KSYL Local News Archives for 2012-05

News For Thursday 05/31/12


NEWS FOR THURSDAY 051312
BY DAVE GRAICHEN

FAMILY AND FRIENDS ARE IN SHOCK AFTER A 5-YEAR-OLD GIRL AND HER 10-YEAR-OLD COUSIN WERE SHOT WHEN A TRIO OF GUNMEN FIRED INTO THE LITTLE BOYS BIRTHDAY PARTY TUESDAY NIGHT IN NEW ORLEANS. THE SHOOTINGS WERE PART OF A STRING OF VIOLENCE THAT ROCKED THE CRESCENT CITY, LEAVING FOUR PEOPLE DEAD. NOPD REPORT AN 18 YEAR OLD MAN TURNED HIMSELF IN WEDNESDAY MORNING AS POLICE CLOSED IN ON HIM. HE WAS ARRESTED ON TWO COUNTS OF FIRST-DEGREE MURDER. AUTHORITIES ARE STILL SEARCHING FOR THE OTHER TWO SUSPECTS.

53 YEAR OLD JOSEPH CHEHARDY HAS BEEN SENTENCED TO LIFE IN PRISON, WITHOUT PAROLE, FOR THE DEATHS OF HIS WIFE AND FATHER IN LAW IN THEIR TIOGA HOME BACK IN 2010. CHEHARDY WAS ALSO SENTENCED TO TWO CONSECUTIVE 10-YEAR TERMS IN THE AGGRAVATED BATTERY OF TWO RAPIDES PARISH SHERIFF'S DEPUTIES WHO TRIED TO STOP HIM AFTER HE SHOT HIS WIFE MULTIPLE TIMES. CHAHARDY WAS CONVICTED EARLIER THIS MONTH AFTER A JUST DELIBERATED ONLY ABOUT AN HOUR TO COME UP WITH THEIR VERDICT.

IN THE RETRIAL OF FORMER RAPIDES PARISH POLICE JUROR STEVE BORDELON, TWO RAPIDES PARISH MEN WHO WERE POLICE JURORS IN 2005 TESTIFIED WEDNESDAY THEY WOULDN'T HAVE VOTED TO APPROVE CANNON SUBDIVISION HAD THEY KNOWN STEVE BORDELON HAD A FINANCIAL INTEREST IT. AN FBI AGENT ALSO TOOK THE STAND AND SAID, CANNON DEVELOPER DON PLAUCHE IN 2006 TOLD INVESTIGATORS THAT BORDELON PROMISED PLAUCHE AND HIS PARTNER THEY WOULD "NEVER SEE A BILL" FROM THE POLICE JURY TO REPAIR A ROAD DAMAGED BY SUBDIVISION CONSTRUCTION. BORDELON FACES UP TO 10 YEARS IN FEDERAL PRISON IF HE'S CONVICTED OF BRIBERY. BORDELON, WHO IS NOW 72, SERVED FOUR TERMS ON THE POLICE JURY.

GOV. BOBBY JINDAL WON HIS FIRST SIGNIFICANT VICTORY WEDNESDAY IN HIS BID TO REVAMP STATE RETIREMENT, WHEN BOTH THE HOUSE AND SENATE AGREED TO CREATE A NEW PENSION PLAN FOR FUTURE RANK-AND-FILE STATE WORKERS. THE BILL SENT TO THE GOVERNOR'S DESK WOULD CREATE AN INVESTMENT ACCOUNT SIMILAR TO A 401(K) PLAN FOR STATE EMPLOYEES HIRED AFTER JULY 1, 2013, INSTEAD OF A MONTHLY RETIREMENT PAYMENT BASED ON THEIR SALARIES AND YEARS OF EMPLOYMENT.

CONGRESS HAS GIVEN ITSELF TWO MORE MONTHS TO COME UP WITH LONG-TERM SOLUTIONS FOR THE DEBT-BURDENED NATIONAL FLOOD INSURANCE PROGRAM.
A VOICE VOTE IN THE HOUSE HAS EXTENDED THE LIFE OF THE PROGRAM FOR 60 DAYS, ASSURING THAT PEOPLE IN FLOOD-RISK AREAS WILL CONTINUE TO HAVE ACCESS TO THE FLOOD INSURANCE THEY NEED TO CLOSE ON MORTGAGES OR OBTAIN REFINANCING. THE SENATE APPROVED THE EXTENSION LAST WEEK.

A 13-YEAR-OLD BOY HAS BEEN ARRESTED IN THE ACCIDENTAL SHOOTING OF HIS 9-YEAR-OLD STEPSISTER. BATON ROUGE POLICE REPORT THE SHOOTING HAPPED ABOUT 3:30 A.M. WEDNESDAY, WHEN THE BOY TOOK A GUN FROM HIS MOTHER'S HOUSE WITHOUT HER KNOWLEDGE. POLICE SAY THE BOY STARTED PLAYING WITH THE GUN, WHICH DISCHARGED. A BULLET HIT THE GIRL IN THE HEAD. SHE'S LISTED IN CRITICAL CONDITION.

THE HOUSE HEALTH AND WELFARE COMMITTEE APPROVES AN ABORTION BILL THAT'S ALREADY PASSED THE STATE SENATE. THIS MEASURE BY SENATE PRESIDENT JOHN ALARIO WOULD BAN ABORTIONS IN LOUISIANA AFTER 20 WEEKS OF PREGNANCY. SIX OTHER STATES HAVE SIMILAR LAWS. WEST MONROE REPRESENTATIVE FRANK HOFFMAN, THE HOUSE SPONSOR OF THE BILL, SAYS THIS IS AN IMPORTANT BILL FOR THE PRO-LIFE MOVEMENT. NO ONE SPOKE IN OPPOSITION AND THE PANEL UNANIMOUSLY SENT THE BILL
TO THE FULL HOUSE FOR ITS APPROVAL.

THE HOUSE APPROVES LEGISLATION REQUIRING DOCTORS TO PROVIDE THE SOUND OF A FETUS' HEARTBEAT FOR A WOMAN CONSIDERING AN ABORTION. CURRENT LAW ALREADY REQUIRES ABORTION CLINICS TO PROVIDE AN ULTRASOUND IMAGE OF THE FETUS TO THE MOTHER. THE BILL BY SENATOR SHARON WESTON BROOME HEADS BACK TO THE SENATE, TO SEE IF THEY AGREE TO MINOR CHANGES MADE BY THE HOUSE.

THE LOUISIANA BOARD OF ETHICS WILL HAVE A LIMITED RIGHT OF APPEAL WHEN IT LOSES CASES IT BRINGS AGAINST PUBLIC OFFICIALS ACCUSED OF VIOLATING THE STATE ETHICS CODE. UNDER A WATERED DOWN BILL THAT RECEIVED FINAL LEGISLATIVE PASSAGE WEDNESDAY, ONLY INTERPRETATIONS OF LAW CAN BE APPEALED TO CLARIFY MATTERS THAT ETHICS BOARD MEMBERS FEEL HAVE BEEN WRONGLY INTERPRETED. AN APPEAL CAN ONLY BE CONSIDERED IF THE VOTE TO DO SO IS UNANIMOUS. IF THE BOARD APPEALS AND LOSES, HOWEVER, THE COURT COSTS MUST BE PAID BY THE ETHICS BOARD. . THE BILL NOW HEADS TO THE GOVERNOR'S DESK, WHERE IT FACES AN UNCERTAIN FATE.

GOV. BOBBY JINDAL HAS SIGNED INTO LAW A 10-YEAR, $37 MILLION TAX BREAK FOR THE NEW ORLEANS HORNETS, PART OF THE STATE'S DEAL TO KEEP THE NBA TEAM IN LOUISIANA.
THE BILL BY JEFFERSON PARISH REP. CAMERON HENRY EXTENDS AN EXISTING TAX BREAK THAT SAVES THE HORNETS $3.7 MILLION A YEAR THROUGH LOUISIANA'S QUALITY JOBS PROGRAM. THE REBATE WILL BE EXTENDED THROUGH THE 2024 NBA SEASON.
SUPPORTERS SAID THE HORNETS HAVE A STRONG ECONOMIC IMPACT ON NEW ORLEANS AND THE STATE. CRITICS ARGUED IT WAS INAPPROPRIATE TO GIVE A MULTIMILLION-DOLLAR TAX BREAK WHILE ALSO LEVYING CONTINUED BUDGET CUTS ON COLLEGES.

IN WHAT WAS SUPPOSED TO BE A HEARING ON HIS CREDENTIALS TO BE SUPERINTENDENT OF EDUCATION, JOHN WHITE WEDNESDAY WAS REPEATEDLY QUESTIONED ABOUT HIS DEPARTMENT'S DECISION TO ACCEPT A RUSTON PRIVATE SCHOOL'S OFFER TO ACCEPT 315 VOUCHER STUDENTS AT A FACILITY THAT HAS NO ROOM FOR THE STUDENTS IT CURRENTLY SERVES. NEW LIVING WORD SCHOOL CURRENTLY HAS 122 STUDENTS ENROLLED IN PRE-KINDERGARTEN THROUGH 11TH GRADE AND UTILIZES SUNDAY SCHOOL CLASSES. THE REV. JERRY BALDWIN, CHURCH PASTOR AND PRINCIPAL OF THE SCHOOL, SAID HE IS STARTING A CONSTRUCTION PROGRAM FOR CLASSROOMS TO ACCOMMODATE THE NEW STUDENTS.

LAWMAKERS AGREED TO BAN DEATH ROW INMATES FROM SELLING ITEMS SUCH AS PAINTINGS AND SKETCHES FOR PROFIT, IF THOSE ITEMS ARE TIED TO THEIR CRIMES.
UNDER THE BILL THAT RECEIVED FINAL PASSAGE WEDNESDAY WITH A 95-0 VOTE OF THE HOUSE, ANY PROCEEDS RECEIVED FROM THE SALE OF SUCH ITEMS WILL BE REDIRECTED TO AN ACCOUNT OVERSEEN BY THE STATE TREASURER, WITH THE PROCEEDS PAYABLE TO THE VICTIM OR THE VICTIM'S FAMILY. CONTRACTS FOR BOOKS AND MOVIES ARE, IN MOST CASES, EXEMPT FROM THE PROHIBITION.

LIMITS WILL BE SET ON THE NUMBER OF CREDIT HOURS IT TAKES MOST LOUISIANA PUBLIC COLLEGE STUDENTS TO GET A DEGREE. THE MEASURE (SENATE BILL 103) WILL CAP THE REQUIREMENT AT 120 HOURS OF CREDIT, WITH AN EXCEPTION FOR DEGREES THAT NEED MORE HOURS TO MEET ACCREDITATION RULES, LIKE ENGINEERING PROGRAMS.

LOUISIANA WON'T REQUIRE A RANDOM SAMPLE OF WELFARE RECIPIENTS TO SUBMIT TO DRUG TESTS, AFTER A SENATE COMMITTEE REFUSED TO SUPPORT THE IDEA. THE PROPOSAL BY REPUBLICAN REP. SHERMAN MACK, OF LIVINGSTON, HAS BEEN CRITICIZED AS BEING THE EQUIVALENT OF CLASS WARFARE. A SENATE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE VOTED 3-1 WEDNESDAY AGAINST THE BILL. THOUGH THE IDEA HAS FAILED REPEATEDLY, MACK SAID HE WILL TRY TO REVIVE THE BILL NEXT YEAR.

LAFAYETTE POLICE HAVE NARROWED THEIR SEARCH FOR DRIVERS IN THE AREA WHERE A MISSING LAFAYETTE WOMAN SHOWED UP ON VIDEO EARLY MAY 19TH. POLICE SAY INVESTIGATORS HAVE SPOKEN WITH DRIVERS AND OCCUPANTS OF TWO OF THE THREE VEHICLES SHOWN ON THE VIDEO SHOWING 21-YEAR-OLD MICHAELA "MICKEY" SHUNICK RIDING HER BICYCLE. IT APPEARS NO ONE IN THE CAR OR A PICKUP TRUCK HAD INFORMATION ABOUT OR A CONNECTION TO THE CASE INVESTIGATORS ARE STILL LOOKING FOR INFORMATION ABOUT A NEWER MODEL, FOUR-DOOR, WHITE CHEVROLET Z-71 PICKUP TRUCK THAT WAS HEADING THE SAME DIRECTION AS SHUNICK.

WEEKS AFTER GOV. BOBBY JINDAL SIGNED AN UNCAPPED TAXPAYER REBATE PROGRAM THAT WILL FINANCE PRIVATE SCHOOL TUITION VOUCHERS, THE SENATE HAS ENDORSED A MORE LIMITED BILL THAT WOULD GRANT PARTIAL REBATES FOR DIRECT CONTRIBUTIONS TO CERTAIN PUBLIC SCHOOLS. THE VOTE CAME AFTER APPROVAL OF AN AMENDMENT THAT WOULD REQUIRE THE SCHOOLS THAT RECEIVE DONATIONS TO ISSUE A DETAILED PUBLIC REPORT THAT INCLUDES THE SOCIAL SECURITY NUMBER OR TAX IDENTIFICATION NUMBER OF DONORS. THE JINDAL ADMINISTRATION HAS NOT OPPOSED THE OVERALL CONCEPT, BUT THE GOVERNOR'S AIDES SAY THE STATE'S BUDGET BILLS MUST MAKE ROOM FOR THE PAYOUTS. THEY CURRENTLY DON'T.





News For Wednesday 05/30/12


NEWS FOR WEDNESDAY 05/30/12
BY DAVE GRAICHEN


AS THE RETRIAL OF STEVE BORDELON ROLLS ON, YESTERDAY TWO CONTRACTORS TOOK THE STATE TO TESTIFY THAT NO BRIBES WERE OFFERED TO THE FORMER RAPIDES PARISH POLICE JUROR. BORDELON IS ACCUSED OF ACCEPTING TWO RESIDENTIAL LOTS FOR THE PRICE OF ONE IN EXCHANGE FOR HIS IN INFLUENCE IN GETTING THE PARISH TO PAY TO RESURFACE A ROADWAY DAMAGED BY CONSTRUCTION VEHICLES USED TO BUILD THE SUBDIVISION. BORDELON’S LAST TRIAL ENDED IN A HUNG JURY AND A MISTRIAL.


LOUISIANA HAS BEEN GRANTED A WAIVER FROM THE HARD-TO-REACH FEDERAL GOALS OF THE 2001 NO CHILD LEFT BEHIND ACT. THAT LAW REQUIRES THAT ALL STUDENTS BE PROFICIENT IN READING AND MATH BY 2014. THE WAIVERS GRANTED TO LOUISIANA AND SEVEN OTHER STATES ON TUESDAY ALLOW THEM TO FALL SHORT OF THAT REQUIREMENT WITHOUT LOSING FEDERAL FUNDS, PROVIDED THEY OFFER A VIABLE ALTERNATIVE PLAN.
LOUISIANA EDUCATION OFFICIALS SAY THEY SUBMITTED A MULTI-FACETED APPLICATION. STATE OFFICIALS SAY POLICIES OUTLINED IN THE WAIVER REQUEST ARE DESIGNED TO ENSURE ALL STUDENTS ARE ON TRACK FOR A COLLEGE DEGREE OR A PROFESSIONAL CAREER.

LEGISLATION TO SHORTEN ELECTION DAYS IN LOUISIANA IS ON ITS WAY TO THE GOVERNOR'S DESK. THE BILL, IF SIGNED BY THE GOVERNOR WOULD HAVE POLLS OPEN AT 7AM, INSTEAD OF 6AM, ON SATURDAY ELECTIONS. THE POLLS WOULD HOWEVER CONTINUE TO OPEN AT THE CURRENT 6AM FOR FEDERAL ELECTIONS. THE BILL WOULD TAKE EFFECT ON JANUARY 1ST OF NEXT YEAR.

LOUISIANA VOTERS WILL DECIDE WHETHER TO TOUGHEN THE STATE'S CONSTITUTIONAL PROTECTIONS FOR WEAPON OWNERS AND WHETHER TO REMOVE A PROVISION THAT GIVES THE LEGISLATURE EXPLICIT AUTHORITY TO LIMIT CONCEALED HANDGUNS. THE PROPOSAL BY SEN. NEIL RISER, R-COLUMBIA, RECEIVED FINAL PASSAGE TUESDAY WITH A 34-4 VOTE OF THE SENATE. BESIDE LEGISLATIVE APPROVAL, IT REQUIRES BACKING BY VOTERS IN THE NOV. 6 STATEWIDE ELECTION BEFORE IT COULD BE ENACTED. THE CONSTITUTIONAL CHANGE WOULD SET A TOUGHER STANDARD FOR RESTRICTING THE USE OF FIREARMS.

SOME PRIVATE SCHOOL OPERATORS ACROSS THE STATE SAY THEY FEEL THE STATE WAS IN TOO MUCH OF A RUSH TO IMPLEMENT THE NEW SCHOOL VOUCHER PROGRAM. SCHOOLS HAD A DEAD LINE OF MAY 18TH, JUST DAYS AFTER LEGISLATIVE APPROVAL OF THE VOUCHER PROGRAM, TO DECIDE IF THEY WANTED TO PARTICIPATE. TWO SCHOOLS IN ALEXANDRIA DECIDED AGAINST PARTICIPATION FOR NOW SAYING THEY FELT THEY WERE BEING FORCED TO MAKE A MAJOR DECISION, BASED UPON INSUFFICIENT INFORMATION FROM THE STATE. GRACE CHRISTIAN SCHOOL PRINCIPAL KAY BLACK BURN SAID IT WAS A MOOT POINT FOR THEM SINCE THE SCHOOL IS AT CAPACITY. ALEXANDRIA COUNTRY DAY SCHOOL HEADMISTRESS NANCY RIALS SAID SCHOOL OFFICIALS "DEFINITELY" WOULD CONSIDER PARTICIPATING IN THE FUTURE.

TO STAVE OFF DEEP CUTS, SENATORS ARE PROPOSING TO BALANCE NEXT YEAR'S BUDGET WITH A COMPLEX SERIES OF SHELL GAMES AND FINANCING MANEUVERS TIED TO BUILDING SALES, LOAN REPAYMENTS AND FUND TRANSFERS. THE PACKAGE OF FINANCING MEASURES WILL BE DEBATED THURSDAY BY THE FULL SENATE. SENATORS SAY THE PLANS FOR THE 2012-13 FISCAL YEAR THAT BEGINS JULY 1 WILL PREVENT DAMAGING CUTS TO HEALTH CARE AND PUBLIC COLLEGES. A BLOC OF LAWMAKERS IN THE HOUSE QUESTION WHETHER SOME OF THE PROPOSALS ARE LEGAL AND ARE PUSHING FOR GREATER BUDGET CUTS NEXT YEAR.

STATE TREASURER JOHN KENNEDY'S ANNUAL PUSH TO FORCE REDUCTIONS IN THE STATE WORK FORCE AND AGENCY CONTRACTS WAS RESOUNDINGLY REJECTED TUESDAY BY THE SENATE'S BUDGET COMMITTEE. KENNEDY HAS PROPOSED THE IDEAS FOR SEVERAL YEARS, BUT HAS BEEN UNABLE TO GET TRACTION IN THE LOUISIANA SENATE, EVEN THOUGH THE HOUSE HAS BACKED THE TWO BILLS. GOV. BOBBY JINDAL'S ADMINISTRATION OPPOSED THE MEASURES. ONE PROPOSAL WOULD MANDATE THAT EXECUTIVE BRANCH AGENCIES CUT AT LEAST 5,000 JOBS EACH YEAR FOR THE NEXT THREE BUDGET YEARS. THE SECOND MEASURE WOULD REQUIRE THE STATE TO SPEND 10 PERCENT LESS ON CONSULTING AND PROFESSIONAL SERVICES CONTRACTS NEXT YEAR.

EVEN THOUGH NO ONE HAS EVER ASKED FOR IT, LOUISIANA WILL HAVE AN EXPLICIT BAN AGAINST PORNOGRAPHIC FILMS RECEIVING STATE TAX CREDITS. THE PROHIBITION PROPOSAL WAS GIVEN FINAL PASSAGE MONDAY BY THE STATE SENATE, SENDING IT TO THE GOVERNOR'S DESK. RATHER THAN DEFINE PORNOGRAPHY, THE BILL PROHIBITS THE TAX CREDITS FOR ANY FILM THAT HAS TO REGISTER WITH THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT, UNDER THE FEDERAL CHILD PROTECTION AND OBSCENITY ENFORCEMENT ACT.

A BID TO STRENGTHEN LOUISIANA'S BAN ON EUTHANASIA IS HEADED TO THE GOVERNOR'S DESK AFTER RECEIVING FINAL LEGISLATIVE PASSAGE. THE STATE HAS A PROHIBITION IN CRIMINAL LAW AGAINST EUTHANASIA AND ASSISTED SUICIDE. THE BILL WILL ADD THE PROHIBITION TO THE STATE'S MEDICAL CONSENT LAW.

MANY LOUISIANA MOTORISTS WILL BE ABLE TO GET THEIR VEHICLES INSPECTED EVERY TWO YEARS, INSTEAD OF EACH YEAR, IF THE GOVERNOR AGREES TO A PROPOSAL THAT RECEIVED FINAL LEGISLATIVE PASSAGE. THE MEASURE WILL SET THE STATEWIDE CHARGE FOR A TWO-YEAR TAG AT $20, WHILE THE ONE-YEAR STICKER WILL REMAIN AT $10. SOME LOCAL PARISHES ALSO ADD CHARGES TO THE PRICE. IN PARISHES WITH AUTO EMISSION PROBLEMS, LIKE THE BATON ROUGE AREA, ANNUAL INSPECTIONS STILL WILL BE REQUIRED.

SENATORS SHELVED A BID TO REQUIRE POLICE TO NOTIFY MOTORISTS BEFORE SETTING UP CHECKPOINTS TO EXAMINE VEHICLE INSPECTION STICKERS, LIKE THE EXISTING REQUIREMENTS FOR CHECKPOINTS ON SEAT BELT AND AUTO INSURANCE. THE HOUSE-APPROVED MEASURE WAS REJECTED TUESDAY BY THE SENATE FINANCE COMMITTEE.

DETECTIVES ARE STILL TRACKING DOWN LEADS IN THE DISAPPEARANCE OF 22-YEAR OLD MICKEY SHUNICK, WHO WAS LAST SEEN RIDING HER BIKE IN THE EARLY MORNING HOURS OF MAY 19TH. LAFAYETTE POLICE CPL. PAUL MOUTON SAYS THEY STILL WANT TO TALK WITH THE OWNERS OF THE THREE VEHICLES SPOTTED IN SURVEILLANCE VIDEO AS MICKEY WAS RIDING HER BIKE THAT NIGHT. A SEARCH OF THE AREA NEAR THE WHISKEY BAY EXIT ON I-10 IN ST. MARTIN PARISH WAS CALLED OFF YESTERDAY. THAT'S WHERE MICKEY'S BIKE WAS FOUND BY A COUPLE OF FISHERMEN THIS PAST WEEKEND. INVESTIGATORS IN LAFAYETTE SAY THEY DON'T BELIEVE THERE ARE LINKS BETWEEN THEIR INVESTIGATION OF A MISSING COLLEGE STUDENT AND THAT OF A STUDENT WHO HAS BEEN MISSING FOR A YEAR FROM BLOOMINGTON, INDIANA.

FOUR FEMA CONTRACTORS THAT INSTALLED OR MAINTAINED GOVERNMENT-ISSUED TRAILERS FOR STORM VICTIMS AFTER HURRICANE KATRINA HAVE AGREED TO PAY A TOTAL OF $5 MILLION TO RESOLVE CLAIMS THAT THE TEMPORARY SHELTERS EXPOSED GULF COAST RESIDENTS TO HAZARDOUS FUMES. THE DEAL IS LINKED TO A PROPOSED CLASS-ACTION SETTLEMENT BETWEEN PLAINTIFFS' ATTORNEYS AND SEVERAL COMPANIES THAT MANUFACTURED TRAVEL TRAILERS FOR THE FEDERAL EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT AGENCY FOLLOWING HURRICANES KATRINA AND RITA IN 2005.

TRAVELERS WANTING TO HEAD FARTHER WEST FROM SHREVEPORT REGIONAL AIRPORT CAN ADD DENVER TO THE LIST OF DESTINATIONS. UNITED AIRLINES ANNOUNCED TUESDAY THE ADDITION OF DENVER FLIGHTS TO AND FROM SHREVEPORT REGIONAL AIRPORT.
THE NONSTOP DAILY SERVICE WILL START AUG. 28. UNITED EXPRESS WILL OPERATE THE FLIGHT WITH A 50-SEAT REGIONAL JET.






 

News For Tuesday 05/29/12


LOUISIANA SENATORS MONDAY REWROTE THE STATE'S $25 BILLION OPERATING BUDGET FOR NEXT YEAR, REJECTING DEEP CUTS PUSHED BY HOUSE REPUBLICANS. THE SENATE FINANCE COMMITTEE ADDED MORE THAN $350 MILLION TO THE 2012-13 SPENDING PLANS, RESTORING ALL THE ONE-TIME MONEY REMOVED BY A BLOC OF CONSERVATIVE GOP LAWMAKERS IN THE HOUSE. IN WHAT MANY ARE SAYING IS POLITICAL RETRIBUTION, THE PANEL ALSO CUT HALF A MILLION DOLLARS AND FOUR POSITIONS FROM THE OFFICE OF TREASURER JOHN KENNEDY, WHO HAS SIDED WITH THE BLOC OF CONSERVATIVE REPUBLICANS IN THE HOUSE DURING THIS YEAR'S BUDGET DEBATE. A THURSDAY FLOOR DEBATE IS EXPECTED IN THE SENATE ON THE SPENDING PROPOSALS, WHICH INCLUDE THE PROPOSED USE OF NEARLY $205 MILLION FROM LOUISIANA'S "RAINY DAY" FUND TO OFFSET A DEFICIT IN THE CURRENT YEAR THAT ENDS JUNE 30.

POLICE IN BLOOMINGTON SAY THEY HAVE CONTACTED AUTHORITIES IN LOUISIANA ABOUT THEIR SEARCH FOR A COLLEGE STUDENT WHOSE DISAPPEARANCE HAS SIMILARITIES TO THAT OF AN INDIANA UNIVERSITY STUDENT WHO HAS BEEN MISSING FOR NEARLY A YEAR. UNIVERSITY OF LOUISIANA STUDENT MICHAELA "MICKEY" SHUNICK HAS BEEN MISSING SINCE MAY 19. JUST A FEW DAYS BEFORE HER 22ND BIRTHDAY. HER BICYCLE WAS FOUND SUNDAY IN A REMOTE, SWAMPY AREA UNDER A HIGHWAY BRIDGE IN IBERVILLE PARISH, ABOUT 25 MILES FROM WHERE SHE WAS LAST SEEN. AUTHORITIES SAY THEY ARE CONTINUING THEIR INVESTIGATION.

THE LOUISIANA BOARD OF ETHICS SAYS THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS IN CAMPAIGN CONTRIBUTIONS FOR GOV. BOBBY JINDAL AND DOZENS OF OTHER CANDIDATES CAME FROM "STRAW MAN ENTITIES" LINKED TO AN EMBATTLED LANDFILL COMPANY. THE GOVERNOR RECEIVED $40,000 IN 2007 FROM COMPANIES LINKED TO RIVER BIRCH INC. THE BOARD OF ETHICS ALLEGES THAT THE DONATIONS VIOLATE A $5,000 CAP FROM ONE COMPANY, IF ALL THE MONEY CAME FROM RIVER BIRCH. SINCE 2003, THE SEVEN FIRMS IDENTIFIED IN THE LAWSUIT AS CONDUITS FOR ILLEGAL CONTRIBUTIONS GAVE MONEY TO ABOUT 60 CANDIDATES. THE BOARD SAYS RECIPIENTS HAVEN'T BEEN ACCUSED OF WRONGDOING AND DON'T HAVE TO RETURN THE MONEY. TIMMY TEEPELL, JINDAL'S 2007 CAMPAIGN MANAGER, SAID DONATIONS WERE ACCEPTED "IN GOOD FAITH AND IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE LAW."

LOUISIANA STATE POLICE SAY A 24-YEAR-OLD MAN WHO WAS NOT WEARING A HELMET WAS THROWN FROM HIS ALL-TERRAIN VEHICLE AND DIED AFTER HE LOST CONTROL AND THE ATV HIT A BIG BRICK MAILBOX. TROOPER SCOTT MOREAU SAYS MATTHEW LOUIS EVANS OF FERRIDAY WAS PRONOUNCED DEAD AT RIVERLAND MEDICAL CENTER AFTER THE ACCIDENT, WHICH OCCURRED SHORTLY BEFORE 6AM SUNDAY.
LOUISIANA STATE POLICE SAY A 75-YEAR-OLD VERNON PARISH WOMAN DIED WHEN HER SPORT UTILITY VEHICLE RAN OFF BOTH SIDES OF SOUTHBOUND LOUISIANA HIGHWAY 117 AND HIT TREES. RUBY MURRAY OF ANACOCO WAS NOT WEARING HER SEATBELT WHEN HER SUV RAN OFF THE ROAD SOUTH OF LOUISIANA HIGHWAY 6 ON SATURDAY IN NATCHITOCHES PARISH.

