The Louisiana Department of Revenue is gearing up to offer Louisiana tax payers another amnesty period. Revenue Secretary Tim Barfield told the Baton Rouge Press Club that last year the tax amnesty period collected $452 million.
"We're certainly hopeful to collect at least $104-million."
During the amnesty period, you will be able to settle tax debts with no penalties and only half the interest charged. This year, tax payers will be offered an installment plan to pay their delinquent taxes.
"You pay 20% down with the application, and then you have to pay in six equal installments, the last of which needs to be done by May 1st."
This year's amnesty period runs October 15th to November 14th.
The state Department of Veterans Affairs says they've been approved for a grant to fund a State Veterans Cemetery in Rayville. Secretary David LaCerte says the $7.3 million dollars will fund 100% of the costs to develop the cemetery on property donated by the Franklin family. He says they've been competing for this grant a while.
"Very happy that we stepped up all our efforts and went all out for the veterans in northeast Louisiana," said Lacerte.
LaCerte says this project has been in the works for years and he's grateful to everyone who has thrown their support something that's now becoming a reality. He says the property is located near I-20 off Highway 425 and spans about 50 acres.
Lacerte says construction on the site is set to begin by November and is scheduled for completion by Spring 2016, weather permitting.
"We're happy to get the ball rolling for all the veterans and their spouses who need a final resting place for serving our country," said Lacerte.
A Lafayette district judge has ruled that Louisiana's ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional. Judge Edward Rubin's made his ruling in a lawsuit filed by a same-sex couple requesting the state recognize their marriage certificate from California.
Legal analyst Tim Meche feels the ruling will not go into effect until the Louisiana Supreme Court has a chance to review it. He says he doesn't expect any surprises from the Supreme Court in their review of the ruling.
"I predict they would overturn it and uphold the constitutional ban just like the federal judge in New Orleans did a couple of weeks ago."
US District Court Judge Martin Feldman upheld the state's ban on same-sex marriage earlier this month. It is reported that the state's Attorney General's Office has already initiated an appeal to Rubin's ruling. Meche says there is one big reason why he thinks the state's Supreme Court will overturn this ruling.
"Well, Louisiana Supreme Court Justices are elected and Louisiana voters voted overwhelmingly to pass a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage."
The photo of Senator Mary Landrieu assisting an LSU fan with a keg-stand over the weekend has generated a lot of talk across the nation. This apparently has caused quite a stir from among national political reporters and her opponents.
The Senator feels this is much ado about nothing.
"They need to get a sense of humor and they need to get a life. It's just the way we roll."
Landrieu adds that the man she helped is more than capable of making his own choices.
"The gentleman that did that is 28-years-old and he has also graduated, he has a Master's in business. So I think he can make a decision for himself what he'd like to do."
Sources say one of Landrieu's opponents, Republican Congressman Bill Cassidy, showed up at the same tailgate party about an hour later. There have been no reports of Cassidy performing or assisting in a keg-stand. It is reported that the man first asked Landrieu to do a keg stand. The Senator declined and, instead, decided to help him out.
"I thought I did pretty well not doing it, myself, and just helping him."
Incumbent 5th Congressional District Representative Vance McAllister started is out with a television ad today featuring his wife by his side offering forgiveness to her husband. It's the first spot we've seen since the Congressman was involved in a kissing scandal with a married woman earlier this year.
ULM Political Science Professor Joshua Stockley says this is a bold move by McAllister.
"Typically when caught in an indiscretion or scandal, the last thing you want to do is remind the voter," says Stockley.
Kelly McAllister addresses the camera in the commercial and says, "I'm blessed to have a husband who owns up to his mistakes."
Stockley says even though candidates normally wouldn't want to remind voters about past indiscretions, the fact that Kelly has such a major role in this commercial is important.
The commercial began running throughout the 5th Congressional District today.
Stockley says if others are willing to forgive, especially the wives, voters will be more likely to forgive. He says it'll be interesting to see how McAllister's opponents respond to this ad.
"If the opponents don't talk about it, and this is it, this could be a very successful advertisement by simply diffusing the issue," said Stockley.
A photograph was captured this weekend of Senator Mary Landrieu helping an LSU fan perform a keg stand prior to Saturday night's game. The picture has Landrieu holding the spigot of a keg to the mouth of fan, who is being up hoisted by his feet while consuming beer. Political Analyst Bernie Pinsonat says this is another distraction for the Landrieu campaign to deal with.
"We have had the airplane charges by her campaign, taxpayers paying for it instead of her, her residency and now this."
Pinsonat says Landrieu's campaign message is that she plays an important role for Louisiana because of her seniority and chairmanship of the Senate Energy Committee, but instead she's had to address her residency in Louisiana, improperly charged charter flights and now this.
