-ALEXANDRIA, TO REQUIRE THE STUDY. LAWMAKERS ARE CONCERNED STATE SERVICES COULD BE DEVASTATED WITHOUT A COMPREHENSIVE PLAN TO REPLACE THE MONEY. THE SENATE ALSO SUPPORTED THE STUDY, RATHER THAN A DIRECT REPEAL. REP. HUNTER GREENE, R-BATON ROUGE, SHELVED THE BILL WHEN HE COULDN'T GET HOUSE MEMBERS TO SUPPORT THE ELIMINATION OVER 10 YEARS, STARTING IN 2014. GREENE CAN ATTEMPT TO BRING THE MEASURE UP AGAIN, BUT TIME IS GETTING SHORT. THE REGULAR SESSION ENDS NEXT WEEK.

A HOUSE-BACKED ATTEMPT TO CAP SALARIES FOR LOUISIANA'S EDUCATION SUPERINTENDENT AND COLLEGE LEADERS HAS BEEN QUIETLY UNDONE BY STATE SENATORS. THE SENATE FINANCE COMMITTEE REMOVED THE CAP PROVISIONS WEDNESDAY AS SENATORS CRAFTED THEIR PLANS FOR THE 2011-12 STATE BUDGET FOR THE FISCAL YEAR THAT BEGINS JULY 1. NO MENTION WAS MADE OF THE REMOVAL DURING THE PUBLIC HEARING ON BUDGET AMENDMENTS. REP. SIMONE CHAMPAGNE, WHO PUSHED TO LIMIT EDUCATION PAY, SAID THE COMPENSATION HAS GROWN TOO FAST AND IS OUT OF LINE WITH OTHER STATES IN THE REGION. UNDER CHAMPAGNE'S RESTRICTIONS, PAY PACKAGES COULD HAVE BEEN REDUCED BY HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS.

THE LOUISIANA HOUSE REFUSED THURSDAY TO OVERRIDE GOV. BOBBY JINDAL'S VETO OF A 4-CENT CIGARETTE TAX RENEWAL, WITH REPUBLICANS WHO SUPPORTED THE TAX UNWILLING TO EMBARRASS THE GOVERNOR WITH WHAT WOULD HAVE BEEN THE FIRST LEGISLATIVE OVERRIDE IN 18 YEARS. JINDAL CALLED THE LEGISLATION BY DEMOCRATIC REP. HAROLD RITCHIE OF BOGALUSA A TAX INCREASE BECAUSE THE LEVY IS SET TO EXPIRE.
THE REPUBLICAN GOVERNOR HAD APPEALED DIRECTLY TO GOP LAWMAKERS TO REJECT AN OVERRIDE, WHICH WOULD HAVE BEEN A STRONG SHOW OF DEFIANCE IN A STATE WHERE GOVERNORS TRADITIONALLY HOLD A LOT OF SWAY OVER THE LEGISLATURE. ONLY TWO GUBERNATORIAL VETOES HAVE BEEN OVERRIDDEN IN MODERN TIMES. THE TAX RENEWAL INITIALLY PASSED WITH 70 VOTES OF THE HOUSE, THE SAME NUMBER NEEDED FOR AN OVERRIDE. BUT THE HOUSE VOTED 58-44 FOR THE OVERRIDE, 12 VOTES SHORT OF THE ORIGINAL VOTE FOR PASSAGE

WINNINGS FOR LOUISIANA'S STATE-LICENSED CASINOS IN MAY WERE JUST ABOUT THE SAME FOR BOTH APRIL AND MAY 2010. THE CASINO BUSINESS HAS BEEN HOBBLED BY THE ECONOMIC DOWNTURN AND, MORE RECENTLY, HIGHER GASOLINE PRICES THAT HAVE PUT A WEIGHT ON CONSUMER SPENDING.

WITH NO DEBATE, THE LOUISIANA HOUSE BACKED A NEARLY $3.4 BILLION SPENDING PLAN FOR STATE PUBLIC SCHOOLS NEXT YEAR. THE 87-4 VOTE FOR THE 2011-12 FUNDING FORMULA SENDS THE MEASURE TO THE SENATE FOR DISCUSSION. THE SPENDING PLAN WOULD KEEP FUNDING STATIC FOR A THIRD YEAR, NOT PROVIDING DISTRICTS WITH THE ANNUAL 2.75 PERCENT INCREASES THEY HAD GROWN ACCUSTOMED TO RECEIVING TO COVER RISING HEALTH AND RETIREMENT COSTS.

THE SENATE EDUCATION COMMITTEE APPROVED A PROPOSAL TO GIVE LOCAL SCHOOL DISTRICTS MORE FREEDOM TO CHOOSE THE TEXTBOOKS THEY USE. CRITICS SAID THE HOUSE-APPROVED MEASURE IS INTENDED TO FORCE TAXPAYERS TO PAY FOR THE TEACHING OF CREATIONISM ALONG WITH THE BIOLOGY CURRICULUM, WHICH THEY SAID WOULD LOWER THE QUALITY OF EDUCATION FOR LOUISIANA STUDENTS. THE MEASURE (HOUSE BILL 580) BY REP. FRANK HOFFMANN, R-WEST MONROE, WOULD REMOVE A RESTRICTION THAT CURRENTLY KEEPS DISTRICTS FROM USING STATE FUNDS TO PAY FOR BOOKS OUTSIDE OF A STATE-APPROVED LIST.

TVS WILL BE ALLOWED IN THE FRONT SEAT OF VEHICLES, IF GOV. BOBBY JINDAL AGREES TO A BILL THAT RECEIVED FINAL PASSAGE WITH A UNANIMOUS SENATE VOTE THURSDAY.
CURRENT LAW RESTRICTS TELEVISION SCREENS TO BEHIND THE DRIVER'S SEAT OF A CAR, TRUCK OR OTHER VEHICLE. THE PROPOSAL (HOUSE BILL 243) BY REP. HELENA MORENO, D-NEW ORLEANS, WOULD REMOVE THAT LIMITATION, ALLOWING TVS IN THE FRONT SEAT. THERE WOULD BE A CAVEAT: THE SCREEN COULD NOT BE VISIBLE BY A DRIVER WHILE A VEHICLE IS IN MOTION.

A HIGH RANKING U.S. ARMY CORPS OF ENGINEERS OFFICIAL SAID THURSDAY THE COST OF REPAIRING MISSISSIPPI RIVER LEVEES THAT WERE DAMAGED BY THIS YEAR'S HISTORIC FLOODING COULD REACH $1 BILLION, BUT IT'S NOT CLEAR HOW MUCH FUNDING WILL BE AVAILABLE, COL. THATCH SHEPARD, DEPUTY COMMANDER OF THE U.S. ARMY CORPS OF ENGINEERS' MISSISSIPPI RIVER DIVISION, ANNOUNCED THAT REPAIRING THE MISSISSIPPI RIVER LEVEE SYSTEM COULD COST $700 MILLION TO $1 BILLION. THE CORPS BUDGET FOR THE FISCAL YEAR IS $210 MILLION. SHEPARD SAID HE'S HOPING CONGRESS WILL APPROVE SUPPLEMENTAL FUNDING.

DESOTO PARISH AUTHORITIES SAY A 5-YEAR-OLD LOGANSPORT GIRL IS IN STATE CUSTODY, HER MOTHER UNDER ARREST AND HER FATHER WANTED AFTER A TOURIST FOUND THE CHILD ON A SABINE RIVER BRIDGE. AUTHORITIES SAYS DEPUTIES TOOK THE CHILD HOME BUT FOUND MARIJUANA, KNIVES AND CIGARETTES WITHIN CHILDREN'S REACH AND DOG FECES ALL OVER THE HOUSE. THE MOTHER TOLD INVESTIGATORS SHE REALIZED HER DAUGHTER WAS MISSING WHEN HER 4-YEAR-OLD SON WALKED IN AND SAID HIS SISTER WAS GONE. THE MOTHER WAS CHARGED WITH TWO COUNTS OF CHILD ABANDONMENT AND ONE OF POSSESSING MARIJUANA, AND THE CHILD’S FATHER IS WANTED ON THE SAME CHARGES.







News For Thuesday 061611


NEWS FOR THURSDAY 061611
BY DAVE GRAICHEN

ALEXANDRIA MAYOR JACQUES ROY SAYING YESTERDAY HOSPITALITY INITIATIVES PARTNERSHIP IS RUNNING OUT OF TIME TO PULL TOGETHER A DEAL FOR THE HOTEL BENTLEY, ALEXANDER FULTON HOTEL AND ALEXANDRIA RIVERFRONT CENTER. THE MAYOR SAYING, AT THIS POINT, THE OUTLOOK DOESN'T LOOK GREAT. DURING THE MAYOR’S WEEKLY PRESS BRIEFING, THE MAYOR SAID HE IS NOW LOOKING INTO SCALING BACK
THE SCOPE OF THE PROJECT AND THAT HE HOPES TO RELEASE A NEW TERM SHEET BY THE END OF THE WEEK THAT IS ROUGHLY 50 PERCENT OF THE CURRENT HOTELS DEAL. THAT TERM SHEET WOULD SEEK ADDITIONAL GROUPS, LOCAL AND NATIONAL, THAT MIGHT
BE INTERESTED IN WORKING A SMALLER DEAL FOR THE BENTLEY AND FULTON. THE CITY HAS BEEN WORKING WITH HIP OFFICIALS FOR THE LAST 20 MONTHS

A HOUSE-BACKED ATTEMPT TO FORCE LOUISIANA'S STATE GOVERNMENT PAYROLL TO SHRINK BY AT LEAST 5,000 JOBS A YEAR FOR THREE YEARS HAS BEEN REJECTED BY THE SENATE'S BUDGET COMMITTEE. THE MEASURE BY THIBODAUX REP. JEROME "DEE" RICHARD HAS BEEN PUSHED BY TREASURER JOHN KENNEDY AS A WAY TO CUT STATE SPENDING. KENNEDY SAYS THE JOBS COULD BE CUT THROUGH ATTRITION, BY NOT FILLING ONE-THIRD OF THE VACANT POSITIONS EACH YEAR. MEMBERS OF THE SENATE FINANCE COMMITTEE SAID THE MEASURE COULD DAMAGE STAFFING LEVELS AT WAR VETERANS' HOMES, MEDICAL FACILITIES AND PRISONS WHERE EMPLOYEE TURNOVER IS HIGHEST BUT THE JOBS ARE NEEDED. THE JINDAL ADMINISTRATION OPPOSED THE BILL. THE COMMITTEE VOTED 5-4 WEDNESDAY AGAINST THE PROPOSAL, LIKELY KILLING IT FOR THE SESSION.

NEW ORLEANS IS HOSTING ONE OF THE LARGEST GATHERINGS OF THE GOP AS THE 2011 REPUBLICAN LEADERSHIP CONFERENCE GETS UNDERWAY TODAY. CONFERENCE PRESIDENT CHARLIE DAVIS SAYS REPUBLICANS IN LOUISIANA ARE DETERMINED TO INCREASE THE NUMBER OF GOP MEMBERS IN THE STATE AND ARE GETTING NATIONAL RECOGNITION. DAVIS SAYS THE CONFERENCE IS A GATHERING OF THE MOST HIGH PROFILE REPUBLICANS IN THE NATION, INCLUDING 2012 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES. DAVIS SAYS GOVERNOR BOBBY JINDAL, WHO WILL SPEAK DURING THE CONFERENCE, IS AN EXTREMELY SOUGHT AFTER SPEAKER WHO IS RECOGNIZED ON A NATIONAL LEVEL. DAVIS SAYS THE FOCUS OF THE COUNTRY IS GOING TO BE ON LOUISIANA DURING THE CONFERENCE AND THIS IS IMPORTANT BECAUSE THE STATE BADLY NEEDS ATTENTION.

A PRIVATE HAZARDOUS-MATERIAL FIRE RESPONSE COMPANY QUICKLY BROUGHT A CHEMICAL FIRE IN NEW IBERIA UNDER CONTROL WEDNESDAY AFTER IT HAD BURNED FOR MORE THAN 24 HOURS. IT TOOK THE HAZ-MAT FIRE COMPANY SIX HOURS TO DEVELOP A PLAN AND ONLY 12 MINUTES TO EXTINGUISH THE BLAZE. THE CAUSE OF THE FIRE AND EXPLOSION IS UNDER INVESTIGATION.

THE SENATE FINANCE COMMITTEE VOTES TO SEND THE STATE BUDGET BILL TO THE SENATE FLOOR FOR DEBATE. SHOULD THE SENATE PASS THE BILL WHEN IT COMES UP FOR DEBATE ON FRIDAY THE LEGISLATION WOULD THEN GO TO A CONFERENCE COMMITTEE TO WORK OUT THE DIFFERENCES BETWEEN THE HOUSE AND SENATE VERSIONS OF THE BILL. SCOTT SAYS A BIG STUMBLING BLOCK WILL BE HOW SOURCES OF INCOME ARE CLASSIFIED AS EITHER CONTINUING OR ONE TIME DOLLARS.

ANOTHER SENATE COMMITTEE ADVANCES A BILL THAT WOULD DRUG TEST RANDOMLY SELECTED STATE WELFARE CASH BENEFIT RECIPIENTS. THE BILL, BY METAIRIE REP. JOHN LABRUZZO, PASSED THE SENATE HEALTH & WELFARE COMMITTEE VOTED 5-2 TO SEND THAT BILL TO THE SENATE FLOOR FOR DEBATE.

LAWMAKERS ON THE HOUSE AND SENATE'S JOINT BUDGET COMMITTEE REVERSED COURSE WEDNESDAY AND APPROVED A $37 MILLION TUITION INCREASE ACROSS PUBLIC COLLEGE CAMPUSES THIS FALL THAT HAD BEEN STALLED PREVIOUSLY BY SENATORS. SENATORS ON THE COMMITTEE VOTED 8-5 FOR THE COST HIKE ON STUDENTS, WHILE THE HOUSE MEMBERS VOTED 13-4 FOR IT. THE APPROVAL GIVES IT FINAL PASSAGE AND MAKES IT ONE OF THE ONLY TUITION BOOSTS THAT WILL LIKELY ESCAPE THE LEGISLATURE DURING THE CURRENT SESSION. ABOUT $85 MILLION IN COLLEGE TUITION AND FEE INCREASES REMAIN STALLED IN THE HOUSE AMID STRONG OPPOSITION. OPPONENTS CALLED THE TUITION HIKE A TAX ON STUDENTS, WHILE SUPPORTERS SAID IT WAS NEEDED TO FILL IN BUDGET GAPS AT COLLEGES AFTER SEVERAL ROUNDS OF STATE BUDGET CUTS.

SENATORS WORKING ON NEXT YEAR'S CONSTRUCTION BUDGET STRIPPED OUT $45 MILLION IN NEW PROJECTS ADDED BY THE JINDAL ADMINISTRATION AND ADDED $4 MILLION FOR SEVEN PROJECTS VETOED BY THE GOVERNOR LAST YEAR. AFTER BEING REWORKED BY THE SENATE REVENUE AND FISCAL AFFAIRS COMMITTEE, THE CAPITAL OUTLAY BILL (HOUSE BILL 2) HEADS NEXT TO THE FULL SENATE FOR DEBATE.

A WEEK AFTER TWO UNARMED LOUISIANA INSURANCE FRAUD INVESTIGATORS WERE SHOT AND KILLED WHILE LOOKING INTO A CASE, STATE LAWMAKERS ARE WORKING TO GIVE THE INVESTIGATORS' FAMILIES SOME COMPENSATION. THE LOUISIANA SENATE UNANIMOUSLY AGREED WEDNESDAY TO EXPAND EXISTING LAW TO MAKE THE INVESTIGATORS' FAMILIES ELIGIBLE FOR PAYMENTS THE STATE MAKES TO SURVIVORS OF LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICERS KILLED IN THE LINE OF DUTY. SPOUSES CAN RECEIVE A $250,000 PAYMENT AND DEPENDENT CHILDREN $25,000. THE COMPENSATION PROPOSAL HEADS NEXT TO THE HOUSE FOR DEBATE.

HOMES HIT BY FORECLOSURE FILINGS DROPPED LAST MONTH IN LOUISIANA. IRVINE, CALIFORNIA BASED REALTYTRAC SAYS THAT 1,835 HOMES RECEIVED SOME SORT OF FORECLOSURE ACTION IN MAY, RANGING FROM AN INITIAL NOTICE OF DEFAUT TO REPOSSESSION BY A LENDER. THAT'S DOWN 19.8 PERCENT FROM APRIL, BUT UP 5.9 PERCENT FROM MAY 2010.NATIONALLY, FORECLOSURE ACTIONS WERE AIMED AT ONE IN EVERY 605 HOUSING UNITS. THAT WAS A 2 PERCENT DECREASE FROM APRIL AND A 33 PERCENT DECREASE FROM MAY 2010.

A SENATE COMMITTEE PUTS THE BRAKES ON A HOUSE-APPROVED BILL TO ERECT A TEN COMMANDMENTS MONUMENT ON THE STATE CAPITOL GROUNDS. THE BILL IS SPONSORED BY SHREVEPORT REP. PATRICK WILLIAMS. SENATE GOVERNMENTAL AFFAIRS COMMITTEE MEMBER ROB MARIONNEAUX, OF LIVONIA, SAYS SEVERAL GROUPS HAVE ALREADY VOWED TO SUE THE STATE OVER THE TEN COMMANDMENTS MONUMENT, AND TAKE IT TO THE HIGHEST COURTS POSSIBLE. THE COMMITTEE VOTED 5-2 TO INVOLUNTARILY DEFER WILLIAMS' BILL--MEANING IT'S DEAD FOR THIS SESSION.

A MEASURE THAT WOULD GIVE A LARGER TAX BREAK TO PARENTS WHO PAY PRIVATE SCHOOL TUITION AND OTHER SCHOOL EXPENSES HAS BEEN GIVEN FINAL LEGISLATIVE PASSAGE IN THE HOUSE. THE BILL WOULD REMOVE A 50% CAP ON THE AMOUNT OF SCHOOL TUITION OR SCHOOL-RELATED EXPENSES THE CAN BE DEDUCTED, AND ALLOW THE FULL
AMOUNT OF UP TO $5000 PER CHILD. THAT BILL PASSED 84-13 AND GOES NOW TO GOVERNOR JINDAL'S DESK.

THE LOUISIANA NATIONAL GUARD SAYS IT EXPECTS TO SPEND NEARLY 8-MILLION DOLLARS RESPONDING TO THE MISSISSIPPI RIVER FLOODING AND THE PREPARATION FOR HIGH WATERS AROUND LOUISIANA. THE BILL INCLUDES THE COSTS OF ACTIVATING MORE THAN 1,100 LOUISIANA NATIONAL GUARDSMEN PLUS FUEL, SUPPLIES AND AVIATION SUPPORT. THE LEGISLATURE'S JOINT BUDGET COMMITTEE AGREED TO ALLOCATE MORE THAN 7-MILLION DOLLARS FROM THE STATE'S EMERGENCY RESPONSE FUND TO COVER MOST OF THE COSTS.