THE LOUISIANA DEPARTMENT OF WILDLIFE AND FISHERIES IS REMINDING FISHERS AND HUNTERS THAT 2011-2012 LICENSES EXPIRE AT THE END OF JUNE. LICENSES FOR THE 2012-2013 SEASONS BECOME AVAILABLE FOR PURCHASE ON JUNE 1 AND ARE VALID UNTIL JUNE 30, 2013. RECREATIONAL FISHING AND HUNTING LICENSES CAN BE PURCHASED ONLINE AT WWW.WLF.LOUISIANA.GOV, BY PHONE AT 1-888-765-2602, AT LOCAL LICENSE VENDORS OR AT THE DEPARTMENT'S OFFICES IN BATON ROUGE, OPELOUSAS, LAKE CHARLES, PINEVILLE AND MONROE.

AN ALLEN PARISH JURY HAS CONVICTED JEREMY LEE BROWN IN THE 2008 DEATHS OF HIS MOTHER AND HER HUSBAND. THE JURY CONVICTED BROWN ON TWO COUNTS OF FIRST-DEGREE MURDER IN THE DEATHS OF 67-YEAR-OLD GRETTA ELLZEY AND HER HUSBAND, 79-YEAR-OLD BENJAMIN . AUTHORITIES SAY THE ELLZEYS' BATTERED BODIES WERE FOUND IN THEIR HOME ON JUNE 20, 2008. BROWN ALSO WAS CONVICTED OF THEFT OF A VEHICLE AND OBSTRUCTION OF JUSTICE. HE FACES LIFE IN PRISON. SENTENCING WILL BE AT A LATER DATE.

A WEEK AFTER FIRE GUTTED A LA TECH FRAT HOUSE, THE STATE FIRE MARSHAL SAYS PLANS ARE AFOOT TO INSPECT ALL OFF-CAMPUS FRATERNITY & SORORITY HOUSES STATEWIDE. FIRE MARSHAL BUTCH BROWNING SAYS INSPECTIONS ARE ALREADY UNDERWAY IN RUSTON. BROWNING SAYS IT'S BELIEVED THAT STUDENTS BURNING TEST PAPERS AND OTHER STUDY MATERIALS IN A FIREPLACE LED TO THE BLAZE THAT DESTROYED THE PI KAPPA ALPHA FRAT HOUSE. HE SAYS OVER THE COURSE OF THE NEXT SEVERAL MONTHS, HIS OFFICE WILL LOOK AT ALL SUCH BUILDINGS, TO ASSESS THEIR FIRE SAFETY.

AS WE DRAW CLOSER TO THE REPUBLICAN NATIONAL CONVENTION, ONE POLITICAL EXPERT FEELS GOVERNOR BOBBY JINDAL HAS A GOOD CHANCE OF BEING ASKED TO BE MITT ROMNEY'S RUNNING MATE. VETERAN POLITICAL CONSULTANT ROY FLETCHER PUTS JINDAL'S ODDS AT 1-IN-2, BECAUSE OF ROMNEY'S FOCUS ON FEDERAL EDUCATION REFORMS. FLETCHER FEELS THAT JINDAL'S SUCCESS AT PASSING BOLD EDUCATION REFORMS DURING THIS LEGISLATIVE SESSION MAKES HIM A GOOD MATCH FOR ROMNEY'S CAMPAIGN. HE SAYS MR. JINDAL'S ETHNICITY AND HIS EXCELLENT TRACK RECORD WITH FUND-RAISING ALSO MAKE HIM AN ATTRACTIVE PROSPECT FOR THE ROMNEY CAMPAIGN.

THE STATE DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION WILL HOST ANOTHER LIVE "VIRTUAL TOWN HALL" MEETING TONIGHT, TO ANSWER PARENTS' QUESTIONS ABOUT THE NEW PRIVATE SCHOOL VOUCHERS PROGRAM. DOE SPOKESPERSON RENE GREER SAYS PARENTS CAN LOG ON TO "LOUISIANASCHOOLS.NET" TONIGHT AT 7, TO SEEK THOSE ANSWERS. AGAIN THAT WEBSITE WWW.LOUISIANASCHOOLS.NET LOG IN AT 7.

TWO LOUISIANA SCHOOLS ARE IN THE NCAA BASEBALL TOURNAMENT AND THEY'LL MEET FRIDAY NIGHT IN BATON ROUGE. LSU WILL HOST LOUISIANA-MONROE AT ALEX BOX STADIUM. FOR THE TIGERS, THEY ARE BACK IN THE NCAA TOURNEY AFTER FAILING TO BE ONE OF 64 TEAMS IN THE FIELD LAST YEAR. LSU IS ALSO SEEDED SEVENTH NATIONALLY THIS YEAR.

THE STATE LEGISLATURE PASSED SEVERAL BILLS WORTH FOCUSING ON YESTERDAY, MEMORIAL DAY THAT BENEFIT VETERANS AND ACTIVE MILITARY PERSONNEL. ONE BILL SIGNED INTO LAW, EXPANDS ELIGIBILITY FOR MILITARY FAMILY ASSISTANCE. THE FUND HELPS FAMILIES WHO FACE A FINANCIAL HARDSHIP WHILE A GUARDSMAN OR RESERVIST IS ON ACTIVE DUTY. THE GOVERNOR HAS ALSO SIGNED INTO LAW A MEASURE THAT EXTENDS THE PERIOD OF TIME A STUDENT CAN BE ELIGIBLE FOR THE TOPS SCHOLARSHIP, IF THAT PERSON RE-ENLISTED INTO THE U-S ARMED FORCES.

LOUISIANA'S PUBLIC SERVICE COMMISSION HAS VOTED TO ALLOW ENTERGY TO JOIN A REGIONAL COALITION OF POWER COMPANIES THAT SUPPORTERS SAY WILL LEAD TO LOWER UTILITY COSTS FOR CUSTOMERS. PSC MEMBER LAMBERT BOISSIERE SAYS BY ALLOWING ENERTGY TO TURN CONTROL OF ITS TRANSMISSION FACILITIES TO AN INDEPENDENT OPERATOR, SEVERAL ENERGY PROVIDERS CAN SHARE THE COSTS. THE P-S-C SAYS CUSTOMERS WILL NOT SEE THE SAVINGS UNTIL DECEMBER OF 2013.

GOVERNOR JINDAL PROCLAIMS THIS WEEK HURRICANE PREPAREDNESS WEEK. THE OFFICIAL START OF HURRICANE SEASON IS THIS FRIDAY, BUT WE'VE ALREADY SEEN TWO NAMED STORMS. THE GOVERNOR'S OFFICE OF HOMELAND SECURITY AND EMERGENCY PREPAREDNESS DIRECTOR, KEVIN DAVIS, SAYS NOW IS THE TIME TO GET PREPARED IN CASE A BIG STORM HITS. DAVIS SAYS NOAA PREDICTS THAT THIS HURRICANE SEASON, WHICH LASTS UNTIL NOVEMBER 30TH, WILL BE "NEAR-NORMAL" WITH ANYWHERE FROM NINE TO 15 NAMED STORMS.













 

News For Friday 05/25/12


NEWS FOR FRIDAY 052512
BY DAVE GRAICHEN

THE BRIBERY RETRIAL OF FORMER RAPIDES PARISH POLICE JUROR STEVE BORDELON BEGAN THURSDAY, WITH OPENING STATEMENTS. THE FOUR-TERM DISTRICT B REPRESENTATIVE WAS INDICTED IN 2010 ON ONE COUNT OF BRIBERY. HE FACES UP TO 10 YEARS IN PRISON IF CONVICTED. BORDELON IS ACCUSED OF ACCEPTING TWO RESIDENTIAL LOTS FOR THE PRICE OF ONE IN EXCHANGE FOR HELPING DEVELOPERS WHO WANTED TO GET OUT OF PAYING FOR A ROAD. THE JURY IN BORDELON'S FIRST TRIAL, LAST YEAR, COULD NOT REACH A UNANIMOUS VERDICT AFTER MORE THAN TWO DAYS OF DELIBERATIONS.

CITIZENS PROPERTY INSURANCE, THE STATE INSURER OF LAST RESORT PLANS AN AVERAGE RATE INCREASE FOR WIND-ONLY POLICIES OF 58 PERCENT. THE LARGE INCREASE FOLLOWS A WEDNESDAY MEETING OF THE CORPORATION'S BOARD, WHICH REJECTED STATE TREASURER JOHN KENNEDY'S PROPOSAL FOR AN INCREASE OF 12 PERCENT. KENNEDY SAYS THE NEW RATE HIKE, SET TO TAKE EFFECT IN JUNE, IS ILLEGAL. BUT, INSURANCE COMMISSIONER JIM DONELON INSISTS THE RATE IS LEGAL AND NECESSARY. ALTHOUGH THE AVERAGE RATE HIKE IS ESTIMATED AT 58 PERCENT, KENNEDY SAYS WIND-ONLY RATES COULD GO UP 170 PERCENT IN ST. MARY PARISH AND 217 PERCENT IN CAMERON PARISH.

U.S. FORECASTERS PREDICTED THURSDAY THAT THIS YEAR'S ATLANTIC HURRICANE SEASON WOULD PRODUCE A NORMAL NUMBER OF ABOUT NINE TO 15 TROPICAL STORMS, WITH AS MANY AS FOUR TO EIGHT OF THOSE BECOMING HURRICANES. THE NATIONAL OCEANIC AND ATMOSPHERIC ADMINISTRATION RELEASED ITS INITIAL OUTLOOK FOR THE SIX-MONTH STORM SEASON THAT OFFICIALLY BEGINS JUNE 1. ONE TO THREE STORMS COULD BECOME A MAJOR HURRICANE. THOUGH THIS SEASON ISN'T EXPECTED TO BE AS BUSY AS LAST YEAR'S ABOVE-AVERAGE SEASON, FEDERAL OFFICIALS WARNED COASTAL RESIDENTS TO START STOCKING UP ON HURRICANE SUPPLIES AND FORMING EVACUATION PLANS ANYWAY.

LOUISIANA WILL HAVE ITS ANNUAL HURRICANE PREPAREDNESS SALES TAX HOLIDAY THIS WEEKEND. THE STATE'S 4 PERCENT SALES TAX WILL NOT BE CHARGED SATURDAY AND SUNDAY ON SELECTED MERCHANDISE. THE SALES-TAX HOLIDAY IS HELD ANNUALLY BEFORE THE JUNE 1 START OF THE ATLANTIC HURRICANE SEASON. THE STATE SALES TAX WILL NOT BE CHARGED ON THE FIRST $1,500 OF THE PURCHASE PRICE.

THE LOUISIANA HOUSE AGREED THURSDAY TO REWRITE THE STATE'S CONSTITUTIONAL PROTECTIONS FOR WEAPON OWNERS AND STRIKE A PROVISION THAT GIVES THE LEGISLATURE EXPLICIT AUTHORITY TO LIMIT CONCEALED HANDGUNS. SUPPORTERS SAID THE CHANGE WOULD GIVE LOUISIANA THE STRONGEST GUN PROTECTION IN THE NATION AND COULD GUARD AGAINST POSSIBLE FUTURE SUPREME COURT RULINGS THAT MIGHT UNDERMINE THE SECOND AMENDMENT.

THE TIMES-PICAYUNE, ONE OF THE NATION'S OLDEST NEWSPAPERS, IS DROPPING ITS DAILY CIRCULATION AFTER 175 YEARS AND PLANS TO ISSUE THREE PRINTED EDITIONS A WEEK STARTING IN THE FALL. WITH THE CHANGE, THE NEWSPAPER WOULD BECOME THE LARGEST METRO NEWSPAPER IN THE NATION TO DROP DAILY CIRCULATION IN THIS DIGITAL AGE.
THE PAPER ANNOUNCED THURSDAY THE FORMATION OF A NEW COMPANY, THE NOLA MEDIA GROUP, TO OVERSEE BOTH THE TIMES-PICAYUNE AND ITS AFFILIATED WEBSITE, NOLA.COM.
THE CUTBACK IN PUBLICATION DAYS FOLLOWS SIMILAR MOVES MADE BY OTHER NEWSPAPERS AS THE INDUSTRY HAS STRUGGLED THROUGH ECONOMIC TOUGH TIMES, IN PART CAUSED BY CONSUMERS' MOVE TO ONLINE MEDIA.

GOV. BOBBY JINDAL'S PROPOSAL TO CREATE A NEW RETIREMENT PLAN FOR FUTURE RANK-AND-FILE STATE WORKERS FAILED TO WIN FINAL LEGISLATIVE PASSAGE, NARROWLY REJECTED THURSDAY IN A LOUISIANA HOUSE VOTE. THE PROPOSAL WOULD CREATE A CHEAPER INVESTMENT ACCOUNT SIMILAR TO A 401(K) PLAN FOR STATE EMPLOYEES HIRED AFTER JULY 1, 2013, INSTEAD OF A MONTHLY RETIREMENT PAYMENT BASED ON THEIR SALARIES AND YEARS OF EMPLOYMENT. THE HOUSE VOTED 49-43 FOR THE PENSION BILL. IT NEEDED 53 VOTES TO PASS. THE GOVERNOR'S OFFICE BLAMED IT ON SEVERAL LAWMAKERS BEING ABSENT FOR THE VOTE. LAWMAKERS CAN BRING THE MEASURE UP FOR ANOTHER VOTE, BUT IT NOW FACES NEW HURDLES. THE HOUSE REJECTION SENT IT TO A LEGISLATIVE CONFERENCE COMMITTEE, WHOSE ACTION NEEDS SUPPORT IN BOTH THE HOUSE AND SENATE TO RECEIVE FINAL PASSAGE.

THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES THURSDAY VOTED 92-2 TO APPROVE A CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT THAT ADDS THE MEDICAID TRUST FUND FOR THE ELDERLY TO A LIST OF FUNDS THAT CANNOT BE CUT OR SPENT FOR THINGS OTHER THAN THE INTENDED PURPOSE. THE ISSUE WILL BE ON THE NOV. 6 BALLOT FOR VOTERS TO DECIDE IF THE FUND SHOULD HAVE CONSTITUTIONAL PROTECTION.

LOUISIANA'S ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT SECRETARY COULD BE ABLE TO OFFER NEW TAX BREAKS TO BUSINESSES THE STATE WANTS TO KEEP OR ATTRACT, UNDER TWO BILLS THAT RECEIVED FINAL LEGISLATIVE PASSAGE THURSDAY. THE TAX BREAKS INCLUDE A PAYROLL TAX CUT RANGING FROM 6 PERCENT TO UP TO 15 PERCENT FOR CREATING HIGH-PAYING JOBS WITH HEALTH CARE BENEFITS. ANOTHER BILL ALLOWS FOR A 25 PERCENT REBATE OVER FIVE YEARS ON RELOCATION COSTS FOR COMPANIES THAT MOVE THEIR CORPORATE HEADQUARTERS TO LOUISIANA. THE BUSINESSES WILL NEED TO PAY SALARIES OF TWICE THE AVERAGE PAY GIVEN BY PRIVATE BUSINESSES IN THE PARISH OR AT LEAST $60,000 ANNUALLY. THE TAX BREAKS WILL EXPIRE ON JULY 1, 2017.

LAWMAKERS HAVE AGREED TO CREATE A NEW SPECIALIZED LICENSE PLATE IN LOUISIANA. GIVEN FINAL PASSAGE THURSDAY WAS A BILL (HOUSE BILL 124) THAT WILL ESTABLISH A "KOREAN DEFENSE SERVICE" PLATE TO HONOR CERTAIN KOREAN WAR VETERANS. THE MEASURE HEADS TO THE GOVERNOR'S DESK.

STATE POLICE ARE INVESTIGATING A SHOOTING BETWEEN A ST. LANDRY PARISH SHERIFF'S DEPUTY AND A 61-YEAR-OLD MAN STOPPED FOR A TRAFFIC VIOLATION. SHERIFF BOBBY GUIDROZ SAYS THE DEPUTY WAS DRIVING NORTHBOUND ON I-49 WHEN A VEHICLE PULLED UP BEHIND SO CLOSE IT WAS HAZARDOUS. GUIDROZ SAYS THE SUSPECT PASSED THE DEPUTY AND PULLED OFF THE INTERSTATE IN THE PARKING LOT OF A TRUCK STOP.
WHEN THE DEPUTY APPROACHED THE VEHICLE, GUIDROZ SAYS THE MAN FIRED TWO SHOTS AT THE DEPUTY AND THE DEPUTY FIRED BACK. THE SHERIFF SAYS NO ONE WAS INJURED.
STATE POLICE SAY CHARLES MARTIN OF OBERLIN WAS BOOKED WITH ATTEMPTED FIRST-DEGREE MURDER OF A POLICE OFFICER.

THE EVANGELINE PARISH SCHOOL BOARD HAS SHOWN ITS APPRECIATION TO SUPERINTENDENT TONI HAMLIN BY UNANIMOUSLY APPROVING A TWO-YEAR EXTENSION OF HER CONTRACT, WHICH WAS DUE TO EXPIRE IN DECEMBER. VILLE PLATTE MAYOR JENNIFER VIDRINE SAID SHE WANTED TO PUBLICLY THANK HAMLIN, THE BOARD AND THE CENTRAL OFFICE STAFF FOR THEIR "HARD WORK" IN THE RENOVATION OF VILLE PLATTE HIGH SCHOOL AND FOR ACHIEVING UNITARY STATUS FROM THE FEDERAL COURTS. THE BOARD HAS SPENT APPROXIMATELY $6 MILLION IN RENOVATING VILLE PLATTE HIGH AS PART OF ITS DESEGREGATION PLAN TO THE FEDERAL COURT AND THE U.S. JUSTICE DEPARTMENT.

A LEVEL OF FRUSTRATION IS BEGINNING TO MOUNT IN ACADIANA AS THE WHEREABOUTS OF MICKEY SHUNICK ARE STILL UNKNOWN. MICKEY IS A ULL STUDENT WHO'S BEEN MISSING SINCE LAST WEEKEND. LAFAYETTE POLICE CPL. PAUL MOUTON SAYS THEY ARE GETTING A LOT OF TIPS THAT OFFICERS ARE FOLLOWING UP ON, BUT SO FAR NO SOLID LEADS. MOUTON SAYS SEARCH AND RESCUE EFFORTS ARE UNDERWAY FAR AND WIDE IN LAFAYETTE PARISH BY LAW ENFORCEMENT AND VOLUNTEERS.

THE AMERICAN AUTOMOBILE ASSOCIATION SAYS MORE PEOPLE WILL BE HITTING THE ROAD FOR THE 2012 MEMORIAL DAY HOLIDAY COMPARED WITH LAST YEAR, THEY JUST WON'T BE GOING AS FAR. AAA SPOKESPERSON MIKE RIGHT SAYS MOST PEOPLE WILL BE TRAVELING MORE THAN 50 MILES FROM HOME IN THEIR CAR THIS WEEKEND, BUT NOT AS FAR AS THEY DID LAST YEAR. MANY ARE OPTING TO FLY INSTEAD OF DRIVING.

TIGER STADIUM IN BATON ROUGE WILL ONCE AGAIN BE TRANSFORMED INTO A GIANT CONCERT VENUE THIS WEEKEND AS THE THIRD ANNUAL BAYOU COUNTRY SUPERFEST KICKS OFF. PRODUCER QUINT DAVIS SAYS THIS YEARS FESTIVAL FEATURES HUGE ACTS INCLUDING RASCAL FLATTS, KEITH URBAN, CARRIE UNDERWOOD AND MORE. DAVIS SAYS THE GATES OPEN STARTING AT 3PM TOMORROW AND THE SHOW WILL START AT 5. DAVIS SAYS THERE ARE STILL TICKETS AVAILABLE FOR THE FESTIVAL AND HE SAYS TICKET BOOTHS WILL BE SET UP OUTSIDE IF CONCERT GOERS WANT TO PURCHASE THEIR SEATS BEFORE THE SHOW. HE SAYS THEY'RE EXPECTING ANYWHERE FROM 75,000 TO 80,000 PEOPLE THIS WEEKEND.

A SENATE-PASSED BILL TO LIMIT CONVICTED SEX OFFENDERS' ACCESS TO PUBLIC LIBRARIES WON HOUSE PASSAGE. LIVINGSTON SENATOR DALE ERDEY'S BILL WAS REPRESENTED IN THE HOUSE BY METAIRIE REP. JOE LOPINTO. HE SAYS THE BILL BARS THEM FROM BEING IN OR NEAR LIBRARIES WHILE GROUPS OF CHILDREN ARE PRESENT. LOPINTO SAYS THE BILL IS SIMILAR TO EXISTING LAWS CONCERNING SEX OFFENDERS AND SCHOOLS, PLAYGROUNDS AND OTHER PLACES KIDS GO. HE SAYS LIBRARY BOARDS MUST CREATE THEIR OWN RULES TO RESTRICT THE TIME, PLACE AND ACCESS SEX OFFENDERS HAVE TO THE LIBRARY. MANY LAWMAKERS BELIEVE THE LAW WILL BE NEXT TO IMPOSSIBLE TO ENFORCE. THE BILL RETURNS TO THE SENATE FOR CONCURRENCE ON A HOUSE AMENDMENT. IF OK'D, THE BILL THEN GOES TO THE GOVERNOR'S DESK.

AN ALEXANDRIA WOMAN WAS CHARGED WITH CHILD DESERTION WEDNESDAY AFTER OFFICERS ARRIVED AT A RESIDENCE AND FOUND TWO YOUNG CHILDREN, AGES 2 AND 4, HOME ALONE. ALEXANDRIA POLICE DETECTIVES HAD GONE TO A HOUSE WEDNESDAY MORNING TO FIND 22 YEAR OLD DVISIA MARSHALL TO SERVE A WARRANT. THAT’S WHEN THE FOUND THE CHILDREN. ABOUT 20 MINUTES LATER AFTER POLICE ARRIVED, MARSHALL RETURNED HOME AND WAS ARRESTED. THE CHILDREN WERE TURNED OVER TO THE OFFICE OF CHILD SERVICES. MARSHALL WAS CHARGED WITH ONE COUNT OF CHILD DESERTION AND ONE COUNT OF CONTEMPT OF COURT FOR A WARRANT THROUGH THE ALEXANDRIA CITY COURT. SHE WAS BOOKED INTO THE RAPIDES PARISH DETENTION CENTER.


SPORTS..

THE SECOND RANKED LSU BASEBALL TEAM CAN ADVANCE TO THE SEMI-FINALS OF THE SEC TOURNAMENT WITH A WIN THIS AFTERNOON OVER MISSISSIPPI STATE. THE TIGERS AVOIDED ELIMINATION BY THUMPING OLE MISS 11 TO 2 YESTERDAY. LSU WILL SEND RYAN EADES TO THE MOUND FOR TODAY'S GAME. AIRTIME 2:45PM ON 970 KSYL.

THE SAINTS GOT A TASTE THIS WEEK OF LIFE WITHOUT DREW BREES. THE ALL PRO QUARTERBACK DID NOT PARTICIPATE IN THE TEAM'S OFFSEASON PRACTICES AS HE CONTINUES TO HOLD OUT FOR A LONG-TERM DEAL. INTERIM HEAD COACH JOE VITT'S SAYS BREES' ABSENCE SO FAR HAS NOT BEEN A DISTRACTION.





News For Thursday 5/24/12


NEWS FOR THURSDAY 052412
BY DAVE GRAICHEN

THE HEAD OF THE STATE D.O.T.D. HAS SENT A LETTER TO 5TH DISTRICT CONGRESSMAN RODNEY ALEXANDER ASKING HIM TO FIGHT AIR FORCE PLANS TO DISMANTLE AN AIR NATIONAL GUARD SQUADRON THAT PROVIDES AIR TRAFFIC CONTROL AT ALEXANDRIA INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT. SHERRI LABAS WROTE, CENTRAL LOUISIANA IS IN A FIGHT TO RETAIN 110 JOBS AND AN ESSENTIAL SERVICE, NOT ONLY LOCALLY, BUT CRITICAL SERVICES STATEWIDE AND INTERNATIONALLY. IN MARCH, AIR FORCE OFFICIALS TOLD THE ENGLAND AUTHORITY THAT THE 259TH WOULD BE DISBANDED AND REDEPLOYED TO OTHER LOCATIONS FOR THE AIR FORCE’S DRONE PROGRAM. THE AIRPARK SAYS THE AIR FORCE PLANS TO REDEPLOY THE SQUADRON BY OCTOBER 1ST.

THE FEDERAL BRIBERY RETRIAL OS FORMER RAPIDES PARISH POLICE JUROR STEVE BORDELON WILL BEGIN TODAY. A JURY OF 12 AND TWO ALTERNATES WERE SEATED LAST NIGHT. BORDELON, A MEMBER OF THE JURY FROM 1992 TO 2007, WAS INDICTED IN 2010 ONE COUNT OF BRIBERY . HE FACES UP TO 10 YEARS IN JAIL AND A FINE IF CONVICTED. US DISTRICT JUDGE DEE DRELL IN EARLY NOVEMBER DECLARED A MISTRIAL AFTER A JURY OF 10 WOMEN AND 2 MEN COULD NOT REACH A UNANIMOUS VERDICT IN BORDELON’S FIRST TRIAL AFTER MORE THAN TWO DAYS OF DELIBERATIONS.

THE PERCENTAGE OF LOUISIANA PUBLIC SCHOOL STUDENTS REACHING "BASIC" OR BETTER ACHIEVEMENT LEVELS ON STANDARDIZED TESTS GREW FROM 66 PERCENT TO 68 PERCENT THIS YEAR, MEANING ROUGHLY 10,000 MORE STUDENTS WERE PERFORMING AT GRADE LEVEL. STATEWIDE, IMPROVEMENT WAS NOTED AT ALMOST EVERY GRADE LEVEL AND EVERY SUBJECT TESTED: ENGLISH, MATH, SCIENCE AND SOCIAL STUDIES. THE MAJOR EXCEPTION WAS SIXTH GRADE, WHERE THERE WAS NO IMPROVEMENT IN MATH AND DECLINES IN THE OTHER SUBJECTS.

CONTRARY TO WHAY YOU MAY HAVE HEARD YESTERDAY, HOLY SAVIOR MENARD IS PARTICIPATING IN THE LOUISIANA SCHOLARSHIP PROGRAM NEXT SCHOOL YEAR. DESPITE BEING LEFT OFF THE STATE LIST THAT WAS RELEASED ON TUESDAY, PRINCIPAL JOEL DESSELLE SAID WEDNESDAY THAT THE CATHOLIC SCHOOL HAS BEEN APPROVED BY THE STATE TO TAKE PART IN THE PROGRAM.

THE PERCENTAGE OF LOUISIANA PUBLIC SCHOOL STUDENTS REACHING "BASIC" OR BETTER ACHIEVEMENT LEVELS ON STANDARDIZED TESTS GREW FROM 66 PERCENT TO 68 PERCENT THIS YEAR, MEANING ROUGHLY 10,000 MORE STUDENTS WERE PERFORMING AT GRADE LEVEL. STATEWIDE, IMPROVEMENT WAS NOTED AT ALMOST EVERY GRADE LEVEL AND EVERY SUBJECT TESTED: ENGLISH, MATH, SCIENCE AND SOCIAL STUDIES. THE MAJOR EXCEPTION WAS SIXTH GRADE, WHERE THERE WAS NO IMPROVEMENT IN MATH AND DECLINES IN THE OTHER SUBJECTS.

A SENATE-BACKED ATTEMPT TO LIMIT HOW THE STATE EDUCATION BOARD CAN WRITE THE PUBLIC SCHOOL FUNDING FORMULA RAN INTO A ROADBLOCK WEDNESDAY IN THE LOUISIANA HOUSE. SEN. DAN CLAITOR, R-BATON ROUGE, SAID THE SPENDING PLAN SUBMITTED BY THE BOARD OF ELEMENTARY AND SECONDARY EDUCATION SHOULD FOCUS ON FINANCES, AND NOT INCLUDE THE BROAD POLICY STATEMENTS ADDED TO THE MEASURE THIS YEAR BY BESE WITH THE SUPPORT OF THE JINDAL ADMINISTRATION. GOV. BOBBY JINDAL AND BESE SUCCESSFULLY FOUGHT CLAITOR'S PROPOSAL, PERSUADING THE HOUSE EDUCATION COMMITTEE TO REJECT THE IN AN 11-5 VOTE. THE MEASURE WOULD HAVE RESTRICTED THE LANGUAGE SUBMITTED BY THE STATE EDUCATION BOARD TO MATHEMATICAL CALCULATIONS AND THE DOLING OUT OF DOLLARS. IT WOULD ELIMINATE PROGRAM CREATION PLANS, LIKE THOSE SOUGHT BY THE GOVERNOR AND ADDED INTO THE FORMULA THIS YEAR.