Landrieu is in a tough re-election battle against Congressman Billy Cassidy and retired Air Force Colonel Rob Maness. Two republican activisits reportedly sent out the pictures, but Pinsonat says Landrieu's supporters will say no big deal.
Officials in Sabine Parish say a little 19-month-old boy died of apparent asphyxiation over the weekend after he got his head stuck in a car window while his mom was driving. Deputy Coroner Ron Rivers says they learned the mother had left a family gathering in Zwolle with her child Saturday night.
"She put the child in the back seat of her car unrestrained and left to go to another residence just down the road," said Rivers.
Rivers says at one point on the route to the second residence, the child, who was not restrained, rolled down the back window without the knowledge of his mother.
"He stuck his head out the window and then accidentally mashed the same button and rolled the window back up catching the little child between the throat and the door frame of the vehicle," said Rivers.
Rivers says little Robert Lynch was taken to a hospital Saturday and was taken off life support yesterday evening. He says they are working to determine exactly how long the child was stuck before the mom made the realization. Rivers says the mom could be arrested for this.
"We're working to determine if we need to file charges against the mother for her negligence in this case," said Rivers.
Starting today a brand new license plate will be available to Louisiana drivers boasting, "I'm Creole, and Proud." Lafayette Representative Vincent Pierre says he lead the effort to make this happen because he wanted to give more exposure to the Creole culture. He says one of the plate's features is a black pot.
"That represents the great food the Creoles in this community always have for folks that come visit," said Pierre.
Pierre says the Creole plate also features an accordion to represent Zydeco music. He says there's also a scrub board on the specialty item.
"And just recently Sunset was voted the scrub board capitol of the world," said Pierre.
Pierre says the design also includes a fleur de lis to tie it all together in representing Louisiana. He says you can get it as soon as the DMVs open today for $30 plus fees.
Pierre says the funds that are generated from the Creole plate will go to the French Immersion Program.
"To help improve french here in our state," says Pierre. "The children and the community is really excited about this."
The Saints finally picked up their first win of the season as New Orleans defeated Minnesota 20-9.
"It wasn't perfect, but I thought we played hard," Saints head coach Sean Payton said.
The Saints jumped out to a 13-0 lead in the first quarter, but didn't score again until the 4th quarter. A 15-yard unnecessary roughness penalty against Minnesota kept alive a Saints drive that led to seven more points in the final quarter.
After losing late leads in the last two games, Payton says it was good to finish this contest on top.
"It was a game where we were able to get them off the field and then it was game where we were able to possess the ball for however many minutes and then take a knee, so that was a positive."
Quarterback Drew Brees through for 293 yards and two touchdowns. Brandin Cooks had eight catches for 74 yards, while Khiry Robinson had 69 yards on 18 carries.
The Saints held Minnesota to 59 yards rushing. The Vikings were without star running back Adrian Peterson, who is away from the team, because he's child abuse charges.
Up next for the Saints, the Dallas Cowboys. The two teams will meet at Jerry World next Sunday night. Dallas is 2-and-1.
For the first time since 1991, Mississippi State came into Baton Rouge and left town with a victory. The Bulldogs rolled up 570 yards of total offense in a 34-29 victory over the Tigers.
Mississippi State did much of its damage on the ground as they rushed for 302 yards. Two Louisiana natives did most of the damages against a Tigers defense that was gashed.
Former Haughton star Dak Prescott had a Heisman like performance, as he threw for 268 yards and two touchdowns. Prescott also rushed for a 105 yards, including an impressive 56-yard touchdown run.
Former Franklinton star Josh Robinson rushed for 197 yards and two touchdowns.
LSU rushed for only 89 yards. Quarterback Anthony Jennings struggled as he was 13-of-26 for 157 yards. Jennings was sacked three times, the last hit knocked him out of the game.
Brandon Harris led LSU on three scoring drives in the 4th quarter, throwing two touchdown passes to Malachi Dupre. Coach Les Miles said after the game that Harris showed them a lot and left open the possibility he could start against New Mexico State.
In Ruston, Northwestern State scored 20 4th quarter points to come from behind to beat Louisiana Tech 30-27. Chris Moore kicked two field goals, including a 47-yarder to win it on the final play of the game.
The Bulldogs turned it over five times. Tech quarterback Cody Sokol was intercepted three times.
It was Northwestern's first win over an FBS opponent since 2005 and it's the Demons first win over the Bulldogs since 1979.
Secretary of State Tom Schedler is advising voters to study up on their November fourth ballot, because they've had a record number of candidates who have withdrawn from their respective races since qualifying. Schedler says 110 candidates have dropped out of their race and the printed ballot may not reflect the change in the number of candidates.