STATE AGRICULTURE COMMISSIONER MIKE STRAIN SAYS THE RECORD-SETTING DROUGHT IN LOUISIANA RAISES THE RISK OF WILDFIRES TO DANGEROUS LEVELS. STRAIN SAYS LDAF FIREFIGHTERS HAVE BEEN STAYING BUSY OF LATE; TOO BUSY. STRAIN SAYS LDAF HAS ALREADY RESPONDED TO 197 WILDFIRES THIS MONTH. STRAIN SAYS GROUND VEGETATION, TWIGS AND LEAVES ON THE GROUND ARE SO DRY THAT EVEN THE SLIGHTEST SPARK CAN TRIGGER A WILDFIRE. HE REMINDS US THAT A STATEWIDE BAN ON OUTDOOR BURNING REMAINS IN EFFECT. HE SAYS A WILDFIRE NEAR DEQUINCY BURNED OVER 690 ACRES OVER THE PAST WEEKEND.

GOVERNOR BOBBY JINDAL SIGNS INTO LAW A MEASURE THAT WOULD PROHIBIT PROHIBIT CERTAIN SEX OFFENDERS FROM USING SOCIAL NETWORKING SITES LIKE FACEBOOK. STATE POLICE SPOKESPERSON, LT. DOUG CAIN, SAYS THE LEGISLATION IS DESIGNED TO KEEP CHILD PREDATORS FROM INTERACTING WITH CHILDREN ON SOCIAL NETWORKING SITES. SEX OFFENDERS WHO WERE CONVICTED OF AN OFFENSE INVOLVING A MINOR WILL NOT BE ABLE TO USE SOCIAL NETWORKING SITES AS OF AUGUST 15TH. CAIN SAYS THE LAW WILL GIVE LAW ENFORCEMENT ANOTHER TOOL TO MAKE SURE REGISTERED SEX OFFENDERS ARE NOT COMMUNICATING WITH CHILDREN. VIOLATORS OF THIS NEW LAW FACE UP TO TEN YEARS IN JAIL.

STATE SENATORS HAVE REJECTED A SLIDELL LAWMAKER'S PROPOSAL THAT WOULD BAN THE USE OF DISPERSANTS IN RESPONDING TO OIL SPILLS IN LOUISIANA WATERS.
REPUBLICAN A.G. CROWE SAYS HE PROPOSED THE BAN BECAUSE THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT HASN'T RESPONDED TO REQUESTS TO SWITCH THE OIL SPILL STRATEGY TO A LESS-TOXIC ALTERNATIVE. DISPERSANTS BREAK UP OIL INTO SMALLER PARTICLES. THEY ARE GENERALLY LESS TOXIC THAN OIL. USE OF THE CHEMICALS BECAME A CONCERN FOR ENVIRONMENTAL GROUPS AFTER DISPERSANTS WERE USED IN RESPONSE TO LAST YEAR'S DEEPWATER HORIZON OIL SPILL. STATE AND INDUSTRY OFFICIALS SAY CROWE'S PROPOSAL COULD PREVENT A NECESSARY STRATEGY IN THE CASE OF ANOTHER SPILL. THE SENATE VOTED 21-10 AGAINST CROWE'S BILL WEDNESDAY, LIKELY KILLING IT FOR THE REGULAR SESSION.

A SENATE PANEL SHELVED A HOUSE-APPROVED PROPOSAL TO PUSH BACK LOUISIANA'S PRESIDENTIAL PRIMARIES FROM FEBRUARY TO MARCH, WHICH COULD JEOPARDIZE THE STATE'S REPRESENTATION AT NATIONAL PARTY CONVENTIONS. THE MEASURE (HOUSE BILL 509) BY REP. NITA HUTTER, R-CHALMETTE, WOULD HAVE CHANGED THE DATE OF THE PRIMARY TO THE FIRST SATURDAY AFTER THE FIRST TUESDAY IN MARCH, BACK TO WHERE IT WAS BEFORE THE 2008 PRIMARY. THERE WAS LITTLE DISCUSSION OF THE MEASURE BEFORE IT WAS KILLED BY THE SENATE AND GOVERNMENTAL AFFAIRS COMMITTEE IN A 6-1 VOTE.

REP. M.J. "MERT" SMILEY'S ANNUAL ATTEMPT TO RID LOUISIANA OF INACTIVE BOARDS AND COMMISSIONS IS NEARING FINAL LEGISLATIVE PASSAGE. THE HOUSE HAS PASSED THE PROPOSAL (HOUSE BILL 639) TO ABOLISH 13 PANELS, AND THE SENATE AND GOVERNMENTAL AFFAIRS COMMITTEE AGREED WEDNESDAY TO ADVANCE IT TO THE FULL SENATE. ON THE LIST FOR ABOLITION IS THE COMPENSATION REVIEW COMMISSION, WHICH WAS ESTABLISHED TO SUGGEST WHETHER SALARIES FOR STATEWIDE ELECTED OFFICIALS AND THE LEGISLATURE SHOULD BE INCREASED.





News For Wednesday 061511


NEWS FOR WEDNESDAY 061511
BY DAVE GRAICHEN

IN RESPONSE TO THE RESIGNATION OF ALEXANDRIA POLICE CHIEF ROGER TULLY LAST WEEK, THE ALEXANDRIA FIRE AND POLICE CIVIL SERVICE BOARD YESTERDAY ACCEPTED THE ADMINISTRATION'S REQUEST TO REOPEN THE CHIEF'S POSITION FOR APPLICATIONS. TULLY WAS AMONG 11 APPLICANTS WHO PASSED THE STATE CHIEF'S TEST LAST YEAR BEFORE HE WAS HIRED IN AUGUST. KAY MICHIELS, THE CITY'S CHIEF OPERATING OFFICER, SAID THE TEST SCORES FOR THE OTHER APPLICANTS REMAIN VALID, AND ANY OF THOSE CANDIDATES COULD BE HIRED. ANY NEW APPLICANTS WILL TAKE THE TEST IN APPROXIMATELY SIX WEEKS, AND THOSE WHO PASS WILL BE ADDED TO THE POOL OF CANDIDATES.

NINE CENTRAL LOUISIANA RESIDENTS HAVE BEEN CHARGED WITH VARIOUS OFFENSES AFTER BEING ARRESTED DURING THE RAPIDES PARISH SHERIFF'S OFFICE'S "90 DAYS OF HEAT" OPERATION, INCLUDING TWO ALEXANDRIA RESIDENTS ACCUSED OF OPERATING A CLANDESTINE LAB. METRO NARCOTICS AGENTS STARTED THE OPERATION ON JUNE 1.
A "STREET SWEEP" CONDUCTED IN BUNKIE HAS ALSO RESULTED IN FOUR AVOYELLES PARISH RESIDENTS BEING CHARGED WITH DRUG POSSESSION

A FIRE AT A PLANT WHERE CHEMICALS ARE BLENDED AND STORED FOR OILFIELD OPERATIONS FORCED RESIDENTS TO EVACUATE OR HUNKER DOWN TUESDAY NIGHT WHILE A GRAYISH-BROWN COLUMN OF SMOKE ROSE HUNDREDS OF FEET INTO THE AIR HOURS LATER. INVESTIGATORS SAID NO ONE AT THE HOUSTON-BASED MULTI-CHEM CORP. PLANT OFFICIALS REPORT NO ONE WAS INJURED AND ALL 20 WORKERS AT THE SITE WERE ACCOUNTED FOR. OFFICIALS WEREN'T CERTAIN WHAT KIND OF CHEMICALS WERE ON FIRE IN THE WAREHOUSE.

THE BODY OF 20 YEAR OLD DIONTE RASHAL OF DERIDDER MAN WHO WAS FOUND IN THE SABINE RIVER TUESDAY AFTERNOON. AUTHORITIES SAY RASHAL WAS FOUND BY DIVERS NEAR THE MERRYVILLE BOAT LAUNCH. RASHAL HAD BEEN SWIMMING RIVER MONDAY WHEN HE BECAME SEPARATED FROM FRIENDS. FOUL PLAY IS NOT BELIEVED TO BE A FACTOR IN THE MAN’S DEATH.

THE RED RIVER WATERWAY COMMISSION HAS REOPENED THE PUBLIC BOAT RAMPS AT THE BROUILLETTE AND BEN ROUTH RECREATION AREAS ON THE RED RIVER IN AVOYELLES PARISH. MAINTENANCE CREWS STILL ARE WORKING TO CLEAN UP ONE LAST LANE AT BEN ROUTH, BUT THE OTHER THREE LANES ARE AVAILABLE FOR USE BY THE PUBLIC.
HIGH WATER LAST MONTH LED TO THE CLOSURE OF PUBLIC BOAT RAMPS ALONG THE RED RIVER. WATER LEVELS SLOWLY BEGAN RECEDING AND ARE NOW BACK CLOSER TO NORMAL POOL LEVEL.

NEARLY HALF OF LOUISIANA’S PUBLIC SCHOOLS WOULD GET A “D” OR “F” IF A CONTROVERSIAL GRADING SYSTEM THAT BEGINS LATER THIS YEAR WERE IN EFFECT TODAY, OFFICIALS SAID TUESDAY. THE ISSUE SURFACED DURING A MEETING OF THE STATE BOARD OF ELEMENTARY AND SECONDARY EDUCATION. THAT PANEL APPROVED THE GRADING POLICY IN DECEMBER AFTER LEGISLATORS PASSED A LAW THAT REQUIRED LETTER GRADES, AND LEFT BESE TO HAMMER OUT THE DETAILS. THE CHANGE WILL LINK TRADITIONAL LETTER GRADES TO ANNUAL SCHOOL PERFORMANCE SCORES, WHICH PRIMARILY REFLECT HOW STUDENTS FARED ON KEY TESTS. SCOTT NORTON, ASSISTANT STATE SUPERINTENDENT, TOLD BESE THAT, IF THE GRADES WERE IN PLACE TODAY, NEARLY HALF OF THE STATE’S PUBLIC SCHOOLS WOULD RECEIVE A “D” OR AN “F” BASED ON 2010 SCHOOL PERFORMANCE RESULTS. NORTON CITED STATE DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION DATA THAT SHOWED 594 OF 1,280 PUBLIC SCHOOLS WOULD GET A “D” OR AN “F,” WHICH IS 46 PERCENT.

AT A PROTEST OUTSIDE THE GOVERNOR'S MANSION REPRESENTATIVES OF THE AMERICAN CANCER SOCIETY CALLED ON LAWMAKERS TO OVERRIDE GOVERNOR JINDAL'S VETO OF A 4-CENT TAX ON CIGARETTES. ACS SPOKESMAN ANDREW MUHL SAYS THE CIGARETTE TAX GENERATES ABOUT 12-MILLION DOLLARS ANNUALLY AND BRINGS IN ANOTHER 36-MILLION IN FEDERAL MATCHING HEALTH CARE DOLLARS. HE HOPES LAWMAKERS VOTE TO OVERRIDE THE VETO SOON. OTHERS FEEL THE GOVERNOR DID THE RIGHT THING BY KILLING THE BILL. ROBIN EDWARDS, WITH THE LOUISIANA TEA PARTY FEDERATION, SAYS
GOVERNOR JINDAL IS LIVING UP TO HIS PROMISE OF NO NEW TAXES. SHE SAYS IT'S ALSO A MYTH THE CIGARETTE TAX GOES TO HEALTH CARE. HOWEVER, IT SHE APPARENTLY DID NOT READ THE BILL, AS AMENDED THE BILL WOULD DEDICATE THE 4-CENT TAX TO HEALTH CARE.

A TAX BREAK FOR PARENTS WHO PAY FOR PRIVATE SCHOOL TUITION OR PAY FOR UNIFORMS AND OTHER SCHOOL SUPPLIES WILL BE EXPANDED, UNDER A MEASURE GIVEN FINAL PASSAGE IN THE HOUSE. CURRENTLY, THE INCOME TAX DEDUCTION IS CAPPED AT 50 PERCENT OF THE MONEY SPENT, UP TO $5,000 PER CHILD. THE BILL REMOVES THE 50 PERCENT CAP, MEANING PARENTS COULD GET REIMBURSED THE FULL COSTS UP TO A MAXIMUM OF $5,000 PER CHILD. THAT BILL PASSED BY 80-14 VOTE.

A WEST MONROE LAWMAKER'S BILL TO POST SIGNS IN ABORTION CLINICS INFORMING WOMEN ABOUT ABORTION ALTERNATIVES HAS PASSED THE LOUISIANA SENATE.
REPUBLICAN FRANK HOFFMANN SAYS HIS BILL WOULD PREVENT YOUNG WOMAN FROM BEING COERCED INTO ABORTIONS. BUT CRITICS SAY THE BILL INTERFERES WITH A PERSONAL DECISION BY A WOMAN AND HER DOCTOR.

THE SENATE HEALTH & WELFARE COMMITTEE IS SCHEDULED TODAY TO HEAR A BILL THAT WOULD TEST RANDOM STATE WELFARE CASH RECIPIENTS FOR DRUGS. METAIRIE REP. JOHN LABRUZZO SAYS HIS BILL WAS HEARD ONCE IN COMMITTEE THEN DELAYED A WEEK FOR FURTHER RESEARCH, AFTER SOME DISTURBING TESTIMONY WAS HEARD FROM A DRUG DEALER WHO SAYS HE USED TO SELL HIS FOOD STAMP CARD FOR CASH IN ORDER TO BUY DRUGS. IT APPEARS NOW THE BILL COULD BE AMENDED TO BECOME STRONGER. LABRUZZO FEEL THAT IT'S NOT TOO MUCH TO WANT TO ASSURE THAT STATE ASSISTANCE MONEY NOT BE USED TO BUY ILLEGAL DRUGS.

PENALTIES FOR SEXUALLY ABUSING ELDERLY OR DISABLED PEOPLE WILL BE INCREASED, TO A MINIMUM OF 25 YEARS IN PRISON AND ELECTRONIC MONITORING FOR LIFE. THE BILL, FROM DENHAM SPRINGS REP. BODI WHITE, RECEIVED FINAL PASSAGE WITH A 74-20 HOUSE VOTE TODAY. IT HEADS NEXT TO THE GOVERNOR, WHO SUPPORTS THE MEASURE.

AN EXTRA BUCK WILL CONTINUE TO BE CHARGED TO YOUR DRIVERS LICENSE FEE, TO PAY FOR PROGRAMS TO CLEAN-UP AND FIGHT LITTER. THAT IS IF GOV. JINDAL DOES NOT VETO THE BILL. THE FEE WAS FIRST ENACTED IN 2003 AND WILL CONTINUE TO BE LEVIED ON EVERY FOUR-YEAR DRIVER'S LICENSE UNDER THE BILL FROM OIL CITY REP. JIM MORRIS.

LSU AND THE TIGER ATHLETIC FOUNDATION HAVE SENT A SURVEY TO SEASON TICKET HOLDERS TO FIND OUT THEIR OPINION ON POSSIBLY EXPANDING TIGER STADIUM BY ADDING MORE PREMIUM SEATING. OFFICIALS ARE TRYING TO DETERMINE IF THERE'S A LARGE DEMAND FOR EITHER MORE CLUB SEATS OR SUITES THAT WOULD HANG OVER THE STANDS BEHIND THE SOUTH END ZONE. THERE'S ALSO TALK ABOUT ADDING A CLUB LOUNGE THAT WOULD BE ACCESSIBLE TO FANS IN LOWER LEVEL SEATS ALONG THE EAST SIDELINE.

A UNIVERSITY STUDY RANKING STATES FOR THEIR MANUFACTURING ENVIRONMENT GIVES LOUISIANA AN "F" GRADE FOR ITS ABILITY TO PROVIDE A SKILLED WORKFORCE. THE BALL STATE UNIVERSITY REPORT RATES THE STATE'S ABILITY TO ATTRACT AND RETAIN SKILLED WORKERS AS POOR. LSU ECONOMIST DR. LOREN SCOTT SAYS THE REMEDY LIES IN IMPROVING K-12 EDUCATION. SCOTT SAYS THE STATE'S HIGH SCHOOL DROP-OUT RATE IS A DISCOURAGEMENT TO MANY COMPANIES, WHO WOULD NEED AN EDUCATED WORKFORCE--READY FOR TRAINING. HE SAYS SUBSTANCE ABUSE IS ALSO A FACTOR.

CHARGES ARE UPGRADED AGAINST AN ABBEVILLE MAN WHO WAS ALLEGEDLY DRIVING DRUNK WHEN HE SLAMMED INTO ANOTHER CAR HEAD-ON EARLIER THIS MONTH. STATE POLICE SPOKESMAN STEPHEN HAMMONS SAYS 23-YEAR-OLD EMILY LANDRY WAS THE DRIVER OF THE OTHER VEHICLE THAT 51-YEAR-OLD GREGORY MENARD HIT. SHE DIED IN THE CRASH. THE PASSENGER IN MENARD'S VEHICLE, HIS OLDER BROTHER, ALSO DIED WHEN HE WAS EJECTED FROM THE VEHICLE. HAMMONS SAYS THIS IS MENARD'S FOURTH OFFENSE DWI.

ISLE OF CAPRI CASINOS HAS REACHED AN OPTION AGREEMENT WITH A COMPANY THAT WANTS TO BUY ONE OF ITS TWO RIVERBOAT CASINOS IN LAKE CHARLES AND MOVE IT TO BOSSIER CITY. CURRENTLY, THERE ARE FOUR RIVERBOAT CASINOS IN BOSSIER CITY AND A FIFTH IN NEIGHBORING SHREVEPORT, ALONG WITH A SLOT MACHINE CASINO AT THE LOUISIANA DOWNS RACE TRACK IN BOSSIER CITY.

MARINE SCIENTISTS ARE PREDICTING THE ANNUAL DEAD ZONE IN THE GULF OF MEXICO COULD REACH A RECORD SIZE OF 9,500 SQUARE MILES. DR. GENE TURNER LSU PROFESSOR OF OCEANOGRAPHY AND COASTAL SCIENCES SAYS FERTILIZER RUNOFF FROM MIDWEST FARMS THAT CAME DOWN THE MISSISSIPPI RIVER WITH THE FLOOD THIS SPRING WILL CAUSE THE AREA OF LOW OXYGEN TO GROW. DR. TURNER SAYS IT COULD LEAD TO THE LARGEST DEAD ZONE EVER.

SHREVEPORT REPRESENTATIVE ALAN SEABAUGH HAS WITHDRAWN HIS BILL REQUIRING CANDIDATES FOR PRESIDENT AND OTHER OFFICES TO PROVE THEIR U.S. CITIZENSHIP BEFORE THEIR NAMES COULD BE PLACED ON A LOUISIANA BALLOT. SEABAUGH SAYS HE DIDN'T HAVE THE VOTES TO GET THE SO-CALLED "BIRTHER" BILL OUT OF THE COMMITTEE.

MONROE CITY POLICE SAY TWO MEN ARE IN CUSTODY AFTER THEY SHOWED UP AT A LOCAL CHURCH FOR THE PURPOSE OF COMMITTING ROBBERY. POLICE SPOKESPERSON CAPT. EVELYN ROBINSON SAYS WHEN CHURCH-GOERS GOT BACK TO THEIR SEATS THEY NOTICED THEIR CELLPHONES AND OTHER THINGS WERE MISSING. SHE SAYS 28-YEAR-OLD CHRISTOPHER NOBELS AND 27-YEAR-OLD VERDELL WYATT, BOTH OF MONROE, WERE ARRESTED FOR THEFT. ROBINSON SAYS IT'S GOOD TO BE MINDFUL OF YOUR THINGS BEING STOLEN EVEN IN A PLACE LIKE CHURCH.