GOV. BOBBY JINDAL'S PROPOSAL TO HIKE THE AMOUNT RANK-AND-FILE STATE WORKERS PAY FOR RETIREMENT HAS ADVANCED TO THE FULL HOUSE FOR DEBATE, DESPITE CRITICISM THAT TYING IT TO PAY RAISES COULD COST THE STATE MORE THAN IT BENEFITS. IT'S UNCLEAR WHEN THE 2 PERCENTAGE POINT INCREASE IN PENSION CONTRIBUTIONS WOULD BE LEVIED ON EMPLOYEES, SINCE WORKERS WOULD HAVE TO GET A 4 PERCENT SALARY BOOST BEFORE A FOUR-YEAR PHASE-IN OF THE CONTRIBUTION INCREASE COULD BEGIN.
THE PROPOSAL HAS BEEN HEAVILY REWORKED BY LAWMAKERS SINCE JINDAL FIRST PROPOSED IT IN A PACKAGE OF PENSION CHANGES THAT HE SAID WOULD HELP DECREASE A MULTIBILLION STATE RETIREMENT DEBT. SEVERAL MEMBERS OF THE HOUSE RETIREMENT COMMITTEE QUESTIONED WHETHER THE PAY RAISE REQUIREMENT, ADDED BY SENATORS BEFORE THEY APPROVED THE MEASURE, LESSENED THE POINT OF THE BILL.

AN ATTEMPT TO TAP INTO LOUISIANA'S "RAINY DAY" FUND TO FILL A $200 MILLION DEFICIT THIS YEAR IS MIRED IN NEGOTIATIONS OVER HOW DEEPLY TO CUT NEXT YEAR'S BUDGET.
MEMBERS OF A BLOC OF CONSERVATIVE HOUSE REPUBLICANS SAY THEY WON'T SUPPORT USING THE RAINY DAY FUND TO FILL THE GAP IN THE CURRENT YEAR BUDGET, UNLESS THE SENATE GOES ALONG WITH LIMITATIONS ON THE USE OF ONE-TIME MONEY IN NEXT YEAR'S SPENDING PLANS. THE STATE HAS A MORE THAN $200 MILLION GAP IN THE BUDGET FOR THE YEAR THAT ENDS JUNE 30, BECAUSE OF WORSE-THAN-EXPECTED PERSONAL AND BUSINESS TAX COLLECTIONS. WITH ONLY A MONTH REMAINING IN THE FISCAL YEAR, CUTS WOULD BE NEARLY IMPOSSIBLE TO REACH THE KIND OF ADJUSTMENT NEEDED TO KEEP THE $25 BILLION BUDGET BALANCED.

MURPHY J. PAINTER, A FORMER COMMISSIONER OF THE LOUISIANA OFFICE OF ALCOHOL AND TOBACCO CONTROL, WAS INDICTED BY A FEDERAL GRAND JURY WEDNESDAY ON CHARGES THAT HE ILLEGALLY GAINED NATIONAL CRIME COMPUTER INFORMATION ON A VARIETY OF PEOPLE WHO WERE NOT UNDER CRIMINAL INVESTIGATION. FORMAL CHARGES AGAINST THE 59 YEAR OLD PAINTER WERE COMPUTER FRAUD, MAKING FALSE STATEMENTS AND IDENTITY THEFT. THE INDICTMENT COMES MORE THAN A YEAR AFTER A REPORT FROM LOUISIANA INSPECTOR GENERAL STEPHEN STREET'S OFFICE SAID PAINTER ILLEGALLY GAINED STATE AND FEDERAL INFORMATION ON A STATE REPRESENTATIVE, STATE DISTRICT COURT JUDGES, STAFF MEMBERS OF THE LEGISLATURE AND GOVERNOR'S OFFICE AND THE WIFE OF A U.S. SENATOR.

A JUDGE AWARDED $160,000 TO A BAYOU BLUE MAN WHO SAID HE WAS LABELED A CHILD SEXUAL PREDATOR IN EMAILS AND FLYERS SENT BY HOUMA POLICE. STATE DISTRICT JUDGE JOHNNY WALKER LAST MONTH RULED THAT THE MAN WAS PUBLICLY DEFAMED AND THAT HIS RIGHT TO PRIVACY WAS VIOLATED. ON MONDAY, WALKER AWARDED THE MAN $160,000 IN DAMAGES AND EXPENSES FROM TERREBONNE PARISH AND HOUMA POLICE. THE MAN'S LAWSUIT STEMMED FROM AN INCIDENT IN OCTOBER 2008 WHEN HE HAD STOPPED ON A PUBLIC JOGGING PATH NEAR A SCHOOL AS CHILDREN PLAYED OUTSIDE. THE MAN WAS HE WAS RESTING DURING A RUN, BUT POLICE WERE CALLED. THE MAN WAS NEVER ARRESTED OR CHARGED BUT INFORMATION ABOUT HIM WAS DISTRIBUTED.

A BILL THAT WOULD REDUCE VOTING HOURS IN LOUISIANA ADVANCES IN THE SENATE AND GOVERNMENTAL AFFAIRS COMMITTEE AND NOW HEADS TO THE SENATE FLOOR FOR A FINAL VOTE. THE BILL WOULD ALLOW POLLS TO OPEN AT 7AM INSTEAD OF 6 AM MAKING THE DAY 13 HOURS INSTEAD OF 14. SECRETARY OF STATE TOM SCHEDLER SAYS IT'S BECOMING INCREASINGLY HARDER TO FIND POLL COMMISSIONERS WHO ARE WILLING TO WORK 14-HOUR DAYS. LOUISIANA IS ONE OF FOUR STATES WITH A 14 HOUR VOTING PERIOD WHICH IS
THE LONGEST IN THE COUNTRY.

THE STATE PUBLIC SERVICE COMMISSION HAS VOTED TO ALLOW AT&T TO DISCONTINUE HOME DELIVERY OF THE WHITE PAGES PHONE BOOK. THE VOTE WAS 4-1. ONLY CHAIRMAN FOSTER CAMPBELL OPPOSED AT&T'S REQUEST. THE WHITE PAGES WILL STILL BE AVAILABLE IF A CUSTOMER REQUESTS THE. BUT, AT&T SAYS IT WILL SEE CONSIDERABLE SAVINGS, BY HAVING TO PRINT FAR FEWER COPIES. ONE THING THE PHONE COMPANY WILL NOT DO AWAY WITH, AT&T WILL STILL SEND EACH RESIDENCE A PHONE BOOK, CONTAINING BUSINESS LISTINGS AND THE YELLOW PAGES. THAT SECTION OF THE PHONE BOOK GENERATED A GREAT DEAL OF INCOME FOR THE UTILITY.

A PROPOSAL TO TOUGHEN LOUISIANA'S BAN ON EUTHANASIA IS NEARING FINAL LEGISLATIVE PASSAGE, AFTER ADVANCING TO THE SENATE FLOOR WITHOUT OBJECTION WEDNESDAY BY THE SENATE HEALTH AND WELFARE COMMITTEE. THE HOUSE-APPROVED MEASURE WOULD SPELL OUT THAT SOMEONE AUTHORIZED TO APPROVE MEDICAL PROCEDURES FOR ANOTHER PERSON MAY NOT APPROVE ANY PROCEDURE THAT WOULD BE CONSIDERED ASSISTED SUICIDE. THAT PROHIBITION ALSO WOULD BE EXTENDED TO INCLUDE SURGICAL OR MEDICAL TREATMENT FOR THE DEVELOPMENTALLY DISABLED OR NURSING HOME RESIDENTS WHO MAY BE UNABLE TO MAKE THEIR OWN MEDICAL DECISIONS. LOUISIANA ALREADY HAS A PROHIBITION IN CRIMINAL LAW AGAINST EUTHANASIA AND ASSISTED SUICIDE. THE BILL WOULD ADD THE PROHIBITION TO THE STATE'S MEDICAL CONSENT LAW.

THE LEGISLATURE HAS REAFFIRMED THAT AMERICAN HISTORY AND CIVICS COURSES IN LOUISIANA'S PUBLIC HIGH SCHOOLS SHOULD INCLUDE INSTRUCTION ON THE NATION'S "FOUNDING PRINCIPLES." SENATORS GAVE FINAL LEGISLATIVE PASSAGE TO THE MEASURE (HOUSE BILL 436) BY REP. JOE HARRISON, R-NAPOLEONVILLE. IT WILL REQUIRE TEACHING ON THE STRUCTURE OF GOVERNMENT, SEPARATION OF POWERS, FREE ELECTIONS, EQUAL JUSTICE, PRIVATE PROPERTY RIGHTS, FEDERALISM, DUE PROCESS, INDIVIDUAL RESPONSIBILITY AND THE BILL OF RIGHTS.

PUBLIC SCHOOL STUDENTS WILL BE REQUIRED TO GET INSTRUCTION ABOUT CELL PHONE SAFETY, UNDER A MEASURE THAT RECEIVED FINAL PASSAGE IN THE SENATE. THE STATE BOARD OF ELEMENTARY AND SECONDARY EDUCATION WILL HAVE TO DEVISE THE TEACHING MATERIALS ON TOPICS INCLUDING: RECOGNITION AND REPORTING OF ELECTRONIC SOLICITATIONS BY SEXUAL PREDATORS, RISKS OF TRANSMITTING PERSONAL INFORMATION AND COPYRIGHT LAWS ON PHOTOS, MUSIC AND VIDEOS.

VOTERS WILL DECIDE IN THE NOV. 6 ELECTION WHETHER A JUDGE SHOULD BE ABLE TO STRIP A PUBLIC OFFICIAL'S RETIREMENT BENEFITS IF THAT OFFICIAL WAS CONVICTED OF A FELONY RELATED TO HIS OFFICE. THE CONSTITUTIONAL CHANGE RECEIVED FINAL PASSAGE WITH A SENATE VOTE. THE BENEFIT FORFEITURE WOULD ONLY APPLY TO SOMEONE EMPLOYED OR ELECTED AFTER JAN. 1, 2013.

THE NEW LSU PUBLIC HOSPITAL PLANNED FOR NEW ORLEANS, WILL BE NAMED, THE REV. AVERY C. ALEXANDER ACADEMIC RESEARCH HOSPITAL, UNDER A MEASURE THAT RECEIVED FINAL PASSAGE WEDNESDAY. THE BILL HEADS TO THE GOVERNOR. ALEXANDER WAS A CIVIL RIGHTS LEADER IN LOUISIANA AND FORMER STATE LAWMAKER.

LOUISIANA GOV. BOBBY JINDAL PLANS TO ATTEND A RALLY FOR WISCONSIN GOV. SCOTT WALKER IN MILWAUKEE AND ALSO JOIN HIM AT A FUNDRAISER FOR THE REPUBLICAN GOVERNORS ASSOCIATION. BOTH EVENTS ARE PLANNED FOR TODAY BUT FEW DETAILS HAVE BEEN RELEASED. A SPOKESMAN FOR THE REPUBLICAN GOVERNORS ASSOCIATION CONFIRMED THE FUNDRAISER WAS CLOSED TO THE PUBLIC BUT DID NOT RELEASE ANY MORE DETAILS.

THE ASCENSION PARISH SHERIFF'S OFFICE SAYS A MOTHER HAS BEEN ARRESTED ON CHILD DESERTION CHARGES AFTER HER TWO-YEAR-OLD DROWNED IN A SWIMMING POOL. CHIEF DEPUTY TONY BACALA SAYS ON MAY 9TH, 22-YEAR-OLD FALLON GAUTREAU LEFT HER TODDLER PLAYING BY THE POOL AND WENT TO THE STORE WITH THE CHILD'S GRANDMOTHER. BACALA SAYS THE CHILD WAS ALIVE WHEN RESPONDERS ARRIVED, BUT DIED TWO DAYS LATER AT A LOCAL HOSPITAL. HE SAYS THE CHILD'S GRANDFATHER WAS IN THE HOME BUT WAS UNAWARE MOTHER AND GRANDMOTHER HAD LEFT.







News For Wednesday 05/23/12


NEWS FOR WEDNESDAY 052312
BY DAVE GRAICHEN

MORE THAN 5,000 LOUISIANA STUDENTS IN 33 PARISHES CAN GET NEW TAXPAYER-FUNDED VOUCHER SLOTS AT PRIVATE SCHOOLS THIS FALL, UNDER A LAW PUSHED BY GOV. BOBBY JINDAL THAT CREATED A STATEWIDE VOUCHER PROGRAM. THE STATE EDUCATION DEPARTMENT ON TUESDAY UNVEILED THE LIST OF PRIVATE AND PAROCHIAL SCHOOLS THAT HAVE BEEN APPROVED TO PARTICIPATE IN THE VOUCHER PROGRAM EXPANSION APPROVED BY LAWMAKERS IN APRIL. THE FINAL ASSIGNMENTS AND NUMBER OF STUDENTS WHO WILL TAKE THE SEATS FOR THE 2012-13 SCHOOL YEAR WILL BE SET BY THE END OF JULY.

FOUR CENTRAL LOUISIANA SCHOOLS WILL BE AMONG THOSE PARTICIPATING IN THE STATE’S SCHOLARSHIP PROGRAM. ST. FRANCES CABRINI IN ALEXANDRIA, CENLA CHRISTIAN ACADEMY IN PINEVILLE, ST. MARY’S ASSUMPTION IN COTTONPORT AND BEAU-VER CHRISTIAN IN DERIDDER, ARE ON THE LIST OF SCHOOLS THAT WILL PARTICIPATE IN THE PROGRAM. NOTICEABLY ABSENT FROM THE LIST.. HOLY SAVIOUR MENARD, GRACE CHRISTIAN, OUR LADY OF PROMPT SUCCOR AND COUNTRY DAY IN ALEXANDRIA, ST. MARY’S IN NATCHITOCHES AND ST. JOSEPH IN PLAUCHEVILLE

SUNDROP FUELS WILL ANNOUNCE TODAY THAT IT HAS ENTERED A PARTNERSHIP WITH A WORLDWIDE ENGINEERING AND FOR CONSTRUCTION OF ITS PLANNED "GREEN GASOLINE" PRODUCTION PLANT NORTH OF ALEXANDRIA. CONSTRUCTION FOR THE PLANT WILL BEGIN IN DECEMBER ON A 1,200-ACRE SPREAD NEAR COWBOY TOWN, WITH PLANT COMPLETION SOMETIME IN 2014.

TWO VILLE PLATTE TEENAGERS WERE KILLED TUESDAY MORNING IN A CAR ACCIDENT ON LA. HIGHWAY 10 NEAR OAKDALE. STATE POLICE REPORT 17 YEAR OLD KYLE LANDRY , AND HIS PASSENGER, 17 YEAR OLD CADE GUILLORY WERE PRONOUNCED DEAD AT THE SCENE BY THE ALLEN PARISH CORONER’S OFFICE. THE ACCIDENT HAPPENED SHORTLY AFTER 11 YESTERDAY MORNING WHEN A PICKUP DRIVEN BY LANDRY RAN OFF THE RIGHT SIDE OF THE ROAD. LANDRY OVERCORRECTED TO THE LEFT AND CROSSED THE CENTER LINE SIDESWIPING ANOTHER VEHICLE. GUILLORY’S VEHICLE THEN TRAVELED OFF THE ROADWAY AND STRUCK SEVERAL TREES AND ROLLED OVER. LANDRY AND GUILLORY WERE WEARING THEIR SEAT BELTS.

FIVE RAPIDES PARISH HIGH SCHOOLS, PLAINVIEW, GLENMORA, OAK HILL, PEABODY AND RAPIDES HAVE BEEN RECOGNIZED WITH BRONZE MEDAL DESIGNATIONS IN THE 2012 U.S. NEWS & WORLD REPORT BEST HIGH SCHOOLS RANKINGS. SEVENTY-NINE SCHOOLS IN LOUISIANA RECEIVED THE DESIGNATION. U.S. NEWS & WORLD REPORT ANALYZED 21,776 PUBLIC HIGH SCHOOLS IN 49 STATES AND THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA TO DETERMINE ITS BEST HIGH SCHOOLS.

A BILL PROHIBITING DOCTORS FROM PERFORMING ABORTIONS 20 WEEKS AFTER FERTILIZATION BY DECLARING THE FETUS CAN FEEL PAIN HAS PASSED THE SENATE WITHOUT OPPOSITION. THE MEASURE BY SENATE PRESIDENT JOHN ALARIO DECLARES THAT THE STATE SHOULD PROTECT "THE LIVES OF UNBORN CHILDREN FROM THE STAGE AT WHICH SUBSTANTIAL MEDICAL EVIDENCE INDICATES THAT THEY ARE CAPABLE OF FEELING PAIN." DOCTORS WHO VIOLATE THE PROHIBITION WOULD FACE A PRISON SENTENCE UP TO TWO YEARS. ALARIO'S PROPOSAL MAKES EXCEPTIONS FOR WOMEN WHOSE LIVES ARE IN DANGER DUE TO COMPLICATIONS WITH THEIR PREGNANCIES. RAPE AND INCEST WOULD NOT BE AN EXCEPTION. SUPPORTERS SAY THE LEGISLATION WOULD ONLY AFFECT A SMALL NUMBER OF ABORTIONS IN LOUISIANA. THEY SAY SIX OTHER STATES HAVE SIMILAR LAWS.
THE BILL PASSED 35-0 TUESDAY AND HEADS TO THE HOUSE.

A PROPOSAL TO SET UP A FORMAL HOUSE PROCESS FOR DISCIPLINING PEOPLE WHO ATTEMPT TO INTIMIDATE LAWMAKERS WAS SHELVED TUESDAY FOR THE LEGISLATIVE SESSION. REP. NEIL ABRAMSON, D-NEW ORLEANS, SAID HE OFFERED THE LEGISLATION AFTER BEING THREATENED FOR HIS POSITION IN A DISPUTE BETWEEN THE OIL AND GAS INDUSTRY AND LANDOWNERS OVER HOW TO CLEAN UP ENVIRONMENTAL DAMAGE DONE IN DRILLING YEARS AGO. BUT HE SAID SEVERAL PEOPLE HAVE EXPRESSED CONCERN ABOUT THE BROADNESS OF HIS SUGGESTED HOUSE RULE CHANGE AND POSSIBLE UNINTENDED CONSEQUENCES. SO, ABRAMSON TOLD THE HOUSE AND GOVERNMENTAL AFFAIRS COMMITTEE HE WAS SCRAPPING THE LEGISLATION (HOUSE RESOLUTION 46) TO REVIEW THE IDEA OVER THE NEXT YEAR. HE SAID HE'LL RETURN WITH A PROPOSAL NEXT YEAR. THE NEW ORLEANS LAWMAKER IDENTIFIED THE PERSON AS LAWYER JIMMY FAIRCLOTH, A FORMER EXECUTIVE COUNSEL TO GOV. BOBBY JINDAL WHO IS REPRESENTING LANDOWNERS ON THE OILFIELD CONTAMINATION ISSUE. FAIRCLOTH SAID HE DIDN'T THREATEN ABRAMSON WHEN TALKING TO HIM.

SENATORS REVERSED COURSE AND BACKED A PROPOSAL THAT WILL LET A LIMITED LIST OF OLDER PRISONERS SERVING A LIFE SENTENCE TO SEEK A PAROLE HEARING, GIVING THE MEASURE FINAL PASSAGE. THE HEARING WON'T APPLY TO ANYONE WHO WAS CONVICTED OF A VIOLENT CRIME OR A SEX OFFENSE. THE PRISONER WILL HAVE TO COMPLETE CERTAIN TYPES OF EDUCATIONAL TRAINING AND SUBSTANCE ABUSE TREATMENT AND WILL HAVE TO BE DEEMED A LOW-RISK OFFENDER IN A RATING SCALE USED BY THE STATE CORRECTIONS DEPARTMENT. SENATORS SENT THE BILL TO THE GOVERNOR'S DESK WITH A 23-12 VOTE TUESDAY, A DAY AFTER IT ONLY RECEIVED 18 VOTES OF SUPPORT.

HEALTH AND HOSPITALS SECRETARY BRUCE GREENSTEIN KEPT SAYING THE JINDAL ADMINISTRATION HAS SCRAPPED PLANS TO MERGE AN ELDERLY AFFAIRS OFFICE INTO THE STATE HEALTH DEPARTMENT, BUT LAWMAKERS ASKED GREENSTEIN TO SAY IT AGAIN AND AGAIN TUESDAY, SHOWCASING THE STRONG RESISTANCE TO THE IDEA. AT THE START OF THE LEGISLATIVE SESSION, GOV. BOBBY JINDAL PROPOSED MERGING OF THE GOVERNOR'S OFFICE OF ELDERLY AFFAIRS INTO THE STATE DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HOSPITALS. PARISH COUNCILS ON AGING AROUND LOUISIANA AND ELDERLY RESIDENTS WHO RECEIVE SERVICES THROUGH PROGRAMS OVERSEEN BY THE OFFICE HEAVILY CRITICIZED THE IDEA, AND LAWMAKERS SIDED WITH THEIR LOCAL ELDERLY AFFAIRS LEADERS. GREENSTEIN REITERATED THAT THE ADMINISTRATION IS NO LONGER ARE MOVING FORWARD WITH THE PLAN.

THE LOUISIANA SENATE HAS REFUSED TO PROHIBIT SMOKING WITHIN 25 FEET OF THE ENTRANCE TO ANY BUILDING WHERE SMOKING ALREADY IS BANNED, EVEN AFTER THE MEASURE WAS LIMITED TO STATE-OWNED BUILDINGS. LOUISIANA PROHIBITS SMOKING IN RESTAURANTS, PUBLIC PLACES, PUBLIC BUILDINGS AND MANY PLACES OF EMPLOYMENT.
AS APPROVED BY THE HOUSE, WEST MONROE REP. FRANK HOFFMANN'S PROPOSAL WOULD HAVE EXTENDED THE BAN TO WITHIN 25 FEET OF THOSE BUILDINGS' ENTRANCES AND TO THEIR WHEELCHAIR RAMPS. BUT SENATORS SAID IN DOWNTOWNS AND AREAS LIKE THE FRENCH QUARTER, THE 25-FOOT BAN COULD ELIMINATE SMOKING OUTSIDE ENTIRELY. SO, THE SENATE LIMITED THE MEASURE TO STATE-OWNED BUILDINGS. THAT WASN'T ENOUGH TO WIN PASSAGE. SENATORS VOTED 18-16 TUESDAY FOR THE PROPOSAL. IT NEEDED 20 VOTES TO PASS.

VOTERS ACROSS LOUISIANA WILL BE ASKED THIS FALL IF THEY WANT TO ENACT TERM LIMITS ON THEIR LOCAL SCHOOL BOARDS. A PROPOSAL BY PONCHATOULA REP. STEVE PUGH REQUIRING THE TERM LIMIT QUESTION TO APPEAR ON THE NOV. 6 BALLOT RECEIVED FINAL LEGISLATIVE PASSAGE TUESDAY WITH A 20-16 SENATE VOTE. IF APPROVED IN A PARISH, LOCAL SCHOOL BOARD MEMBERS THERE WOULD BE LIMITED TO THREE CONSECUTIVE FOUR-YEAR TERMS, LIKE STATE LAWMAKERS. SUPPORTERS SAY TERM LIMITS WOULD ALLOW FOR FRESH IDEAS AND NEW PEOPLE ON THE BOARDS THAT DETERMINE EDUCATION POLICY.
OPPONENTS SAY VOTERS CAN OUST ELECTED OFFICIALS THEY DON'T THINK ARE PERFORMING WELL, BY REFUSING TO RE-ELECT THEM. JEFFERSON AND LAFAYETTE PARISHES ALREADY HAVE TERM LIMITS ON THEIR SCHOOL BOARD MEMBERS.

A CARETAKER OF A CHILD WILL BE REQUIRED TO REPORT A MISSING CHILD TO EMERGENCY OFFICIALS OR FACE CRIMINAL PENALTIES, UNDER A BILL GIVEN FINAL PASSAGE TUESDAY. THE MEASURE (HOUSE BILL 600) BY REP. BARBARA NORTON, D-SHREVEPORT, SETS TIME LIMITS FOR HOW LONG A CHILD IS MISSING, VARYING BY AGE, FOR THE REPORTING REQUIREMENT TO KICK IN. FAILURE TO REPORT COULD MEAN JAIL TIME OF UP TO SIX MONTHS IF THE CHILD IS FOUND UNHARMED. IF THE CHILD IS FOUND DEAD OR FOUND WITH A SERIOUS INJURY, THE JAIL SENTENCES COULD BE A DECADE OR MORE.

A PACKAGE OF TAX BREAKS SOUGHT BY GOV. BOBBY JINDAL IS NEAR FINAL LEGISLATIVE PASSAGE IN THE LOUISIANA HOUSE, BUT WITH MORE RESTRICTIONS FOR THEIR USE THAN WHEN THE REBATES WERE PROPOSED BY THE GOVERNOR. LAWMAKERS IN THE SENATE ADDED SEVERAL HURDLES BEFORE THE TAX BREAKS COULD BE USED, WITH SENATORS SAYING THEY WANT TO MAKE SURE THE TAX BREAKS GENERATE NEW JOBS RATHER THAN JUST GIVE MONEY AWAY TO BUSINESSES THAT WOULD HAVE COME TO LOUISIANA ANYWAY.
THE BILLS BY REP. JOEL ROBIDEAUX, R-LAFAYETTE, WOULD GIVE THE STATE'S ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT CHIEF LIMITED ABILITY TO OFFER THREE NEW TAX BREAKS TO BUSINESSES THAT ARE CONSIDERING WHETHER TO RELOCATE OR EXPAND IN LOUISIANA.

LAWMAKERS HAVE DIRECTED THE GOVERNOR'S CAPITAL FACILITIES OFFICE TO DECLARE THE SITE OF THE FORMER INSURANCE BUILDING SHOULD BE TRANSFERRED TO THE CONTROL OF THE LEGISLATURE FOR THE USE OF THE LEGISLATIVE AUDITOR AND LAWMAKERS. THE HOUSE GAVE FINAL PASSAGE TO THE MEASURE (SENATE CONCURRENT RESOLUTION 62) WITHOUT OBJECTION. THE JINDAL ADMINISTRATION HAD TALKED ABOUT SELLING THE PROPERTY, WHICH IS THE SITE OF A PARKING DECK OVERLOOKING THE LOUISIANA CAPITOL, BUT LAWMAKERS CRITICIZED THE IDEA.

THE HOUSE UNANIMOUSLY AGREED TO A BILL BY SEN. A.G. CROWE, R-SLIDELL, AIMED AT KEEPING THE STATE'S MOVIE PRODUCTION TAX CREDIT PROGRAM FROM BENEFITING PORNOGRAPHIC PRODUCTIONS. CROWE'S BILL (SENATE BILL 513) GOES BACK TO THE SENATE FOR APPROVAL OF HOUSE CHANGES.

A NEWLY RELEASED ECONOMIC IMPACT STUDY SHOWS CLOSE TO 400,000 LOUISIANA JOBS ARE TIED TO THE OPERATION OF THE STATE'S PORTS, WHICH HAVE GROWN IN ASSETS BY ALMOST $600 MILLION IN THE LAST DECADE. THE AUTHOR OF THE STUDY, JAMES RICHARDSON, FROM LSU, SAYS ONE IN FIVE JOBS IN LOUISIANA ARE TIED TO THE MARITIME INDUSTRY.

STATE POLICE DETECTIVES ARE INVESTIGATING AN OFFICER INVOLVED SHOOTING BY THE LAFAYETTE POLICE DEPARTMENT. TROOPER STEPHEN HAMMONS SAYS LAFAYETTE OFFICERS RESPONDED TO A SHOPLIFTING COMPLAINT AT A CONVENIENCE STORE MONDAY NIGHT. HAMMONS SAYS ONE OFFICER LOCATED A MAN FITTING THE DESCRIPTION OF THE SUSPECT. WHEN THE OFFICER MADE CONTACT, HAMMONS SAYS THERE WAS A STRUGGLE. SEVERAL SHOTS WERE FIRED AND THE SUSPECT WAS STRUCK MULTIPLE TIMES.
TROOPERS SAY THE SUSPECT IS LISTED IN CRITICAL BUT STABLE CONDITION. THE OFFICER WAS ALSO TAKEN TO A LOCAL HOSPITAL WHERE HE WAS TREATED FOR MINOR INJURIES.
OFFICIALS HAVE NOT RELEASED THE NAMES OF THOSE INVOLVED IN THE SHOOTING.


News For Tuesday 05/22/12


NEWS FOR TUESDAY 052212
BY DAVE GRAICHEN

FROM THE JUST WHEN YOU THOUGHT YOU’D WON THE ARGUMENT DEPARTMENT.. THE LOUISIANA DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS IS CONSIDERING CLOSING THREE PRISONS, IF THE STATE SENATE DOES NOT RESTORE CUTS MADE TO NEXT FISCAL YEAR'S BUDGET. SECRETARY JAMES LEBLANC SAYS AS THE BUDGET STANDS NOW, THEY DON'T HAVE ENOUGH MONEY TO KEEP THE AVOYELLES, PHELPS AND RAYBURN PRISONS OPEN. LEBLANC SAYS IF THEY HAVE TO CLOSE PRISONS, THEY'LL HAVE TO TRANSFER INMATES TO OTHER STATE PRISONS, INCLUDING ANGOLA OR PARISH JAILS.