"So we urge voters to look at the ballot that's posted at the precinct. And there will be a list of withdrawn candidates."
Many of names of withdrawn candidates will remain on the ballot because it is required by law that these ballots are made 45 days from the election. Votes for withdrawn candidates will not be counted. Schedler says local election commissioners are supposed to inform voters at polling stations of withdrawn candidates on the ballot.
"I just want to be straight up with everyone, when you have over 13,000 commissioners across the state, certainly human error, there could be incidents where a long line or someone inadvertently forgets to say that."
Even a US Senate candidate has withdrawn from the race and that is Raymond Brown. Schedler says, with that, there will be withdrawn candidates on the ballot in every single parish. Schedler says you can always go to GeauxVote-dot-com to keep yourself updated.
"It'll pull up a live ballot specific to you and that will be current to, literally, the day of the election of who has withdrawn. So, when all else fails, use that."
The Louisiana Inspector General has issued a set of recommendations for state agencies to stop wasting airline tickets. Stephen Street's office found that between 2011 and 2013, over half a million dollars in non-refundable airline tickets were purchased by state entities, but never used.
Street says his office is mandated to find and eliminate waste and this is a classic example of waste.
"Where you have airline tickets that have a monetary value that are allowed to expire and become completely worthless to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars."
The report shows that nearly 12-hundred non-refundable airline tickets expired, but could have been used within one year to pay for another ticket. Street says the topic was addressed in a previous report in 2010 and the results of that report were similar to this year's.
"We've reviewed it again, pointed it out again, and we are hopefully confident that there will be some steps taken to address the problem. It's been represented to us and the response is that is happening."
Street says, in tight budget times, we have to be especially careful about this sort of waste of taxpayer money. He says the report includes a set of recommendations for the Office of State Travel to ensure unused airline tickets are not wasted.
"It appears that they're going to be taking steps to monitor this stuff much more closely and to make certain that we just don't allow this money to evaporate."
August was another record breaking month in terms of employment. The Louisiana Workforce Commission released new job numbers today and nonfarm employment grew by 30-thousand over the last 12 months and a record 1.9 million people are employed in the Pelican state.
"Sectors with the most new jobs were construction, professional and business services, leisure and hospitality and education and health services," said Tom Guarisco.
August saw a record 1.6 million non-government jobs in Louisiana, as private employers added 36-thousand jobs over the year. Guarisco says the construction sector led the way by hiring 95-hundred workers.
"Construction is a driver, when jobs are added in that sector, it leads to more growth in other sectors."
Guarisco says they anticipate setting more employment records in the coming months, because the construction sector will need to keep adding workers.
"Our forecasts say that it's going to take off considerably more in the coming years as a lot of these industrial projects come on line."
According to a recent report, Louisiana's obesity rate is dropping for the first time in 30 years. The annual study released by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation found The Bayou State is now ranked 6th in the nation, instead of first.
"We've been ranked number 1 or number 2 in the country, taking turns with Mississippi, for about 30 years now," says LeAnne Redman, an obesity researcher at LSU's Pennington Biomedical Research Center. "So it's very encouraging for our researchers to see this happening."
Redman believes healthy initiatives all across the state are making it easier for people to make healthier choices. She believes that in a state where we love food at events like tailgating and Mardi Gras, the culture is somewhat changing.
"I think that's what's happening at these meet and greets is that people are trying to provide more healthy foods for everybody," said Redman.
Redman also says their research shows it all starts in the womb and that pregnancy is very important on laying down the metabolic fingerprint of that child. The study shows that Louisiana's adult obesity rate is still 33.1% and Redman says we still have a long way to go.
"So we have to spend some more time thinking about what we can do to continue this trend in future years," Redman said.
A Donaldsonville man who pleaded guilty in 1995 to negligent homicide in a crash that killed a ten-week old child has avoided prison. Stanley White received a two-year prison sentence 19 years ago, but was never given a report date. He was re-sentenced again and White's sentence this time was two years of home incarceration.
"I think to put someone like Stanley in jail after all these years after system failures would have been vengeance and not justice," White's attorney, Steven Moore.
The parents of the infant killed in the wreck, Shannon and Rachel Deville, say justice was not served. But Moore says White is remorseful and he's been a model citizen since he made a horrible mistake.
"He tried to live his life as best as possible after that, which is what we want from people who make mistakes," Moore said.
White is a college graduate, with a full-time job and has not been trouble with the law since the fatal crash.
White was 19 at the time of the accident. It's unknown why he never received a date to report to prison.
The largest crowd to ever watch a football game in Tiger Stadium is expected Saturday when the Tigers face SEC West foe Mississippi State. The game is nearly sold-out in, which means 100-thousand tickets have been sold and LSU Sports Information Director Michael Bonnette says this will put to test their contralow plan after the game.