News For Tuesday 061411


NEWS FOR TUESDAY 061411
BY DAVE GRAICHEN

LOREN LAMPERT, A RAPIDES PARISH ASSISTANT DISTRICT ATTORNEY, WILL SERVE AS ALEXANDRIA PUBLIC SAFETY COMMISSIONER WHILE THE CITY SEARCHES FOR A NEW POLICE CHIEF. THE APPOINTMENT WAS ANNOUNCED YESTERDAY BY MAYOR JACQUES ROY DURING PRESS BRIEFING. ROGER TULLY RESIGNED AS POLICE CHIEF LAST WEEK AFTER 10 MONTHS ON THE JOB. MAYOR ROY HAS PROMISED “QUICK AND DECISIVE ACTION TO REPLACE HIM." CHIEF TULLY CITED PERSONAL CIRCUMSTANCES FOR HIS IMMEDIATE RESIGNATION.

THE SENATE HAS DEFEATED A BILL THAT WOULD REQUIRE MORE TRANSPARENCY OF THE GOVERNOR'S OFFICE. THE BILL, BY BENTON SEN. ROBERT ADLEY, WOULD HAVE REQUIRED THE GOVERNOR TO MAKE HIS SCHEDULE AND SOME MEETING CONTENT AVAILABLE FOR PUBLIC SCRUTINY.

AN ATTEMPT TO REPEAL STATE INCOME TAXES WAS REVIVED BY THE HOUSE WAYS & MEANS COMMITTEE. THE PROPOSAL BY LIVONIA SEN. ROB MARIONNEAUX PASSED OUT OF THE SENATE AS A MEASURE TO STUDY A POSSIBLE REPEAL. POLITICAL ANALYST JOHN MAGINNIS, WITH "LAPOLITICS.COM" SAYS THE HOUSE COMMITTEE RESTORED THE REPEAL AND NARROWED THE FOCUS OF THE BILL. THE BILL WOULD BEGIN A PHASE OUT OF PERSONAL INCOME TAXES, OVER A 10-YEAR PERIOD, BEGINNING IN 2014. HE SAYS THAT WOULD GIVE LAWMAKERS PLENTY OF TIME TO MAKES BUDGET CUTS OR FIND WAYS TO REPLACE THE LOST REVENUES.

GOVERNOR BOBBY JINDAL SEEMS TO BE HAVING A TOUGH TIME PUSHING HIS POLITICAL AGENDA THIS LEGISLATIVE SESSION. ULL POLITICAL SCIENCE PROFESSOR PEARSON CROSS SAYS LEGISLATORS ARE NOT AS WILLING TO GIVE IN TO THE GOVERNOR AS THEY HAVE IN PAST SESSIONS. HE SAYS THE HOUSE, AS A WHOLE, IS GENERALLY MORE CONSERVATIVE THAN JINDAL IS. THE UNO/SUNO MERGER, COLLEGE FEE HIKES, AND THE SELLING OF STATE PRISONS ARE EXAMPLES OF JINDAL BACKED LEGISLATION THAT FAILED TO PASS.

LOUISIANA REPUBLICAN PARTY MEMBERS ARE FEELING PRETTY GOOD ABOUT THE RE-ELECTION OF GOVERNOR BOBBY JINDAL THIS FALL. REPUBLICAN LEADERSHIP CONFERENCE PRESIDENT CHARLIE DAVIS, OF BATON ROUGE, SAYS CONFIDENCE IS RUNNING HIGH RIGHT NOW. SO FAR ONLY ONE PERSON, HAYNESVILLE DEMOCRATIC SCHOOL TEACHER TARA
HOLLIS, HAS DECLARED THE INTENT TO CHALLENGE JINDAL. DAVIS SAYS THE GOP HAS A SUPPORT STRATEGY FOR JINDAL'S CAMPAIGN, WHICH DOES NOT INCLUDE RESTING ON THEIR LAURELS.

CLAIBORNE PARISH PUBLIC-SCHOOL TEACHER AND DEMOCRATIC GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE TARA HOLLIS LAUNCHES AN ONLINE-AD CAMPAIGN AGAINST GOVERNOR BOBBY JINDAL. IN THE COMMERCIAL HOLLIS ACCUSES JINDAL OF SACRIFICING THE FUTURE OF LOUISIANA FOR HIS OWN POLITICAL AGENDA AND RAISING THE UNEMPLOYMENT RATE. THE ADS ARE CURRENTLY ONLY RUNNING ON HOLLIS'S WEBSITE AND ON YOUTUBE WHILE SHE AWAITS CAMPAIGN CONTRIBUTIONS. THE ADS ALSO TAKE A SHOT A JINDAL FOR BEING THE SO-CALLED, "TRAVELING GOVERNOR".

A CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT TO DEDICATE MORE DOLLARS TO MERIT-BASED TOPS SCHOLARSHIPS IS CLOSER TO FINAL LEGISLATIVE PASSAGE; APPROVED YESTERDAY BY THE HOUSE APPROPRIATIONS COMMITTEE. WESTWEGO SEN. JOHN ALARIO SPONSORS THE BILL THAT WOULD DEDICATE A PORTION OF FUTURE TOBACCO SETTLEMENT DOLLARS TO TOPS. THE MEASURE NOW GOES TO THE HOUSE FLOOR.

TODAY IS THE DEADLINE FOR GOVERNOR JINDAL TO EITHER SIGN OR VETO A BILL THAT RENEWS A 4-CENT TAX ON CIGARETTES THAT EXPIRES A YEAR FROM NOW. THE GOVERNOR CONSIDERS THE MEASURE A NEW TAX AND VOWS TO USE HIS VETO PEN. POLITICAL ANALYST BERNIE PINSONAT EXPECTS MR. JINDAL WILL BE AS GOOD AS HIS WORD. IF MR. JINDAL VETOES, AND LAWMAKERS SUCCESSFULLY OVERRIDE...IT WILL BE THE FIRST TIME THAT'S HAPPENED IN LOUISIANA IN 20 YEARS.

A BELLE CHASSE LEGISLATOR HAS WITHDRAWN A BILL THAT WOULD MOUNT A WIDE RANGING ATTACK ON ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION AFTER QUESTIONS AROSE ABOUT THE COST OF ENFORCING IT. INDEPENDENT REP. ERNEST WOOTON SAYS HIS BILL WOULD HELP SECURE THE BORDERS BY PROMPTING FEDERAL OFFICIALS TO BETTER ENFORCE IMMIGRATION RESTRICTIONS. CRITICS SAY HIS MEASURE'S $11 MILLION ESTIMATED COST WOULD STRAIN STATE AND LOCAL GOVERNMENTS AND LEAD TO RACIAL PROFILING.

DROUGHT CONDITIONS HAVE LED TO CAMPFIRES AND COOKING FIRES BEING BANNED UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE IN THE KISATCHIE NATIONAL FOREST EXCEPT IN OFFICIAL U.S. FOREST SERVICE RECREATION SITES. PROPANE AND COLEMAN-TYPE STOVES ARE ALLOWED IN OFFICIAL RECREATION SITES. OTHERWISE, NO FIRES OF ANY KIND ARE ALLOWED.

A STRETCH OF THE ATCHAFALAYA BASIN IN ST. MARTIN PARISH HAS BEEN REOPENED TO BOAT TRAFFIC AFTER OFFICIALS DETERMINED IT WAS SAFE TO USE AGAIN. THE 4-MILE STRETCH WAS REOPENED MONDAY BY THE LOUISIANA DEPARTMENT OF WILDLIFE AND FISHERIES. THE AREA WAS CLOSED DUE TO THE FLOODING ON THE MISSISSIPPI RIVER THAT FORCED THE ARMY CORPS OF ENGINEERS TO OPEN THE MORGANZA SPILLWAY.

THE HOUSE BUDGET COMMITTEE NARROWLY AGREED MONDAY TO ADD NEW ROADBLOCKS TO BUILDING A PUBLIC MEDICAL CENTER IN NEW ORLEANS. THE PROPOSAL HEADED TO THE HOUSE FOR DEBATE WOULD REQUIRE ANOTHER LAYER OF LEGISLATIVE APPROVAL FROM BOTH THE FULL HOUSE AND SENATE BEFORE DOLLARS COULD BE BORROWED OR CONTRACTS COULD BE MADE TO BUILD THE HOSPITAL. THE UNIVERSITY MEDICAL CENTER TEACHING AND RESEARCH FACILITY PROPOSED BY LSU AND BACKED BY REPUBLICAN GOV. BOBBY JINDAL WOULD COST AN ESTIMATED $1.2 BILLION, WHILE U.S. SEN. DAVID VITTER AND OTHER REPUBLICAN LEADERS ARE PITCHING A SCALED-BACK PROPOSAL THEY SAY WOULD COST ABOUT $800 MILLION.

ADVOCATES OF A LESS COSTLY PLAN FOR CREATING A WORLD-CLASS TEACHING HOSPITAL IN NEW ORLEANS SAY GOVERNOR JINDAL IS AGREEABLE TO CONSIDERING THEIR PROPOSAL. THE PLAN WAS SUBMITTED BY SEN. DAVID VITTER, HOUSE SPEAKER JIM TUCKER AND STATE TREASURER JOHN KENNEDY. KENNEDY SAYS THE MEETING WITH THE JINDAL AND THE UNIVERSITY MEDICAL CTR. BOARD WENT WELL. KENNEDY, TUCKER AND VITTER PROPOSED A PLAN TO ESTABLISH A UNIVERSITY MEDICAL CENTER IN COOPERATION WITH TULANE'S AREA HOSPITALS. THE PLAN WOULD CALL FOR BUILDING A NEW FACILITY TOO, BUT AT A CHEAPER COST THAN THE $1.2-BILLION PLAN PREFERRED BY LSU. KENNEDY SAYS THE ALTERNATE PLAN WOULD SPARE THE STATE HAVING TO BORROW $400-MILLION FOR CONSTRUCTION. A CONSULTANT STUDY SAYS THE CURRENT PLAN, PUT FORWARD BY LSU AND THE GOVERNOR, IS UNSUSTAINABLE.

FLOODWATERS HAVE FALLEN ON THE MISSISSIPPI RIVER IN NORTHEAST LOUISIANA TO A POINT WHERE PROPERTY OWNERS WILL BE ALLOWED TO GO BACK TO THEIR PROPERTY TO ACCESS THE DAMAGE AND BEGIN THE REBUILDING PROCESS. MEANWHILE, FIFTH LOUISIANA LEVEE DISTRICT PRESIDENT REYNOLD MINSKY SAYS RECORD RIVER LEVELS WEAKENED LEVEES AND ITS GOING TO TAKE ABOUT 700-MILLION DOLLARS IN FEDERAL MONEY TO REPAIR THEM.

THE LAFOURCHE PARISH COUNCIL IS TAKING A VOTE TONIGHT WHICH MAY IMPOSE A BAN THE SALE AND USE OF FIREWORKS OVER THE FOURTH OF JULY HOLIDAY BECAUSE OF WIDESPREAD DROUGHT CONDITIONS. PARISH PRESIDENT CHARLOTTE RANDOLPH SAYS SHE HAS HEARD THE CONCERNS OF FIRE OFFICIALS FROM ACROSS THE PARISH.

THE EVANGELINE PARISH POLICE JURY ON MONDAY APPROVED ADOPTING A MASTER PLAN FOR THE JURY’S ROAD BUILDING PROCESS KNOWN AS “CHIP SEALING.” THE CHIP SEALING PROGRAM BEGAN FOUR YEARS AGO AND SINCE HAS BEEN USED TO HARD SURFACE ABOUT 70 MILES OF PARISH ROADS. THE PROCESS INVOLVES THREE LAYERS OF TAR AND LIMESTONE ALONG WITH A SEALER. THE PROCESS IS ECONOMICAL COMPARED WITH ASPHALT. CHIP SEALING A MILE OF ROAD COSTS $50,000 COMPARED WITH $220,000 FOR ONE MILE OF ASPHALT ROAD.

SHREVEPORT POLICE ARE RED-FACED , AFTER ONE OF THEIR PATROL CARS WAS FOUND YESTERDAY MORNING UP ON CINDER BLOCKS--ALL FOUR WHEELS AND TIRES STOLEN. THE UNIT WAS PARKED ALL WEEKEND AT A BUSINESS AWAITING SOME WORK TO BE DONE. THEY THINK THIEVES COMMITTED THE CRIME SOMETIME LATE LAST NIGHT.

THE CONCORDIA PARISH SHERIFF'S OFFICE SAYS PARISH RESIDENTS HAVE LOST THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS TO SCAMMERS WHO PRETEND TO BE RELATIVES WHO ARE ABROAD AND NEED CASH IN A HURRY. AUTHORITIES SAY THAT THE CON ARTISTS USE THE INTERNET TO LEARN FAMILY NAMES TO USE FOR THEIR STORIES.

A CADDO PARISH SHERIFF'S DEPUTY SHOT HIMSELF IN THE LEG OUTSIDE THE PARISH JAIL AS HE WAS PUTTING HIS GUN INTO THE HOLSTER. DEPUTIES SAY NO PRISONERS WERE NEARBY WHEN THE ACCIDENTAL SHOOTING HAPPENED AND NO ONE ELSE WAS INJURED.

A BELLE CHASSE LEGISLATOR HAS WITHDRAWN A BILL THAT WOULD MOUNT A WIDE-RANGING ATTACK ON ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION AFTER QUESTIONS AROSE ABOUT THE COST OF ENFORCING IT. INDEPENDENT REP. ERNEST WOOTON SAYS HIS BILL WOULD HELP SECURE THE BORDERS BY PROMPTING FEDERAL OFFICIALS TO BETTER ENFORCE IMMIGRATION RESTRICTIONS. CRITICS SAY HIS MEASURE'S $11 MILLION ESTIMATED COST WOULD STRAIN STATE AND LOCAL GOVERNMENTS AND LEAD TO RACIAL PROFILING.



News For Monday 06/13/11


NEWS FOR MONDAY 061311
BY DAVE GRAICHEN

HE WAS ON THE JOB LESS THAN A YEAR AND THERE’S NO WORD WHY HE IS LEAVING. ALEXANDRIA'S POLICE CHIEF HAS RESIGNED. MAYOR JACQUES ROY WOULD NOT SAY WHY ROGER TULLY WAS RESIGNING. WHAT HE DID SAY WAS THAT "ROGER TULLY EXEMPLIFIED EXCELLENCE DURING THE SELECTION PROCESS AND HE IS CLEARLY A MAN WITH GREAT CREDENTIALS AND EXPERIENCE IN LAW ENFORCEMENT," TULLY, A 29-YEAR VETERAN WITH THE BATON ROUGE POLICE DEPARTMENT, BECAME ALEXANDRIA'S CHIEF LAST AUGUST.

THE HOUSE WAYS AND MEANS COMMITTEE IS SCHEDULED TO HEAR A BILL TODAY THAT WOULD STUDY WHETHER OR NOT TO REPEAL STATE INCOME TAXES. THE BILL IS BY LIVONIA SENATOR ROB MARIONNEAUX WHO BELIEVES WE SHOULD PHASE OUT STATE PERSONAL AND CORPORATE INCOME TAXES OVER A PERIOD OF TEN YEARS. HE SAYS WE NEED TO KEEP UP WITH OTHER STATES WHO HAVE DONE THIS. MARIONNEAUX SAYS BUSINESSES WHO HAD COME TO LOUISIANA FOR TAX BREAKS, HAVE BEEN LEAVING AND GOING TO OTHER STATES. THE BILL WAS AMENDED TO ONLY HAVE THE STATE INCOME TAX REPEAL IDEA STUDIED, BUT MARIONNEAUX WOULD LIKE TO SEE IT AMENDED BACK BECAUSE HE SAYS THAT'S JUST ANOTHER ATTEMPT TO KILL THE BILL.

THE HOUSE APPROPRIATIONS COMMITTEE IS SCHEDULED TO HEAR A BILL TODAY THAT PROVIDES INCENTIVES TO LOUISIANA RESTAURANTS WHO USE LOCALLY GROWN PRODUCTS. AGRICULTURE COMMISSIONER MIKE STRAIN IS A BACKER OF THE LEGISLATION. HE SAYS THE GOAL IS TO GET MORE RESTAURANTS TO PURCHASE LOUISIANA PRODUCTS. STRAIN SAYS PARTICIPATING RESTAURANTS WILL RECEIVE A FOUR-PERCENT REBATE ON THEIR TOTAL PURCHASES OF LOUISIANA AGRICULTURAL PRODUCTS. HE SAYS THE BILL CREATES A SPECIAL FUND THAT WILL BE USED TO GIVE OUT THE REBATES. STRAIN SAYS THE PROGRAM HAS THE POTENTIAL TO GIVE LOCAL FARMERS A MUCH NEEDED ECONOMIC BOOST.

THE HOUSE APPROPRIATIONS COMMITTEE IS SCHEDULED TO HEAR A BILL BACKED BY GOVERNOR JINDAL THAT REDIRECTS TOBACCO SETTLEMENT MONEY INTO THE TOPS SCHOLARSHIP PROGRAM. THE BILL SEEKS TO PROTECT TOPS FUNDING FOR THE FORESEEABLE FUTURE. TO DO SO, THE BILL SEEKS TO AMEND THE STATE CONSTITUTION TO SEND TOBACCO SETTLEMENT PAYMENTS FROM THE MILLENNIUM TRUST FUND INTO TOPS, FREEING UP ABOUT $70 MILLION OF THE STATE BUDGET FOR OTHER USES. THE BILL REQUIRES A TWO THIRDS MAJORITY VOTE IN EACH CHAMBER TO PASS.

THE RENEWAL OF 4 CENTS OF THE STATE’S CIGARETTE TAX IS PUTTING REPUBLICANS AT THE STATE CAPITOL IN THE UNCOMFORTABLE POSITION OF DECIDING WHETHER TO EBARRASS THE GOVERNOR ON AN ISSUE WITH NATIONAL IMPLICATIONS. GOV. BOBBY JINDAL CHARACTERIZED THE RENEWAL AS A TAX INCREASE AT THE START OF THE SESSION AND THREATENED TO VETO THE MEASURE IF THE LEGISLATURE PASSED IT. THE LEGISLATURE DID. NOW, JINDAL IS DETERMINED NOT TO ADD HIS NAME TO THE SHORT LIST OF MODERN LOUISIANA GOVERNORS WHOSE VETOES HAVE BEEN OVERTURNED BY THE LEGISLATURE.
HB591, WHICH AUTHORIZES THE RENEWAL, IS BEFORE THE GOVERNOR, AWAITING HIS VETO STAMP.

AS LOUISIANA IS FACING DROUGHT CONDITIONS AND A STATE WIDE BURN BAN IS STILL IN AFFECT--HOW MIGHT THIS AFFECT SUMMER ACTIVITIES? STATE FIRE MARSHAL BUTCH BROWNING SAYS FOURTH OF JULY FIREWORKS RESTRICTIONS WILL BE REGULATED AT THE LOCAL LEVEL. SOME COUNTIES IN TEXAS HAVE BANNED OUTDOOR GRILLING, BUT BROWNING DOESN'T FORESEE LOUISIANA GETTING TO THAT POINT. BROWNING SAYS PEOPLE HAVE HEEDED THE WARNINGS AND THERE HAS BEEN A SIGNIFICANT DECREASE IN THE NUMBER OF REPORTED FIRES.