A SCHOOL BUS FROM PINEVILLE BOUND FOR THE SCI-PORT SCIENCE CENTER IN SHREVEPORT WAS INVOLVED IN AN ACCIDENT YESTERDAY MORNING. THE BUS, CARRYING 30 STUDENTS AND SIX ADULTS, SIDE SWIPED AN 18 WHEELER WHEN IT ATTEMPTED TO CHANGE LANES. ACCORDING TO SHREVEPORT POLICE, THE 18-WHEELER CUT DOWN A UTILITY POLE, WHICH FELL ONTO THE TRUCK. THE DRIVER OF THE 18-WHEELER WAS TRANSPORTED TO THE HOSPITAL FOR MINOR INJURIES. NO ONE ON THE BUS WAS INJURED AND NO CITATIONS WERE ISSUED AFTER THE ACCIDENT. HOWEVER, POWER WAS KNOCKED OUT TO SEVERAL SHREVEPORT BUSINESSES FOR MOST OF THE DAY.

THE SENATE HAS APPROVED A $3.4 BILLION FUNDING PLAN FOR PUBLIC SCHOOLS AND VOUCHERS TO ATTEND PRIVATE SCHOOLS. THE 26-10 VOTE SENT THE BILL TO THE HOUSE FOR CONSIDERATION THE FUNDING PLAN, KNOWN AS THE MINIMUM FOUNDATION PROGRAM, ALLOTS MONEY TO SCHOOL SYSTEMS BASED ON ENROLLMENT. SYSTEMS GET ADDITIONAL FUNDING FOR HIGHER-COST PROGRAMS, LIKE SPECIAL EDUCATION, EDUCATING HIGH POVERTY STUDENTS AND CAREER AND TECHNICAL EDUCATION. THE AVERAGE AMOUNT OF STATE AND LOCAL FUNDS IS $8,500 PER STUDENT FOR ABOUT 679,000 STUDENTS.

FRIDAY WAS THE DEADLINE FOR PRIVATE SCHOOLS TO APPLY TO THE STATE IF THEY WANT TO BE ABLE TO ACCEPT STUDENTS WHO TAKE PART IN THE NEW SCHOOL VOUCHER PROGRAM, WHICH WILL PAY GOVERNMENT-FUNDED PRIVATE SCHOOL TUITION FOR SOME LOUISIANA STUDENTS. STATE EDUCATION OFFICIALS WERE COMPILING INFORMATION ON THE APPLICANTS MONDAY. INFORMATION ON THE SCHOOLS PARTICIPATING AND THE NUMBER OF SEATS AVAILABLE FOR VOUCHER STUDENTS IN THOSE SCHOOLS COULD BE RELEASED AS EARLY AS TODAY. MEANWHILE, FAMILIES WHO WANT THEIR CHILDREN TO TAKE PART IN THE PROGRAM CAN BEGIN APPLYING TODAY. THE PROGRAM IS FOR STUDENTS WHO ARE FROM LOW- TO MODERATE-INCOME FAMILIES AND WHO ATTEND PUBLIC SCHOOLS THAT EARNED A C, D OR F UNDER THE STATE'S SCHOOL ACCOUNTABILITY PROGRAM.

A BILL PROHIBITING WELFARE RECIPIENTS FROM SPENDING THEIR ASSISTANCE DOLLARS ON ALCOHOL OR CIGARETTES AND PREVENTING THEM FROM WITHDRAWING THAT MONEY AS CASH HAS BEEN PUT ON HOLD. THE SENATE FINANCE COMMITTEE DECIDED MONDAY TO STALL THE MEASURE BY REP. CAMERON HENRY WHILE SENATORS WORK ON NEXT YEAR'S $25 BILLION STATE OPERATING BUDGET. AN ESTIMATED $454,000 COST TIED TO HENRY'S BILL, FOR TWEAKING THE SYSTEM THAT MONITORS THE ELECTRONIC BENEFITS CARD, HAD SOME LAWMAKERS DEBATING THE USEFULNESS OF A PROPOSAL THAT TARGETS ONLY A SMALL PERCENT OF TRANSACTIONS. THE CARD IS ISSUED TO WELFARE RECIPIENTS AND FUNCTIONS LIKE A DEBIT CARD. HENRY ARGUED THERE ARE RECORDS OF THE CARD BEING ABUSED. HE SAYS EVEN ONE PERSON ABUSING THEIR WELFARE MONEY IS ENOUGH TO WARRANT THE LEGISLATION.

A PROPOSAL THAT WOULD PROHIBIT LOUISIANA'S REVENUE DEPARTMENT FROM REQUIRING CERTAIN PEOPLE TO GET THEIR TAX REFUNDS ON DEBIT CARDS NEARED FINAL LEGISLATIVE PASSAGE MONDAY, WITH ADVANCEMENT TO THE FULL SENATE FOR DEBATE. THIS YEAR, TAXPAYERS WHO DIDN'T GET THEIR REFUNDS THROUGH DIRECT DEPOSIT INTO A BANK ACCOUNT FOUND THEIR PAPER CHECKS REPLACED WITH PRE-PAID CHASE VISA CARDS. REVENUE DEPARTMENT OFFICIALS SAID DOING AWAY WITH THE CHECKS SAVES MONEY. LAWMAKERS SAID THEY HAVE BEEN BOMBARDED WITH COMPLAINTS FROM PEOPLE WHO DON'T UNDERSTAND HOW TO USE THE CARDS OR HAVE BEEN CHARGED FEES WHEN THEY DO. WITH THE DEBIT CARDS, TAXPAYERS CAN GET THEIR MONEY AT CHASE ATMS OR USE THE CARDS TO PAY FOR ITEMS AT RETAILERS. THEY ALSO CAN BRING THE CARD TO A CHASE BANK AND GET THEIR REFUND THROUGH A CASH ADVANCE. THEY ARE CHARGED FEES IF THEY USE NON-CHASE ATMS TO ACCESS THE MONEY MORE THAN ONCE AND IF THEY WANT TO TRANSFER THE MONEY TO A NON-CHASE BANK ACCOUNT.

LAWMAKERS ARE WORKING ON A PLAN THAT WOULD EARMARK FINE AND PENALTY MONEY THE STATE RECEIVES BECAUSE OF THE GULF COAST OIL SPILL TO LOUISIANA'S COASTAL PROTECTION FUND. THE HOUSE-APPROVED PROPOSAL RECEIVED BACKING MONDAY FROM THE SENATE FINANCE COMMITTEE. IT HEADS TO THE FULL SENATE FOR DEBATE. THE BILL DEALS WITH MONEY THAT COULD BE RECEIVED BY THE STATE FOR VIOLATIONS OF FEDERAL POLLUTION STANDARDS, A FIGURE THAT COULD TOTAL BILLIONS OF DOLLARS. THE COASTAL PROTECTION FUND, WHERE THE MONEY WOULD BE PLACED, IS USED FOR COASTAL RESTORATION PROJECTS AND HURRICANE PROTECTION EFFORTS. THE PROPOSAL NEEDS APPROVAL FROM LAWMAKERS AND FROM VOTERS IN A STATEWIDE ELECTION TO TAKE EFFECT.

SENATORS NARROWLY REFUSED TO ALLOW A LIMITED LIST OF OLDER PRISONERS SERVING A LIFE SENTENCE TO BE ABLE TO SEEK A PAROLE HEARING. THE HEARING WOULDN'T APPLY TO ANYONE WHO WAS CONVICTED OF A VIOLENT CRIME OR A SEX OFFENSE. NO ONE SPOKE IN OPPOSITION TO THE MEASURE ON THE SENATE FLOOR, BUT PREVIOUS CRITICS HAVE SAID THESE PRISONERS ARE HABITUAL OFFENDERS WHO WERE SENTENCED TO LIFE IN PRISON BECAUSE OF THE CRIMES THEY COMMITTED AND SHOULDN'T BE ALLOWED TO GET OUT.
EIGHTEEN SENATORS SUPPORTED THE MEASURE, BUT IT NEEDED 20 VOTES TO PASS. SENATORS COULD ATTEMPT TO BRING THE BILL UP FOR A SECOND VOTE BEFORE THE REGULAR SESSION ENDS JUNE 4.

SENATORS GAVE FINAL PASSAGE TO A BILL THAT WILL GIVE LOUISIANA'S SHERIFFS A PAY RAISE OPPORTUNITY. HOWEVER, OPPORTUNITY IS THE KEY WORD. THE PROPOSAL WILL CREATE AN "EXECUTIVE MANAGEMENT INSTITUTE" FOR SHERIFFS, TO TEACH THEM MANAGEMENT SKILLS AND REQUIRE ANNUAL FOLLOW-UP TRAINING. WHEN A SHERIFF HAS COMPLETED THE TRAINING, THE ELECTED OFFICIAL WILL BE ABLE TO GET A PAY RAISE. WELL MAYBE, LAWMAKERS WILL FIRST HAVE APPROVED A SALARY BOOST FOR DISTRICT COURT JUDGES. THE MEASURE GOES TO THE GOVERNOR'S DESK.

THE LEGISLATURE IS ASKING CONGRESS TO STOP FUNDING PLANNED PARENTHOOD. SUPPORTERS OF THE MEASURE (HOUSE CONCURRENT RESOLUTION 11) THAT RECEIVED FINAL PASSAGE MONDAY WITH A 29-5 SENATE VOTE SAY THEY WANT THE ORGANIZATION TO STOP RECEIVING TAX DOLLARS UNTIL THEY STOP PROVIDING ABORTIONS, EVEN THOUGH TAX MONEY ISN'T USED FOR THE PROCEDURE. OPPONENTS SAY REMOVAL OF FEDERAL FUNDING WOULD THREATEN HEALTH CARE FOR MILLIONS OF WOMEN WHO RELY ON PLANNED PARENTHOOD FOR CANCER SCREENINGS AND PREVENTIVE HEALTH CARE.

AN ADULT WHO IMPERSONATES ANOTHER PERSON ON FACEBOOK, E-MAIL MESSAGES, SOCIAL NETWORKING SITES AND OTHER ONLINE SITES WITH THE INTENTION TO HARM OR DEFRAUD WILL FACE A PRISON SENTENCE RANGING FROM 10 DAYS TO SIX MONTHS, UNDER A BILL (HOUSE BILL 96),THAT RECEIVED FINAL PASSAGE MONDAY. A VIOLATOR OF THE PROVISION WHO IS UNDER THE AGE OF 17 WOULDN'T BE SUBJECT TO THE SAME PENALTIES.

AUTHORITIES IN NATCHEZ, MISSISSIPPI SAY THINGS ARE QUIETED DOWN AFTER A PRISON RIOT SUNDAY THAT LEFT A PRISON GUARD DEAD. ADAMS COUNTY SHERIFF CHUCK MAYFIELD SAYS A GANG FIGHT AMONG THE PRISON'S MOSTLY-LATINO POPULATION WAS THE TRIGGER. MAYFIELD SAYS SAYS MORE THAN TWO DOZEN OFFICERS WERE HELD HOSTAGE AND 15 HAD TO BE RESCUED BY SPECIAL RESPONSE TEAMS. HE SAYS ONE OF THE GUARDS WAS BEATEN TO DEATH BY INMATES. THE PRIVATELY OPERATED PRISON HOLDS OVER 2500 FEDERAL PRISONERS ACCUSED OF CRIMINAL ACTS; MOSTLY ILLEGAL ALIENS. MAYFIELD SAYS THERE'S NO DANGER TO PUBLIC SAFETY.

WEST BATON ROUGE PARISH SHERIFF'S DEPUTIES SAY A FAULTY VALVE IS BELIEVED TO BE THE PROBLEM THAT CAUSED A PLANT FIRE IN ERWINVILLE MONDAY. TWO ACETYLENE TANKS EXPLODED. ONE PERSON IS REPORTED INJURED. HOMES WITHIN A MILE OF THE PLANT WERE EVACUATED, WHILE FIREFIGHTERS GOT THE BLAZE UNDER CONTROL.

A SENATE-APPROVED RESOLUTION - THAT REQUESTS THE DOTD TO STUDY THE FEASIBILITY OF TOLLS TO COMPLETE I-49 SOUTH FROM LAFAYETTE TO NEW ORLEANS - HAS PASSED THE HOUSE TRANSPORTATION COMMITTEE. BENTON SEN. ROBERT ADLEY SAYS THE STUDY WOULD LOOK AT WHERE TO PUT THE TOLL BOOTHS ON THE PROPOSED I-49 SOUTH EXTENSION, HOW MANY CARS WOULD PASS THROUGH THOSE AND HOW MUCH TO CHARGE. HE SAYS HE WOULD LIKE THE PUBLIC TO EVENTUALLY CONTRIBUTE THEIR THOUGHTS ON THE MATTER. THE RESOLUTION NOW HEADS TO THE SENATE FLOOR.

THE SEARCH CONTINUES FOR A MISSING LAFAYETTE WOMAN; LAST SEEN EARLY SATURDAY MORNING RIDING HER BICYCLE. LAFAYETTE PD SPOKESMAN PAUL MOUTON SAYS 21-YEAR-OLD MICHAELA "MICKEY" SHUNICK LEFT A FRIENDS HOUSE AT 2 AM, TO RIDE THE 5 MILES TO HER OWN HOME. A $10-THOUSAND REWARD IS BEING OFFERED.

ANOTHER BIG POT BUST ON I-10. CALCASIEU PARISH DEPUTIES ARRESTED A CALIFORNIA MAN, AFTER SMELLING FRESH MARIJUANA IN HIS VEHICLE DURING A ROUTINE TRAFFIC STOP. A DRUG DOG SNIFFED OUT 30 POUNDS OF HIGH GRADE WEED IN THE TRUNK OF THE MAN'S CAR. HIS BOND IS SET AT A HALF-MILLION BUCKS.

THE MAN ACCUSED OF SEXUAL BATTERY AND OBSCENITY FOR HIS ACTS ON A VIRAL VIDEO SHOT AFTER THE LSU-ALABAMA BCS TITLE GAME HAS PLEADED NOT GUILTY. BRIAN DOWNING IS ALLEGED TO HAVE EXPOSED HIMSELF AND RUBBED HIS GENITALS ON A PASSED-OUT TIGERS FAN AT THE KRYSTAL BURGER ON BOURBON STREET LAST JANUARY. HE'S BEEN RELEASED ON $50-THOUSAND BOND. HIS TRIAL IS IN SEPTEMBER.

THE JOINT READINESS TRAINING CENTER AT FORT POLK PLANS MEMORIAL DAY ACTIVITIES ON THURSDAY TO HONOR FALLEN MEMBERS OF THE ARMED FORCES. THE CEREMONIES ARE PLANNED FOR 9 A.M. AT WARRIOR MEMORIAL PARK. THE KEYNOTE SPEAKER IS RETIRED SGT. MAJOR OF THE ARMY BILL GATES.



News For Monday 05/21/12


NEWS FOR MONDAY 052112
BY DAVE GRAICHEN

A CRASH BETWEEN AN ATV AND A PICKUP TRUCK YESTERDAY AFTERNOON CLAIMED THE LIFE OF A DEVILLE MAN AND HIS SON AND THE INJURY OF ANOTHER CHILD. THE CRASH HAPPEN WHEN AN ATV BEING DRIVEN BY 39 YEAR OLD SCOTT KELLY STRUCK A PICKUP TRUCK ON HICKORY GROVE LOOP. KELLY WAS PRONOUNCED DEAD AT THE SCENE AS WAS 7 YEAR OLD DEVON KELLEY. AN 11 YEAR OLD JUVENILE WAS ALSO SERIOUSLY INJURED IN THE CRASH. NO ONE ON THE ATV WAS WEARING A HELMET.

LOUISIANA'S UNEMPLOYMENT RATE STOOD AT 7.1 PERCENT IN APRIL, UNCHANGED FROM MARCH, ACCORDING TO FRESH DATA FROM THE FEDERAL BUREAU OF LABOR STATISTICS.
THE SEASONALLY ADJUSTED FIGURES, THOUGH, REVEALED THAT OVERALL THE STATE'S UNEMPLOYMENT RATE HAS RISEN SINCE THE START OF THE YEAR. STILL, THE NUMBER OF PEOPLE UNEMPLOYED IN LOUISIANA DIPPED SLIGHTLY FROM MARCH. NEVADA HAS THE NATION'S WORST JOBLESS RATE, CREEPING UP TO 11.2 PERCENT IN APRIL. NORTH DAKOTA'S OIL-FUELED BOOM KEPT UNEMPLOYMENT THERE AT THE NATION'S LOWEST RATE, 3 PERCENT.

IT'S NATIONAL DOG BITE PREVENTION WEEK. THIS MIGHT NOT SEEM LIKE AN IMPORTANT ISSUE, BUT STATE FARM SAYS THEY PAID OVER 109-MILLION DOLLARS ON 38-HUNDRED DOG BITE CLAIMS IN 2011. THAT'S UP FROM THE 90-MILLION IN 2010. STATE FARM SPOKESPERSON GARY STEPHENSON SAYS THEY HAD 55 DOG BITE CLAIMS IN LOUISIANA LAST YEAR, WITH 1-POINT-3 MILLION DOLLARS PAID OUT. THE AVERAGE DOG BITE CLAIM IN LOUISIANA IN 2011 WAS 24-THOUSAND DOLLARS. STEPHENSON SAYS CHILDREN MAKE UP MORE THAN 60-PERCENT OF ALL DOG BITE VICTIMS.

LOUISIANA STATE POLICE BEGIN THEIR ANNUAL "CLICK IT OR TICKET" SEAT BELT CAMPAIGN TODAY. STATE HIGHWAY SAFETY COMMISSION EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR JOHN LEBLANC SAYS
127 LAW ENFORCEMENT AGENCIES ARE TEAMING UP FOR BEEFED-UP PATROLS, HIGHWAY CHECKPOINTS AND MORE, TO ENFORCE SEAT BELT USE BETWEEN TODAY AND JUNE 3RD. THE CAMPAIGN COVERS THE MEMORIAL DAY WEEKEND, AND LEBLANC SAYS THEY HAVE A GOAL OF ZERO TRAFFIC DEATHS RELATED TO FAILURE TO WEAR SEAT BELTS. LEBLANC SAYS SEAT BELT COMPLIANCE IS AT ABOUT 78-PERCENT IN LOUISIANA, BUT NOTHING LESS THAN 100% WILL DO. HE SAYS THIS YEAR'S "CLICK IT OR TICKET" CAMPAIGN WILL BE THE STATE'S LARGEST EVER, IN TERMS OF OFFICERS INVOLVED. STATE LAW REQUIRES THAT EVERYONE IN A MOVING MOTOR VEHICLE BE WEARING THEIR SEAT BELT.

THE UNIVERSITY OF LOUISIANA SYSTEM BOARD OF SUPERVISORS CANCELED A SPECIAL MEETING TODAY TO DISCUSS PENDING BUDGET CUTS TO THE STATE'S COLLEGES AND UNIVERSITIES. THE BOARD DECIDED TO POSTPONE THE MEETING WHILE THE SENATE IS STILL DEBATING THE BUDGET. UL SYSTEM PRESIDENT RANDY MOFFETT SAYS AS THE BUDGET STANDS NOW THE UL SYSTEM WILL LOSE NEARLY 106-MILLION DOLLARS, THIS YEAR, BRINGING TOTAL REDUCTIONS IN STATE FUNDING SINCE 2008 TO 293-MILLION. IN THE SAME TIME TOTAL REDUCTIONS IN STATE FUNDING FOR ALL HIGHER ED IS 585-MILLION DOLLARS. DEALING WITH ADDITIONAL CUTS TO THEIR BUDGET MEANS SOME SCHOOLS WILL
HAVE TO DECLARE WHAT AMOUNTS TO BANKRUPTCY. PAST LOSSES HAVE MEANT CUTTING 300 ACADEMIC PROGRAMS AND ELIMINATING 1300 POSITIONS. MOFFETT SAYS WHILE THEY HAVE TO PREPARE FOR THE WORST THEY STILL HOPE FOR A LAST MINUTE REPRIEVE.

STATE POLICE SAY A 62-YEAR-OLD SOUTH CAROLINA TRUCK DRIVER DROVE HIS BIG RIG THE WRONG WAY ON INTERSTATE 10 NEAR BREAUX BRIDGE WHILE HE WAS DRUNK. TROOPERS REPORT MARSHAL SMITH OF SOUTH CAROLINA WAS INVOLVED IN THREE HIT AND RUN ACCIDENTS BEFORE BEING STOPPED BY STATE POLICE USING SPIKE STRIPS ON THE ROADWAY. MIRACULOUSLY NO ONE WAS SERIOUSLY INJURED.

A FIRE GUTTED A LOUISIANA TECH UNIVERSITY FRATERNITY HOUSE ON SATURDAY, RESULTING IN MINOR INJURIES TO THREE FIREFIGHTERS BUT NONE TO STUDENTS. AUTHORITIES SAY THREE FIREFIGHTERS WERE TREATED AT NORTHERN LOUISIANA MEDICAL CENTER AND RELEASED. TWO SUFFERED FROM HEAT EXHAUSTION, WHILE A THIRD WAS HURT WHEN HE WAS ON STAIRS THAT GAVE WAY. THE HALF-DOZEN OR SO STUDENTS WHO WERE INSIDE THE BUILDING WERE ALL EVACUATED SAFELY.

A NEW ORLEANS LAWMAKER HAS SHELVED HIS PROPOSAL TO GIVE THE GOVERNOR THE AUTHORITY TO CALL IN THE LOUISIANA NATIONAL GUARD TO HELP POLICE THE CITY, WHICH HAS SEEN CONTINUED MURDER RATES HIGHER THAN IN OTHER LARGE MUNICIPALITIES.
DEMOCRATIC REP. AUSTIN BADON TOLD THE TIMES-PICAYUNE THAT HE GAVE UP ON THE BILL AFTER FACING RESISTANCE FROM THE GOVERNOR'S OFFICE. BADON PROPOSED TO LET THE GOVERNOR DECLARE A STATE OF EMERGENCY TO ACTIVATE THE NATIONAL GUARD WHEN THE MURDER RATE IN A CITY OF 200,000 PEOPLE OR MORE IS 45 HOMICIDES PER 100,000 RESIDENTS OR HIGHER. NEW ORLEANS EXCEEDED THAT RATE IN 2010 AND 2011. THE GOVERNOR WOULD HAVE DISCRETION ON WHETHER TO ENLIST THE NATIONAL GUARD'S HELP, SOMETHING THE GOVERNOR APPARENTLY DIDN’T WANT.

THE CITY OF YOUNGSVILLE WILL SPLIT FROM THE LAFAYETTE PARISH SCHOOL SYSTEM AND FORM ITS OWN DISTRICT IF THE SCHOOL BOARD CANNOT FIND THE MONEY TO BUILD A NEW SCHOOL THERE OR EXPAND EXISTING BUILDINGS TO RELIEVE CLASSROOM CROWDING.
A SPLIT WOULD DRAIN FUNDING FROM THE LAFAYETTE SYSTEM AND SEPARATE SOME HIGH-PERFORMING SCHOOLS THAT HELP THE DISTRICT'S OVERALL ACADEMIC RANKING. LAFAYETTE SCHOOLS SUPERINTENDENT PAT COOPER SAID THE SPLIT LIKELY WON'T HAPPEN BECAUSE HE WILL PUSH THE SCHOOL BOARD TO APPROVE NEW FACILITIES IN YOUNGSVILLE.

LONGTIME NATCHITOCHES MAYOR JOE SAMPITE (SAM' PIH TAY) HAS DIED. THE NATCHITOCHES CHAMBER OF COMMERCE MADE THE ANNOUNCEMENT FRIDAY. SAMPITE SERVED AS MAYOR IN NATCHITOCHES FROM 1980 TO 2000. ARRANGEMENTS, WHICH HAVEN'T BEEN ANNOUNCED YET, ARE UNDER THE DIRECTION OF BLANCHARD ST. DENIS FUNERAL HOME IN NATCHITOCHES.

THE LSU BASEBALL TIGERS ARE SEC REGULAR SEASON CHAMPIONS FOR THE 15TH TIME IN THE SCHOOL'S HISTORY. IT'S THE TIGERS FIRST OUTRIGHT SEC TITLE SINCE 2003. THE TEAMS THAT NEEDED TO LOSE, LOST ON SATURDAY AND LSU BEAT SOUTH CAROLINA 3-2 IN 10 INNINGS TO CLINCH THE CHAMPIONSHIP. LSU FINISHED THE REGULAR SEASON WITH A 42-19 RECORD, 19-AND-11 IN THE SOUTHEASTERN CONFERENCE. IT'S LIKELY THE TIGERS WILL RECEIVE A TOP EIGHT NATIONAL SEED WHEN THE NCAA TOURNAMENT BRACKET COMES OUT NEXT MONDAY.










News For Friday 05/18/12


NEWS FOR FRIDAY 051812
BY DAVE GRAICHEN

THE RAPIDES PARISH SHERIFF’S OFFICE HAS ARRESTED A BOYCE WOMAN AND HER BOYFRIEND FACE IN CONNECTION WITH THE DEATH OF THE WOMAN'S 21-MONTH-OLD CHILD. 24 YEAR OLD JAYMES HARRIS AND 20 YEAR OLD PORSHIA MILLER, EACH HAVE BEEN CHARGED WITH ONE COUNT OF SECOND-DEGREE MURDER. THE UNIDENTIFIED CHILD, WHO DIED TUESDAY, REPORTEDLY HAD INJURIES ALL OVER IT’S BODY.

A JURY ON THURSDAY FOUND JOSEPH ANTON CHEHARDY JR. GUILTY OF SECOND-DEGREE MURDER OF HIS WIFE, WHO WAS SHOT TO DEATH IN MAY 2010 AFTER CHEHARDY BEAT AND CHOKED HER WITH THE COUPLE'S BABY IN HER ARMS. THE JURY OF NINE WOMEN AND THREE MEN WERE UNANIMOUS IN THE DECISION THAT TOOK ABOUT 50 MINUTES OF DELIBERATION. THE SENTENCE IS MANDATORY LIFE IN PRISON FOR CHEHARDY.

STATE POLICE REPORT A GLENMORA WOMAN DIED THURSDAY IN A SINGLE-VEHICLE ACCIDENT ON LA. HIGHWAY 112 IN ALLEN PARISH. TROOPERS SAY 47-YEAR-OLD DONNA FEE LOST CONTROL AND RAN OFF THE ROAD. THE CAR THEN WENT INTO A DITCH ON THE OPPOSITE SIDE OF THE ROAD AND HIT A DRIVEWAY. FEE, WHO WASN'T WEARING A SEAT BELT, WAS EJECTED. SHE WAS PRONOUNCED DEAD AT THE SCENE.

A BLOC OF CONSERVATIVE REPUBLICANS IN THE HOUSE DIDN'T MUSTER ENOUGH SUPPORT THURSDAY TO STALL A BUDGET BILL THAT TAPS INTO ONE-TIME DOLLARS TO HELP PIECE TOGETHER SPENDING PLANS, GIVING THE SENATE A VEHICLE FOR RESTORING MONEY STRIPPED FROM NEXT YEAR'S OPERATING BUDGET. THE HOUSE VOTED 63-38 TO SEND THE BILL TO THE SENATE, RAISING QUESTIONS ABOUT WHETHER THE HOUSE GOP COALITION PUSHING FOR DEEPER CUTS WOULD HOLD TOGETHER IN NEGOTIATING A FINAL VERSION OF THE $25 BILLION BUDGET FOR THE NEW FISCAL YEAR THAT BEGINS JULY 1. THE REPUBLICAN JINDAL ADMINISTRATION AND OTHER LAWMAKERS ARGUE THAT REMOVING THE ONE-TIME MONEY WOULD FORCE STEEP CUTS TO PUBLIC COLLEGES AND HEALTH SERVICES.

THE BUDGET-CUTTING COALITION OF HOUSE REPUBLICANS FELL APART THURSDAY WHEN IT CAME TO THE SPENDING PLANS TO FINANCE THE LEGISLATURE. ONLY ABOUT HALF OF THE MEMBERS OF THE GROUP VOTED TO TRIM LEGISLATIVE SPENDING, KILLING THE IDEA.
THE $93 MILLION BILL TO FINANCE LEGISLATIVE AGENCIES (HOUSE BILL 1044) WAS ADVANCED TO THE SENATE WITH AN 81-21 WITHOUT THE REMOVAL OF $6.9 MILLION PROPOSED BY REP. LANCE HARRIS, R-ALEXANDRIA. HOUSE SPEAKER CHUCK KLECKLEY, R-LAKE CHARLES, ARGUED AGAINST ANY CUTS, SAYING THEY WOULD FORCE WIDESPREAD REDUCTIONS TO STAFF BECAUSE 85 PERCENT OF THE LEGISLATIVE BUDGET IS TIED TO SALARIES. HE NOTED THE HOUSE BUDGET HAS BEEN AT STANDSTILL FUNDING FOR SEVERAL YEARS EVEN AS RETIREMENT AND HEALTH INSURANCE COSTS RISE.