"On Nicholson, from Skip Bertman Drive all the way to Bluebonnet is contraflow and it's been executed very well up to this point."
Contraflow is being used this year for fans that are heading south on Nicholson Drive. Bonnette says a record crowd and a potentially close game, with tens of thousands of fans leaving at the same time, will give them a better idea if it works as intended.
Bonnette says they are also encouraging fans to get to campus early. He says last week they had a bottle neck for those fans tyring to get to their seat in the east upper deck.
"We want fans to know if they are in the east upper and you are willing and capable of walking up ramps, you can utilize gates 22 through 28 on the south side."
Four years ago today workers were able to cap the BP well that created the largest environmental disaster in the history of North America. Executive Director for The Coastal Protection Restoration Authority, Kyle Graham, says, four years later, most of the oil has been removed from the coastal beaches and marshes in Louisiana.
"But, yet, there is still oil out there. And given the depth and the distance and the amount of oil, we anticipate that we'll be seeing oil on Louisiana's coast for decades."
He says it's still too early to tell what the long-term effects the oil-spill will have on the ecosystem along the state's coast.
"There are still a lot of studies ongoing to look at individual species and to look at the populations of the various fauna and things that make up our coastal environment to determine what the total amount of that impact will be."
Graham says they have been receiving money associated with the criminal penalties as a result of the spill. He says some of that money has been used to progress the engineering and design of barrier island and diversion projects.
"We are hoping to, in the next six months, actually, to see some of that money spent on construction of barrier island projects here in Louisiana."
A new poll conducted by Fox News shows Republican US-Senate candidate Bill Cassidy with a substantial lead over the incumbent Democrat Mary Landrieu in a head-to-head match-up. The survey shows Cassidy with 51% of the vote and Landrieu with 38% in a potential runoff scenario.
ULM Political Science Professor Joshua Stockley questions the validity of this poll.
"Is it entirely within the realm of possibility that Landrieu has lost some support? I suppose," says Stockley. "However I'm skeptical that she sits at only 38%."
The poll interviewed just over 600 likely Louisiana voters between September 14th-16th.
Stockley says it's possible that Landrieu has lost some support, but he's skeptical that she's all the way down to just 38% support.
He says so many other polls on this race show Landrieu in the mid to upper 40s.
"Typically when you have one poll that is substantially different from the trend, or the other polls - one should treat it skeptically," said Stockley.
According to the poll numbers in the jungle primary, Landrieu has 31% support, Cassidy has 35% and Republican tea-party favorite Rob Maness has 7%. Stockley says that would mean that Maness is taking votes away from Landrieu which is highly unlikely.
"How is it possible for those voters to not support Landrieu in favor of Maness by Maness being in the race," said Stockley. "That flies in the face of what everything else is telling us about the electorate in this state."
The investigation into a fatal officer involved shooting in Pineville has determined that shooting to be justified. Rapides Parish Sheriff's spokesman, Lt. Tommy Carnline, says Pineville Police Officer Vince Deville responded to a call and was confronted with the suspect, Christopher Leblanc, brandishing a large sword.
Carnline says witnesses said they heard the officer order the suspect to drop his weapon "repeatedly and loudly".
"The suspect then charged toward Officer Deville. And as the officer was trying to create distance, backing up, giving verbal commands, the suspect kept coming toward him and he discharged his weapon, firing multiple rounds, hitting the suspect multiple times in the torso area."
Leblanc was pronounced dead at the scene. Carnline says the officer responded to a tense, uncertain, rapidly evolving situation and performed in accordance with his training and the law.
"The fact remains that the subject failed to comply with the officer's commands and he had to use deadly force on him, not only to save himself, but the other civilians in the area."
Detectives say the sword Leblanc was holding was 38-inches long with a slight curve and extremely sharp. Carnline says Leblanc was an immediate and continuous danger to Officer Deville and the other civilians in the area. He says the use of deadly force is not something any officer wants to do and this situation could have been avoided.
"Whenever someone confronts an officer, and they are ordered to comply, that's what they should do. And this officer was given no alternative."
According to new census data, Louisiana women make about two thirds of what men in The Bayou State are paid. The figures show males here earn 33 percent more than females which is the largest pay gap in the nation. Tulane Business Professor Dr. Mark Rosa says high paying fields of study are dominated by men in Louisiana.
"The programs that are here that generally pay more, there are more males in the classroom," said Rosa.
Rosa says, from a geographical standpoint, very few women work in the high-paying oil and gas area in the south and certainly Louisiana.
"You just have the number of men out there are occupying the positions that pay better," said Rosa.
Rosa also believes women in Louisiana, even if they have a high paying degree, are more inclined to stay home and not work in favor of raising their family.