THE US ARMY CORPS OF ENGINEERS HAS STARTED CLOSING BAYS ON THE BONNET CARRE SPILLWAY IN ST. CHARLES PARISH. CORPS SPOKESPERSON MIKE STACK SAYS 30 OF THE 330 BAYS WERE CLOSED OVER THE WEEKEND. HE SAYS THEY'LL CONTINUE TO MONITOR CONDITIONS ON THE MISSISSIPPI RIVER BEFORE DECIDING WHETHER TO CLOSE MORE BAYS. STACK PREDICTS IT WILL TAKE ABOUT TWO MORE WEEKS BEFORE THEY'RE ABLE TO CLOSE ALL OF THE BAYS ON THE SPILLWAY. HE SAYS RIVER LEVELS ARE STILL HIGH, BUT THE WATER IS RECEDING.

AN INTERESTING SIDE STORY TO THE OPENING THE BONNET CARRE SPILLWAY, WILDLIFE OFFICIALS ARE SAYING THE OPENING MAY HAVE UNFORESEEN CONSEQUENCES SHOULD THE ASIAN OR SILVER CARP ENTER THE LAKE AND BECOME ESTABLISHED. ALLEN RUTHERFORD WITH THE LSU AGCENTER SAYS THE ASIAN CARP IS A HARDY, FAST BREEDING FISH THAT WAS INTRODUCED INTO PRIVATE PONDS AND LAKES IN THE 1970'S. PERIODIC FLOODING HELPED THEM ESCAPE INTO RIVERS AND STREAMS AND FROM THERE SPREAD RAPIDLY THROUGH THE MISSOURI AND MISSISSIPPI RIVER SYSTEMS. RUTHERFORD SAYS THE REAL DANGER IS TO NATIVE FISH SPECIES. RUTHERFORD SAYS THE ASIAN CARP IS ALREADY WELL ESTABLISHED IN THE MISSISSIPPI RIVER AND THE ATCHAFALAYA. HE SAYS THE BEST WAY TO CONTROL THE EXOTIC SPECIES IS TO FIND MARKETS FOR THEM. WORD IS THEY ARE TASTY.

US SENATOR MARY LANDRIEU IS URGING THE DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY TO ACT ON A LOAN APPLICATION FROM START-UP CAR MANUFACTURER NEXT AUTOWORKS. NEXT AUTOWORK NEEDS 321-MILLION DOLLARS TO BUILD A PROPOSED AUTO ASSEMBLY PLANT IN MONROE. DURING A SENATE ENERGY AND NATURAL RESOURCE COMMITTEE, LANDRIEU SAID THE COMPANY NEEDS AN ANSWER SOON. THE NEXT AUTOWORKS PLANT HAS THE POTENTIAL TO CREATE 14-HUNRED JOBS. LANDRIEU TOLD JONATHAN SILVER, WHO HEADS THE DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY'S LOAN PROGRAM, THAT FUNDING FROM LOUISIANA IS IN JEOPARDY, BECAUSE OF THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT'S SLOW RESPONSE TO NEXT AUTOWORKS APPLICATION. SILVER SAYS THERE ARE REGULAR MEETINGS WITH NEXT AUTOWORKS AND OTHER APPLICANTS AND A DECISION TO FINALIZE THE LOAN IS FORTHCOMING.

A MEASURE THAT WOULD CALL FOR A TEN COMMANDMENTS MONUMENT TO BE POSTED ON THE STATE CAPITOL GROUNDS HAS UNANIMOUSLY PASSED IN THE HOUSE. SHREVEPORT REP. PATRICK WILLIAMS IS THE AUTHOR OF THE BILL AND HE SAYS IT WOULD NOT MANDATE THIS INTO LAW, IT WOULD JUST ALLOW IT TO HAPPEN. HE SAYS THE STATE WOULD NOT HAVE TO PUT UP ANY FUNDS FOR IT. WILLIAMS SAYS BECAUSE OF THE WAY THE BILL IS DRAFTED, IT PASSES CONSTITUTIONAL MUSTER AND DOESN'T CLOUD THE SEPARATION OF CHURCH AND STATE ISSUE. WILLIAMS SAYS HE BELIEVES THIS BILL HAS A GOOD CHANCE OF PASSING IN THE SENATE AND EVENTUALLY BECOMING LAW. THE MEASURE NOW HEADS TO THE SENATE FOR DEBATE.

IN LAFAYETTE, AUTHORITIES ARRESTED A 31-YEAR-OLD MAN AND CHARGED HIM WITH FIRST DEGREE MURDER IN THE BEATING DEATH OF HIS GIRLFRIEND’S 9-YEAR-OLD SON. THE BOY WAS NOT BREATHING WHEN RONJOEROX HAMILTON, THE MOTHER’S BOYFRIEND, BROUGHT THE BOY TO WOMEN’S & CHILDREN’S HOSPITAL IN LAFAYETTE ON SATURDAY. THE HOSPITAL STAFF BEGAN TREATING THE BOY AND DISCOVERED SIGNIFICANT INJURIES THROUGHOUT HIS BODY, INDICATING HE HAD BEEN SEVERELY BEATEN. THE SHERIFF’S OFFICE WAS CONTACTED AND HAMILTON WAS ARRESTED. THE CHILD DIED FROM HIS INJURIES SUNDAY. HAMILTON WAS BOOKED INTO THE LAFAYETTE PARISH CORRECTIONAL CENTER. THE CASE REMAINS UNDER INVESTIGATION.




News For Friday 06/10/11


NEWS FOR FRIDAY 061011
BY DAVE GRAICHEN

A BID TO CUT LOUISIANA'S STATE GOVERNMENT PAYROLL BY AT LEAST 5,000 JOBS A YEAR FOR THE NEXT THREE BUDGET YEARS RECEIVED HOUSE BACKING WITH A 73-14 VOTE THURSDAY. THE MEASURE BY REP. JEROME RICHARD OF THIBODAUX, HAS BEEN PUSHED BY TREASURER JOHN KENNEDY AS A WAY TO SHRINK STATE GOVERNMENT SPENDING TO COPE WITH BUDGET SHORTFALLS. RICHARD SAID THE JOBS COULD BE CUT THROUGH ATTRITION BY NOT FILLING ONE-THIRD OF THE VACANT POSITIONS THAT COME UP EACH YEAR AND WOULDN'T REQUIRE LAYOFFS. THE STATE CURRENTLY HAS ABOUT 81,000 FULL-TIME WORKERS, ACCORDING TO A LEGISLATIVE FISCAL OFFICE REVIEW. THE PROPOSAL WOULD REQUIRE A $500 MILLION ANNUAL SAVINGS BY THE 2013-14 BUDGET YEAR. IT HEADS NEXT TO THE SENATE FOR DEBATE.

EFFORTS TO BAN DRIVERS FROM TALKING ON A HAND-HELD CELL PHONE BEHIND THE WHEEL HAVE BEEN DASHED. NEW ORLEANS REP. CHARMAINE STIAES' BILL WOULD HAVE MADE IT A PRIMARY OFFENSE; MEANING POLICE COULD PULL YOU OVER IF THEY SAW YOU WITH YOUR PHONE TO YOUR EAR. STIAES INSISTED THAT THERE IS A CLEAR DANGER PRESENT IN THE USE OF HAND HELD CELL PHONES. BATON ROUGE REP. DALTON HONORE, OPPOSED THE BILL, ARGUED THAT THE LEGISLATURE WAS BECOMING TOO INTRUSIVE INTO THE DAILY LIVES OF ORDINARY CITIZENS. THAT LEGISLATION IS LIKELY DEAD FOR THE SESSION.

A SENATE COMMITTEE ADVANCES A HOUSE-PASSED BILL THAT WOULD ALLOW VEHICLES TO BE SOLD IN LOUISIANA WITH A TV IN THE FRONT SEAT. UNDER NEW ORLEANS REP. HELENA MORENO'S BILL, THE TV MUST BE POSITIONED WHERE ONLY THE FRONT PASSENGER CAN SEE IT, AND NOT THE DRIVER. SHE SAYS SAFETY STUDIES HAVE ASSURED THAT'S THE CASE. CARS ARE BEING BUILT WITH THIS OPTION, AND MORENO SAYS LOUISIANA CAR DEALERS ARE AT A DISADVANTAGE, BECAUSE THEY CANNOT SELL THEM. 38 OTHER STATES ALLOW FRONT SEAT TV SCREENS.

THE HOUSE BACKED A REQUIREMENT THAT EMPLOYERS IN LOUISIANA VERIFY THE CITIZENSHIP STATUS OF WORKERS BEFORE HIRING THEM. THE PROPOSAL (HOUSE BILL 646) BY REP. KIRK TALBOT, R-RIVER RIDGE, HEADS NEXT TO THE SENATE FOR DEBATE. EMPLOYERS COULD USE A BIRTH CERTIFICATE, IMMIGRATION PAPERS OR THE FEDERAL E-VERIFY SYSTEM TO DETERMINE THAT EMPLOYEES ARE ELIGIBLE TO WORK IN THE UNITED STATES.

BY THE WAY, LAWMAKERS HAVE CONCLUDED THEIR BUSINESS FOR THE WEEK. BOTH HOUSE & SENATE HAVE ADJOURNED UNTIL MONDAY MORNING.

THE ARMY CORPS OF ENGINEERS HAS NOW CLOSED ALL BUT JUST ONE OF THE GATES OF THE MORGANZA SPILLWAY, THAT WERE OPENED LAST MONTH TO RELIEVE FLOOD STRESS ON MISSISSIPPI RIVER LEVEES. THAT LAST GATE SHOULD BE CLOSED BY SUNDAY.

SENATOR DAVID VITTER AND OTHER STATE LEADERS ARE PROPOSING AN ALTERNATE PLAN FOR A NEW TEACHING AND RESEARCH HOSPITAL IN NEW ORLEANS. VITTER'S PLAN WOULD COST AN ESTIMATED 800-MILLION DOLLARS. VITTER WAS JOINED BY HOUSE SPEAKER JIM TUCKER AND STATE TREASURER JOHN KENNEDY IN SENDING A LETTER TO GOVERNOR JINDAL WITH THEIR RECOMMENDATIONS. JINDAL SUPPORTS A LARGER 1.2-BILLION DOLLAR PROJECT FOR THE CRESCENT CITY. THE NEW FACILITY WOULD REPLACE LSU'S CHARITY HOSPITAL WHICH HAS BEEN CLOSED SINCE HURRICANE KATRINA.

THE STATE SENATE PASSES A BILL TO TRANSFER THE UNIVERSITY OF NEW ORLEANS FROM THE LSU SYSTEM INTO THE UNIVERSITY OF LOUISIANA SYSTEM. BILL SPONSOR, SENATOR CONRAD APPEL, OF METAIRIE, ASKS COLLEAGUES TO ACT IN THE BEST INTERESTS OF THE STAFF, FACULTY AND STUDENTS AT UNO. THE MEASURE PASSED BY UNANIMOUS VOTE. THE HOUSE HAS ALL READY PASSED A COMPANION BILL. THAT MAKES IT PRETTY LIKELY THAT ONE OF THE TWO MEASURES WILL SEE FINAL PASSAGE AND GO TO THE GOVERNOR'S DESK.

THE LOUISIANA DEPARTMENT OF WILDLIFE AND FISHERIES HAS PROCLAIMED THIS WEEKEND A "FREE FISHING WEEKEND" ALL DAY SATURDAY AND SUNDAY. SPOKESPERSON BO BOEHRINGER SAYS ANYONE WILL BE ABLE TO FISH THIS WEEKEND WITHOUT THE STATE LICENSE REQUIREMENT. BOEHRINGER SAYS THIS WEEKEND STATE PARKS IN FRANKLINTON, VILLE PLATTE, FARMERVILLE AND NEW ORLEANS WILL PROVIDE BASIC FISHING EQUIPMENT FOR ANYONE NEEDING GEAR FOR THE DAY.

GOVERNOR JINDAL HAS ORDERED ALL STATE AND U.S. FLAGS AT STATE BUILDINGS TO FLY AT HALF-MAST, TO SHOW RESPECT FOR INSURANCE DEPARTMENT FRAUD INVESTIGATORS RHETT JEANSONNE AND KIM SLEDGE. THE PAIR WERE SHOT TO DEATH TUESDAY IN VILLE PLATTE WHILE CALLING ON AN INSURANCE AGENCY THERE. THE BUSINESS PROPRIETOR, WHO SHOT THE PAIR, THEN TURNED THE GUN ON HIMSELF.

GOVERNOR BOBBY JINDAL TURNS 40 YEARS OLD TODAY--HE'S ALREADY SPENT A GOOD PORTION OF HIS LIFE IN POLITICS--BUT WHAT'S NEXT FOR LOUISIANA'S YOUNGEST ELECTED GOVERNOR? WE KNOW JINDAL IS RUNNING FOR RE-ELECTION THIS FALL, AND LSU POLITICAL SCIENCE PROFESSOR ROBERT HOGAN SAYS JINDAL'S LEGACY AS GOVERNOR WILL BE ON HIS MIND. HE BELIEVES THE GOVERNOR WILL LIKELY BE MORE BOLD DURING HIS SECOND TERM, IF ELECTED, SO THAT HE CAN LEAVE A BIGGER MARK BEHIND. HOGAN SAYS JINDAL WILL BE LOOKING TO KEEP HIS NAME IN THE NATIONAL SPOTLIGHT, BUT IDEAS OF PRESIDENCY ARE LIKELY FURTHER DOWN THE ROAD. HE SAYS JINDAL HAS ALWAYS BEEN A YOUNG AMBITIOUS POLITICIAN, AND THERE WILL BE LOTS OF OPTIONS FOR HIM IN THE COMING YEARS.

A BILL THAT WOULD ASK DAY CARE CENTERS TO INSTALL A DEVICE TO ENSURE CHILDREN ARE NOT ACCIDENTALLY LEFT IN VEHICLES PASSES THE LOUISIANA HOUSE. THE DEVICE WOULD SOUND AN ALARM THAT REQUIRES THE DRIVER TO GO TO THE BACK OF THE VAN ONCE THE ENGINE IS TURNED OFF. BATON ROUGE REPRESENTATIVE REGINA BARROW, WHO BROUGHT THE BILL, SAYS THE ALARMS WOULD COST APPROXIMATELY $300 AND AN ADDITIONAL $75 TO INSTALL. THAT BILL NOW MOVES OVER TO THE SENATE.

THE FAMILY OF A 21-YEAR-OLD MARINE FROM IOTA, LOUISIANA HAS CONFIRMED HIS DEATH IN AFGHANISTAN. MATTHEW RICHARD WAS SERVING HIS SECOND TOUR OF DUTY. RICHARD DIED IN THE EXPLOSION OF AN IMPROVISED EXPLOSIVE DEVICE. SO FAR THE DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE HAS NOT CONFIRMED HIS DEATH. RICHARD JOINED THE MARINES OUT OF HIGH SCHOOL AT THE AGE OF 17. HIS MOTHER SAYS, HE WAS A HERO. AND THAT VERY FEW YOUNG MEN KNOW WHAT THEY WANT TO DO WITH THEIR LIVES.

TODAY IS THE LAST DAY TO ENTER A RAFFLE FOR A CHANCE TO WORKOUT WITH THE SAINTS AS THEY HOLD PLAYER-ONLY WORKOUTS AT TULANE. FOUR LUCKY FANS WILL PRACTICE WITH THE PLAYERS ON JUNE 15TH. THE FIRST SUCH RAFFLE A COUPLE OF WEEKS AGO RAISED 40-THOUSAND DOLLARS FOR LOUISIANA CHARITIES. QUARTERBACK DREW BREES SAYS ITS A ONCE IN A LIFETIME OPPORTUNITY. THE DEADLINE TO PURCHASE THE TWO-DOLLAR RAFFLE TICKETS IS AT 1:00. YOU CAN ENTER BY GOING TO NET-RAFFLE-DOT-ORG.

THE PRESIDENT OF THE COUNCIL FOR A BETTER LOUISIANA, BARRY ERWIN ,URGED LAWMAKERS THURSDAY TO SCRAP ATTEMPTS TO REPEAL LOUISIANA'S INCOME TAX, SAYING IT WOULD DAMAGE COLLEGES, HEALTH CARE AND PUBLIC SAFETY. "IT'S TIME TO PUT THE BRAKES ON THIS DISCUSSION AND TAKE A REALITY CHECK FOR A MOMENT,"

News For Thursday 06/09/11


NEWS FOR THURSDAY 060911
BY DAVE GRAICHEN

WITH JUST TWO WEEKS REMAINING IN THIS YEAR'S LEGISLATIVE SESSION, LAWMAKERS STILL HAVE A LOT OF UNFINISHED BUSINESS TO ATTEND TO. POLITICAL ANALYST JOHN MAGINNIS, WITH "LAPOLITICS.COM" SAYS THE BIGGEST TASK IS BALANCING THE STATE'S BUDGET. HE SAYS THE HOUSE STRIPPED OUT KEY FUNDING ELEMENTS PROPOSED BY GOVERNOR JINDAL'S OFFICE. ACCORDING TO MAGINNIS, THIS SESSION HAS EXPOSED A FISSURE BETWEEN GOVERNOR JINDAL AND LAWMAKERS OVER ISSUES LIKE USING ONE-TIME DOLLARS TO FILL REVENUE GAPS, SELLING STATE PRISONS AND RENEWING AN EXPIRING 4-CENT TAX ON CIGARETTES. A NUMBER OF HOUSE BILLS STILL HAVEN'T MADE IT TO THE SENATE, AND VICE VERSA. WITH ONLY TWO WEEKS LEFT, SOME MAY BE LEFT BY THE WAYSIDE. MAGINNIS FEELS ONE OR MORE BILLS AIMED AT ENDING STATE INCOME TAX WILL WIN FINAL PASSAGE THIS YEAR.

FORMER GOVERNOR KATHLEEN BLANCO HAS BEEN DIAGNOSED A RARE FORM OF CANCER TO THE EYE. THE CANCER WAS DISCOVERED DURING A COMPREHENSIVE EYE EXAM LAST WEEK AND CONFIRMED BY SPECIALIST. DOCTORS REPORT THE FORMER GOVERNOR IS IN GOOD HEALTH AND EXPECTS TO BEGIN TREATMENT SHORTLY. DOCTORS SAY HER PROGNOSIS FOR RECOVERY IS GOOD. THE CANCER AFFECTS ROUGHLY SIX OUT OF EVERY ONE-MILLION PEOPLE.

A BILL BY METAIRIE REPRESENTATIVE JOHN LABRUZZO, REQUIRING RANDOM DRUG TESTING FOR PEOPLE RECEIVING CASH WELFARE PAYMENTS, HAS BEEN TABLED FOR A WEEK. THE SENATE HEALTH AND WELFARE COMMITTEE PUT A HOLD ON THE LEGISLATION TO GIVE SENATORS TIME TO CONSIDER A SET OF AMENDMENTS TO THE BILL. THE BILL HAS ALREADY PASSED THE HOUSE. THIS IS LABRUZZO'S THIRD ATTEMPT AT PASSING HIS BILL.