A BAN ON HAND-HELD CELL PHONE USE BY DRIVERS HIT A ROADBLOCK THURSDAY IN THE LOUISIANA SENATE. THE SENATE TRANSPORTATION COMMITTEE VOTED 2-1 AGAINST THE HOUSE-BACKED PROPOSAL, WHICH HAS REPEATEDLY FAILED TO GAIN TRACTION WITH STATE LAWMAKERS OVER THE YEARS. REP. AUSTIN BADON, D-NEW ORLEANS, SAID HE PROPOSED THE BILL AS A SAFETY MEASURE. HE SAID 10 OTHER STATES HAVE SIMILAR PROHIBITIONS. DRIVERS COULD USE A HANDS-FREE DEVICE TO TALK ON THE PHONE BEHIND THE WHEEL, UNDER BADON'S BILL. CRITICS SAID CELL PHONES AREN'T ANY MORE DANGEROUS THAN THINGS LIKE DRINKING COFFEE WHILE DRIVING, EATING WHILE DRIVING OR READING THE NEWSPAPER WHILE DRIVING.

INSPECTOR GENERAL STEPHEN STREET MADE A PITCH THURSDAY TO SAVE HIS GOVERNMENT WATCHDOG OFFICE, ASKING STATE SENATORS WHO ARE WORKING ON NEXT YEAR'S BUDGET TO RESTORE FUNDING TO KEEP HIS DOORS OPEN. THE HOUSE STRIPPED THE $1.7 MILLION FOR THE INSPECTOR GENERAL AND REMOVED REFERENCE TO THE OFFICE IN NEXT YEAR'S BUDGET FOR THE FISCAL YEAR THAT BEGINS JULY 1. THE SENATE FINANCE COMMITTEE IS COMBING THROUGH THE HOUSE VERSION OF THE BUDGET AND CONSIDERING WHERE TO MAKE CHANGES. STREET, A FORMER PROSECUTOR, DESCRIBED HIS OFFICE AS A STRONG FIGHTER AGAINST FRAUD AND CORRUPTION IN EXECUTIVE BRANCH AGENCIES, AND HE SUGGESTED HIS FUNDING WAS ELIMINATED BECAUSE HE WAS DOING HIS JOB TOO WELL BATTLING PUBLIC CORRUPTION.

GOV. BOBBY JINDAL'S PUSH TO CREATE A NEW, 401(K)-STYLE RETIREMENT PLAN FOR FUTURE RANK-AND-FILE STATE WORKERS IS NEARING FINAL LEGISLATIVE PASSAGE, HAVING RECEIVED SUPPORT FROM BOTH THE HOUSE AND THE SENATE. THE PROPOSAL (HOUSE BILL 61) BY REP. KEVIN PEARSON, R-SLIDELL, WOULD CREATE A CHEAPER INVESTMENT ACCOUNT SIMILAR TO A 401(K) PLAN FOR STATE EMPLOYEES HIRED AFTER JULY 1, 2013, INSTEAD OF A MONTHLY RETIREMENT PAYMENT BASED ON THEIR SALARIES AND YEARS OF EMPLOYMENT.
THE SENATE VOTED 23-11 FOR THE MEASURE, WHICH HEADS BACK TO THE HOUSE FOR APPROVAL OF SENATE CHANGES. SUPPORTERS SAID THE NEW SYSTEM WOULD HELP SHRINK THE GROWTH IN THE COSTS OF PENSION PROGRAMS.

BRIAN H. DOWNING, THE ALABAMA FAN SEEN ON A VIDEO APPARENTLY COMMITTING SEXUAL BATTERY ON AN UNCONSCIOUS LSU FAN AFTER THE BCS CHAMPIONSHIP FOOTBALL GAME, WAS INDICTED BY AN ORLEANS PARISH GRAND JURY THURSDAY. THE INDICTMENT AGAINST THE 32 YEAR OLD DOWNING FORMALLY CHARGES HIM WITH ONE COUNT EACH OF SEXUAL BATTERY OF A MALE VICTIM AND OBSCENITY. A VIDEO THAT WENT VIRAL ON THE INTERNET APPEARED TO SHOW SOMEONE IN A UNIVERSITY OF ALABAMA JACKET ABUSING AN UNCONSCIOUS LOUISIANA STATE UNIVERSITY FAN AFTER ALABAMA BEAT LSU FOR THE BCS FOOTBALL CHAMPIONSHIP, JAN. 9.

SUSPENDED SAINTS LINEBACKER JONATHAN VILMA FILED A DEFAMATION LAWSUIT THURSDAY AGAINST NFL COMMISSIONER ROGER GOODELL, CLAIMING THE LEAGUE'S TOP EXECUTIVE MADE FALSE STATEMENTS THAT TARNISHED VILMA'S REPUTATION AND HINDERED HIS ABILITY TO EARN A LIVING PLAYING FOOTBALL. THE SUIT IN U.S. DISTRICT COURT IN NEW ORLEANS CLAIMS GOODELL, "RELIED ON, AT BEST, HEARSAY, CIRCUMSTANTIAL EVIDENCE AND LIES" IN MAKING COMMENTS ABOUT VILMA WHILE DISCUSSING THE NFL'S BOUNTY INVESTIGATION OF THE NEW ORLEANS SAINTS.
GOODELL HAS SAID VILMA WAS A LEADER OF THE TEAM'S BOUNTY PROGRAM THAT PUT UP THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS FOR HITS WHICH TOOK OUT OPPOSING TEAMS' STAR PLAYERS FROM 2009-11

LOUISIANA LAWMAKERS SAID THURSDAY THAT THEY HAVE BROKERED AN AGREEMENT IN A DISPUTE BETWEEN THE OIL AND GAS INDUSTRY AND LANDOWNERS OVER HOW TO CLEAN UP ENVIRONMENTAL DAMAGE DONE IN DRILLING YEARS AGO. "THERE'S BEEN A COMPROMISE. IT WILL MOVE THROUGH THE PROCESS, AND WE WILL HAVE SOMETHING FOR THE GOVERNOR TO SIGN BEFORE THE END OF SESSION," SAID HOUSE SPEAKER CHUCK KLECKLEY, R-LAKE CHARLES. THE LEGISLATION WOULD CHANGE THE COMPLEX LEGAL PROCESS FOR DEALING WITH SO-CALLED "LEGACY LAWSUITS" THAT SEEK MILLIONS OF DOLLARS IN DAMAGE CLAIMS.
NATURAL RESOURCES SECRETARY SCOTT ANGELLE WORKED ON THE AGREEMENT FOR GOV. BOBBY JINDAL AND SAID IT WILL REQUIRE COMPANIES TO START CLEANING DAMAGED AREAS TO REGULATORY STANDARDS, WHILE OTHER, MORE EXTENSIVE DAMAGES CLAIMS CAN BE PURSUED IN THE COURTS.

LOUISIANA'S PROPERTY INSURER OF LAST RESORT RECEIVED PERMISSION THURSDAY TO SECURE A $75 MILLION CASH LINE OF CREDIT IN CASE A HURRICANE DAMAGES THE STATE, SINCE A PENDING LEGAL JUDGMENT AGAINST THE COMPANY COULD NEARLY DRAIN ITS BANK ACCOUNT. THE LOUISIANA CITIZENS PROPERTY INSURANCE CORP. HAS ABOUT $140 MILLION SET ASIDE IN AVAILABLE FUNDS, ENOUGH TO COVER THE $110 MILLION JUDGMENT AGAINST THE COMPANY AND OTHER PENDING CLAIMS THAT ARE ESTIMATED TO COST AS MUCH AS $30 MILLION. THE BOND COMMISSION AGREED WITHOUT OBJECTION TO ALLOW THE INSURER TO ESTABLISH THE CREDIT FOR A BANK LOAN IN CASE OF A CATASTROPHIC EVENT WHERE THE COMPANY WOULD NEED MILLIONS MORE TO PAY CLAIMS.

AUTHORITIES IN LOUISIANA SAY A MAN WHO STARRED IN THE REALITY TELEVISION SHOW "SWAMP PEOPLE" DIED FROM NATURAL CAUSES. ASCENSION PARISH SHERIFF JEFF WILEY SAYS THE PARISH CORONER, DR. JOHN FRAICHE, MADE THAT DETERMINATION AFTER A PRELIMINARY AUTOPSY ON MITCHELL GUIST. GUIST, WHO APPEARED IN SEGMENTS OF THE "SWAMP PEOPLE" WITH HIS BROTHER, GLENN, DIED AFTER COLLAPSING MONDAY WHILE WORKING ON A HOUSEBOAT HE WAS BUILDING ON BELLE RIVER. FUNERAL SERVICES ARE SCHEDULED FOR SATURDAY IN GONZALES.









News For Thursday 05/17/12


NEWS FOR THURSDAY 051712
BY DAVE GRAICHEN

TWO BILLS FOCUSED ON DETERRING PREGNANT WOMEN FROM GETTING ABORTIONS HAVE BEEN OVERWHELMINGLY APPROVED BY TWO LEGISLATIVE HEALTH COMMITTEES. SEN. SHARON WESTON BROOME SAID WEDNESDAY THAT HER PROPOSAL GIVES WOMEN THE OPPORTUNITY TO LISTEN TO A FETAL HEARTBEAT BEFORE AN ABORTION IS PERFORMED. THE MEASURE IS BASED ON A SIMILAR LAW PASSED LAST YEAR IN TEXAS. OPPONENTS SAY THE BILL OVERREACHES AND WOMEN SEEKING ABORTIONS HAVE ALREADY WEIGHED THEIR OPTIONS. ANOTHER BILL BY SENATE PRESIDENT JOHN ALARIO WOULD BAN ABORTION AFTER 20 WEEKS POST-FERTILIZATION, EXCEPTED IN LIMITED MEDICAL CASES, DECLARING THE FETUS CAN FEEL PAIN AT THAT POINT.

A HOUSE-PASSED BILL THAT WOULD BAN USING A HAND-HELD CELL PHONE WHILE DRIVING IS SCHEDULED TO GO BEFORE THE SENATE TRANSPORTATION COMMITTEE TODAY. BENTON SENATOR ROBERT ADLEY CHAIRS THAT COMMITTEE. HE SAYS THE BILL IS A MATTER OF PUBLIC SAFETY. THE BILL WOULD BE A PRIMARY OFFENSE, MEANING POLICE COULD STOP YOU IF THEY SEE YOU ON A HAND-HELD PHONE WHILE DRIVING.

AN ARBITRATOR HEARD ARGUMENTS WEDNESDAY FROM NFL AND PLAYERS UNION LAWYERS ON WHETHER COMMISSIONER ROGER GOODELL CAN DISCIPLINE PLAYERS FOR ACTIONS THAT OCCURRED BEFORE THE LEAGUE'S CURRENT LABOR AGREEMENT WAS SIGNED LAST AUGUST. THE HEARING DEALT WITH WHETHER AN AGREEMENT BETWEEN THE UNION AND THE LEAGUE AS PART OF LAST SUMMER'S LABOR NEGOTIATIONS PRECLUDED THE NFL FROM PUNISHING THE SAINTS PLAYERS IN THIS CASE. NO WORD AS TO WHEN A RULING MAY BE FORTHCOMING.

LOUISIANA'S LAWMAKERS DISAGREE OVER HOW TO CRAFT A NEW BAN ON BULLYING AT PUBLIC SCHOOLS. TWO DIFFERENT PROPOSALS ADVANCED WEDNESDAY IN THE HOUSE, ONE BY REP. PATRICIA SMITH, D-BATON ROUGE, THAT RECEIVED 71-16 BACKING ON THE HOUSE FLOOR AND ANOTHER BY SEN. RICK WARD, D-PORT ALLEN, THAT RECEIVED PASSAGE WITHOUT OBJECTION FROM THE HOUSE EDUCATION COMMITTEE. WARD'S PROPOSAL IS BACKED BY THE GOVERNOR'S OFFICE AND THE CONSERVATIVE LOUISIANA FAMILY FORUM. SMITH'S PROPOSAL IS BACKED BY SEVERAL GAY RIGHTS GROUPS, ADVOCATES FOR THE DISABLED, A TEACHERS UNION AND THE LOUISIANA CHAPTER OF THE NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF SOCIAL WORKERS.

A PROPOSAL THAT WOULD HAVE SET UP A BODY OF ELECTED AND APPOINTED OFFICIALS TO CRAFT THE HEALTH INSURANCE EXCHANGES THAT ANCHOR PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA'S HEALTH OVERHAUL HAS FAILED TO GAIN TRACTION IN THE LOUISIANA SENATE. THE SENATE FINANCE COMMITTEE DECISIVELY REJECTED THE PROPOSAL TUESDAY IN AN 8-1 VOTE. LOUISIANA REMAINS ONE OF A HANDFUL OF STATES THAT HAVE REFUSED TO SET UP THEIR OWN EXCHANGES. THE EXCHANGES WILL LAUNCH IN 2014, WITH PRIVATE INSURANCE FIRMS OFFERING INDIVIDUAL POLICIES TO AMERICANS WHO HAVE NOT BEEN ABLE TO PURCHASE POLICIES ON THE OPEN MARKET.

WELFARE RECIPIENTS WOULD BE UNABLE TO WITHDRAW THEIR ASSISTANCE AS CASH OR SPEND IT ON LIQUOR AND CIGARETTES, UNDER A HOUSE-APPROVED PROPOSAL SUPPORTED WEDNESDAY BY THE SENATE HEALTH AND WELFARE COMMITTEE. THE STATE SOCIAL SERVICES DEPARTMENT WOULD HAVE TO ENACT THE MEASURE BY FEBRUARY 2013, IF LAWMAKERS PASS THE BILL. THE MONEY CURRENTLY IS ALLOCATED ON AN ELECTRONIC BENEFITS CARD ISSUED TO WELFARE RECIPIENTS, WHICH FUNCTIONS LIKE A DEBIT CARD. THE PROPOSAL WOULD ELIMINATE THE ABILITY TO WITHDRAW THE MONEY AS CASH FOR SPENDING. THE SENATE PANEL VOTED 3-1 TO ADVANCE THE PROPOSAL TO THE FULL SENATE FOR DEBATE.

A BID TO ASK VOTERS IN EACH PARISH IF THEY WANT TO ENACT TERM LIMITS ON THEIR LOCAL SCHOOL BOARDS IS HEADED TO THE FULL SENATE FOR DEBATE. THE TERM LIMIT QUESTION WOULD APPEAR ON THE NOV. 6 BALLOT. IF APPROVED IN A PARISH, LOCAL SCHOOL BOARD MEMBERS THERE WOULD BE LIMITED TO THREE CONSECUTIVE FOUR-YEAR TERMS, LIKE STATE LAWMAKERS.

A PROPOSAL THAT WOULD GIVE LOUISIANA'S SHERIFFS A PAY RAISE OPPORTUNITY IS NEAR FINAL LEGISLATIVE PASSAGE. NEW ORLEANS SEN. J.P. MORRELL'S BILL WOULD CREATE AN "EXECUTIVE MANAGEMENT INSTITUTE" FOR SHERIFFS, TO TEACH THEM MANAGEMENT SKILLS AND REQUIRE ANNUAL FOLLOW-UP TRAINING. WHEN A SHERIFF HAS COMPLETED THE TRAINING, THE ELECTED OFFICIAL WOULD BE ABLE TO GET A PAY RAISE — IF LAWMAKERS HAVE APPROVED A SALARY BOOST FOR DISTRICT COURT JUDGES. THE HOUSE BACKED THE BILL IN A 91-1 VOTE WEDNESDAY, WITH NO DISCUSSION OF THE SALARY HIKE. NEW ORLEANS REP. JEFF ARNOLD DESCRIBED THE PROPOSAL AS ESTABLISHING THE FIRST STATEWIDE TRAINING FOR LOUISIANA'S SHERIFFS. THE MEASURE HEADS TO THE SENATE FOR APPROVAL OF A TECHNICAL CHANGE BEFORE GOING TO THE GOVERNOR.

A FEDERAL JUDGE HAS ENDED THE FEDERAL DESEGREGATION LAWSUIT AGAINST THE EVANGELINE PARISH SCHOOL BOARD, ENDING YEARS OF FEDERAL OVERSIGHT OF THE PUBLIC SCHOOL SYSTEM IN THE PARISH. THE DESEGREGATION CASE SPURRED MAJOR CHANGES OVER THE PAST DECADE, INCLUDING A 2004 SCHOOL CONSOLIDATION PLAN THAT CLOSED HIGH SCHOOLS IN THE RURAL COMMUNITIES OF VIDRINE, CHATAIGNIER AND BAYOU CHICOT. THE MAIN STICKING POINT IN RECENT YEARS HAD BEEN THE POOR CONDITION OF VILLE PLATTE HIGH SCHOOL, WHICH HAS A PREDOMINANTLY BLACK STUDENT POPULATION. THE BOARD HAS SPENT ABOUT $6.2 MILLION IN UPGRADES SINCE 2004 AND LAUNCHED SEVERAL ACADEMIC INITIATIVES THERE, INCLUDING A MAGNET PROGRAM AND ADVANCED PLACEMENT CLASSES. U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE TUCKER MELANCON TOLD BOARD MEMBERS WEDNESDAY THAT THE TURNAROUND AT THE SCHOOL HAS BEEN "REMARKABLE."

GOV. BOBBY JINDAL IS HEADED TO NORTH CAROLINA FOR A MEETING OF REPUBLICAN GOVERNORS. THE GOP GOVERNOR'S TRIP COMES AS THE STATE'S BUDGET IS MIRED IN DISPUTES, PIECES OF JINDAL'S AGENDA ARE STALLED IN THE WANING DAYS OF THE LEGISLATIVE SESSION AND LAWMAKERS ARE CRITICIZING THE GOVERNOR FOR ABSENTEEISM. JINDAL SPOKESMAN KYLE PLOTKIN SAID JINDAL WILL RETURN TO BATON ROUGE ON FRIDAY. PLOTKIN SAID JINDAL IS PARTICIPATING IN A REPUBLICAN GOVERNORS' ASSOCIATION POLICY SUMMIT.

A CALL ON CONGRESS TO STOP FUNDING PLANNED PARENTHOOD IS ONE STEP FROM FINAL LEGISLATIVE PASSAGE, AFTER NARROWLY RECEIVING THE BACKING OF THE SENATE HEALTH AND WELFARE COMMITTEE. REP. FRANK HOFFMANN, R-WEST MONROE, SAID HE SPONSORED THE PROPOSAL BECAUSE HE WANTS PLANNED PARENTHOOD TO STOP RECEIVING TAX DOLLARS UNTIL THEY STOP PROVIDING ABORTIONS, EVEN THOUGH PLANNED PARENTHOOD IS PROHIBITED FROM USING FEDERAL FUNDING TO PROVIDE ABORTIONS. IN LOUISIANA, PLANNED PARENTHOOD DOESN’T EVEN PROVIDE ABORTIONS. OPPONENTS OF THE LEGISLATION, WHICH ALREADY HAS HOUSE SUPPORT, SAID REMOVAL OF FEDERAL FUNDING FOR THE ORGANIZATION WOULD THREATEN HEALTH CARE FOR MILLIONS OF WOMEN WHO RELY ON PLANNED PARENTHOOD FOR BREAST AND CERVICAL CANCER SCREENINGS, HIV TESTING AND PREVENTIVE HEALTH CARE. THE COMMITTEE VOTED 3-2 TO SEND THE MEASURE TO THE FULL SENATE FOR DEBATE.

LIMITS WOULD BE SET ON THE NUMBER OF CREDIT HOURS IT TAKES MOST LOUISIANA PUBLIC COLLEGE STUDENTS TO GET A DEGREE, UNDER A BILL NEARING FINAL LEGISLATIVE PASSAGE. SEN. BEN NEVERS, D-BOGALUSA, SAID THE PROPOSAL (SENATE BILL 103) WOULD MAKE IT MORE LIKELY FOR STUDENTS TO GET OUT OF COLLEGE IN FOUR YEARS. THE SENATE-APPROVED MEASURE WOULD CAP THE REQUIREMENT AT 120 HOURS OF CREDIT. IT INCLUDES AN EXCEPTION FOR THOSE DEGREES THAT REQUIRE MORE COURSE HOURS UNDER CERTIFICATION RULES, LIKE ENGINEERING PROGRAMS. THE HOUSE EDUCATION COMMITTEE ADVANCED THE BILL TO THE FULL HOUSE FOR DEBATE WITHOUT OBJECTION.


SPORTS..

THE FOURTH RANKED LSU BASEBALL TEAM SEEKS AN SEC REGULAR SEASON TITLE WHEN THEY BEGIN A THREE-GAME SERIES AGAINST SOUTH CAROLINA TONIGHT. THE TIGERS ARE IN THIRD PLACE IN THE OVERALL LEAGUE STANDINGS, ONE GAME BACK OF FIRST-PLACE KENTUCKY AND A HALF-GAME BACK OF THE GAMECOCKS.

DREW BREES SAID IN A RADIO INTERVIEW WEDNESDAY NIGHT THAT HE IS FRUSTRATED BY WHAT HE VIEWS AS A LACK OF COMMUNICATION WITH THE NEW ORLEANS SAINTS IN HIS ONGOING CONTRACT NEGOTIATIONS, ADDING THE CLUB SHOULD HAVE SHOWN MORE URGENCY TO GET A LONG-TERM DEAL DONE. DURING HIS WWL INTERVIEW, BREES SAID. "IT'S BEEN EXTREMELY FRUSTRATING. AND THAT HE DIDN’T THINK THE NEGOTIATIONS SHOULD HAVE BEEN THIS DIFFICULT. GIVEN HIS LEADERSHIP ROLE AND HIS PERFORMANCE DURING HIS PAST SIX SEASONS, BREES SAID HE WOULD HOPE THE SAINTS WOULD MAKE HIS NEXT CONTRACT A TOP PRIORITY.








News For Wednesday 05/16/12


NEWS FOR WEDNESDAY 051612
BY DAVE GRAICHEN

THE STATE FIRE MARSHAL'S OFFICE IS INVESTIGATING A HOUSE FIRE THAT CLAIMED THE LIFE OF A VILLE PLATTE MAN. FIRE MARSHAL BUTCH BROWNING SAID IN A NEWS RELEASE THE VILLE PLATTE FIRE DEPARTMENT RESPONDED TO THE FIRE SHORTLY AFTER 2 A.M. TUESDAY. BROWNING SAYS FIREFIGHTERS ARRIVED MINUTES LATER TO DISCOVER THE HOME FULLY INVOLVED IN FLAMES. HE SAYS ONE PERSON IN THE HOUSE ESCAPED THE BLAZE AND FIREFIGHTERS LATER FOUND THE BODY OF 51-YEAR-OLD IRVING ANTOINE IN HIS BEDROOM.

TWO NORTH LOUISIANA LAWMAKERS ARE SCRAPPING THEIR ATTEMPT TO MAKE LSU'S SHREVEPORT CAMPUS A BRANCH OF LOUISIANA TECH UNIVERSITY. REPS. THOMAS CARMODY AND JIM FANNIN SAY THEY DON'T HAVE THE TWO-THIRDS SUPPORT TO GET THE MERGER PROPOSAL THROUGH THE LOUISIANA HOUSE, SO THEY AGREED TO SHELVE THE IDEA TUESDAY WITHOUT A VOTE. THE MERGER IDEA FACED OPPOSITION FROM LSU SYSTEM LEADERS, BUT SUPPORT FROM THE BOARD OF REGENTS THAT OVERSEES PUBLIC HIGHER EDUCATION ACROSS THE STATE. THE TWO CAMPUSES ARE 70 MILES APART. SUPPORTERS SAID THE CONSOLIDATION WOULD IMPROVE EDUCATION IN NORTHWEST LOUISIANA. IT WAS SUGGESTED BY A HIGHER EDUCATION CONSULTANT HIRED BY SHREVEPORT-BOSSIER CITY AREA BUSINESS LEADERS SEEKING TO EXPAND EDUCATIONAL OPPORTUNITIES IN THE STATE'S THIRD LARGEST METROPOLITAN AREA. OPPONENTS SAID LSU-SHREVEPORT NEEDS MORE RESOURCES, NOT A GOVERNANCE CHANGE.

HOUSE-APPROVED LEGISLATION GRANTING TAX REBATES TO CITIZENS OR COMPANIES WHO DONATE MONEY TO PUBLIC SCHOOLS IS HEADING TO THE SENATE FLOOR. UNDER MONROE REPRESENTATIVE KATRINA JACKSON'S BILL, TAXPAYERS CAN RECEIVE A REBATE IF THE CONTRIBUTION GOES TOWARDS IMPROVING PUBLIC EDUCATION. SHE SAYS THE AMOUNT OF THE REBATE IS BASED ON THE LETTER GRADE OF THE SCHOOL.

LOUISIANA TREASURER JOHN KENNEDY ACCUSED GOV. BOBBY JINDAL'S ADMINISTRATION TUESDAY OF USING SCARE TACTICS TO DRUM UP SUPPORT FOR RESTORING HUNDREDS OF MILLIONS OF DOLLARS TO NEXT YEAR'S BUDGET. IN A LETTER TO JINDAL, KENNEDY ASKED HIS FELLOW REPUBLICAN TO "STOP SCARING OUR HEALTH CARE AND HIGHER EDUCATION COMMUNITIES" ABOUT THE $268 MILLION STRIPPED FROM NEXT YEAR'S $25 BILLION BUDGET BY HOUSE GOP LAWMAKERS. THE TREASURER AGAIN PUSHED IDEAS HE HAS PROPOSED FOR THE LAST SEVERAL YEARS OF BUDGET REDUCTIONS. HE SAID THE STATE CAN ELIMINATE VACANT JOBS, REORGANIZE DEPARTMENTS, REDUCE CONSULTING CONTRACTS AND MORE AGGRESSIVELY COLLECT OUTSTANDING DEBTS OWED THE STATE, WHICH HE SAID WOULD CUT THE MONEY WITHOUT HARMING CRITICAL SERVICES.

THE LOUISIANA HOUSE OVERWHELMINGLY APPROVED PROPOSALS TO FORCE REDUCTIONS IN STATE WORKERS AND CONTRACTS, DESPITE OPPOSITION FROM THE JINDAL ADMINISTRATION. ONE PROPOSAL WOULD MANDATE THAT EXECUTIVE BRANCH AGENCIES CUT AT LEAST 5,000 JOBS EACH YEAR FOR THE NEXT THREE BUDGET YEARS AND WOULD REQUIRE A $500 MILLION ANNUAL SAVINGS FROM THE MOVE BY THE 2015-16 BUDGET YEAR.
THE SECOND MEASURE WOULD REQUIRE THE STATE TO SPEND 10 PERCENT LESS ON CONSULTING AND PROFESSIONAL SERVICES CONTRACTS NEXT YEAR. SUPPORTERS SAID THE PROPOSALS WOULD GENERATE SAVINGS AND COULD HELP PROTECT SERVICES FOR TAXPAYERS. THE GOVERNOR'S BUDGET OFFICE HAS CALLED THE PROPOSALS ARBITRARY AND UNWORKABLE. THE PROPOSALS HEAD NEXT TO THE SENATE FOR DEBATE.

THE LOUISIANA HOUSE HAS AGREED TO REQUIRE DRUG TESTING OF WELFARE RECIPIENTS, AMID CHARGES FROM OPPONENTS THAT THE MANDATE EQUALS CLASS WARFARE BY TARGETING POOR MOTHERS. THE PROPOSAL WAS SENT TO THE SENATE WITH A 65-26 VOTE.
THE BILL HAS BEEN REPEATEDLY REJECTED IN RECENT YEARS. REPUBLICAN REP. SHERMAN MACK'S BILL WOULD REQUIRE 20 PERCENT OF ADULTS WHO RECEIVE AID THROUGH THE FAMILY INDEPENDENCE TEMPORARY ASSISTANCE PROGRAM TO BE DRUG-TESTED. ANYONE WHO TESTS POSITIVE WOULD BE REQUIRED TO RECEIVE DRUG TREATMENT TO CONTINUE GETTING WELFARE. SUPPORTERS SAY THEY WANT TO MAKE SURE WELFARE CHECKS PAY FOR FAMILY NEEDS. OPPONENTS SAY THE PROPOSAL UNFAIRLY ASSUMES POOR MOTHERS ARE MORE LIKELY TO BE ON DRUGS THAN OTHERS WHO RECEIVE TAXPAYER-FUNDED AID.