HOUSE AND SENATE LEADERS SAID WEDNESDAY THAT THEY EXPECT TO HEAR FROM FEDERAL OFFICIALS BY JUNE 20 ON WHETHER THEY'LL APPROVE REDESIGNED MAPS FOR LEGISLATIVE DISTRICTS. THE JUSTICE DEPARTMENT IS REVIEWING THE MAPS FOR THE 144 LEGISLATIVE SEATS AND OTHER STATE ELECTION DISTRICTS TO DETERMINE WHETHER THEY COMPLY WITH THE VOTING RIGHTS ACT OF 1965, TO ENSURE AGAINST DISCRIMINATION

A YOUTUBE VIDEO POSTED BY SOLDIERS FROM FORT POLK FORCES DELTA AIRLINES TO CHANGE ITS POLICY WHEN IT COMES TO CHARGING MILITARY PERSONNEL FOR CHECKING EXTRA BAGS. ON THE VIDEO, THE SOLDIERS ARE UPSET THEY HAD TO PAY A 200-DOLLAR FEE FOR A FOURTH BAG, EVEN THOUGH THEIR ARMY ORDERS AUTHORIZE UP TO FOUR BAGS IN THEIR RETURN FLIGHTS FROM AFGHANISTAN. THE SOLDIERS SAY THEIR 34-MEMBER UNIT HAD TO PAY 28-HUNDRED DOLLARS OUT-OF-POCKET WHEN THEY CHECKED IN AT BALTIMORE-WASHINGTON INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT ON THEIR WAY HOME TO FT. POLK FROM.

16 YEAR OLD BRIAN DELOCH OF ELMER WAS KILLED YESTERDAY MORNING IN A ONE CAR ACCIDENT ON HIGHWAY 121 IN SOUTHWEST RAPIDES PARISH, WHEN HIS VEHICLE LEFT THE ROADWAY , HIT A TREE AND OVER TURNED. DELOCH WAS NOT WEARING A SEATBELT AND WAS EJECTED FROM HIS PICKUP, HE DIED AT THE SCENE. A 15 YEAR OLD PASSENGER IN THE VEHICLE RECEIVED MODERATE INJURIES AND WAS TRANSPORTED TO A LOCAL HOSPITAL.

AN ACCIDENT AT THE INTERSECTION OF COLISEUM BOULEVARD AND VANDENBURG DRIVE YESTERDAY MORNING SENT TWO PEOPLE TO THE HOSPITAL, INCLUDING ONE IN SERIOUS CONDITION. ALEXANDRIA POLICE SAID THE WRECK OCCURRED AROUND 6:30 A.M. AND BLOCKED TRAFFIC FOR A WHILE. ACCORDING TO POLICE, BOTH DRIVERS WERE INJURED. ONE OF THE DRIVERS WAS DESCRIBED AS SUFFERING "PRETTY SERIOUS" INJURIES.

A DRUG OPERATION CALLED THE 90 DAYS OF HEAT, HAS LED TO THE ARRESTS OF FOUR RAPIDES PARISH RESIDENTS. 26 YEAR OLD STEPHEN DANIELS, 34 YEAR OLD DAVID E. GIBBS AND 48 YEAR OLD CHERYL L. WIGGINS ALL OF ALEXANDRIA AND 56 YEAR OLD JOSEPH SILAS OF PINEVILLE. RAPIDES PARISH SHERIFF CHUCK WAGNER SAYS THIS IS THE SECOND YEAR FOR THE OPERATION AIMED AT GETTING DRUGS OFF THE STREET. THIS YEARS CAMPAIGN BEGAN ON THE FIRST OF THE MONTH.

EXXON MOBIL CORP. SAID WEDNESDAY IT IS THE FIRST COMPANY TO DISCOVER OIL FROM A NEW DEEP-WATER WELL IN THE GULF OF MEXICO SINCE LAST YEAR'S MASSIVE OIL SPILL.
THE OIL GIANT SAID ITS EXPLORATION PROJECT 250 MILES SOUTHWEST OF NEW ORLEANS HIT OIL AND GAS AFTER DRILLING A WELL IN 7,000 FEET OF WATER. EXXON SAID PLANS TO DRILL THE WELL LAST YEAR WERE HALTED AS THE U.S. IMPOSED A TEMPORARY BAN ON DEEP-WATER DRILLING BECAUSE OF THE DEVASTATING OIL SPILL SOUTH OF LOUISIANA. ACCORDING TO COMPANY OFFICIALS, "THIS IS ONE OF THE LARGEST DISCOVERIES IN THE GULF OF MEXICO IN THE LAST DECADE,"

HOUSE-BACKED LEGISLATION SEEKING TO URGE CONGRESS TO CUT FEDERAL DOLLARS FROM PLANNED PARENTHOOD STALLED IN THE SENATE HEALTH AND WELFARE COMMITTEE.
THE PROPOSAL (HOUSE CONCURRENT RESOLUTION 54) BY REP. FRANK HOFFMANN, R-WEST MONROE, WOULDN'T CARRY THE WEIGHT OF LAW, BUT WOULD LODGE A FORMAL REQUEST FROM LOUISIANA LAWMAKERS TO DEFUND PLANNED PARENTHOOD BECAUSE THE ORGANIZATION PERFORMS ABORTIONS AROUND THE COUNTRY.

IN THE WAKE OF THE FATAL SHOOTINGS OF TWO DEPARTMENT OF INSURANCE FRAUD INVESTIGATORS TUESDAY IN VILLE PLATTE, INSURANCE COMMISSIONER JIM DONELON SAYS POLICIES ARE UNDER REVIEW TO SEE TO IT THIS NEVER HAPPENS AGAIN. DONELON SAYS THE TWO INVESTIGATORS, RHETT JEANSONNE AND KIM SLEDGE, WENT ON A ROUTINE TRIP TO GET FILES AND RECORDS FROM THE OFFICES OF LAVERGNE INSURANCE IN VILLE PLATTE. HE SAYS THEY HAD NO REASON TO THINK THEY WERE IN ANY DANGER. JEANSONNE AND SLEDGE WERE SHOT AND KILLED BY INSURANCE AGENT MELVIN LAVERGNE, WHO THEN COMMITTED SUICIDE. THE AGENTS WERE UNARMED. DONELON WOULD LIKE TO SEE THAT CHANGE.

A CONTROVERSIAL BILL TO MAKE ABORTIONS ILLEGAL IN LOUISIANA IS DEALT A BLOW WHEN THE HOUSE AGREES TO SEND IT TO A SECOND COMMITTEE HEARING. APPROPRIATIONS COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN JIM FANNIN SAYS THE BILL'S COST IS SUFFICIENT TO TRIGGER A HOUSE RULE MANDATING A REVIEW BY THE MONEY COMMITTEE. THE BILL WILL MOST LIKELY NOT HAVE TIME TO BE HEARD BEFORE THE END OF THE SESSION.

REPORTS ARE SURFACING OF A NEW OIL SLICK IN THE GULF OF MEXICO SOUTH OF PLAQUEMINES PARISH. STATE OFFICIALS ARE INVESTIGATING. BOATER RICK SEITHER IS AN EYE WITNESS. HE SAYS THE SLICK COVERS A LARGE AREA OF THE GULF WITH HEAVY OIL. THE SOURCE OF THE SLICK IS UNKNOWN. SEITHER SAYS THE SLICK IS ALREADY INTERACTING WITH FISH, BIRDS AND OTHER WILDLIFE IN THE AREA. THE U.S. COAST GUARD. PARISH OFFICIAL SAYS THEY DOUBT THE OIL IS FROM LAST YEAR'S BP SPILL, BUT THEY CANNOT YET RULE IT OUT.

A SENATE COMMITTEE HEARS EMOTIONAL TESTIMONY OVER A BILL THAT WOULD SUSPEND A PERSON'S DRIVERS LICENSE IF THEY'VE BEEN CHARGED WITH VEHICULAR HOMICIDE. LISA ALLEN'S SON AND DAUGHTER-IN-LAW WERE KILLED IN A CAR ACCIDENT AND SHE'S UPSET THE PERSON RESPONSIBLE FOR THE ACCIDENT WAS STILL ABLE TO DRIVE UNTIL HE WAS FOUND GUILTY. THE BILL IS NOW HEADING TO THE SENATE FLOOR FOR FINAL LEGISLATIVE DEBATE.

THE FULL HOUSE WILL DEBATE A PROPOSAL REQUIRING SALARIES OF $156,000 OR ABOVE FOR STATE EMPLOYEES TO GET APPROVAL FROM LAWMAKERS, AFTER THE HOUSE AND GOVERNMENTAL AFFAIRS COMMITTEE APPROVED THE IDEA. REP. BRETT GEYMANN, R-LAKE CHARLES, SAID HE SET HIS PROPOSAL AT 120 PERCENT OF THE GOVERNOR'S SALARY. THE BILL WOULD EXCLUDE DOCTORS AT UNIVERSITY HOSPITALS, COLLEGE PROFESSORS AND COACHES AND WOULDN'T APPLY TO EXISTING EMPLOYEES. THE COMMITTEE VOTED 12-6 FOR THE PROPOSAL, OVER THE OPPOSITION OF GOV. BOBBY JINDAL'S OFFICE, WHICH SAID THE BILL COULD HURT RECRUITMENT AT AGENCIES AND WOULD INTERFERE WITH HOW CABINET SECRETARIES WANT TO RUN THEIR DEPARTMENTS.

THE FULL LEGISLATURE AGREED THAT MILITARY VETERANS SHOULD BE ABLE TO GET MEDALS FROM THE STATE HONORING THEIR SERVICE BY MAIL, RATHER THAN WAITING FOR A PRESENTATION BY THE GOVERNOR. AFTER MONTHS OF CRITICISM THAT GOV. BOBBY JINDAL WAS USING THE CEREMONIES TO CAMPAIGN, THE JINDAL ADMINISTRATION CHANGED ITS HANDLING OF THE MEDALS, ALLOWING VETERANS TO SKIP THE CEREMONY. A BILL (HOUSE BILL 28) REQUIRING THE OPTION HEADS TO THE GOVERNOR'S DESK WITH A UNANIMOUS VOTE OF THE SENATE.

A $1 FEE ON LOUISIANA DRIVERS' LICENSES TO PAY FOR LITTER ABATEMENT AND ENFORCEMENT PROGRAMS SHOULD BE RENEWED, THE HOUSE AND SENATE HAVE DECIDED. THE FEE WAS FIRST ENACTED IN 2003 AND WOULD CONTINUE TO BE LEVIED ON EVERY FOUR-YEAR DRIVER'S LICENSE. WITHOUT LEGISLATIVE APPROVAL, THE FEE THAT GENERATES AN ESTIMATED $700,000 A YEAR WILL EXPIRE AUG. 15. THE HOUSE MUST AGREE TO SENATE CHANGES BEFORE THE PROPOSAL GOES TO THE GOVERNOR.

UNDER INTENSE PRESSURE FROM STATE SENATORS, LOUISIANA HEALTH AND HOSPITALS SECRETARY BRUCE GREENSTEIN HAS ACKNOWLEDGED THAT HIS DEPARTMENT WANTS TO HIRE HIS FORMER EMPLOYER FOR A $34 MILLION STATE MEDICAID CONTRACT. GREENSTEIN ANNOUNCED THE RECOMMENDED SELECTION OF CNSI ON WEDNESDAY BEFORE THE SENATE AND GOVERNMENTAL AFFAIRS COMMITTEE, DURING A CONFIRMATION HEARING ON HIS APPOINTMENT BY GOV. BOBBY JINDAL. GREENSTEIN INSISTED THAT HE REMOVED HIMSELF FROM THE RECOMMENDATION PROCESS AND HAD NO HAND IN CHOOSING CNSI FOR THE CONTRACT TO HANDLE MEDICAID CLAIMS PROCESSING AND INFORMATION SYSTEMS. HE SAYS HE HAD KEPT THE SECRET, PENDING A YET TO BE SCHEDULED LEGISLATIVE OVERSIGHT HEARING, ON THE ADVICE OF HIS LAWYERS.








News For Wednesday 06/08/11


NEWS FOR WEDNESDAY 060811
BY DAVE GRAICHEN

A STANDOFF ENDED IN VILLE PLATTE SHORTLY AFTER 7 P.M. LAST NIGHT WITH A SHOOTING SUSPECT DEAD, HOURS AFTER TWO LOUISIANA DEPARTMENT OF INSURANCE FRAUD INVESTIGATORS WERE SHOT AND KILLED. INVESTIGATORS WILL TRY TODAY TO DETERMINE WHAT MADE 67-YEAR-OLD INSURANCE AGENT MELVIN LAVERGNE SHOOT THE AGENTS AND BARRICADED HIMSELF INSIDE THE LAVERGNE'S INSURANCE AGENCY OFFICE AT 135 COURT ST. SHOT WERE INVESTIGATORS KIM SLEDGE AND RHETT JEANSONNE, BOTH FROM THE LOUISIANA DEPARTMENT OF INSURANCE'S PROPERTY AND CASUALTY TASK FORCE. . , AFTER A LONG STAND-OFF, TROOPERS STORMED THE BUILDING AND FOUND LAVERGNE DEAD FROM A SELF-INFLICTED GUNSHOT WOUND.

THE STATE SENATE HAS VOTED APPROVAL OF A BILL TO CREATE A STUDY COMMISSION TO LOOK AT REPEALING STATE INCOME TAXES. BILL SPONSOR ROB MARIONNEAUX OF LIVONIA SAYS ENDING INCOME TAX IS SOMETHING THE STATE CAN DO, IF IT'S WILLING TO CUT SOME OF IT'S BILLIONS IN TAX EXEMPTIONS FOR BUSINESS AND INDUSTRY. HIS BILL STARTED AS A STRAIGHT REPEAL OF INCOME TAXES, BUT WAS SUCCESSFULLY AMENDED BY MANDEVILLE SEN. JACK DONAHUE TO CREATE A STATE COMMISSION ON REVENUE AND EXPENSE, TO STUDY THE PROPOSAL. THE MEASURE, AS AMENDED, PASSED BY A 35-4 VOTE AND NOW GOES TO THE HOUSE.

A BILL BY THIBODAUX REPRESENTATIVE DEE RICHARD WHICH WOULD TRIM 5000 EMPLOYEES FROM THE EXECUTIVE BRANCH OVER THE NEXT THREE YEARS, IS HEADING FOR THE HOUSE FLOOR. THE BILL IS INSPIRED BY A PLAN TO SHRINK STATE GOVERNMENT BY STATE TREASURER JOHN KENNEDY. IN TESTIMONY BEFORE THE HOUSE APPROPRIATIONS COMMITTEE KENNEDY POINTED OUT THAT UNDER HIS PLAN LARGE SECTIONS OF STATE GOVERNMENT WOULD NEED TO REORGANIZE TO BECOME MORE EFFICIENT. HE SAYS THE CURRENT SYSTEM IS TOP HEAVY WITH UPPER AND MIDDLE MANAGERS.

A HOUSE-APPROVED BILL THAT WOULD REQUIRE 20-PERCENT OF WELFARE RECIPIENTS TO BE SUBJECT TO RANDOM DRUG TESTING RECEIVES A HEARING IN THE SENATE HEALTH AND WELFARE COMMITTEE TODAY. THIS IS METAIRIE REP. JOHN LABRUZZO'S THIRD ATTEMPT TO PASS THIS BILL.

PROPOSALS BACKED BY GOV. BOBBY JINDAL TO RAISE COLLEGE TUITION AND FEES AT FOUR-YEAR UNIVERSITIES HAVE RUN INTO TROUBLE IN THE LOUISIANA HOUSE.
A MEASURE BY REPUBLICAN REP. FRANK HOFFMANN TO INCREASE AN "OPERATIONAL FEE" CHARGED TO STUDENTS, SO THAT THE 4 PERCENT FEE GROWS AS TUITION RISES EACH YEAR, WAS OVERWHELMINGLY DEFEATED TUESDAY ON THE HOUSE FLOOR. LAWMAKERS VOTED 82-10 AGAINST IT. AFTER THAT VOTE, REPUBLICAN REP. HOLLIS DOWNS DELAYED ACTION ON A SECOND JINDAL-BACKED PROPOSAL TO REWORK THE WAY STUDENTS ARE CHARGED TUITION, WHICH WOULD GENERATE MORE MONEY FOR THE CAMPUSES.
THE TUITION AND FEE HIKES REQUIRE A TWO-THIRDS VOTE FOR PASSAGE.

IBERIA PARISH OFFICIALS ARE INVESTIGATING THE POSSIBLE SIGHTING OF A SUSPECT WANTED FOR ABDUCTING AND SEXUALLY ASSAULTING A LITTLE GIRL. SURVEILLANCE CAM VIDEO OF A PURSE SNATCHING AT A LOCAL BAR MAY SHOW 27-YEAR-OLD BRET THOMPSON, WHO'S WANTED IN DENVER. IBERIA SHERIFF'S SPOKESMAN RYAN TURNER SAYS INVESTIGATORS ARE GOING OVER THAT FOOTAGE TO DETERMINE IF THE MAN ON THE SCREEN IS THOMPSON. TURNER SAYS DEPUTIES ARE SHARING INFORMATION WITH THE FBI AND DENVER POLICE.

THE FULL HOUSE HAS PASSED A BILL THAT WOULD LET CERTAIN ELDERLY PRISON INMATES APPLY FOR AN EARLY PAROLE. BATON ROUGE REP. PATRICIA SMITH SPONSORS THE BILL. SHE SAYS THE BILL WOULD LET ONLY NON-VIOLENT & NON-SEX OFFENDERS, THAT ARE 60 OR OLDER, APPLY FOR A PAROLE HEARING. HER BILL IS NO GUARANTEE OF EARLY RELEASE; THAT'S UP TO THE PAROLE BOARD. SMITH SAYS HER BILL CAN HELP REHABILITATE ELDERLY INMATES AND MOTIVATE OTHERS TO GOOD BEHAVIOR. SMITH WAS SUPPORTED BY NEW ORLEANS REP. WALT LEGER III, WHO SAYS ANGOLA WARDEN BURL CAIN LIKES THE LEGISLATION. NO ONE SPOKE IN OPPOSITION. THE HOUSE VOTED 65-25 IN FAVOR OF THE BILL. IT WILL NOW MOVE TO THE SENATE.

LOUISIANA CONGRESSMEN AND STATE OFFICIALS SEEK EMERGENCY FUNDING FOR DREDGING OPERATIONS ON THE MISSISSIPPI RIVER. THE RECORD LEVELS HAVE BROUGHT DOWN MORE SEDIMENT WHICH MAKES BARGE TRAVEL ON THE RIVER MORE DIFFICULT. STATE AG COMMISSIONER MIKE STRAIN SAYS THEY ARE CALLING ON CONGRESS TO GIVE THE CORPS AND ADDITIONAL $66-MILLION TO DREDGE THE RIVER.