A BID BY LOUISIANA HIGHER EDUCATION LEADERS TO BOOST CHARGES ON COLLEGE STUDENTS STALLED TUESDAY AFTER FACING RESISTANCE FROM HOUSE LAWMAKERS WHO QUESTIONED IF STUDENTS AND FAMILIES COULD AFFORD ANOTHER FEE HIKE. REP. CHRIS BROADWATER SHELVED HIS FEE INCREASE BILL IN THE HOUSE EDUCATION COMMITTEE, LIKELY DOOMING THE PUSH FOR HIGHER COLLEGE STUDENT FEES FOR THE LEGISLATIVE SESSION. THE PROPOSAL COULD HAVE RAISED AS MUCH AS $107 MILLION A YEAR FOR CAMPUSES THAT FACE BUDGET CUTS OF UP TO $225 MILLION IN THE COMING FISCAL YEAR, ON TOP OF SEVERAL YEARS OF MULTIMILLION-DOLLAR REDUCTIONS THAT HAVE ONLY BEEN PARTIALLY OFFSET WITH TUITION INCREASES.

A $3.9 BILLION, MULTI-YEAR STATE CONSTRUCTION BUDGET STARTED ADVANCING TUESDAY IN THE LEGISLATURE, GETTING ANOTHER $32 MILLION IN PROJECTS ADDED BY THE HOUSE WAYS AND MEANS COMMITTEE BEFORE APPROVAL. LOUISIANA HAS A CAP ON ANNUAL BORROWING THAT LIMITS SPENDING ON CONSTRUCTION PROJECTS TO $350 MILLION IN THE FISCAL YEAR THAT BEGINS JULY 1. THE JINDAL ADMINISTRATION PROPOSED A LIST OF PROJECTS TO USE UP ALL THAT CAPACITY AND MORE, WHEN SUBMITTING THE BILL (HOUSE BILL 2) TO LAWMAKERS. AS BACKED BY THE HOUSE PANEL, THE BUDGET CONTAINS $40 MILLION MORE THAN THE STATE HAS MONEY TO SPEND. THAT LEAVES THE GOVERNOR'S OFFICE TO DETERMINE WHICH PROJECTS WOULD BE SUBMITTED TO THE STATE BOND COMMISSION FOR LINES OF CREDIT. THE "CAPITAL OUTLAY" BILL ALSO INCLUDES FEDERAL HIGHWAY MONEY AND OTHER FUNDING SOURCES SET ASIDE FOR STATE CONSTRUCTION.

FAILURE TO REPORT THE SEXUAL ABUSE OF A CHILD COULD LAND SOMEONE IN JAIL, UNDER A BILL (HOUSE BILL 577) HEADED TO THE GOVERNOR. THE MEASURE, INSPIRED BY THE PENN STATE SEX ABUSE SCANDAL, WILL CARRY A PENALTY OF UP TO THREE YEARS IN PRISON FOR A "MANDATORY REPORTER" DESCRIBED IN LAW NOT TO NOTIFY AUTHORITIES OF THE ABUSE. THE MEASURE BY REP. JOE LOPINTO, R-METAIRIE, ALSO REQUIRES THAT ANY ADULT WHO WITNESSES THE SEXUAL ABUSE OF A CHILD AND FAILS TO REPORT IT CAN BE IMPRISONED FOR UP TO FIVE YEARS.

STATE LAWMAKERS HAVE AGREED TO CREATE A NEW SPECIALIZED LICENSE PLATE IN LOUISIANA TO HELP DRUM UP MONEY FOR HONEYBEE RESEARCH. THE "PROTECT THE HONEYBEE" LICENSE TAG WILL BE DESIGNED BY THE NORTH LIVE OAK ELEMENTARY SCHOOL OF WATSON AND THE LOUISIANA BEEKEEPERS ASSOCIATION. THE MONEY GENERATED BY THE BILL (HOUSE BILL 234) WILL PAY FOR SCHOLARSHIPS FOR GRADUATE STUDENTS WORKING ON HONEYBEE RESEARCH, UNDER THE MEASURE HEADED TO THE GOVERNOR'S DESK WITH A FINAL VOTE FROM THE HOUSE.

FACEBOOK AND OTHER SOCIAL NETWORKING SITES ARE AGAIN OFF-LIMITS FOR A LIST OF CERTAIN SEX OFFENDERS IN LOUISIANA. A SIMILAR PREVIOUS LAW WAS DECLARED UNCONSTITUTIONAL BY A FEDERAL JUDGE, SO LAWMAKERS REWROTE THE PROVISION, HOPING TIGHTENED LANGUAGE COULD STAND UP TO JUDICIAL SCRUTINY. THE HOUSE GAVE FINAL PASSAGE TO THE REWRITE TUESDAY WITH A 93-0 VOTE THAT SENT IT TO THE GOVERNOR, WHO SUPPORTS THE MEASURE.

IF YOU DECIDE TO GET YOUR HAIR DONE, DON’T SCHEDULE IT WHEN YOU’RE A POTENTIAL JUROR IN JUDGE THOMAS YEAGER’S COURTROOM. STATE DISTRICT JUDGE THOMAS YEAGER SENTENCED LAMAR HUNTER TO SEVEN DAYS IN JAIL FOR CONTEMPT OF COURT. HUNTER WAS AMONG 15 RAPIDES PARISH RESIDENTS ON THE FIRST PANEL OF A JURY POOL IN THE SECOND-DEGREE MURDER TRIAL OF JOSEPH ANTON CHEHARDY JR. JURORS WERE INSTRUCTED TO RETURN FROM THE LUNCH BREAK NO LATER THAN 1:30. WHEN HE WALKED IN AT 2:45 HE TOLD THE JUDGE HE WAS AT WORK. JUDGE YEAGER CHECKED. THE JUDGE WAS NOT AMUSED TO FIND OUT HUNTER WAS GETTING A NEW DO..

News For Tuesday 05/15/12


NEWS FOR TUESDAY 051512
BY DAVE GRAICHEN

POLITICAL BLACKMAIL, SOME LAWMAKERS ARE SAYING IT IS. HIGHER EDUCATION AND HEALTH CARE LEADERS OUTLINED DIRE CONSEQUENCES TO SENATORS MONDAY OF THE $25 BILLION BUDGET PROPOSAL PASSED BY THE HOUSE FOR NEXT YEAR. THE PLAN CONTAINS $268 MILLION LESS IN STATE FUNDING THAN WHAT WAS SOUGHT BY GOV. BOBBY JINDAL. HEALTH AND HOSPITALS SECRETARY BRUCE GREENSTEIN SAID HE'D CLOSE CENTRAL STATE HOSPITAL IN PINEVILLE, STRIP STATE FUNDING FOR SCHOOL-BASED HEALTH CENTERS, ELIMINATE AN ADDICTIVE DISORDER TREATMENT PROGRAM AND SHUT DOWN AN EARLY INTERVENTION PROGRAM FOR CHILDREN. MAJOR CUTS WOULD ALSO BE MADE TO EDUCATION. THE JINDAL ADMINISTRATION IS HOPING THE SENATE WILL RESTORE THE SLIGHTLY MORE THAN 1% OF THE FUNDING, WHICH WAS STRIPPED BY GOP LAWMAKERS IN THE HOUSE WHO DIDN'T WANT TO USE ONE-TIME MONEY TO PAY FOR CONTINUING EXPENSES AND PROGRAMS IN THE BUDGET YEAR BEGINNING JULY 1.

JINDAL ADMINISTRATION OFFICIALS AND HIGHER ED LEADERS WENT BEFORE THE SENATE FINANCE COMMITTEE MONDAY TO EXPRESS THEIR CONCERNS ABOUT RECENT CUTS MADE TO THE PROPOSED BUDGET. HOUSE GOP LAWMAKERS CUT 268-MILLION DOLLARS IN ONE-TIME MONEY BEFORE APPROVING IT. JINDAL'S BUDGET ANALYST PAUL RAINWATER SAYS THE ONE-TIME DOLLARS HELP PREVENT STEEP CUTS. BUT, HOUSE GOP LAWMAKERS ARGUE THE ONE-TIME MONEY CAN BE REMOVED FROM THE BUDGET, WHILE NOT MAKING DEEP CUTS TO CRITICAL SERVICES. THEY SAY THE JINDAL ADMINISTRATION SHOULD LOOK AT REDUCING STATE TRAVEL, VACANT JOBS AND IMPLEMENT STATE WORKER FURLOUGHS. DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HOSPITALS SECRETARY BRUCE GREENSTEIN SAYS WITHOUT THE 268-MILLION DOLLARS, DEEP CUTS WILL BE MADE IN HEALTH CARE SERVICES...

AT IT’S MEETING YESTERDAY THE RAPIDES PARISH POLICE JURY AUTHORIZED TAKING BIDS FOR A NUMBER OF LEVEE REPAIR PROJECTS. THE JURY, WITH THE COOPERATION OF LOCAL MUNICIPALITIES, EARMARKED MORE THAN $16 MILLION IN FEDERAL DISASTER RELIEF FUNDS FOR THE NEEDED WORK. WHEN THE FEDERAL EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT AGENCY DE-ACCREDITED LEVEES ON THE RIVER, HOMEOWNERS AND BUSINESSES WERE FACED WITH HAVING TO PURCHASE COSTLY FEDERAL FLOOD INSURANCE. FEMA HAS SINCE BACKED OFF, DELAYING THE ENACTMENT OF NEW MAPS, BUT THE JURY STILL IS MOVING AHEAD WITH REPAIR WORK..

A PROPOSAL TO PRIVATIZE THE AVOYELLES PARISH PRISON APPEARS DEAD FOR THE SESSION. HAUGHTON REPRESENTATIVE HENRY BURNS SAYS IT'S LIKELY HE WON'T MOVE FORWARD WITH A BILL TO HIRE A PRIVATE COMPANY TO RUN THE CORRECTIONAL CENTER. SENATE PRESIDENT JOHN ALARIO ALSO HAS A BILL TO PRIVATIZE THE AVOYELLES PARISH PRISON, BUT THE LEGISLATION HAS YET TO BE HEARD IN A SENATE COMMITTEE.

LOUISIANA RANKS AMONG THE TOP FIVE "FRIENDLIEST STATES" FOR SMALL BUSINESS, ACCORDING TO A SURVEY BY "THUMBTACK.COM" THE REPORT GIVES OUR STATE A AND A+ GRADES FOR EASE OF STARTING A BUSINESS, ZONING AND MORE. THE SURVEY OF 6000 BUSINESSES COAST-TO-COAST WAS DONE IN PARTNERSHIP WITH THE KAUFFMAN FOUNDATION. IT GIVES LOUISIANA A GRADES FOR TRAINING PROGRAMS, REGULATIONS AND HEALTH & SAFETY. LOUISIANA RANKS #5 OF 50 STATES IN THE SURVEY. THE SURVEY DID GIVE OUR STATE A D GRADE FOR "HIRING COSTS.

AN ACCIDENT YESTERDAY MORNING IN ST. MARTIN PARISH HAS CLAIMED THE LIFE OF ONE OF THE STARS OF THE POPULAR HISTORY CHANNEL SHOW SWAMP PEOPLE. ASSUMPTION PARISH SHERIFF MIKE WAGUESPACK SAYS MITCHELL GUIST WAS LOADING SOMETHING ONTO A BOAT ON THE BELLE RIVER WHEN FELL BACKWARDS INTO THE BOAT. A WITNESS IMMEDIATELY TOOK THE BOAT TO THE DOCK AND CALLED 911, HOWEVER, GUIST WAS PRONOUNCED DEAD A SHORT TIME LATER AT A LOCAL HOSPITAL. THE CAUSE OF DEATH HAS NOT YET BEEN DETERMINED. GUIST WOULD HAVE BEEN 49 THIS WEEK.

IF YOU HAVE A BUSINESS IDEA THAT YOU WOULD LIKE TO GET OFF THE GROUND, THIS MAY BE WHAT YOU ARE LOOKING FOR. A STARTUP WEEKEND WILL BE HELD FOR THE FIRST TIME IN CENTRAL LOUISIANA OVER THE WEEKEND OF JUNE 1-3, AND REGISTRATION IS OPEN NOW. THE WORKSHOP, A 54-HOUR EVENT WHERE PARTICIPANTS TRANSFORM IDEAS PRESENTED FRIDAY NIGHT INTO START-UP COMPANIES BY SUNDAY NIGHT, IS LIMITED TO 100 PEOPLE. REGISTRATION IS OPEN AT WWW.CENTRALLOUISIANASTARTUPWEEKEND.ORG

TOMORROW NIGHT IS A BIG NIGHT FOR WESTLAKE'S JOSHUA LEDET ON AMERICAN IDOL AS HE'LL COMPETE FOR A SPOT IN THE FINALE ON THE HOMECOMING SHOW. LEDET IS COMING OFF A HUGE HOMETOWN CELEBRATION THIS WEEKEND IN WESTLAKE. MAYOR DAN CUPIT SAYS JOSH'S SUCCESS ON THE SHOW HAS BROUGHT HIS COMMUNITY TOGETHER IN A BIG WAY. CUPIT SAYS YOU COULDN'T HAVE HAND PICKED A BETTER PERSON THAN JOSH TO REPRESENT OUR STATE TO AMERICAN IDOL'S NATIONAL AUDIENCE. SOUTHWEST LOUISIANA WILL GET NATIONAL EXPOSURE ON TOMORROW NIGHT'S FOX SHOW THAT AIRS AT 7PM.

GAS PRICES IN LOUISIANA HAVE BEEN NICE TO YOUR WALLETS LATELY. THE CURRENT STATEWIDE AVERAGE FOR A GALLON OF REGULAR GASOLINE IS $3.54 WHICH IS JUST OVER 25-CENTS LESS THAN DRIVERS WERE PAYING A MONTH AGO. AMERICAN AUTOMOBILE ASSOCIATION FUEL ANALYST DON REDMAN SAYS IT'S LIKELY THE PRICE AT THE PUMP WILL CONTINUE TO FALL. REDMAN SAYS THE US DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY HAD ORIGINALLY PREDICTED IN THE SHORT TERM THAT THE NATIONAL AVERAGE GAS PRICE FOR THIS SUMMER WAS GOING TO BE NEAR $4.00. HE SAYS THAT LOOKS NOW TO NOT BE THE CASE.. HE PREDICTS THE AVERAGE STATE GAS PRICE FOR THE SUMMER WILL REMAIN AROUND $3.50 AND AROUND $3.70 NATIONALLY.

A JEANERETTE BOAT COMPANY WILL MORE THAN DOUBLE ITS WORKFORCE, AFTER LANDING A BIG CONTRACT TO BUILD BOATS FOR THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT. MATTHEW UNGER, WITH METAL SHARK BOATS, SAYS THEY WON $192-MILLION CONTRACT WITH THE U.S. COAST GUARD. UNGER SAYS METAL SHARK WILL BUILD 500 COAST GUARD "RESPONSE BOATS" OVER THE NEXT SEVEN YEARS, AND SO WILL HIRE ABOUT 100 NEW WORKERS. HE SAYS THE COMPANY IS HOLDING A JOB FAIR THIS WEEK FOR APPLICANTS. UNGER SAYS THE JOB FAIR IS THIS FRIDAY, AT SOUTH LOUISIANA COMMUNITY COLLEGE IN NEW IBERIA. HE SAYS THEY ARE LOOKING FOR WELDERS, FITTERS, MARINE MECHANICS & ELECTRICIANS AND GENERAL SHOP HANDS. INFORMATION IS ONLINE AT WWW.METALSHARKBOATS.COM

THE SENATE APPROVES A BILL THAT CALLS FOR STATE WORKERS TO PAY TWO PERCENT MORE FOR THEIR RETIREMENT, BUT IT COULD BE A FEW YEARS BEFORE THE INCREASE WILL GO INTO EFFECT. THE BILL'S AUTHOR, OPELOUSAS SENATOR ELBERT GUILLORY, AMENDED THE BILL SO THAT STATE EMPLOYEES WILL NOT PAY MORE TOWARDS THEIR RETIREMENT, UNTIL THEY GET A MERIT PAY RAISE. IT'S UNCLEAR WHEN STATE WORKERS WILL RECEIVE ANOTHER MERIT PAY HIKE. MOST STATE EMPLOYEES HAVEN'T SEEN SUCH A RAISE IN THE LAST TWO OR THREE YEARS, BECAUSE OF TOUGH BUDGET TIMES. THE MEASURE HEADS TO THE HOUSE FOR FURTHER DEBATE.

THE STATE SENATE GAVE FINAL LEGISLATIVE APPROVAL FOR A TAX BREAK OF NEARLY 37-MILLION DOLLARS TO THE NEW ORLEANS HORNETS. THE LEGISLATION IS A CRITICAL PIECE OF A PROPOSED LONG-TERM DEAL TO KEEP THE NBA TEAM IN LOUISIANA THROUGH THE 2024 SEASON. SENATE PRESIDENT JOHN ALARIO SAYS THE BILL WILL ACTUALLY SAVE THE STATE MONEY. BY PROVIDING A TAX BREAK, THE STATE WILL BE RELIEVED OF GIVING THE HORNETS AN ANNUAL SUBSIDY. THE MEASURE PASSED ON A 28-7 VOTE. OPPONENTS SAY THE STATE CAN'T AFFORD TO GIVE A PROFESSIONAL FRANCHISE A TAX REBATE. BUT ALARIO SAYS THE HORNETS PROVIDES THE STATE WITH JOBS AND TAX REVENUE.

THE DEPARTMENT OF ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT WILL BE ABLE TO CONTINUE SHIELDING RECORDS FROM PUBLIC VIEW, IF THE DOCUMENTS ARE INVOLVED IN ACTIVE NEGOTIATIONS TO ATTRACT OR KEEP COMPANIES TO LOUISIANA. A BILL (HOUSE BILL 208) BY REP. ERICH PONTI, R-BATON ROUGE, TO EXTEND THE PUBLIC RECORDS EXEMPTION INDEFINITELY RECEIVED FINAL LEGISLATIVE PASSAGE MONDAY WITH A UNANIMOUS HOUSE VOTE. THE EXEMPTION HAD BEEN SET TO EXPIRE THIS YEAR. ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT SECRETARY STEPHEN MORET HAS SAID THE SECRECY IS NEEDED TO COMPETE WITH OTHER STATES FOR PROJECTS. PONTI'S BILL HEADS TO THE DESK OF THE GOVERNOR, WHO SUPPORTS IT.

COLLECTIVE BARGAINING AGREEMENTS WILL HAVE TO BE MADE AVAILABLE TO THE PUBLIC ONLINE FOR AT LEAST FIVE DAYS BEFORE IT CAN BE APPROVED BY A GOVERNMENT AGENCY.
THE PROPOSAL (HOUSE BILL 89) BY REP. TONY LIGI, R-KENNER, RECEIVED FINAL LEGISLATIVE PASSAGE WITH A 92-0 HOUSE VOTE MONDAY. LIGI HAD INITIALLY PROPOSED A MORE SWEEPING BILL THAT WOULD HAVE OPENED COLLECTIVE BARGAINING NEGOTIATIONS BETWEEN LOCAL GOVERNMENT AGENCIES AND LABOR UNIONS TO THE PUBLIC. BUT THAT IDEA RAN INTO COMPLAINTS FROM UNIONS THAT NEGOTIATE FOR FIREFIGHTERS, POLICE OFFICERS AND TEACHERS.

FEMALE GENITAL MUTILATION WILL BE AN OUTLAWED CRIME IN LOUISIANA. THE BILL (HOUSE BILL 759) BY REP. NANCY LANDRY, R-LAFAYETTE, WAS SENT TO THE GOVERNOR'S DESK WITH A 92-0 VOTE FROM THE HOUSE. LANDRY SAID THE PRACTICE, WHICH USUALLY INVOLVES THE REMOVAL OF THE CLITORIS, IS BANNED BY 18 STATES AND BY THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT. THE CRIME WOULD CARRY A PRISON SENTENCE OF UP TO 15 YEARS.

SOLDIERS WHO RE-ENLIST IN THE MILITARY WILL REMAIN ELIGIBLE FOR THE STATE'S FREE COLLEGE TUITION PROGRAM CALLED TOPS IF THEY MET THE REQUIREMENTS WHEN THEY GRADUATED HIGH SCHOOL. THE SENATE GAVE FINAL PASSAGE TO THE CHANGE (HOUSE BILL 945) THAT WILL ALLOW THE SOLDIERS TO BE ELIGIBLE FOR THE TUITION AID WITHIN ONE YEAR OF LEAVING THE MILITARY.

SPORTS..

THE SAINTS' REVAMPED COACHING STAFF SAID MONDAY THAT THEY ARE GOING TO HAVE TO GET USE TO THE HUGE VOID LEFT BY SEAN PAYTON'S SUSPENSION FOR HIS ROLE IN THE TEAM'S BOUNTY SYSTEM. THEY ALSO MIGHT HAVE TO GET USE TO LIFE WITHOUT DREW BREES. INTERIM COACH JOE VITT AND THE REST OF THE COACHING STAFF MET WITH REPORTERS MONDAY FOLLOWING THE TEAM'S ROOKIE MINICAMP, DURING WHICH 64 NEWCOMERS PRACTICED FIVE TIMES FROM FRIDAY TO SUNDAY. BREES, STILL REMAINS UNSIGNED AFTER THE SAINTS PUT THE FRANCHISE TAG ON HIM IN MARCH. THE LAST DAY HE CAN SIGN A LONG-TERM CONTRACT WITH THE TEAM IS JULY 16, AND AN AGREEMENT IS UNLIKELY BEFORE THE TEAM'S FIRST FULL-SQUAD OFFSEASON PRACTICE NEXT TUESDAY.
THE ONLY SIGNED QUARTERBACKS ON THE ROSTER ARE CHASE DANIEL AND SEAN CANFIELD.

THE LOUISIANA LEGISLATURE IS ASKING THE NFL TO RECONSIDER THE PENALTIES IMPOSED ON THE NEW ORLEANS SAINTS BECAUSE OF ITS BOUNTY PROGRAM. THE FORMAL REQUEST RECEIVED FINAL LEGISLATIVE PASSAGE WITH A 28-1 SENATE VOTE MONDAY. IN THE RESOLUTION, LAWMAKERS SAY THERE IS "WIDESPREAD PUBLIC OPINION THROUGHOUT THE STATE OF LOUISIANA AND BEYOND THAT THE PENALTIES IMPOSED UPON THE SAINTS ARE TOO HARSH AND SHOULD BE RECONSIDERED."








News For Monday 05/14/12


NEWS FOR MONDAY 051312
BY DAVE GRAICHEN

MOTHER NATURE COOPERATED SATURDAY FOR THE ORGANIZERS AND TEAMS TAKING PART IN THE DRAGON BOAT RACES ON THE RED RIVER. HUNDREDS OF PEOPLE LINED THE BANKS OF THE RIVER TO SUPPORT THEIR FRIENDS AND FAMILIES WHO MADE UP THE 41 BOAT TEAMS. THE EVENT, IN ITS SECOND YEAR, BENEFITED THE ALEXANDRIA MUSEUM OF ART.

IT'S THE SENATE'S TURN TO HAGGLE OVER THE PROPOSED 25-BILLION DOLLAR SPENDING PLAN FOR THE FISCAL YEAR THAT STARTS JULY 1ST. THE STATE HOUSE APPROVED THE BUDGET LAST FRIDAY, BUT TOOK 278-MILLION DOLLARS IN ONE-TIME FUNDING OUT. HOUSE APPROPRIATIONS CHAIRMAN JIM FANIN SAYS THE LOSS OF THESE DOLLARS WILL MEAN MORE DRASTIC CUTS TO STATE SERVICES. FISCAL CONSERVATIVES ARGUED FOR THE REMOVAL OF THE ONE-TIME DOLLARS AND THEY WERE ABLE TO PASS AN AMENDMENT THAT LEAVES IT UP TO THE JINDAL ADMINISTRATION ON WHERE THE CUTS WILL BE MADE. THE STATE SENATE IS EXPECTED TO AMEND THE BUDGET. LAWMAKERS HAVE UNTIL JUNE 4TH TO APPROVE A SPENDING PLAN.

SEVERAL CENTRAL LOUISIANA LAWMAKERS AUTHORED AN AMENDMENT TO THE STATE BUDGET BILL THAT WOULD KEEP DABADIE CORRECTIONAL CENTER IN PINEVILLE OPEN. IT IS EXPECTED THE GOVERNOR’S ADMINISTRATION WILL DO IT’S BEST TO SEE IT STRIPPED FROM THE FINAL BILL.

SECRETARY OF STATE TOM SCHEDLER AND THE STATE'S REGISTRARS OF VOTERS ARE ENCOURAGING ALL LOUISIANA RESIDENTS WHO ARE AT LEAST 17 YEARS OLD TO REGISTER TO VOTE, IF THEY'RE NOT ALREADY REGISTERED. LOUISIANA'S ANNUAL VOTER REGISTRATION WEEK BEGINS TODAY. REGISTRARS THROUGHOUT THE STATE WILL HOST REGISTRATION EVENTS THROUGH FRIDAY. THEY ALSO WILL EDUCATE RESIDENTS ABOUT THE ELECTIONS PROCESS, INCLUDING PROVIDING INFORMATION ON THIS FALL'S ELECTIONS.
THE DEADLINE TO REGISTER TO VOTE FOR THE NOV. 6 CONGRESSIONAL AND PRESIDENTIAL OPEN PRIMARY IS TUESDAY, OCT. 9. CITIZENS CAN ALSO REGISTER ONLINE AT WWW.GEAUXVOTE.COM , AT THE OFFICE OF MOTOR VEHICLES, THROUGH PUBLIC ASSISTANCE AGENCIES, PUBLIC SCHOOLS, COLLEGES AND LIBRARIES; OR BY MAIL.

LOUISIANA STATE POLICE SAY 26-YEAR-OLD TWINS FROM ST. JOHN THE BAPTIST PARISH DIED WHEN THEIR CAR SWERVED ACROSS U.S. 61 AND FLIPPED INTO A BAYOU. STATE POLICE SAY THE BODIES OF THE TWO MEN WERE FOUND SHORTLY AFTER THEIR VEHICLE WAS PULLED FROM THE BAYOU SUNDAY. THE MEN HAD BEEN MISSING SINCE SATURDAY MORNING.

AS THE SUMMER VACATION DRIVING SEASON APPROACHES, STATE HIGHWAY SAFETY OFFICIALS ARE URGING YOU TO BE SURE TO FASTEN YOUR SAFETY BELT. LOUISIANA HIGHWAY SAFETY COMMISSIONER JOHN LEBLANC SAYS 15 PEOPLE DIED IN TRAFFIC CRASHES DURING THE LAST MEMORIAL DAY WEEKEND, AND ABOUT HALF OF THEM MAY HAVE LIVED IF THEY'D BEEN BELTED IN. LEBLANC SAYS SEAT BELTS DOUBLE YOUR CHANCES OF SURVIVING A SERIOUS TRAFFIC CRASH. LAW ENFORCEMENT IN LOUISIANA WILL LAUNCH ITS ANNUAL "CLICK IT OR TICKET" SEAT BELT CAMPAIGN & CRACKDOWN A WEEK FROM TODAY.

SOUTHWEST LOUISIANA WAS GOING WILD THIS WEEKEND WHEN AMERICAN IDOL BROUGHT TOP 3 FINALIST JOSHUA LEDET BACK TO WESTLAKE TO GET FOOTAGE FOR THIS WEDNESDAY'S HOMECOMING SHOW. A PARADE WAS HELD WITH JOSH ON SATURDAY IN WESTLAKE AND THE STREETS WERE PACKED. HE ALSO PERFORMED AT A SOLD-OUT CONCERT THAT NIGHT WHERE LT. GOVERNOR JAY DARDENNE SURPRISED HIM WITH PAPERS NAMING JOSH AMBASSADOR OF LOUISIANA.

TERMITES ARE SWARMING IN LOUISIANA. LSU AGCENTER ENTOMOLOGIST DR. GREGG HENDERSON SAYS TEST RESULTS FROM APRIL 30TH, USING "LIGHT TRAPS" THAT ATTRACT TERMITES, INDICATE THIS MAY BE AN ABOVE-AVERAGE YEAR FOR THE WOOD-EATING PESTS. TERMITES SWARM AS A SORT OF MATING DANCE AND THEY ARE EASY TO SPOT WHEN THEY ARE "ON THE WING", BECAUSE THEY TEND TO SWARM AROUND BRIGHT LIGHTS, LIKE STREET LIGHTS. HENDERSON SAYS IF YOU SUSPECT TERMITES IN AND AROUND YOU HOME, IT’S BEST TO CONSULT PROFESSIONALS FOR INSPECTION OR TREATMENT.

THE LAFAYETTE CITY-PARISH COUNCIL IS SET TO VOTE TUESDAY ON WHETHER TO DO AWAY WITH THE CITY’S TRAFFIC CAMERA ENFORCEMENT PROGRAM, BUT EVEN IF IT’S KEPT ALIVE, SOME COUNCIL MEMBERS ARE PUSHING FOR CHANGES IN THE SCOPE OF THE PROGRAM AND HOW IT IS MANAGED. THREE COUNCILMEN HAVE PROPOSED ENDING THE AUTOMATED ENFORCEMENT PROGRAM, WHICH BEGAN IN 2007 AND IS TOUTED BY SUPPORTERS AS A CRITICAL TOOL TO IMPROVE DRIVER BEHAVIOR. OPPONENTS DISPUTE SOME OF THE SAFETY CLAIMS AND ARGUE THAT THE ENFORCEMENT PROGRAM’S MAIN GOAL IS TO RAISE MONEY FOR CITY-PARISH GOVERNMENT. THE CAMERAS SNAP PHOTOS OF A DRIVER AND LICENSE PLATE WHEN A VEHICLE SPEEDS THROUGH A MONITORED INTERSECTION OR RUNS A RED LIGHT. THE ALLEGED VIOLATOR IS MAILED A CITATION. THE PROGRAM ALSO EMPLOYS TWO “SPEED VANS,” VEHICLES EQUIPPED WITH RADAR AND CAMERAS THAT ARE DISPATCHED THROUGHOUT THE CITY.

STATE POLICE ARE INVESTIGATING THE FRIDAY MORNING DEATH OF A 33-YEAR-OLD BALDWIN MAN WHO WAS SHOT WITH A STUN GUN BY A BALDWIN POLICE OFFICER AFTER HE ESCAPED FROM THE POLICE DEPARTMENT THERE. STATE POLICE SPOKESMAN TROOPER STEPHEN HAMMONS SAID THE MAN’S IDENTITY IS BEING WITHHELD PENDING NOTIFICATION OF HIS NEXT OF KIN. BALDWIN POLICE CHIEF GERALD MINOR REQUESTED STATE POLICE INVESTIGATE THE MAN’S DEATH SHORTLY AFTER BEING SHOT FRIDAY MORNING.






News For Friday 05/11/12


NEWS FOR FRIDAY 051112
BY DAVE GRAICHEN

DESPITE THE POSSIBILITY OF HEAVY RAIN TOMORROW, THE DRAGON RACES WILL GO ON. COORDINATOR WAYNE DENLEY. SAYS THEY WILL PADDLE IN THE RAIN, IF NEED BE. THE ONLY THING THAT WOULD DOCK THE BOATS WOULD BE THUNDER AND LIGHTENING. THE 41 TEAMS THIS YEAR ARE PLANNING ON TAKING PART IN THIS YEARS RACE. WITH THOUSANDS EXPECTED ON THE BANKS OF THE RED TO WATCH THE RACE.

CENTRAL LOUISIANA LETTER CARRIERS WILL BE PICKING UP DONATED FOOD ITEMS AS THEY DELIVER MAIL SATURDAY. STAMP OUT HUNGER IS THE NATION'S LARGEST SINGLE-DAY FOOD DRIVE. RESIDENTS ARE URGED TO DONATE NON-PERISHABLE ITEMS SUCH AS CANNED FOODS, DRY GOODS SUCH AS RICE, BEANS AND GRAINS, CEREALS AND PEANUT BUTTER. PUT THE DONATIONS IN A STURDY BAG BY YOUR MAILBOX NEAR THE TIME OF REGULAR DELIVERY AND YOUR LETTER CARRIER WILL PICK IT UP. ALL AREA DONATIONS WILL BE DELIVERED TO THE FOOD BANK OR PANTRY NEAR YOU. LOCAL DONATIONS GO TO THE FOOD BANK OF CENTRAL LOUISIANA.

THE LOUISIANA HOUSE TRIES TO REACH A COMPROMISE FRIDAY OVER NEXT YEAR'S BUDGET, A DAY AFTER DEADLOCKING ON THE $25 BILLION IN SPENDING PLANS.
CONSERVATIVE REPUBLICANS AND THE JINDAL ADMINISTRATION ARE AT ODDS OVER WHETHER TO USE $270 MILLION IN ONE-TIME CASH OR TO MAKE DEEPER CUTS TO STATE AGENCIES. A BLOC OF GOP LAWMAKERS SAY THE ONE-TIME DOLLARS CREATE FALSE EXPECTATIONS IN STATE AGENCIES, PAYING FOR SERVICES THE STATE CAN'T AFFORD YEAR AFTER YEAR. OTHER LAWMAKERS AND THE JINDAL ADMINISTRATION SAY STRIPPING THE MONEY WOULD FORCE HARMFUL CUTS TO CRITICAL SERVICES, LIKE PUBLIC COLLEGES AND HEALTH CARE PROGRAMS. THE BUDGET BILL WOULD PAY FOR AGENCY OPERATING EXPENSES AND PROGRAMS IN THE NEW FISCAL YEAR THAT BEGINS JULY 1.

A TRAGIC ACCIDENT TOOK THE LIFE OF A TWO-YEAR-OLD CHILD IN BOSSIER PARISH LAST NIGHT. GAVIN BROWN OF PLAIN DEALING RODE HIS BIG WHEEL TOY CAR ONTO A BUSY ROADWAY AND WAS STRUCK BY A PICKUP TRUCK. NO CHARGES HAVE BEEN FILED IN THE CASE BUT ROUTINE TOXICOLOGY TEST ARE STILL PENDING. THE USE OF ALCOHOL IS NOT SUSPECTED.

THE COLORADO STATE BOARD OF GOVERNORS HAS NAMED CURRENT LSU CHANCELLOR MIKE MARTIN THE FINALIST TO TAKE THE SAME JOB THERE. MARTIN SAYS HE HAS NOT DECIDED WHETHER OR NOT TO LEAVE BATON ROUGE NOR HAS COLORADO STATE MADE A FORMAL OFFER. MARTIN SAYS IF HE DOES DECIDE TO LEAVE HE WOULD NOT GO UNTIL MID-AUGUST.

THE LOUISIANA SENATE NARROWLY APPROVED A PROPOSAL SOUGHT BY GOV. BOBBY JINDAL TO MAKE IT MORE DIFFICULT FOR STATE RETIREES TO GET COST-OF-LIVING ADJUSTMENTS TO THEIR PENSION BENEFITS. THE BILL (SENATE BILL 740) BY SEN. ELBERT GUILLORY, D-OPELOUSAS, WOULD BAR COLAS FOR RANK-AND-FILE WORKERS AND HIGHER EDUCATION EMPLOYEES WHO ARE RETIRED, UNTIL THE RETIREMENT SYSTEMS HAVE 80 PERCENT OF THE FUNDING THEY NEED TO PAY ALL BENEFITS PROMISED. CURRENTLY, THE SYSTEMS' FUNDING LEVEL IS BELOW 60 PERCENT.

A PROPOSAL TO BAN DISCRIMINATION IN STATE EMPLOYMENT BASED ON A WORKER'S SEXUAL ORIENTATION OR GENDER IDENTITY FAILED TO WIN APPROVAL THURSDAY IN A SENATE COMMITTEE. THE BILL (SENATE BILL 100) BY SEN. ED MURRAY, D-NEW ORLEANS, WAS REJECTED IN A 4-1 VOTE BY THE SENATE LABOR COMMITTEE. THE CONSERVATIVE LOUISIANA FAMILY FORUM AND GOV. BOBBY JINDAL OPPOSED THE MEASURE.

RECALL PETITIONS HAVE BEEN FILED AGAINST TWO REPUBLICAN ST. TAMMANY PARISH LAWMAKERS, KEVIN PEARSON AND GREG CROMER. RECALL BOBBY JINDAL SPOKESWOMAN LEE BARIOS SAYS THERE'S FRUSTRATION WITH THE GOVERNOR AND HIS ALLIES ON HOW THEY CONDUCTED THEMSELVES DURING THE DEBATE ON EDUCATION REFORM AND PROPOSED CHANGES TO STATE EMPLOYEE PENSION BENEFITS. RECALL PETITIONS WERE FILED EARLIER IN THE LEGISLATIVE SESSION AGAINST GOVERNOR JINDAL AND HOUSE SPEAKER CHUCK KLECKLEY. BARIOS SAYS EXPECT TO SEE ADDITIONAL ATTEMPTS TO RECALL OTHER LEGISLATORS AS WELL. IT'S NOT EASY TO FORCE A RECALL ELECTION, ORGANIZERS MUST OBTAIN SIGNATURES FROM ONE-THIRD OF THE REGISTERED VOTERS IN THAT POLITICIAN'S DISTRICT WITHIN 180 DAYS. IN JINDAL'S CASE, IT WOULD TAKE ONE-THIRD OF THE STATE'S 2-POINT-8 MILLION VOTERS.

TWO WOMEN AND AN UNBORN BABY WERE KILLED YESTERDAY IN MOREHOUSE PARISH, WHEN THEIR VEHICLE WAS HIT BY A TRAIN. MOREHOUSE SHERIFF MIKE TUBBS SAYS THE TWO WOMEN, SISTERS, ONE OF THEM 9 MONTHS PREGNANT, WERE LEAVING A BUSINESS IN MER ROUGE AT ABOUT NOON THURSDAY, WHEN THE ACCIDENT HAPPENED TUBBS SAYS WITNESSES REPORTED THE VAN STOPPED AT THE TRAIN CROSSING, BUT THEN ROLLED FORWARD INTO THE TRAIN'S PATH. A TEN MONTH OLD BABY IN THE VAN DID SURVIVE THE CRASH, AND WAS EXTRICATED FROM THE WRECKAGE

A STATE DISTRICT JUDGE HAS SENTENCED A 63-YEAR-OLD WOMAN TO THREE YEARS IN PRISON, FOLLOWED BY TWO YEARS OF HOUSE ARREST, FOR A CRASH ON INTERSTATE 10 THAT KILLED THREE FAMILY MEMBERS. CAROL BANKS, OF KENNER, WAS CONVICTED LAST MONTH OF THREE COUNTS OF NEGLIGENT HOMICIDE IN THE FEB. 10, 2010, DEATHS OF THREE MEMBERS OF ONE FAMILY. THE TIMES-PICAYUNE REPORTS BANKS WAS INITIALLY CHARGED WITH VEHICULAR HOMICIDE AFTER HER BLOOD TESTS SHOWED A HIGH LEVEL OF AN INGREDIENT USED IN COUGH SYRUPS AND CAN CAUSE HALLUCINATIONS.

A SLIDELL MINISTER, CONVICTED OF HAVING A THREE-MONTH SEXUAL RELATIONSHIP WITH A 16-YEAR-OLD GIRL, HAS BEEN SENTENCED TO THREE YEARS IN PRISON. FORTY-FOUR-YEAR-OLD KEITH JAMES BOYD, PASTOR OF THE OPEN DOOR APOSTOLIC CHURCH, WAS FOUND GUILTY IN MARCH OF CARNAL KNOWLEDGE AND INDECENT BEHAVIOR WITH A JUVENILE. REQUIREMENTS. HE IS FORBIDDEN FROM ACTING AS A PASTOR OR COUNSELOR OUR HAVING ANY UNSUPERVISED CONTACT WITH MINORS. HE MUST ALSO REGISTER AS A SEX OFFENDER AND PAY RESTITUTION TO THE VICTIM IN THE AMOUNT OF HER THERAPY EXPENSES.

LOUISIANA'S DEFICIT HAS EDGED HIGHER TO $220 MILLION, BECAUSE LAWMAKERS AND THE JINDAL ADMINISTRATION DIDN'T PROVIDE ENOUGH MONEY FOR ELECTIONS EXPENSES AND THE STATE'S FREE COLLEGE TUITION PROGRAM WHEN THEY CRAFTED THIS YEAR'S BUDGET.
THE GOVERNOR'S DIVISION OF ADMINISTRATION OUTLINED THE FIGURE THURSDAY TO LAWMAKERS ON THE HOUSE AND SENATE BUDGET COMMITTEE. THE STATE'S REVENUE FORECASTING PANEL DROPPED ITS INCOME ESTIMATES BY $211 MILLION LAST MONTH. ON TOP OF THAT, THE SECRETARY OF STATE'S OFFICE NEEDED $2.5 MILLION MORE THAN WAS BUDGETED FOR ELECTION COSTS, WHICH ARE REQUIRED TO BE FUNDED. IN ADDITION, THE BUDGET HADN'T SET ASIDE ENOUGH MONEY FOR THE FREE TUITION PROGRAM CALLED TOPS. GOV. BOBBY JINDAL AND LEGISLATIVE LEADERS HAVEN'T DEVISED A PLAN FOR COPING WITH THE GAP FOR THE FISCAL YEAR THAT ENDS JUNE 30.

A ST. MARTIN PARISH GRAND JURY HAS INDICTED A ST. MARTINVILLE MAN ON ONE COUNT OF FIRST-DEGREE MURDER IN THE JAN. 18 SHOOTING DEATH OF HIS PREGNANT FIANCÉE. 21-YEAR-OLD JOSHUA MCKEEL COULD FACE A POSSIBLE DEATH PENALTY IF CONVICTED IN THE SLAYING OF 19-YEAR-OLD HANNAH PARKER, WHO WAS SEVEN MONTHS PREGNANT AT THE TIME. THE SHOOTING OCCURRED IN ST. MARTINVILLE AT THE HOME OF PARKER'S MOTHER.

FEDERAL HOUSING REGULATORS HAVE AWARDED A NEW ORLEANS ADVOCACY GROUP $775,000 TO HELP CITY RESIDENTS WHO BELIEVE THEY'VE BEEN VICTIMS OF HOUSING DISCRIMINATION. THE U.S. DEPARTMENT OF HOUSING AND URBAN DEVELOPMENT AWARDED THE GRANT THURSDAY TO THE GREATER NEW ORLEANS FAIR HOUSING ACTION CENTER.
THE GRANT, GIVEN THROUGH HUD'S FAIR HOUSING INITIATIVES PROGRAM, WAS PART OF NEARLY $41.1 MILLION DISTRIBUTED NATIONWIDE TO 99 SIMILAR GROUPS AND IN 35 STATES AND THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA. THE MONEY WILL BE USED TO ENFORCE THE FAIR HOUSING ACT THROUGH INVESTIGATION AND TESTING OF ALLEGED DISCRIMINATORY PRACTICES, AND TO EDUCATE HOUSING PROVIDERS, LOCAL GOVERNMENTS AND POTENTIAL VICTIMS OF HOUSING DISCRIMINATION ABOUT THEIR RIGHTS AND RESPONSIBILITIES.

THE LOUISIANA HOUSING FINANCE AGENCY AWARDED THE LAFAYETTE PUBLIC TRUST FINANCING AUTHORITY A $1 MILLION GRANT TO TRANSFORM A BRICK WAREHOUSE NEAR DOWNTOWN INTO LOFT-STYLE APARTMENTS FOR ARTISTS. THE 15-UNIT DEVELOPMENT IS ESTIMATED TO COST ABOUT $2.2 MILLION AND CONSTRUCTION COULD START IN OCTOBER.

SPORTS..

THE THIRD-RANKED LSU BASEBALL CAN WIN AN SEC WEST TITLE THIS WEEKEND AS THEY BEGIN A SERIES WITH VANDERBILT TONIGHT. THE TIGERS HAVE A FOUR-GAME LEAD OVER ARKANSAS AND MISSISSIPPI STATE IN THE SEC WESTERN DIVISION RACE. COACH PAUL MAINIERI WOULD LIKE TO WIN A DIVISION TITLE IN FRONT OF THE HOME FANS. VANDERBILT COMES INTO ALEX BOX STADIUM AS THE DEFENDING SEC CHAMPIONS, BUT THIS YEAR THEY ARE JUST 24-AND-24 OVERALL, 11-AND-13 IN THE LEAGUE.




News For Thursday 05/10/12


NEWS FOR THURSDAY 051012
BY DAVE GRAICHEN

YESTERDAY WAS CENTRAL LOUISIANA DAY AT THE STATE LEGISLATURE, A DAY IN WHICH SEVERAL LOCAL OFFICIALS TOOK THE OPPORTUNITY TO LOBBY AGAINST THE CLOSURE OF DABADIE CORRECTIONAL CENTER IN PINEVILLE AND THE PRIVATIZATION OF A PRISON IN AVOYELLES PARISH. BUT, WHEN THE DAY WAS DONE, MOST WHO MADE THE TRIP TO BATON ROUGE FELT LESS THAN OPTIMISTIC. ALEXANDRIA MAYOR JACQUES ROY, PINEVILLE MAYOR CLARENCE FIELDS AND OFFICIALS WITH THE LOCAL CHAMBER OF COMMERCE AND ENGLAND AUTHORITY MADE THE JOURNEY TO GIVE THEIR SIDE OF THE STORY . THIS IS THE SECOND YEAR IN A ROW CHANGES AT THE TWO FACILITY HAVE BEEN PUSHED BY THE GOVERNOR.

STATE EDUCATION SUPERINTENDENT JOHN WHITE WAS IN ALEXANDRIA ON WEDNESDAY TO LEAD ONE OF ABOUT 20 TOWN HALL-STYLE MEETINGS AIMED AT INFORMING THE STATE'S EDUCATORS ABOUT PROPOSED CHANGES TO THE EDUCATION SYSTEM. WHITE SAYS THE PURPOSE OF THE MEETINGS IS TO GATHER INPUT FROM EDUCATORS AND TO HELP DRAFT THE FINAL PLAN WHICH WILL BE PUBLISHED TOWARDS THE END OF THE MONTH. THE 18-PAGE PRESENTATION HIGHLIGHTS THE STATE'S PREVIOUS STATISTICS, PROPOSES TOOLS FOR PLAN IMPLEMENTATION ON BOTH THE SCHOOL SYSTEM AND STATE LEVELS, AND OUTLINES A NEW CURRICULUM AND ASSESSMENT GUIDELINES.

FORBES MAGAZINE RECOGNIZES TWO AREAS FROM LOUISIANA AS SOME OF THE BEST PLACES IN THE COUNTRY FOR JOBS. LAFAYETTE RANKS NUMBER ONE AMONG MID-SIZE CITIES FOR JOBS, WHILE NEW ORLEANS-METAIRIE RANKS 13TH AMONG LARGE METRO AREAS. ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT SECRETARY STEPHEN MORET SAYS LAFAYETTE'S EMPLOYMENT GROWTH IS UP FIVE-PERCENT FROM LAST YEAR. THE NEW ORLEANS-METAIRIE ECONOMY AREA IS ON THE RISE, AS WELL, FOLLOWING HURRICANE KATRINA. MORET SAYS THEY'VE SEEN A GROWTH IN THE NUMBER OF FORTUNE 500 COMPANIES WHO ARE HIRING...

A LENGTHY DEBATE IS EXPECTED TODAY ON THE HOUSE FLOOR OVER A PROPOSED 25-BILLION DOLLAR SPENDING PLAN FOR THE FISCAL YEAR THAT BEGINS JULY 1ST. POLITICAL ANALYST BERNIE PINSONAT SAYS THE BIG DISPUTE IS OVER A PLAN TO USE 346-MILLION DOLLARS IN SO-CALLED ONE-TIME MONEY TO FILL BUDGET HOLES. PINSONAT SAYS THE BUDGET AS IT STANDS NOW CALLS FOR AT LEAST 71-MILLION DOLLARS IN CUTS TO LOUISIANA PUBLIC COLLEGES AND THE APPROPRIATIONS COMMITTEE STRIPPED 158-MILLION DOLLARS FROM THE DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HOSPITALS. THE COMMITTEE ALSO STRIPPED FROM THE BUDGET $1.7-MILLION TO KEEP THE INSPECTOR GENERAL'S OFFICE UP AND RUNNING.

THE LOUISIANA SENATE DELAYED DEBATE WEDNESDAY ON GOV. BOBBY JINDAL'S PUSH TO CHARGE RANK-AND-FILE STATE WORKERS MORE AND MAKE THEM WAIT LONGER FOR THEIR PENSION BENEFITS, AMID QUESTIONS ABOUT WHETHER THE BILLS HAVE ENOUGH VOTES TO PASS. SEN. ELBERT GUILLORY SCRAPPED HIS PLANS TO BRING UP THE TWO CENTERPIECE PROPOSALS AFTER A FIRST AND LESS-CONTROVERSIAL BILL SOUGHT BY JINDAL TOOK TWO VOTES BEFORE REACHING ENOUGH SUPPORT FOR PASSAGE. GUILLORY SAID HE PLANNED TO MAKE THE ROUNDS WITH SENATORS TO AGAIN TALLY HIS VOTES ON MEASURES TO RAISE THE RETIREMENT CONTRIBUTION RATE BY 2 PERCENTAGE POINTS AND TO PUSH BACK THE RETIREMENT AGE FOR GETTING FULL BENEFITS.

A HOUSE COMMITTEE HAS UNANIMOUSLY PASSED A BILL AIMED AT CURBING BULLYING IN LOUISIANA SCHOOLS. BATON ROUGE REP. PATRICIA SMITH SAYS SHE WAS MOTIVATED TO FILE ANTI-BULLY LEGISLATION AFTER A POINTE COUPEE PARISH GIRL--WHO WAS BULLIED AT SCHOOL--COMMITTED SUICIDE. THE MEASURE WOULD REQUIRE SCHOOL BOARDS TO ADOPT ANTI-BULLY POLICIES, WHERE MANY HAVE NONE. THE BILL WILL GO NEXT TO THE FULL HOUSE FOR DEBATE AND VOTE.

LSU CHANCELLOR MIKE MARTIN HAS BEEN APPROACHED BY ANOTHER UNIVERSITY ABOUT TAKING THE SAME JOB THERE. IT'S BEING REPORTED COLORADO STATE IS INTERESTED IN HIRING MARTIN AND ITS GOVERNING BOARD WILL HOLD A MEETING TOMORROW TO DISCUSS THE SEARCH FOR A NEW CHANCELLOR. MARTIN TOLD A BATON ROUGE NEWSPAPER HE WILL GIVE STRONG CONSIDERATION TO THE OFFER. LSU HAS SEEN A NUMBER OF SERIOUS PROBLEMS COME UP IN RECENT WEEKS INCLUDING DEEP BUDGET CUTS, THE POTENTIAL LOSS OF LSU-SHREVEPORT AND UNREST AMONG FACULTY AND STAFF. SOME SEE MARTIN'S POTENTIAL DEPARTURE AS ANOTHER OPPORTUNITY TO PRESS FOR A MERGER OF THE CHANCELLOR'S OFFICE WITH THAT OF THE SYSTEM PRESIDENT TO SAVE THE STATE MONEY.

A TORNADO TOUCHED DOWN IN GRAND ISLE, IN COASTAL JEFFERSON PARISH YESTERDAY. MAYOR DAVID CAMARDELLE SAYS THEY DODGED A BULLET. JUST A HANDFUL OF HOMES AND STRUCTURES WERE DAMAGED. NO ONE IS REPORTED HURT.

A PROPOSAL THAT WOULD MAKE IT EASIER FOR BREAKAWAY SCHOOL DISTRICTS TO FORM IN PARISHES FAILED TO WIN ENOUGH VOTES FOR PASSAGE WEDNESDAY IN THE LOUISIANA HOUSE. REP. ALAN SEABAUGH'S BILL (HOUSE BILL 609) WOULD TAKE OUT A CURRENT REQUIREMENT THAT BREAKAWAY DISTRICTS GET SUPPORT FROM VOTERS STATEWIDE AND INSTEAD REQUIRE ONLY VOTERS IN THE PARISH WHERE THE NEW DISTRICT IS PROPOSED TO DECIDE ON THE IDEA. CRITICS SAID THE BREAKAWAY DISTRICTS COULD STRIP DOLLARS AWAY FROM SOME OF THE NEEDIEST, MOST AT-RISK PUBLIC SCHOOLS, AND THEY SAID THE CREATION OF NEW SCHOOL DISTRICTS AFFECTS THE FINANCING FOR ALL DISTRICTS AROUND THE STATE AND SHOULD HAVE TO GET STATEWIDE APPROVAL. THE HOUSE VOTED 53-44 FOR THE BILL, BUT SINCE IT WOULD REQUIRE A CONSTITUTIONAL CHANGE, IT NEEDED 70 VOTES TO PASS.

THE HOUSE VOTED 88-9 YESTERDAY THAT AMERICAN HISTORY AND CIVICS COURSES IN LOUISIANA'S PUBLIC HIGH SCHOOLS SHOULD INCLUDE INSTRUCTION ON THE NATION'S "FOUNDING PRINCIPLES. THE PROPOSAL (HOUSE BILL 436) BY REP. JOE HARRISON, R-NAPOLEONVILLE, WOULD REQUIRE TEACHING ON THE STRUCTURE OF GOVERNMENT, SEPARATION OF POWERS, FREE ELECTIONS, EQUAL JUSTICE, PRIVATE PROPERTY RIGHTS, FEDERALISM, DUE PROCESS, INDIVIDUAL RESPONSIBILITY AND THE BILL OF RIGHTS.
THE BILL MOVES TO THE SENATE FOR DEBATE.

A $325 MILLION BORROWING PLAN TO REPAIR AND UPGRADE RURAL ROADS ACROSS LOUISIANA HAS RECEIVED FINAL LEGISLATIVE PASSAGE. THE PROPOSAL WAS UNANIMOUSLY APPROVED IN A HOUSE VOTE WEDNESDAY. THE BILL HEADS TO GOV. BOBBY JINDAL, WHO SUPPORTS IT. EVERY PARISH BUT ORLEANS PARISH WILL BE ELIGIBLE FOR THE HIGHWAY REPAIR MONEY, WHICH WILL PAY FOR WORK ON ROADS NOT ELIGIBLE FOR FEDERAL MATCHING DOLLARS IN THE HIGHWAY PROGRAM. THE PROPOSAL LETS THE DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION AND DEVELOPMENT BORROW DOLLARS BY SELLING BONDS TO INVESTORS FOR UPFRONT CASH. THE DEBT WILL BE PAID OFF WITH INTEREST OVER 20 YEARS WITH A POT OF MONEY FROM REGISTRATION, LICENSE FEES AND TAXES ON COMMERCIAL TRUCKS AND TRAILERS.

PEOPLE WHO REPORT CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE TO AUTHORITIES WILL GET STATE WHISTLEBLOWER PROTECTION SO THEY CAN'T BE FIRED, SUSPENDED OR DEMOTED BECAUSE OF THE ALLEGATIONS. THE HOUSE GAVE UNANIMOUS, FINAL PASSAGE TO THE BILL (SENATE BILL 158) BY SEN. J.P. MORRELL, D-NEW ORLEANS. THE PROPOSAL WAS FILED IN RESPONSE TO ALLEGATIONS OF UNREPORTED ABUSE INVOLVING FORMER PENN STATE UNIVERSITY ASSISTANT FOOTBALL COACH JERRY SANDUSKY, WHO IS CHARGED WITH DOZENS OF CRIMINAL COUNTS FOR ALLEGED SEXUAL ABUSE OF EIGHT BOYS OVER 15 YEARS.

THE HOUSE VOTED 61-39 TO DO AWAY WITH THE JOB PROTECTION STATUS CALLED TENURE FOR NEW SCHOOL BUS DRIVERS. THE PROPOSAL (HOUSE BILL 293) BY REP. JOE HARRISON, R-NAPOLEONVILLE, WOULD APPLY TO ANY BUS DRIVERS HIRED AFTER JULY 1. IT WOULDN'T TAKE AWAY TENURE FOR BUS DRIVERS WHO ALREADY HAVE IT. HARRISON SAID LOUISIANA IS THE ONLY STATE IN THE NATION THAT HAS TENURE FOR BUS DRIVERS. THE MEASURE MOVES TO THE SENATE FOR DEBATE.

U.S. SEN. MARY LANDRIEU IS CRITICIZING THE WHITE HOUSE FOR SUBMITTING A COAST GUARD BUDGET FOR 2013 THAT SHE SAYS IS MORE THAN 3 PERCENT SMALLER THAN WHAT THE SEARCH AND RESCUE AGENCY NOW HAS. THE WHITE HOUSE HAS REQUESTED $8.4 BILLION FOR THE COAST GUARD FOR 2013. AT A HEARING OF THE HOMELAND SECURITY APPROPRIATIONS SUBCOMMITTEE, WHICH LANDRIEU OVERSEES, THE LOUISIANA DEMOCRATIC SENATOR SAID WEDNESDAY THAT THE COAST GUARD'S FUNDING WAS INADEQUATE. LANDRIEU SAID THE BUDGET REQUEST CUTS FUNDING FOR NEW COAST GUARD CUTTERS AND HURTS THE AGENCY'S ABILITY TO STOP DRUG TRAFFICKERS.
SHE ALSO SAID THE COAST GUARD NEEDS MORE MONEY TO GET BETTER AT POLAR ICEBREAKING TO HELP OPEN UP THE ARCTIC TO OIL AND NATURAL GAS DRILLING, SHIPPING AND FISHING.

BATON ROUGE PD AND SHERIFF'S DEPUTIES ARREST A MAN IN CONNECTION WITH A SPATE
OF RECENT BANK ROBBERIES. 47-YEAR-OLD PAUL MCCARTHY IS SUSPECTED OF ROBBING THREE LOCAL BANKS, AND ONE BANK BURGLARY...IN EACH CASE WEARING A DISGUISE. MCCARTHY IS ON PAROLE FOR ROBBERY IN JACKSON, MS.