THE LOUISIANA SENATE HAS BACKED A JINDAL ADMINISTRATION PROPOSAL TO CREATE A NEW CORPORATION TO RUN ALL STATE HOUSING ASSISTANCE PROGRAMS. THE NONPROFIT LOUISIANA HOUSING CORPORATION WOULD TAKE OVERSIGHT OF PROGRAMS CURRENTLY SPREAD ACROSS FIVE AGENCIES AND DEVELOP A UNIFIED HOUSING POLICY FOR THE STATE. AN 11-MEMBER BOARD WITH EIGHT GUBERNATORIAL APPOINTEES WOULD RUN THE CORPORATION. THE CORPORATION WOULD OVERSEE RENTAL ASSISTANCE, HOME OWNERSHIP PROMOTION PROGRAMS, HOMELESS PREVENTION, HOUSING-RELATED CHILD CARE AND HURRICANE RECOVERY DOLLARS FOR REBUILDING RENTAL HOUSING.

A BATON ROUGE MAN PLEADS GUILTY TO CAUSING A FIERY INTERSTATE 10 CRASH THAT KILLED FIVE MEMBERS OF A GEORGIA FAMILY, INCLUDING A 2-YEAR-OLD, IN 2009. 31-ONE-YEAR-OLD DWAYNE LEGGETT HAS PLEADED GUILTY TO MULTIPLE VEHICULAR HOMICIDE CHARGES. LEGGETT WAS UNDER THE INFLUENCE OF ALCOHOL AT THE TIME OF THE CRASH.

A SENATE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE APPROVES HOUSE-PASSED LEGISLATION TO BAN ALL SALES OF SYNTHETIC MARIJUANA, AND THE SO CALLED "BATH SALTS." GRETNA REPRESENTATIVE RICKY TEMPLET SAYS HIS BILL HAS LANGUAGE THAT WILL HOPEFULLY STAY AHEAD OF CHEMISTS, WHO CIRCUMVENTED LAST YEAR'S "SYNTHA-WEED" LAW BY SIMPLY CHANGING THEIR FORMULA. TEMPLET SAYS HIS BILL ALSO ENCOMPASSES THE SALES OF EXOTIC "BATH SALTS" THAT PEOPLE USE LIKE COCAINE OR CRYSTAL METH. THE COMMITTEE UNANIMOUSLY VOTED TO REPORT TEMPLET'S BILL FAVORABLY AND SEND IT TO THE SENATE FLOOR FOR FINAL LEGISLATIVE PASSAGE.

THE STATE LEGISLATIVE AUDITOR'S OFFICE HAS RELEASED A SCATHING COMPLIANCE AUDIT OF THE TOWN OF JONESBORO'S FINANCES. IN THE AUDIT, STATE AUDITORS FOUND THAT THE TOWN'S FINANCES WERE IN DISARRAY AND THAT THE TOWN MAY HAVE VIOLATED STATE LAWS RELATING TO SEVERAL AREAS OF MUNICIPAL OPERATIONS, INCLUDING THE FAILURE TO COLLECT DELINQUENT UTILITY ACCOUNTS, FAILURE TO FOLLOW STATE BID LAW AND SPENDING MORE THAN $2,500 ON A CATERED INAUGURATION CEREMONY. MAYOR LESLIE THOMPSON SAYS TOWN OFFICIALS HAVE ALREADY BEGUN TAKING STEPS TO CORRECT THE AUDIT FINDINGS.

SPORTS..

THE N-B-A FINALS ARE TIED AT TWO GAMES A PIECE AFTER THE MAVERICKS RALLIED FROM A SEVEN-POINT DEFICIT TO BEAT MIAMI 86-83. FORMER HORNET TYSON CHANDLER HAD A BIG GAME AS THE VETERAN CENTER HAD 13 POINTS AND 16 REBOUNDS. GAME FIVE IS TOMORROW NIGHT IN DALLAS.

THE MAN CURRENTLY APPOINTED BY THE NBA TO HEAD THE HORNETS BASKETBALL TEAM SAYS THE NBA STANDS FIRM ON EFFORTS TO KEEP THE TEAM IN NEW ORLEANS. JAC SPERLING SAYS HE'S BEEN IN TALKS WITH A HANDFUL OF POTENTIAL BUYERS WHO WOULD KEEP THE CLUB IN NEW ORLEANS FOR THE LONG TERM IF REVENUE STREAMS ARE STRONG ENOUGH.

THE NFL AND PLAYERS REPORTEDLY HAVE RESUMED TALKS IN SECRET MEETINGS THIS WEEK TO WORK TOWARD A RESOLUTION THAT WOULD END THE THREE MONTH-OLD LOCKOUT.

THREE LSU PLAYERS WERE SELECTED TUESDAY DURING DAY 2 OF THE 2011 MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL DRAFT. JUNIOR RIGHT HANDED PITCHER TYLER JONES WAS CHOSEN IN THE 11TH ROUND BY MINNESOTA, JUNIOR RIGHT HANDED PITCHER MATTY OTT WAS CHOSEN IN THE 13TH ROUND BY BOSTON AND SENIOR RIGHT HANDED PITCHER BEN ALSUP WAS CHOSEN IN THE 18TH ROUND BY COLORADO.

LOUISIANA TECH'S LEFT HANDED PITCHER KYLE ROLIARD WAS CHOSEN WITH THE 408TH OVERALL PICK IN THE DRAFT'S 13TH ROUND BY THE COLORADO ROCKIES.

TECH PITCHER MIKE JEFFERSON WAS SELECTED WITH THE 662ND OVERALL PICK IN THE DRAFTS 22ND ROUND BY THE PITTSBURGH PIRATES.

TECH'S THIRD BASEMAN MARK THRELKELD WAS SELECTED WITH THE 756TH OVERALL PICK IN THE 25TH ROUND BY THE KANSAS CITY ROYALS.

SOUTHEASTERN LOUISIANA UNIVERSITY SHORTSTOP JUSTIN BOUDREAUX WAS SELECTED IN THE 14TH ROUND BY THE LOS ANGELES DODGERS.

ROUNDS 2-30 OF THE MLB DRAFT WERE COMPLETED ON TUESDAY. THE DRAFT CONCLUDES TODAY WITH ROUNDS 31-50.

LOUISIANA TECH HAS HAD ITS BEST FINISH EVER IN THE WESTERN ATHLETIC CONFERENCE COMMISSIONER'S CUP THIS YEAR PLACING 6TH OUT OF NINE TEAMS IN THE LEAGUE. TECH GARNERED A TOTAL OF 61.75 POINTS AND WAS ONLY 2.25 POINTS SHY OF TYING NEVADA FOR 6TH PLACE...BEHIND BULLDOG CHAMPIONSHIP PERFORMANCES BY WOMEN'S BASKETBALL, WOMEN'S INDOOR & OUTDOOR TRACK AND FIELD.





News For Tuesday 06/07/11


NEWS FOR TUESDAY 060711
BY DAVE GRAICHEN

THE HOUSE APPROPRIATIONS COMMITTEE ON A 13 TO 12 VOTE, HAS NARROWLY REJECTED GOV. BOBBY JINDAL'S PLAN TO SELL THREE STATE PRISONS. THE VOTE CAME AFTER HOURS OF TESTIMONY AND WEEKS OF BEHIND THE SCENES WORK FROM THE GOVERNOR'S OFFICE TRYING TO GAIN SUPPORT FOR A BILL THAT LAWMAKERS HAD PREDICTED WOULD BE DIFFICULT, IF NOT IMPOSSIBLE, TO PASS. JINDAL CALLED THE IDEA A WAY TO SAVE MONEY, ARGUING PRIVATE COMPANIES COULD RUN THE PRISONS FOR LESS MONEY AND THE SALES COULD GENERATE UPFRONT MONEY TO SPEND ON OTHER INITIATIVES IN A TIGHT BUDGET TIME. CRITICS SAID THE SALE WOULD DAMAGE PUBLIC SAFETY AND BOOST STATE COSTS. THERE’S STILL A CHANCE THOUGH, THE PRISON FACILITIES IN AVOYELLES, WINN AND ALLEN PARISH FACILITIES COULD BE CLOSED BECAUSE OF THE BUDGET SHORTFALL

IT WAS A HOT DAY TO BE FIGHTING A FIRE. BUT, FIRE FIGHTERS WERE CALLED TO A WOODS FIRE YESTERDAY THAT THREATENED ABOUT 165 ACRES IN THE VICINITY OF OAK HILL HIGH SCHOOL. FIREFIGHTERS WERE ABLE TO GET THE BLAZE UNDER CONTROL BY MONDAY EVENING.

AUTHORITIES IN AVOYELLES PARISH HAVE MADE 13 ARRESTS IN SIMMESPORT AS PART OF AN ONGOING STREET-SWEEP OPERATION. THE ARRESTS, WHICH WERE MADE LATE LAST WEEK, NETTED APPROXIMATELY TWO POUNDS OF MARIJUANA AND AN ASSORTMENT OF CRACK AND COCAINE PACKAGES PLUS AN ASSORTMENT OF WEAPONS.

IN ALEXANDRIA, AUTHORITIES ARE INVESTIGATING A MONDAY AFTERNOON HOME INVASION ON CHESTER STREET IN WHICH A RESIDENT APPARENTLY WAS ROBBED AND SHOT. ACCORDING TO POLICE THE INCIDENT HAPPENED NEAR THE INTERSECTION OF CHESTER STREET AND RAPIDES AVENUE. THE VICTIM TOLD POLICE THAT TWO MEN ENTERED HIS RESIDENCE SHORTLY AFTER 1 P.M., ROBBED HIM AND THEN AFTER A SCUFFLE, SHOOT HIM IN HIS LEG.

IF YOU HAVE BEEN THINKING TO YOURSELF, IT SEEMS A LOT HOTTER THAN IT USUALLY IS THIS TIME OF YEAR, YOU ARE RIGHT. A RECORD HIGH TEMPERATURE WAS SET FOR THE THIRD DAY IN A ROW IN ALEXANDRIA ON MONDAY. THE HIGH MONDAY WAS 99 DEGREES, ACCORDING TO THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE. THAT TOPS THE OLD JUNE 6 RECORD HIGH OF 98 DEGREES, SET IN 1977. SUNDAYS HIGH WAS 3 DEGREES ABOVE THE PREVIOUS RECORD, SATURDAY WAS TWO DEGREES ABOVE. FORECASTERS SAY DON’T EXPECT ANY RELIEF ANY TIME SOON.

SOME SCATTERED THUNDERSHOWERS IN SOUTH LOUISIANA OVER THE PAST FEW DAYS BRING SOME DROUGHT RELIEF, BUT FORECASTERS FEAR THERE WON'T BE ENOUGH RAIN TO SAVE THIRSTY CROPS ACROSS THE STATE. STATE CLIMATOLOGIST BARRY KEIM SAYS ANY RAIN IS WELCOME, BUT THE RECENT SHOWERS HAVE BEEN MERELY A "DROP IN THE BUCKET"; OFFERING NO SERIOUS RELIEF. OVER 90% OF THE STATE IS UNDER DROUGHT CONDITIONS RIGHT NOW.

LEGISLATION THAT WOULD ALLOW FOR THE PLACING OF A TEN COMMANDMENTS MONUMENT ON THE GROUNDS OF THE STATE CAPITOL HEADS TO THE SENATE. THE BILL STATES THAT PRIVATE ENTITIES WOULD PAY FOR THE MONUMENT, WHICH COULD BE UP TO SIX FEET HIT AND FOUR FEET WIDE. SIMILAR EFFORTS HAVE DRAWN LEGAL CHALLENGES, BUT THE HOUSE UNANIMOUSLY APPROVED THE LEGISLATION.

A BILL TO BAN THE USE OF HAND-HELD CELL PHONES WHILE DRIVING HAS PASSED THE HOUSE TRANSPORTATION COMMITTEE BY AN 8 TO 3 VOTE. THE LAW WOULD MAKE IT A PRIMARY OFFENSE TO USE A HAND-HELD DEVICE WHILE DRIVING.

THE U.S. ARMY CORPS OF ENGINEERS SAYS THE MORGANZA SPILLWAY--OPENED TO RELIEVE STRESS ON MISSISSIPPI RIVER LEVEES--COULD BE COMPLETELY CLOSED WITHIN A WEEK. CORPS SPOKESPERSON RACHEL RODI SAYS ONLY 5 OF THE 17 BAYS OPENED LAST MONTH REMAIN OPEN TODAY. RODI SAYS THE CORPS HAS BEEN CLOSING ABOUT 1 GATE PER DAY, AND BARRING ANYTHING UNFORESEEN, THE MORGANZA SHOULD BE COMPLETELY CLOSED BY SUNDAY. ONCE THE MORGANZA IS CLOSED COMPLETELY, THE CORPS WILL TURN IT'S ATTENTION TO THE BONNET CARRE SPILLWAY JUST UPRIVER OF NEW ORLEANS.

NO DEBATE YESTERDAY ON A PROPOSED BILL THAT WOULD CONSIDER PERFORMING AN ABORTION IN LOUISIANA TO BE AN ACT OF FETICIDE. BILL SPONSOR JOHN LABRUZZO, OF METAIRIE, RETURNED HIS BILL TO THE CALENDAR, WHILE HE DRAFTS SOME AMENDMENTS AND TWEAKS THE BILL'S LANGUAGE. THAT BILL COULD COME AGAIN TODAY.

THE CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER OF THE HEALTH INSURANCE OFFICE FOR STATE EMPLOYEES AND RETIREES, HIRED BY THE JINDAL ADMINISTRATION IN APRIL, IS RESIGNING AFTER RECEIVING STRONG CRITICISM FROM LAWMAKERS ABOUT HIS WORK TO HELP PRIVATIZE OFFICE OPERATIONS. SCOTT KIPPER'S RESIGNATION AS HEAD OF THE OFFICE OF GROUP BENEFITS COMES AS GOV. BOBBY JINDAL FACES COMPLAINTS FOR HIS PROPOSAL TO HIRE AN OUTSIDE CONTRACTOR TO RUN ONE OF THE OFFICE'S STATE WORKER HEALTH INSURANCE PROGRAMS.

THE LEGISLATIVE AUDITOR'S OFFICE IN BATON ROUGE LISTS SEVERAL CONTINUING PROBLEMS WITH FINANCIAL PRACTICES AT GRAMBLING STATE UNIVERSITY, INCLUDING MISSING PROPERTY, UNDERSTATEMENT OF ASSETS AND INEFFECTIVE EFFORTS TO COLLECT MORE THAN $8 MILLION IN MONEY. A REPORT RELEASED MONDAY SAYS THAT, FOR THE FOURTH YEAR IN A ROW THE UNIVERSITY'S FAILURE TO COMPILE AN ACCURATE FISCAL REPORT RESULTED IN ASSETS BEING UNDERSTATED BY MORE THAN $3 MILLION, A LACK OF ASSET CONTROLS LED TO MISSING PROPERTY FOR THE SIXTH YEAR IN A ROW. IN ITS RESPONSE, THE UNIVERSITY SAYS IT CONCURS WITH THE FINDINGS, AND OUTLINES PLANNED SOLUTIONS INCLUDING MONTHLY ANALYSES OF FINANCIAL REPORTS AND ORGANIZATIONAL CHANGES IN THE CONTROLLER'S OFFICE AND THE PROPERTY MANAGEMENT OFFICE.

AN E-COLI OUTBREAK IN NORTHEAST LOUISIANA HAS MADE AS MANY AS 15 CHILDREN SICK. DR. SHELLEY JONES, REGIONAL DIRECTOR FOR THE STATE DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HOSPITALS, SAYS SEVERAL CHILDREN WERE HOSPITALIZED. ONE LITTLE GIRL HAS BEEN HOSPITALIZED FOR OVER TWO WEEKS. JONES SAYS THEY BELIEVE THE SOURCE WAS AT AN END-OF-SCHOOL YEAR PARTY IN RICHLAND PARISH.

A PROPOSED BILL TO ENFORCE COLLECTION OF STATE SALES TAX ON ALL INTERNET PURCHASES FAILED TO PASS THE HOUSE TODAY. MONROE REP. ROSALIND JONES' BILL FAILED TO MUSTER THE 52 VOTES NEEDED TO PASS. SHE SERVED NOTICE TO BRING THE BILL UP ON RECONSIDERATION BEFORE THE SESSION ENDS.

STATE POLICE SAY A DRUNK DRIVER NOW FACES A FOURTH OFFENSE DWI AND OTHER CHARGES, AFTER A FATAL ACCIDENT IN VERMILION PARISH OVER THE WEEKEND. TROOPER STEPHEN HAMMONS SAYS 52-YEAR-OLD GREGORY MENARD OF ABBEVILLE ATTEMPTED TO PASS SEVERAL VEHICLES IN A NO PASSING ZONE AND STRUCK ANOTHER CAR HEAD-ON. THE DRIVER OF THE OTHER VEHICLE IS IN CRITICAL CONDITION AT A LOCAL HOSPITAL. A PASSENGER IN THE VEHICLE WAS PRONOUNCED DEAD AT THE SCENE.

IT'LL BE ONE MONTH BEFORE FORMER GOVERNOR EDWIN EDWARDS WILL BE A COMPLETELY FREE MAN. EDWARDS HAS BEEN REQUIRED BY LAW TO LIVE WITH HIS DAUGHTER IN DENHAM SPRINGS FOR SIX MONTHS AND CHECK IN WITH A HALFWAY HOUSE. EDWARDS BIOGRAPHER LEO HONEYCUTT SAYS THE FORMER GOVERNOR HAS BEEN SPENDING HIS TIME KEEPING UP WITH CURRENT POLITICS. THE 83-YEAR-OLD EDWARDS IS SET TO END HOME INCARCERATION ON JULY 6TH.

News For Monday 06/03/11


NEWS FOR MONDAY 060611
BY DAVE GRAICHEN

ONE OF GOV. BOBBY JINDAL'S KEY FINANCIAL INITIATIVES, THE PROPOSED SALE OF THREE LOUISIANA PRISONS, GETS ITS FIRST LEGISLATIVE HEARING. THE HOUSE APPROPRIATIONS COMMITTEE IS SCHEDULED TO HEAR THE BILL TODAY AFTER MONTHS OF PUBLIC DEBATE SINCE THE GOVERNOR PROPOSED THE IDEA AS A WAY TO DRUM UP CASH FOR NEXT YEAR'S BUDGET. JINDAL STAFF SPENT THE WEEKEND TRYING TO SWAY LAWMAKERS. HOUSE LEADERS HAVE PREDICTED THE PROPOSAL WILL HAVE A ROUGH TIME WINNING SUPPORT IN COMMITTEE AND AN EVEN HARDER TIME GETTING THE BACKING OF THE FULL HOUSE.
JINDAL PITCHES THE IDEA AS A WAY TO SAVE MONEY, ARGUING PRIVATE COMPANIES COULD RUN THE PRISONS MORE CHEAPLY. CRITICS QUESTION IF THE SALE WOULD DAMAGE PUBLIC SAFETY AND BOOST STATE COSTS IN A FEW YEARS WHEN THE CONTRACT COSTS RISE

THE FULL HOUSE IS SCHEDULED TO HEAR DEBATE TODAY ON A BILL THAT WOULD REQUIRE VENDORS TO APPLY STATE SALES TAX TO ONLINE PURCHASES. THE BILL IS BY MONROE REP. ROSALIND JONES WHO SAYS THE STATE REQUIRES SHOPPERS TO REPORT ONLINE SHOPPING PURCHASES ON INCOME TAX FORMS, BUT FEW PEOPLE DO IT. JONES SAYS THE LAW WOULD REQUIRE ONLINE DEALERS TO ASSESS THE SALES TAX AT THE POINT OF PURCHASE. SHE SAYS SOME COMPANIES WHO SELL ITEMS ONLINE ALREADY DO THIS. JONES SAYS THE STATE IS LOSING $300 MILLION IN SALES TAX EVERY YEAR WHICH SHE CALLS MONEY BEING LEFT ON THE TABLE. THE JINDAL ADMINISTRATION VIEWS THIS AS AN EXPANSION OF STATE TAX AND OPPOSES THE BILL.

GOV. BOBBY JINDAL SAYS HE'S NOT CHANGING HIS MIND: HE INTENDS TO VETO A 4-CENT PER PACK CIGARETTE TAX RENEWAL PASSED BY LOUISIANA LAWMAKERS. JINDAL RECEIVED THE BILL LAST WEEK AND SAID HE WILL REJECT IT WITHIN THE 10 DAYS HE HAS BEFORE THE RENEWAL WOULD BECOME LAW WITHOUT HIS ACTION. THE CIGARETTE TAX GENERATES $12 MILLION ANNUALLY AND EXPIRES IN JUNE OF NEXT YEAR.

FORMER BALL MAYOR ROY HEBRON IS APPEALING THE FOUR-YEAR JAIL SENTENCE HE RECEIVED FROM A FEDERAL COURT IN ALEXANDRIA LAST MONTH. HEBRON WAS SENTENCED TO FOUR YEARS IN A FEDERAL PENITENTIARY ON MAY 23 FOR DEFRAUDING THE F.E.M.A. AFTER HURRICANE GUSTAV IN 2008. HEBRON IS SCHEDULED TO REPORT TO JAIL LATER THIS MONTH. HEBRON'S ATTORNEY, HENRY LEMOINE, FILED THE NOTICE OF APPEAL ON FRIDAY.

ONE OF THE SUPERSTARS OF THIS LEGISLATIVE SESSION HAS BEEN REP. JOHN LABRUZZO. TODAY, TWO OF HIS MORE CONTROVERSIAL BILLS ARE UP FOR CONSIDERATION ONE THE HOUSE FLOOR TODAY. ONE, A BILL THAT WOULD MAKE PERFORMING AN ABORTION ILLEGAL IN LOUISIANA. THE BILL WOULD MAKE ABORTION CLINICS PROSECUTABLE FOR FETICIDE. CRITICS SAY IT WILL UNJUSTLY PUNISH DOCTORS AT WOMEN'S CLINICS, AND WILL NEVER HOLD UP TO A SUPREME COURT CHALLENGE. LABRUZZO’S OTHER BILL UP FOR DEBATE WOULD SET UP A SPECIAL FUND TO HELP PAY FOR HIS PLAN TO DRUG TEST RANDOMLY CHOSEN APPLICANTS FOR STATE CASH BENEFITS. CRITICS OF THAT BILL SAY IT TARGETS MINORITIES. LABRUZZO SAYS HE'S AGAINST TAXPAYER DOLLARS BEING USED TO BUY DRUGS, REGARDLESS OF THE PERSON'S RACE.

THE SENATE EDUCATION COMMITTEE GIVES UNANIMOUS APPROVAL TO A BILL THAT WOULD REQUIRE HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS TO MAINTAIN A "C" AVERAGE IN ORDER TO PARTICIPATE IN SPORTS. THE BILL IS BY LAFAYETTE REPRESENTATIVE RICKEY HARDY WHO SAYS IT'S ABOUT PREPARING STUDENTS FOR THE FUTURE. THE BILL WOULD PUT THE RULING ADOPTED BY THE LOUISIANA HIGH SCHOOL ATHLETIC ASSOCIATION INTO STATE LAW. HARDY SAYS CHILDREN GO TO SCHOOL TO GET AN EDUCATION, NOT PLAY SPORTS. OPPONENTS HAVE SAID THEY DON'T BELIEVE STUDENTS WHO AREN'T ABLE TO MAINTAIN A "C" AVERAGE BECAUSE OF PROBLEMS AT HOME SHOULD BE LEFT OUT OF SPORTS. HARDY SAYS IF A STUDENT IS ABLE TO PLAY SPORTS, THEY SHOULD BE ABLE TO MAKE THE GRADES. THE BILL NOW HEADS FOR FINAL DEBATE IN THE SENATE.

LOUISIANA HAS BEEN UNDER A HIGH HEAT ADVISORY FOR SEVERAL DAYS WITH LITTLE RELIEF IN SIGHT. COMBINED WITH LOW HUMIDITY THE HEAT CAN HAVE SERIOUS HEALTH CONSEQUENCES ESPECIALLY FOR PEOPLE WHO ARE ALREADY OVER WEIGHT. BETH REAMES, A NUTRITION SPECIALIST WITH THE L-S-U AG CENTER RECOMMENDS AVOIDING SWEET, HIGH CALORIE DRINKS. FRUIT JUICE IS OK AND EVEN ICE TEA. THE KEY STAY HYDRATED.

ACCORDING TO A SEASONAL FORECAST BY COLORADO STATE UNIVERSITY METEOROLOGISTS, THERE'S A 47 PERCENT CHANCE OF A HURRICANE AND A 20% CHANCE OF A MAJOR HURRICANE HITTING THE LOUISIANA COAST THIS YEAR. METEOROLOGIST PHIL KLOTZBACH SAYS THE FORECAST IS BASED ON HISTORICAL PROBABILITIES. THE FORECASTS TRACK NOAA'S FORECAST WHICH PREDICTED 12 TO 18 NAMED STORMS WITH 6 TO 10 BEING MAJOR HURRICANES. KLOTZBACH SAYS THERE IS A 72 PERCENT CHANCE OF AT LEAST ONE MAJOR HURRICANE HITTING SOMEWHERE IN THE UNITED STATES. HE SAYS OVERALL CONDITIONS IN THE TROPICS ARE CONDUCIVE TO A MORE-THAN-ACTIVE HURRICANE SEASON.

LONG WEEKS OF DROUGHT IN LOUISIANA COULD MEAN THE LOSS OF TENS OF THOUSANDS OF ACRES OF RICE. LSU EXTENSION SERVICE RICE SPECIALIST DR. JOHNNY SAICHUK (SAY-CHUCK) SAYS UP TO 50-THOUSAND ACRES OF RICE ARE AT RISK IN THE HARSHLY DRY CONDITIONS. SAICHUK SAYS THE RICE PROBLEM IS ESPECIALLY BAD IN SOUTHWESTERN LOUISIANA, WHERE SALTWATER INTRUSION IS AGGRAVATING THE PROBLEM. SAICHUK SAYS THE STATE WOULD NEED TO GET ABOUT 10 INCHES OF RAIN OVER THE NEXT TWO WEEKS, IN ORDER TO SAVE ALL RICE ACRES. HE SAYS THAT'S NOT IN THE FORECAST, SO RICE FARMERS FACE DECIDING WHICH ACRES TO SAVE, AND WHICH TO SACRIFICE. THE STATE'S DROUGHT IS NOW THE WORST ON RECORD SINCE 1895.

A TRIAL IS SCHEDULED TO OPEN TODAY FOR A FORMER LOUISIANA MAYOR CHARGED WITH TAKING BRIBES FROM UNDERCOVER FBI AGENTS AND A GOVERNMENT OPERATIVE WHO WERE POSING AS BUSINESSMEN HAWKING A FICTITIOUS TRASH CAN CLEANING PRODUCT. FORMER NEW ROADS MAYOR TOMMY NELSON JR., WHO LOST HIS RE-ELECTION

News For Friday 06/03/11


NEWS FOR FRIDAY 060311
BY DAVE GRAICHEN

A BILL TO RENEW A 4-CENT TAX ON CIGARETTES HAS WON FINAL LEGISLATIVE APPROVAL. THAT DESPITE THE GOVERNOR'S VOW TO VETO ANY BILL HE FEELS IS A NEW TAX. THE MEASURE PASSED BOTH THE HOUSE AND SENATE WITH TWO-THIRDS MAJORITY VOTES. IF MR. JINDAL VETOES THE BILL, LAWMAKERS CAN CALL FOR AN OVERRIDE VOTE BEFORE THE SESSION ENDS JUNE 23RD. THE GOVERNOR NOW HAS 10 DAYS TO EITHER SIGN THE BILL, VETO IT OR LET IT BECOME LAW WITHOUT HIS SIGNATURE.

WHILE OTHER STATE AGENCIES CUT PERKS AND TRIM BUDGET TO HELP MEET A BIG REVENUE SHORTFALL, STATE LAWMAKERS BRISTLED AT A PROPOSAL TO CUT THEIR TRAVEL AND EXPENSE ALLOWANCE. DENHAM SPRINGS REP. BODI WHITE WITHDREW HIS PROPOSAL AFTER FACING STIFF OPPOSITION FROM FELLOW HOUSE MEMBERS. SOME CALLED IT AN "ELECTION YEAR GIMMICK".

SPARKS FLEW AT THE ALEXANDRIA ACES GAME LAST NIGHT.. PLAY ON THE FIELD WAS HOT, ACADIANA WAS AHEAD OF THE ACES 8 TO 5 EARLY IN THE 4TH… BUT IT WAS, SOME SAY, THE 60 MPH WINDS THAT BLEW UP THREE POWER TRANSFORMERS THAT BROUGHT THE GAME TO A HALT. DUE TO THE FACT FIVE INNINGS WEREN’T PLAYED.. THE GAME WAS CANCELLED AND WILL NOT BE MADE UP.

THE JUSTICE DEPARTMENT SAYS ALEXANDRIA COUNTRY DAY SCHOOL HAS SETTLED A COMPLAINT ALLEGING THAT IT REFUSED TO ADMIT A 6-YEAR-OLD GIRL WHO HAS DIABETES BECAUSE HER PARENTS ASKED THE SCHOOL TO SUPERVISE HER GLUCOSE TESTS AND INSULIN PUMP. A NEWS RELEASE SAID THE SCHOOL HAS AGREED NOT TO DISCRIMINATE AGAINST DIABETICS AND TO ENSURE DIABETIC STUDENTS HAVE AN EQUAL CHANCE TO ATTEND AND PARTICIPATE IN ALL PROGRAMS AND ACTIVITIES. THOMAS PEREZ, HEAD OF THE JUSTICE DEPARTMENT'S CIVIL RIGHTS DIVISION, APPLAUDED THE SCHOOL AND HOPES THE AGREEMENT REMINDS OTHER PRIVATE SCHOOLS THAT THE AMERICANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT BARS DISCRIMINATION BY PRIVATE SCHOOLS BECAUSE OF DISABILITY.

AN ATTEMPT TO DELAY A PLANNED ASSIGNING OF LETTER GRADES TO SCHOOLS DENOTING THEIR PERFORMANCE IN THE STATE ACCOUNTABILITY PROGRAM FAILED THURSDAY IN THE SENATE EDUCATION COMMITTEE. THE STATE HAS BEEN ASSESSING AND ASSIGNING SCORES TO SCHOOLS AND SCHOOL DISTRICTS FOR SEVERAL YEARS UNDER AN ACCOUNTABILITY PROGRAM, USING NUMBERS AND STARS TO DESIGNATE HOW THEY PERFORMED. THE BOARD OF ELEMENTARY AND SECONDARY EDUCATION PLAN THAT'S TO BE IMPLEMENTED ASSIGNS LETTER GRADES TO SCHOOLS MUCH LIKE STUDENTS RECEIVE, EXCEPT THAT THE GRADING SCALE IS OVER 200 POINTS, NOT 100. BECAUSE OF THAT, PROPONENTS OF THE BILL SAID IT COULD TAKE SEVERAL YEARS BEFORE A SCHOOL COULD MOVE UP A GRADE. THE BILL TO DELAY IMPLEMENTATION WAS SHOT DOWN 4 TO 1

A BILL THAT WOULD REPEAL STATE INCOME TAXES PASSES IN THE STATE SENATE FINANCE COMMITTEE. THE PROPOSAL BY LIVONIA SENATOR ROB MARIONNEAUX WOULD PHASE OUT CORPORATE AND PERSONAL INCOME TAXES OVER 10 YEARS. MARIONNEAUX SAYS IF LOUISIANA GOT RID OF HUNDREDS OF TAX CREDITS, IT WOULD BE ABLE TO AFFORD TO REPEAL INCOME TAXES. APPROVED BY COMMITTEE, THE BILL GOES TO THE SENATE FLOOR NEXT.

THE HOUSE HAS DELAYED DEBATE ON A JINDAL ADMINISTRATION PROPOSAL TO RAISE RETIREMENT COSTS FOR STATE EMPLOYEES, AMID QUESTIONS ABOUT WHETHER THE BILL SHOULD BE CONSIDERED A PAYROLL TAX ON WORKERS. THE MEASURE WOULD LOWER EMPLOYEES' TAKE-HOME PAY AND GIVE STATE COFFERS AN EXTRA $25-MILLION A YEAR.

IN CASE YOU HAVEN'T NOTICED THE STATE IS IN THE GRIPS OF AN INTENSE HEAT WAVE. STATE CLIMATOLOGIST BARRY KEIM SAYS RECORD HIGH TEMPERATURES HAVE BEEN RECORDED ALL ACROSS THE STATE OVER THE PAST FEW DAYS. KEIM SAYS IF YOU HAVE TO BE OUTDOORS TAKE FREQUENT BREAKS AND STAY HYDRATED. KEIM SAYS THE DROUGHT CONDITIONS ARE THE REASONS IT'S SO HOT SO EARLY.

THE US GEOLOGICAL SURVEY SAYS LOUISIANA IS LOSING A FOOTBALL FIELD OF WETLANDS AN HOUR. ACCORDING TO THE USGS STUDY LOUISIANA HAS LOST OVER 1800 SQUARE MILES OF WETLANDS OVER THE PAST 78 YEARS. USGS GEOGRAPHER. BRADY COUVILLION SAYS FROM 1932 TO 2010 WE'VE LOST 25% OF THE WETLAND AREA WE HAD . COUVILLION SAYS LOUISIANA CURRENTLY EXPERIENCES ABOUT 90 PERCENT OF THE TOTAL COASTAL MARSH LOSS IN THE CONTIGUOUS UNITED STATES.

A 61-YEAR-OLD DENHAM SPRINGS MAN IS CHARGED WITH KILLING HIS 57-YEAR-OLD GIRLFRIEND, AFTER A MEDICAL EXAMINER DETERMINED SHE WAS BEATEN TOP DEATH. LIVINGSTON PARISH DEPUTIES SAY JERRY MILLER FACES SECOND-DEGREE MURDER AND SECOND-DEGREE BATTERY CHARGES IN THE DEATH OF JUDY POSEY.

THIBODAUX POLICE ARE LOOKING AT NEW SECURITY PROCEDURES, AFTER VANDALS SLASHED THE TIRES ON 11 NEW PATROL UNITS THAT WERE PARKED AT POLICE HEADQUARTERS. THE TIRE-CUTTING WAS DONE IN EARLY MAY.

A NORTH LOUISIANA TEENAGER LOSES HIS LIFE WHILE TRYING TO FLEE FROM A LINCOLN PARISH DEPUTY. STATE POLICE SAY 16-YEAR-OLD BRAD YOUNG OF ARCADIA WAS CLOCKED GOING 79 MILES PER HOUR IN A 55 ZONE ON U-S 80 AROUND MIDNIGHT WEDNESDAY NIGHT. POLICE SAY FOR UNKNOWN REASONS, THE BOY RAN, BUT CRASHED HIS VEHICLE AFTER A BRIEF CHASE. TROOPERS SAY THEY DO NOT BELIEVE YOUNG HAD BEEN DRINKING.

CONSULTANTS ARE SAYING A NEW MEDICAL COMPLEX IN NEW ORLEANS WILL NEED 330 TO 400 BEDS BY 2020, FEWER THAN THE 424 BEDS CURRENTLY PLANNED FOR THE 1.2- BILLION DOLLAR FACILITY. THE REPORT BY KAUFMANN HALL & ASSOCIATES, IS THE LATEST ARGUMENT IN THE DEBATE OVER WHETHER PLANS FOR THE FACILITY SHOULD BE SCALED BACK. SUPPORTERS OF THE CURRENT PLAN SAY IT'S NEEDED TO DRAW STUDENTS AND PROFESSIONALS AND COMPETE WITH FACILITIES AROUND THE SOUTH.

THE U.S ARMY CORPS OF ENGINEERS CONTINUES TO SLOWLY CLOSE THE MORGANZA SPILLWAY, CUTTING THE FLOW OF MISSISSIPPI RIVER WATER INTO THE ATCHAFALAYA BASIN. CORPS SPOKESMAN KEN HOLDER SAYS ONLY 9 OF THE 17 BAYS OPENED ON THE 125-BAY STRUCTURE ARE STILL OPEN.

A HOUMA MAN HAS PLEADED GUILTY TO SUBMITTING A FRAUDULENT APPLICATION FOR MONEY FROM THE $20 BILLION CLAIMS FUND BP PLC ESTABLISHED AFTER THE GULF OF MEXICO OIL SPILL. NICHOLAS BILLIOT FACES A MAXIMUM SENTENCE OF 20 YEARS IN PRISON AND A $250,000 FINE FOLLOWING HIS GUILTY PLEA THURSDAY TO ONE COUNT OF MAIL FRAUD. FEDERAL PROSECUTORS SAY THE GULF COAST CLAIMS FACILITY ISSUED $26,000 IN CHECKS TO BILLIOT, WHO CLAIMED HE OWNED A COMPANY CALLED HOPE'S HOME IMPROVEMENT THAT LOST BUSINESS AFTER THE DEEPWATER HORIZON RIG BLAST TRIGGERED THE MASSIVE SPILL. PROSECUTORS SAY THE COMPANY NEVER OPERATED OR CONDUCTED ANY BUSINESS.

A FORMER TECHNOLOGY COMPANY OWNER PLEADED GUILTY THURSDAY TO A CONSPIRACY CHARGE FOR HER ROLE IN A PLOT TO BRIBE SCHOOL OFFICIALS TO GET FEDERAL CONTRACTS FOR INTERNET ACCESS SERVICES AT SCHOOLS IN LOUISIANA, ARKANSAS AND ILLINOIS. GLORIA HARPER WHO CO-OWNED TWO ILLINOIS-BASED COMPANIES, GLOBAL NETWORKING TECHNOLOGIES INC. AND COMPUTER TRAINING ASSOCIATES, FACES A MAXIMUM SENTENCE OF FIVE YEARS IN PRISON AND A $250,000 FINE FOLLOWING HER GUILTY PLEA IN FEDERAL COURT IN NEW ORLEANS TO ONE COUNT OF CONSPIRACY TO DEFRAUD THE UNITED STATES. PROSECUTORS SAID SCHOOL OFFICIALS CEDED CONTROL OF THE PROGRAM'S COMPETITIVE BIDDING PROCESS TO HARPER AND A CO-CONSPIRATOR SO THEY COULD ENSURE SCHOOL CONTRACTS WOULD BE AWARDED TO THEIR COMPANIES.





News For Thursday 06/02/11


NEWS FOR THURSDAY 060211
BY DAVE GRAICHEN

A PROPOSAL TO TWEAK THE RULES OF LOUISIANA'S "RAINY DAY" FUND HAS RECEIVED THE UNANIMOUS BACKING OF THE STATE SENATE. SENATE PRESIDENT JOEL CHAISSON'S BILL WOULD CHANGE THE REPAYMENT TRIGGERS FOR THE FUND, WHICH IS USED TO PLUG BUDGET GAPS, SO MONEY WOULDN'T HAVE TO BE REIMBURSED IN THE YEAR IT IS USED. IT WOULD ALSO PHASE IN THE REPAYMENT OVER SEVERAL YEARS. THE PROPOSED CONSTITUTIONAL CHANGE, APPROVED 39-0 WEDNESDAY, HEADS NEXT TO THE HOUSE, WHERE IT FACES A TOUGH ROAD TO PASSAGE. IT ALSO WOULD NEED APPROVAL FROM VOTERS IN A STATEWIDE ELECTION.

A PROPOSAL TO ALLOW COLLEGE STUDENTS TO CARRY CONCEALED HANDGUNS ON CAMPUS WAS REJECTED WEDNESDAY BY A HOUSE COMMITTEE, LIKELY ENDING ITS CHANCES TO BECOME LAW IN THE CURRENT SESSION. REP. ERNEST WOOTON, CHAIRMAN OF CRIMINAL JUSTICE COMMITTEE, SAID HIS BILL WOULD HELP PRESERVE THE CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHT TO BEAR ARMS.

LOUISIANA INSURANCE COMMISSIONER JIM DONELON MARKED FIRST OFFICIAL DAY OF HURRICANE SEASON YESTERDAY BY ENCOURAGING CITIZENS TO BE PREPARED, GATHER ALL YOUR IMPORTANT DOCUMENTS TAKE PHOTOS OF YOUR HOME'S CONTENTS AND TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THE FEDERAL FLOOD INSURANCE PROGRAM. HE SAYS ONLY 29 PERCENT OF HOMES IN THE STATE HAVE FLOOD INSURANCE. DONELON SAYS FAR TOO MANY HOMEOWNERS HAVE LITTLE KNOWLEDGE ABOUT WHAT THEIR HOMEOWNERS INSURANCE POLICY ACTUALLY COVERS. HE RECOMMENDS SITTING DOWN WITH YOUR AGENT AND REVIEWING YOUR POLICY IN ADVANCE.

IF YOU EVER FORGET FOR A MINUTE THE SACRIFICE OUR MEN AND WOMEN OF THE MILITARY ARE MAKING, HERE’S A REMINDER.. A FORT POLK SOLDIER DIED TUESDAY IN LOGAR PROVINCE IN AFGHANISTAN OF WOUNDS SUFFERED WHEN ENEMY FORCES ATTACKED HIS UNIT WITH A ROCKET-PROPELLED GRENADE. 22 YEAR OLD SPECIALIST RICHARD C. EMMONS III OF NORTH GRANBY, CONN., WAS A SIGNAL SUPPORT SYSTEMS SPECIALIST WITH THE 2ND BATTALION, 30TH INFANTRY REGIMENT, 4TH BRIGADE COMBAT TEAM, 10TH MOUNTAIN DIVISION. EMMONS JOINED THE ARMY IN SEPTEMBER 2009. HE ARRIVED AT FORT POLK IN MAY 2010. HE DEPLOYED WITH HIS UNIT IN OCTOBER 2010 TO AFGHANISTAN IN SUPPORT OF OPERATION ENDURING FREEDOM.

THE HOUSE CRIMINAL JUSTICE COMMITTEE APPROVES A BILL BY BATON ROUGE REP. PATRICIA SMITH THAT WOULD GIVE INMATE OVER THE AGE OF 60 AN OPPORTUNITY TO APPLY FOR A PAROLE HEARING. ANGOLA WARDEN BURL SUPPORTS THE BILL AND SAYS THE PURPOSE IS TO GIVE ELDERLY NON-VIOLENT PRISONERS A CHANCE AT PAROLE IN ORDER TO MAKE ROOM FOR INMATES WHO HAVE BEEN CONVICTED OF MORE VIOLENT CRIMES. THE MEASURE HEADS TO THE HOUSE FLOOR FOR MORE DEBATE.

NEARLY SIX YEARS AFTER HURRICANE KATRINA DROWNED NEW ORLEANS IN MISERY, THE FEDERAL EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT AGENCY IS REMINDING STORM VICTIMS WHY THEY CURSED THE AGENCY FOR ITS SLUGGISH RESPONSE TO THE DISASTER. AS A NEW HURRICANE SEASON BEGINS WEDNESDAY, FEMA IS WORKING ON A LONG-DELAYED PUSH TO DETERMINE HOW MUCH MONEY IT OVERPAID OR MISTAKENLY AWARDED TO VICTIMS OF THE DESTRUCTIVE 2005 HURRICANE SEASON. THE AGENCY IS REVIEWING MORE THAN $600 MILLION GIVEN TO ROUGHLY 154,000 VICTIMS OF HURRICANES KATRINA, RITA AND WILMA AND IS POISED TO DEMAND THAT SOME RETURN MONEY. NO WORD YET AS TO HOW MANY PEOPLE WILL BE AFFECTED.

A BILL THAT WOULD ALLOW A PASSENGER IN THE FRONT SEAT OF A VEHICLE TO VIEW A VIDEO THAT THE DRIVER CAN NOT SEE IS PASSED BY THE STATE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES. THE BILL IS AUTHORED BY NEW ORLEANS REP HELENA MORENO SAYS THERE'S TECHNOLOGY THAT ALLOWS FOR A VIDEO SCREEN IN THE FRONT SEAT OF A VEHICLE THAT DOES NOT DISTRACT THE DRIVER. THE MEASURE HEADS TO THE SENATE FOR MORE DEBATE.

THE BOARD IN CHARGE OF BUILDING A NEW LSU TEACHING HOSPITAL IN NEW ORLEANS MEETS TODAY, TO HEAR AN INDEPENDENT CONSULTANT'S REPORT ON HOW BIG THAT FACILITY SHOULD BE. CRITICS OF THE PROPOSED 424-BED, $1.2-BILLION HOSPITAL PLAN INCLUDE SEN. DAVID VITTER, WHO QUESTIONS FLOATING $400-MILLION IN BONDS TO COMPLETE THE PROJECT. SOME SAY THEY WANT TO SEE THE CITY'S OLD CHARITY HOSPITAL REFURBISHED AND RE-OPENED. THE UNIVERSITY MEDICAL CENTER BOARD SEEKS TO SET A FINAL SIZE AND PROJECTED COST FOR THE HOSPITAL, SO THE BUILDING CAN PROCEED.

A BILL AIMED AT EXPANDING THE LOUISIANA SMOKE FREE AIR ACT MEETS DEFEAT ON THE SENATE FLOOR. BILL SPONSOR SEN. ROB MARIONNEAUX, OF LIVONIA, SAYS HIS BILL WILL BAN SMOKING INSIDE ALL BARS. HE SAYS IT'S A MATTER OF PUBLIC HEALTH. MARIONNEAUX CAN BRING HIS BILL BACK UP FOR RECONSIDERATION BEFORE THE SESSION ENDS, AND HOPE THAT SENATORS CHANGE THEIR VOTES.

A THREE YEAR OLD BOY IN NEW ORLEANS IS DEAD AFTER BEING LEFT IN A LOCKED VEHICLE FOR EIGHT HOURS. NEW ORLEANS POLICE SUPERINTENDENT MARLON DEFILLO SAYS THE CHILD WAS PICKED UP BY THE BOYS GODMOTHER EARLY TUESDAY MORNING. DEFILLO SAYS 23-YEAR-OLD GENEE BRUMFIELD WENT INSIDE ANOTHER HOME LEAVING THE CHILD IN THE CLOSED LOCKED VEHICLE FOR MORE THAN EIGHT HOURS. DEFILLO SAYS A RELATIVE FOUND THE BOY INSIDE THE VEHICLE UNRESPONSIVE LATER THAT AFTERNOON. BRUMFIELD HAS BEEN BOOKED WITH NEGLIGENT HOMICIDE.

A BILL THAT WOULD MAKE IT ILLEGAL FOR A SOME CONVICTED SEX OFFENDER TO USE FACEBOOK OR OTHER INTERNET SOCIAL MEDIA SITES PASSES IN SENATE COMMITTEE. THE
NEW LAW WOULD TARGET OFFENDERS WHO HAVE HAD ISSUES WITH COMPUTERS AND MINORS IN THE PAST. THE BILL NOW GOES TO THE FULL SENATE FOR DEBATE.

THE HOUSE EDUCATION COMMITTEE APPROVES TWO BILLS THAT WOULD RESULT IN AN INCREASE IN HIGHER EDUCATION COSTS FOR STUDENTS. ONE MEASURE WOULD RESULT IN A $75 MILLION INCREASE IN TUITION. THE OTHER MEASURE WOULD GIVE UNIVERSITIES MORE FREEDOM TO RAISE FEES. THE BILLS NOW HEAD TO THE FULL HOUSE FOR DEBATE.

A FEDERAL JUDGE HAS DECLINED TO REDUCE THE $1 MILLION FINE AND $2 MILLION IN RESTITUTION HE ORDERED PAID BY A COLORADO COMPANY THAT ADMITTED PARTIAL RESPONSIBILITY FOR THE DEATH OF A BATON ROUGE PLANT WORKER. THE JUDGE IN THE CASE RULED CHEMICAL & METAL INDUSTRIES INC. DOES NOT HAVE TO PAY THE $3 MILLION WHILE IT APPEALS FOR REVERSAL OF HIS DECISION. BUT THE JUDGE REQUIRED THE FIRM TO POST A $3 MILLION BOND PENDING A DECISION BY THE 5TH U.S. CIRCUIT COURT OF APPEALS IN NEW ORLEANS. 32 YEAR OLD DELVIN HENRY SUFFERED FATAL BURNS IN 2003, AFTER HE OPENED A CYLINDER THAT WAS IMPROPERLY LABELED FOR A LOW-PRESSURE REFRIGERANT. THE CYLINDER AT THE HONEYWELL INTERNATIONAL PLANT NI BATON ROUGE ACTUALLY CONTAINED HIGH-PRESSURE CORROSIVES THAT SPRAYED HENRY. HE DIED THE NEXT DAY. HONEYWELL LATER PLEADED GUILTY TO NEGLIGENT ENDANGERMENT.

News For Wednesday 06/01/11


NEWS FOR WEDNESDAY 060111
BY DAVE GRAICHEN

DUE TO EXTREMELY DRY CONDITIONS THROUGHOUT THE STATE, A BURN BAN HAS BEEN PUT IN PLACE EFFECTIVE AT ONCE. STATE FIRE MARSHAL BUTCH BROWNING SAYS THE EXTREME DROUGHT CONDITIONS AND SEVERE LACK OF RAINFALL IS THE REASON FOR THE BAN.

IT TOOK A WHILE TO GET THERE.. BUT THE CITY OF ALEXANDRIA FINALLY HAS A BUDGET. MORE THAN A MONTH AFTER THE CITY COUNCIL PASSED A BUDGET THAT MAYOR JACQUES ROY SAID WAS UNBALANCED AND SUBSEQUENTLY VETOED, THE TWO SIDES REACHED A COMPROMISE THAT THE COUNCIL APPROVED 6-1 LAST NIGHT. THE $52 MILLION GENERAL FUND OPERATING BUDGET INCLUDES SEVERAL FEE INCREASES, INCLUDING THOSE FOR ADMISSION TO THE ALEXANDRIA ZOO AND ATRANS BUS SERVICE. THE BUDGET ALSO UTILIZES THE USE OF $915,500 IN SURPLUS FUNDS.

THE RAPIDES PARISH SCHOOL BOARD'S EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE ON TUESDAY PASSED AN AGENDA ON TO THE FULL BOARD THAT INCLUDED RATIFYING BIDS FOR THE CONSTRUCTION OF THE PARISH’S FIRST GREEN SCHOOL. THE BOARD WILL CONSIDER WHETHER TO ADOPT THE AGENDA ITEMS AT ITS MONTHLY MEETING NEXT WEEK. THE NEW JUNIOR HIGH SCHOOL WOULD BE LOCATED IN WOODWORTH ON 33 ACRES OF LAND THAT WAS FORMERLY PART OF KISATCHIE NATIONAL FOREST.

FORECASTERS ARE CALLING FOR AN ABOVE-NORMAL HURRICANE SEASON, WHICH OFFICIALLY BEGINS TODAY. STATE CLIMATOLOGIST BARRY KEIM SAYS NOAA IS CALLING FOR 12-18 NAMED STORMS THIS YEAR. KEIM SAYS LAST YEAR WE HAD 19 NAMED STORMS BUT ONLY 2 TROPICAL STORM LANDFALLS IN THE UNITED STATES AND NO HURRICANES

WITH TODAY BEING THE FIRST OFFICIAL DAY OF THE 2011 HURRICANE SEASON. GOVERNOR BOBBY JINDAL SAYS, BECASUE OF FLOODING THIS SPRING, AN EARLY SEASON STORM WILL BRING MUCH GREATER RISK OF HIGH WATER. HE SAYS THIS WILL BE SO, EVEN IN AREAS NOT PRONE TO FLOODING. JINDAL SAYS DURING THE HIGH WATER ON THE MISSISSIPPI RIVER THE ARMY CORPS OF ENGINEERS WAS FORCED TO SUSPEND WORK ON LEVEE UP-GRADING PROJECTS IN THE LOWER PARTS OF THE RIVER AND THE NEW ORLEANS AREA, HE SAYS THAT LEAVES SOME AREAS EXPOSED. JINDAL ALSO POINTS OUT THAT BECAUSE OF DAMAGE DONE TO LOUISIANA'S SENSITIVE COASTAL ENVIRONMENT BY THE BP OIL SPILL THE WETLANDS HAVE NOT HAD TIME TO RECOVER, REMOVING AN IMPORTANT LAYER OF PROTECTION AGAINST STORM SURGE.

BY A 7 TO 2 VOTE THE SENATE REVENUE AND FISCAL AFFAIRS COMMITTEE HAS ENDORSED A BILL BY BOGALUSA REPRESENTATIVE HAROLD RITCHIE TO RENEW 4-CENTS OF THE STATES TAX ON CIGARETTES. GOVERNOR JINDAL HAS VOICED HIS OPPOSITION TO THE TAX RENEWAL, CALLING IT A TAX INCREASE AND HAS PROMISED TO VETO THE BILL IF IT
REACHES HIS DESK. THE BILL IS NOW HEADED TO THE SENATE FLOOR FOR DEBATE.

LOCAL GOVERNMENT AGENCIES HOPING TO RAISE OR RENEW TAXES WOULD BE LIMITED TO STATEWIDE ELECTION DATES TO MAKE THEIR REQUESTS, IF THE HOUSE AGREES TO AN ELECTION CALENDAR CHANGE BACKED 23-12 TUESDAY BY THE STATE SENATE.
EVERY BOND OR TAX ELECTION WOULD HAVE TO BE HELD ON THE SAME DATE AS A REGULARLY SCHEDULED PRIMARY OR GENERAL ELECTION FOR STATEWIDE OR CONGRESSIONAL OFFICE.

THE JINDAL ADMINISTRATION'S DECISION TO SLOW PLANS FOR A 100-MILLION DOLLAR UPGRADE TO STATE'S COMPUTER SYSTEMS HAS BOOSTED THE PRICE TAG FOR COMPLETING THE PROJECT BY ANOTHER 25-MILLION DOLLARS. SENATORS LEARNED OF THE COST HIKE AS THEY COMBED THROUGH THE 2011-12 BUDGET. RATHER THAN MAKE THE COMPUTER UPGRADE ACROSS MOST STATE AGENCIES, THE GOVERNOR'S DIVISION OF ADMINISTRATION INSTEAD STARTED WITH A PILOT PROGRAM AT THE DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION AND DEVELOPMENT.

IT WAS A ROUGH MEMORIAL DAY HOLIDAY WEEKEND ON THE ROADS IN LOUISIANA. STATE POLICE SPOKESMAN LT. DOUG CAIN SAYS 7 FATAL CRASHES WERE INVESTIGATED RESULTING IN 10 DEATHS. A TWO CAR CRASH IN SHREVEPORT KILLED 4 PEOPLE... AND THE DRIVER OF A CAR INVOLVED IN A SINGLE-VEHICLE CRASH IN LAFAYETTE IS BEING SOUGHT
BY POLICE. CAIN SAYS THAT PERSON FLED THE SCENE OF THE WRECK ON FOOT, LEAVING ONE OF HIS PASSENGERS DEAD AND ANOTHER CRITICALLY INJURED.

A HOUSE COMMITTEE IS SCHEDULED TODAY TO HEAR A BILL TO ALLOW CONCEALED WEAPON PERMIT HOLDERS TO CARRY GUNS ON COLLEGE CAMPUSES. THE BILL IS FROM BELLE CHASSE REP. ERNEST WOOTON, WHO'S TRIED TO PASS THE BILL BEFORE, UNSUCCESSFULLY.

RIVER FORECASTERS DON'T EXPECT THAT THE ATCHAFALAYA RIVER AT MORGAN CITY WILL GET MUCH HIGHER. THE ARMY CORPS OF ENGINEERS HAS BEGUN CLOSING THE GATES OF THE MORGANZA SPILLWAY, WHICH WILL MEAN FLOOD WATERS SHOULD BEGIN TO RECEDE.

A SENATE COMMITTEE UNANIMOUSLY APPROVES A PROPOSAL TO BAN THE USE OF DISPERSANTS IN RESPONDING TO AN OIL SPILL IN LOUISIANA WATERS, WHICH EXTEND THREE MILES INTO THE GULF. SLIDELL SENATOR A.G. CROWE SAYS HE WANTS THE BAN BECAUSE THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT HASN'T RESPONDED TO HIS REQUESTS TO SWITCH THE OIL SPILL STRATEGY TO A LESS TOXIC ALTERNATIVE.

A FORMER LAFAYETTE PARISH PROSECUTOR WHO PLEADED GUILTY TO INCOME TAX EVASION IS SET TO BE SENTENCED IN FEDERAL COURT. JOSEPH FLOYD JOHNSON FACES A MAXIMUM SENTENCE OF FIVE YEARS IN PRISON AND A $100,000 FINE. HIS SENTENCING BY U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE RICHARD HAIK IS SCHEDULED FOR WEDNESDAY IN LAFAYETTE.
PROSECUTORS SAID JOHNSON HADN'T FILED TAX RETURNS FOR CALENDAR YEARS 2003 THROUGH 2009 AND OWED A TOTAL OF NEARLY $180,000 IN TAXES FOR THOSE YEARS.

FACEBOOK, MYSPACE AND OTHER SOCIAL NETWORKING SITES WOULD BE OFF-LIMITS TO CERTAIN CONVICTED OFFENDERS, IF THE SENATE AGREES TO A PROPOSAL THAT RECEIVED APPROVAL TUESDAY FROM A SENATE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE. THE HOUSE-BACKED BILL WOULD MAKE IT A CRIME TO USE THOSE NETWORKING WEBSITES, CHAT ROOMS AND PEER-TO-PEER NETWORKS BY ANYONE CONVICTED OF A LIST OF SEX OFFENSES AGAINST A MINOR.

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