News For Wednesday 05/09/2012


NEWS FOR WEDNESDAY 050912
BY DAVE GRAICHEN

THE LOUISIANA HOUSE REJECTED A PROPOSAL THAT WOULD STRIP THE CURRENT REQUIREMENT THAT PUBLIC COLLEGE TUITION INCREASES BE APPROVED BY LAWMAKERS BEFORE THEY CAN BE ENACTED. THE BILL (HOUSE BILL 299) BY REP. JOE HARRISON, R-NAPOLEONVILLE, FELL FAR SHORT OF THE 70 VOTES IT NEEDED FOR PASSAGE. IT RECEIVED 36 VOTES. LOUISIANA HAS THE STRICTEST TUITION BOOST REQUIREMENTS IN THE NATION, NEEDING A TWO-THIRDS VOTE OF BOTH THE HOUSE AND SENATE BEFORE COLLEGE TUITION CAN BE RAISED FOR STUDENTS.

HIGHER EDUCATION LEADERS ARE PUSHING THE LEGISLATURE TO PASS A BILL THAT WOULD ALLOW UNIVERSITIES AND COLLEGES TO RAISE FEES ON STUDENTS. IT'S IN RESPONSE TO A POSSIBLE 71-MILLION DOLLAR CUT IN STATE FUNDING FOR NEXT FISCAL YEAR. HIGHER ED COMMISSIONER JIM PURCELL SAYS MANY INSTITUTIONS ARE STRUGGLING AND CONCERNED ABOUT FUTURE BUDGET CUTS. PURCELL AND UNIVERSITY LEADERS ARE PUSHING FOR A "STABILIZATION" FEE OF UP TO 25-DOLLAR PER CREDIT HOUR. THAT WOULD MEAN AN ADDITIONAL $300 DOLLARS OR MORE PER SEMESTER FOR FULL-TIME COLLEGE STUDENTS. PURCELL SAYS THIS NEW FEE COULD BRING IN AS MUCH AS 107-MILLION DOLLARS A YEAR. THE FEE WOULD GO AWAY AFTER THREE YEARS. THE PROPOSED FEE INCREASE COULD BE DEBATED AS EARLY AS TODAY IN THE HOUSE EDUCATION COMMITTEE.

A PROPOSAL TO MERGE LSU-SHREVEPORT AND LOUISIANA TECH GETS APPROVAL IN THE HOUSE EDUCATION COMMITTEE. THE BILL IS PROPOSED BY JONESBORO REPRESENTATIVE JIM FANNIN, WHO SAYS THIS MERGER WILL SAVE THE STATE MONEY IN THE LONG RUN AND IMPROVE HIGHER EDUCATION OPPORTUNITIES FOR THE RESIDENTS OF NORTH LOUISIANA. THE LEGISLATION WAS DRAFTED AFTER A STUDY URGED THAT A MERGER BETWEEN
THE TWO SCHOOLS CAN HELP LSU-SHREVEPORT. LEADING THE OPPOSITION IS LSU SYSTEM PRESIDENT, DOCTOR WILLIAM JENKINS, WHO SAYS NORTHWEST LOUISIANA WOULD BENEFIT BY ALLOWING LSU-S TO GROW INTO A FIRST CLASS RESEARCH INSTITUTION IN THE THIRD BIGGEST CITY IN THE STATE.

THE LOUISIANA WORKFORCE COMMISSION IS GETTING NEARLY $3-MILLION IN FEDERAL DOLLARS TO HELP LAID-OFF WORKERS FIND NEW WORK. LWC EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR CURT EYSINK SAYS THE FUNDS WILL BE USED TO HELP PEOPLE WHO LOST THEIR JOB THROUGH NO FAULT OF THEIR OWN. EYSINK SAYS THE $2.95-MILLION GRANT COMES FROM A FEDERAL RE-EMPLOYMENT AND ELIGIBILITY ASSESSMENT FUND. HE SAYS IT WILL HELP WITH RE-EMPLOYING THOSE WHO HAVE LOST, OR ARE ABOUT TO LOSE, THEIR JOBS TO LARGE-SCALE
LAYOFFS. MORE INFORMATION ON THE PROGRAM IS ON THE DEPARTMENT OF LABOR WEBSITE, AT WWW.DOL.GOV

A CIVIL LAWSUIT HAS BEEN FILED AGAINST FORMER LSU FOOTBALL PLAYERS JORDAN JEFFERSON AND JOSH JOHNS IN CONNECTION WITH THE BAR FIGHT OUTSIDE OF A BATON ROUGH ESTABLISHMENT LAST AUGUST. FOUR MEN SAY JEFFERSON AND JOHNS ATTACKED THEM IN THE PARKING LOT OF SHADY'S BAR. THE SUIT ALLEGES TWO OF THE INDIVIDUALS SUFFERED SERIOUS BACK AND FACIAL INJURIES. THE FIGHT RESULTED IN FELONY BATTERY CHARGES AGAINST JEFFERSON AND JOHNS. CRIMINAL CHARGES AGAINST JOHNS WERE LATER DROPPED, WHILE JEFFERSON IS STILL FACES A CHARGE OF SIMPLE BATTERY.

A HOUSE HEALTH CARE COMMITTEE MOVED AHEAD TUESDAY WITH A PROPOSAL THAT WOULD MANDATE DRUG TESTING OF WELFARE RECIPIENTS, OVER THE OBJECTIONS OF CATHOLIC LEADERS WHO SAID THE BILL RAISES MORAL ISSUES BY VILIFYING POOR MOTHERS. THE BILL HAS BEEN REPEATEDLY REJECTED IN THE LOUISIANA LEGISLATURE IN RECENT YEARS, AND ITS CHIEF SPONSOR DIDN'T WIN HIS RE-ELECTION BID. BUT NEW STATE REP. SHERMAN MACK, R-LIVINGSTON, REVIVED THE IDEA AGAIN THIS SESSION. MACK'S BILL WOULD REQUIRE 20 PERCENT OF ADULTS WHO RECEIVE AID THROUGH THE FAMILY INDEPENDENCE TEMPORARY ASSISTANCE PROGRAM TO BE DRUG-TESTED. ANYONE WHO TESTS POSITIVE WOULD BE REQUIRED TO RECEIVE DRUG TREATMENT TO CONTINUE GETTING WELFARE. SUPPORTERS SAID THEY WANT TO MAKE SURE WELFARE CHECKS PAY FOR FAMILY NEEDS, NOT DRUGS.

A FORMER RADIO DISPATCHER WITH THE MAMOU POLICE DEPARTMENT HAS FILED A FEDERAL LAWSUIT AGAINST THE CITY'S POLICE CHIEF. PAMELA MANUAL ALLEGES SHE WAS ARRESTED WITHOUT A WARRANT IN MAY 2011 AND HELD IN THE TOWN'S JAIL FOR THREE DAYS WITHOUT FOOD, RUNNING WATER AND ACCESS TO HER RESPIRATORY INHALER.
THE SUIT NAMES CHIEF GREG DUPUIS, DETECTIVE MARIE POTTER AND THE TOWN OF MAMOU AS DEFENDANTS. THE SUIT SAYS MANUAL PARTICIPATED IN AN INVESTIGATION THAT RESULTED IN DUPUIS' REMOVAL FROM OFFICE. DUPUIS WAS CONVICTED OF MALFEASANCE FOR IMPROPER RECORD-KEEPING. HE LATER HAD THE FELONY CONVICTION EXPUNGED FROM HIS RECORD AND HIS CONVICTION DISMISSED, WHICH ALLOWED HIM TO RUN AND BE RE-ELECTED TO OFFICE IN 2004.

A PUSH BY GOV. BOBBY JINDAL'S ADMINISTRATION TO MERGE THE GOVERNOR'S OFFICE OF ELDERLY AFFAIRS INTO THE STATE HEALTH DEPARTMENT APPEARS TO BE DEAD FOR THE SESSION, AFTER FACING STRONG OPPOSITION FROM PARISH COUNCILS ON AGING AROUND LOUISIANA. THE HOUSE APPROPRIATIONS COMMITTEE STRIPPED THE IDEA FROM NEXT YEAR'S $25 BILLION BUDGET PROPOSAL. LEADERS OF PARISH COUNCILS ON AGING AND ELDERLY RESIDENTS WHO RECEIVE SERVICES THROUGH PROGRAMS OVERSEEN BY THE OFFICE OF ELDERLY AFFAIRS SAID THE OFFICE WOULD BE SWALLOWED UP IN THE MASSIVE DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HOSPITALS' BUREAUCRACY.

THE ST. TAMMANY PARISH SHERIFF'S OFFICE ISSUES AN ARREST WARRANT IN THE CASE OF A MOTHER FOUND DEAD ALONGSIDE I-12 IN COVINGTON OVER THE WEEKEND. THE WOMAN HAS BEEN IDENTIFIED AS 31-YEAR-OLD NICOLE JEFFERSON. HER EX-HUSBAND, CALVIN JEFFERSON TURNED HIMSELF INTO AUTHORITIES LAST NIGHT AND WILL BE CHARGED WITH 2ND-DEGREE MURDER. THE MANDEVILLE MOTHER OF FOUR HAD BEEN MISSING LAST WEEK AFTER SHE FAILED TO SHOW UP FOR WORK AS A T-S-A AGENT AT ARMSTRONG INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT.

GOV. BOBBY JINDAL SAYS A BATON ROUGE-BASED INDUSTRIAL EQUIPMENT SUPPLIER PLANS TO SPEND $10 MILLION TO BUILD A NEW HEADQUARTERS IN THE CITY. JINDAL'S OFFICE ANNOUNCED TUESDAY THAT DMC CARTER CHAMBERS INC. PLANS TO CONSOLIDATE ITS CORPORATE OFFICE IN BATON ROUGE WITH ITS OPERATIONS IN GONZALES AND PRAIRIEVILLE AND BUILD A 90,000-SQUARE-FOOT FACILITY. THE PROJECT IS EXPECTED TO CREATE 80 NEW JOBS OVER THE NEXT NINE YEARS. CONSTRUCTION IS EXPECTED TO BEGIN THIS YEAR AND BE COMPLETED BY FALL 2013.

THE HOUSE HAS PASSED A BILL THAT WOULD STRIP STATE OFFICIALS CONVICTED OF FELONIES OF MOST OF THEIR RETIREMENT BENEFITS. BILL SPONSOR TONY LIGI, OF METAIRIE, SAYS HIS BILL WOULD APPLY TO STATE WORKERS, LAWMAKERS AND MORE. LIGI'S BILL IS A PROPOSED CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT, THAT WILL GO TO VOTERS IF IT WINS TWO-THIRDS MAJORITY VOTES IN BOTH THE HOUSE AND SENATE. LIGI SAYS IT WOULD APPLY IF THE FELONY WAS RELATED TO THE PUBLIC OFFICIAL'S POSITION. THE BILL NOW MOVES OVER TO THE SENATE FOR COMMITTEE REVIEW.

A REWRITING OF A STATE LAW TO BAN CERTAIN SEX OFFENDERS FROM FACEBOOK AND OTHER SOCIAL NETWORKING SITES NEARED FINAL PASSAGE TUESDAY WITH UNANIMOUS BACKING OF THE SENATE. THE EXISTING LAW WAS DECLARED UNCONSTITUTIONAL BY A FEDERAL JUDGE. A BILL (HOUSE BILL 620), SPONSORED BY REP. LEDRICKA THIERRY, D-OPELOUSAS, WOULD MORE NARROWLY DEFINE WHAT SITES ARE PROHIBITED.

PENALTIES WILL BE INCREASED FOR CERTAIN CRIMES OF BATTERY WHEN THE VICTIM IS AN ACTIVE MEMBER OF THE MILITARY OR A DISABLED VETERAN. THE SENATE GAVE FINAL LEGISLATIVE PASSAGE TO A BILL (HOUSE BILL 18) THAT WILL REQUIRE SUCH CRIMES TO CARRY A MANDATORY MINIMUM SENTENCE OF ONE YEAR IN JAIL IF THE BATTERY WAS COMMITTED BECAUSE OF A PERSON'S MILITARY STATUS. THE MEASURE HEADS TO THE GOVERNOR.

THE LEGISLATURE IS CLOSE TO BANNING THE SALE OF DOGS AND CATS FROM ROADSIDES, PUBLIC PARKS AND PUBLIC PLAYGROUNDS. BOTH THE HOUSE AND SENATE HAVE APPROVED VERSIONS OF THE PROPOSAL (HOUSE BILL 231) BY REP. TONY LIGI, R-KENNER. SEVERAL MUNICIPALITIES AROUND THE STATE HAVE ENACTED SIMILAR LOCAL ORDINANCES. VIOLATION WOULD CARRY UP TO A $250 FINE THE FIRST TIME, THEN UP TO $1,000 FOR SUBSEQUENT OFFENSES.

VOLUNTEER FIREFIGHTERS AND LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICERS SHOULDN'T BE REQUIRED TO UNDERGO THE HOUR OF ETHICS TRAINING EACH YEAR THAT OTHER PUBLIC EMPLOYEES ARE REQUIRED TO HAVE, THE HOUSE DECIDED IN A 77-17 VOTE. SUPPORTERS OF THE BILL (HOUSE BILL 321) BY REP. JIM FANNIN, D-JONESBORO, SAID THE ETHICS REQUIREMENT DISCOURAGES PEOPLE FROM VOLUNTEERING. OPPONENTS SAID THE TRAINING ISN'T BURDENSOME. THE PROPOSAL HEADS TO THE SENATE FOR DEBATE. LOUISIANA'S OFFICIAL BOAT WILL BE THE PIROGUE. THE SENATE GAVE FINAL PASSAGE TO THE MEASURE (HOUSE BILL 746) BY REP. CHARLES "BUBBA" CHANEY, R-RAYVILLE, SENDING IT TO THE GOVERNOR'S DESK.

LOUISIANA HEALTH OFFICIALS SAY THEY CLOSED AN OYSTER HARVESTING AREA AND ORDERED A RECALL OF OYSTERS TAKEN THERE SINCE APRIL 26 AFTER 14 PEOPLE BECAME ILL WITH NOROVIRUS. THE CLOSURE, EFFECTIVE TUESDAY, WAS EXPECTED TO LAST AT LEAST 21 DAYS, THE AMOUNT OF TIME IT WOULD TAKE OYSTERS TO PURGE THEMSELVES OF THE VIRUS.. IN ADDITION TO THE NEW ORLEANS AREA, SOME OF THE OYSTERS WERE SHIPPED TO MARYLAND, TEXAS AND GEORGIA.









News For Tuesday Morning 05/08/12


NEWS FOR TUESDAY 050812
BY DAVE GRAICHEN

MORE PROBLEMS WITHIN THE ALEXANDRIA HOUSING AUTHORITY. AN AUDIT OF WAS PERFORMED BY A THIRD-PARTY ACCOUNTING FIRM. THE REPORT WAS MADE PUBLIC YESTERDAY. IN THE 179 PAGE REPORT THE ACCOUNTING FIRM WARNED THE AUTHORITY CANNOT CONTINUE TO OPERATE AS IT HAS FOR THE LAST NUMBER OF YEARS AND THAT DRASTIC ACTION NEEDS TO BE TAKEN NOW IN ORDER TO AVOID FINANCIAL DISASTER. THE REPORT ALSO RECOMMENDS TAKING LEGAL ACTION TO RECOVER MONEY THAT FORMER AHA EMPLOYEES PAID THEMSELVES WITHOUT BOARD APPROVAL.

THE ANNUAL DEBATE ON WHETHER THE STATE SHOULD RANDOMLY DRUG TEST WELFARE RECIPIENTS GETS A HEARING IN A HOUSE COMMITTEE TODAY. THE BILL BY LIVINGSTON REP. SHERMAN MACK WOULD REQUIRE YOU TO SIGN A CONSENT FORM SAYING THAT YOU DO NO DO DRUGS, BUT COULD BE RANDOMLY TESTED. MACK SAYS IF YOU'RE TESTED AND FAIL, YOUR BENEFITS ARE NOT CUT OFF. MACK SAYS MANY TAX PAYING PEOPLE FROM HIS DISTRICT HAVE JOBS THAT REQUIRE THEY TAKE DRUG TESTS AT WORK, AND FEEL PEOPLE WHO DO DRUGS SHOULDN'T RECEIVE STATE BENEFITS. HE SAYS UNDER THE PROPOSED LAW, IF A WELFARE RECIPIENT FAILS A RANDOM DRUG TEST, THEY ARE REQUIRED TO ENTER
A REHABILITATION PROGRAM AND PASS ANOTHER TEST WITHIN 90 DAYS. IF THEY FAIL TO PASS THAT TEST, THEY WOULD LOOSE THEIR BENEFITS.

MONDAY, THE PUBLIC AFFAIRS RESEARCH COUNCIL OF LOUISIANA, A NONPARTISAN GOVERNMENT MONITORING GROUP, URGED LAWMAKERS TO RESTORE MONEY FOR THE OFFICE OF THE INSPECTOR GENERAL IN NEXT YEAR'S BUDGET. ACCORDING TO PAR, "THE ROLE AND SKILLS OF THE INSPECTOR GENERAL'S OFFICE ARE ESPECIALLY VALUABLE DURING TIGHT BUDGET TIMES AND THE STATE NEEDS A SELF-MOTIVATED WATCHDOG AGENCY TO STOP WASTE, MISMANAGEMENT, ABUSE AND FRAUD IN EXECUTIVE BRANCH GOVERNMENT. AS IT WROTE THE BUDGET FOR THE 2012-13 FISCAL YEAR, THE HOUSE APPROPRIATIONS COMMITTEE STRIPPED THE $1.7 MILLION FOR THE INSPECTOR GENERAL AND EVEN WENT AS FAR AS TO REMOVE REFERENCE TO THE OFFICE. LAWMAKERS SAY THE AGENCY'S WORK OVERLAPS THE DUTIES PERFORMED BY OTHER LAW ENFORCEMENT AND AUDITING OFFICES IN STATE GOVERNMENT. PAR SAYS IN RECENT YEARS, THE OFFICE HAS FOUND ABUSES INCLUDING EXCESSIVE OVERTIME BY GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES, THE ILLEGAL USE OF LAW ENFORCEMENT DATABASES AND THEFT BY STATE WORKERS. MORE THAN A DOZEN PEOPLE HAVE BEEN ARRESTED TIED TO THOSE INVESTIGATIONS.

REPORTS THAT LOUISIANA IS SPENDING LESS TAXPAYER MONEY ON PAYROLL, BECAUSE IT HAS FEWER EMPLOYEES ARE NOT TRUE--ACCORDING TO STATE TREASURER JOHN KENNEDY. KENNEDY SAYS CLAIMS MADE BY THE GOVERNOR'S OFFICE TO THAT EFFECT ARE NOT ACCURATE, BASED ON A LEGISLATIVE AUDITOR'S REPORT. KENNEDY SAYS AN AUDITOR'S REPORT FROM FEBRUARY OF THIS YEAR SHOWS THAT THE STATE HAS ELIMINATED ABOUT 6900 POSITIONS, OVER THE PAST 6 YEARS. A LARGE NUMBER OF STATE EMPLOYEES ARE PAID SALARIES IN EXCESS OF $100-THOUSAND A YEAR. SOME STATE DEPARTMENT HEADS ARE PAID THREE TO FOUR TIMES THAT. KENNEDY SAYS STATE EXECUTIVE PAY SCALES ARE PARTLY TO BLAME FOR EVER-RISING ANNUAL STATE BUDGETS.

THE HOUSE APPROPRIATIONS COMMITTEE ADVANCED BUDGETS MONDAY FOR THE JUDICIARY AND THE LEGISLATURE. THE ANNUAL SPENDING PLAN (HOUSE BILL 1058) TO FINANCE THE OPERATIONS OF MANY STATE COURTS, INCLUDING THE LOUISIANA SUPREME COURT, IN THE NEW YEAR THAT BEGINS JULY 1 WOULD STAY FLAT AT $159 MILLION.
SUPREME COURT LEADERS SOUGHT A $6 MILLION INCREASE TO COVER INCREASED COSTS OF RETIREMENT AND HEALTH CARE AND EXPAND DRUG COURT PROGRAMS. THE PROPOSAL TO FINANCE LEGISLATIVE AGENCIES (HOUSE BILL 1044) WOULD GROW ABOUT $3 MILLION TO NEARLY $93 MILLION, MAINLY BY ROLLING OVER $2 MILLION FROM THIS YEAR TO NEXT YEAR'S OPERATING EXPENSES FOR THE LOUISIANA SENATE.

A 10-YEAR, $37 MILLION TAX BREAK FOR THE NEW ORLEANS HORNETS IS NEARING FINAL PASSAGE WITH BACKING IN A 7-2 VOTE FROM THE SENATE REVENUE AND FISCAL AFFAIRS COMMITTEE. THE HOUSE-APPROVED MEASURE (HOUSE BILL 1072) HEADS NEXT TO THE FULL SENATE FOR DEBATE. THE TAX BREAK, SPONSORED BY REP. CAMERON HENRY, R-METAIRIE, IS PART OF THE STATE'S DEAL TO KEEP THE NBA TEAM IN LOUISIANA.

LOUISIANA RANKS THIRD-HIGHEST IN THE COUNTRY FOR THE PERCENTAGE OF KIDS ENROLLED IN PRIVATE SCHOOLS, ACCORDING TO DATA FROM THE U.S. CENSUS BUREAU. THE REPORT SHOWS OVER 19-PERCENT OF THE STATE'S CHILDREN ATTEND PRIVATE SCHOOLS. MYRA MCGOVERN, WITH THE NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF INDEPENDENT SCHOOLS, SAYS THE STATE HAS A LONG TRADITION OF PRIVATE SCHOOLING THAT GOES BACK TO THE DAYS BEFORE IT HAD PUBLIC SCHOOLS. LOUISIANA RANKED BEHIND ONLY HAWAII AND DELAWARE FOR PERCENTAGES OF KIDS ENROLLED IN PRIVATE SCHOOLS.

LOUISIANA SENATORS ARE WATERING DOWN GOV. BOBBY JINDAL'S PROPOSALS TO CHARGE STATE EMPLOYEES MORE AND MAKE THEM WAIT LONGER FOR THEIR PENSION BENEFITS.
THE SENATE FINANCE COMMITTEE REWROTE THE BILLS AT A MONDAY HEARING, TO SHRINK AND PHASE IN THE INCREASED PAYMENTS AND LESSEN THE BLOW TO WORKERS WHO HAVE BEEN STATE EMPLOYEES FOR DECADES. THE RETIREMENT PROPOSALS HAVE FACED OPPOSITION FROM LAWMAKERS AND CONSTITUTIONAL QUESTIONS. LAWMAKERS AND THE GOVERNOR'S OFFICE HAVE BEEN HAGGLING BEHIND THE SCENES OVER ADJUSTMENTS THAT COULD WIN ENOUGH SUPPORT FOR PASSAGE. AS REWRITTEN, NONE OF THE CHANGES WOULD BEGIN UNTIL JULY 1, 2013, FOR CURRENT WORKERS. THE DELAYED RETIREMENT AGE WON'T APPLY TO WORKERS WHO ARE 55 YEARS OLD OR OLDER, OR THOSE WHO HAVE WORKED FOR THE STATE FOR AT LEAST 20 YEARS.

GOV. BOBBY JINDAL HAS SIGNED INTO LAW A BILL THAT CREATES A NEW TAX BREAK PROGRAM THAT WILL GIVE REBATES FOR DONATIONS TO VOUCHER PROGRAMS THAT ALLOW STUDENTS TO ATTEND PRIVATE SCHOOLS. JINDAL SAYS IT WILL GIVE CHILDREN IN FAILING PUBLIC SCHOOLS MORE OPPORTUNITIES TO GET AN IMPROVED EDUCATION. HE SIGNED THE MEASURE MONDAY. THE TAX BREAK BEGINS WITH THE 2013-14 SCHOOL YEAR. THE BILL PROVIDES A NEARLY DOLLAR-FOR-DOLLAR STATE TAX REBATE TO PEOPLE AND BUSINESSES WHO DONATE MONEY TO NONPROFIT ORGANIZATIONS THAT GIVE THE PRIVATE SCHOOL SCHOLARSHIPS TO STUDENTS. OPPONENTS SAY THE TAX BREAK PROGRAM WILL DAMAGE PUBLIC EDUCATION IN THE STATE BY SIPHONING OFF CHILDREN TO PRIVATE SCHOOLS AND TAKING DOLLARS AWAY FROM PUBLIC SCHOOLS.

GAS PRICES CONTINUE TO FALL AS SUMMER APPROACHES, DROPPING 20 CENTS A GALLON OVER THE LAST MONTH. THE CURRENT PRICE OF REGULAR GAS IS AVERAGING $3.61 A GALLON, DOWN FROM $3.82 A MONTH AGO. AAA FUEL ANALYST DON REDMAN SAYS UNREST IN THE EUROPEAN FINANCIAL MARKETS IS HELPING DRIVE DOWN THE PRICE OF CRUDE. REDMAN SAYS GAS PRICES ARE FOLLOWING A SIMILAR PATTERN TO THE ONE THEY FOLLOWED A YEAR AGO, WHEN PRICES COLLAPSED IN MAY. HE SAYS A DROP IN CRUDE PRICES AND FALLING DEMAND, CAUSED THE DROP IN PRICES TO BEGIN EARLIER THIS YEAR.

THE 2012 FORTUNE 500 LIST WAS RELEASED THIS MORNING, AND CENTURYLINK IS LISTED AS THE TOP RISING STAR. THE MONROE BASED BUSINESS WAS NO. 171 OVERALL WHICH IS UP FROM 334TH LAST YEAR. BATON ROUGE'S SHAW GROUP SLIPPED TO NO. 412 ON THIS YEAR'S LIST AND NEW ORLEANS' ENTERGY ALSO FELL ABOUT 30 SPOTS TO NO. 239. CENTURYLINK'S REPORTED REVENUE OF OVER $15 BILLION IN 2011 REPRESENTS NEARLY A 200% YEAR-OVER-YEAR INCREASE.

GOVERNOR BOBBY JINDAL WAS IN SHREVEPORT YESTERDAY TO ANNOUNCE A PAPER COMPANY BASED IN NEW JERSEY IS MOVING ITS CORPORATE HEADQUARTERS TO SHREVEPORT. RONPAK'S DECISION IS EXPECTED TO BRING ONE-HUNDRED NEW JOBS TO THE AREA. RONPAK PRESIDENT RON SEDLEY SAYS THEY ARE ALSO BUILDING A NEW FACILITY AT THE PORT OF CADDO-BOSSIER. RONPAK MAKES CUSTOM-PRINTED PAPER BAGS AND FOOD WRAPS FOR MAJOR FAST FOOD CHAINS. THEY ALSO SELL PAPER PRODUCTS TO PHARMACIES.

IF THE SABINE RIVER AUTHORITY WANTS TO SELL TOLEDO BEND RESERVOIR WATER TO TEXAS OR ANY OTHER STATE, IT WOULD HAVE TO GET APPROVAL OF THE GOVERNOR, LEGISLATIVE COMMITTEES AND PARISH MUNICIPAL GOVERNMENTS UNDER LEGISLATION HEADED FOR FINAL APPROVAL OF THE HOUSE FLOOR. SENATE BILL 436, SPONSORED BY SEN. GERALD LONG, R-WINNFIELD, DOESN'T TAKE AWAY THE SRA'S AUTHORITY TO ENTER INTO CONTRACTS WHICH PROVIDE FOR THE SALE, UTILIZATION, DISTRIBUTION OR CONSUMPTION OF WATER OUTSIDE THE BOUNDARIES OF THE STATE, AS LONG AS IT GETS THE WRITTEN CONSENT OF THE GOVERNOR. BUT IT ADDS A REQUIREMENT THAT ANY DEAL RECEIVE THE APPROVAL OF THE HOUSE AND SENATE NATURAL RESOURCES COMMITTEES, TWO THIRDS OF POLICE JURORS IN THE PARISHES THAT BORDER THE RESERVOIR AND TWO THIRDS OF THE MUNICIPAL GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS IN THOSE PARISHES.


SPORTS..

LSU MOVES UP TO NUMBER THREE IN THE LATEST BASEBALL AMERICA TOP 25 POLL. THE TIGERS ARE 38-AND-11 OVERALL AND TIED WITH SOUTH CAROLINA FOR THE BEST SEC RECORD AT 16-AND-8. THERE'S JUST SEVEN REGULAR SEASON GAMES LEFT BEFORE THE CONFERENCE TOURNAMENT BEGINS.

SAINTS LINEBACKER JONATHAN VILMA AND THREE OTHER PLAYERS SUSPENDED IN THE NFL'S INVESTIGATION OF NEW ORLEANS' CASH-FOR-HITS BOUNTY SYSTEM CHALLENGED THEIR PUNISHMENTS MONDAY. VILMA, NAMED BY THE NFL AS A RINGLEADER OF THE OPERATION, APPEALED HIS SEASON-LONG SUSPENSION WHILE THE NFL PLAYERS ASSOCIATION NOTIFIED THE LEAGUE IT WAS RESERVING THE APPEAL RIGHTS OF SAINTS DEFENSIVE END WILL SMITH AND THOSE OF EX-SAINTS ANTHONY HARGROVE AND SCOTT FUJITA. ALL FOUR PLAYERS AND THE UNION ARGUE THAT NO APPEAL SHOULD BE HEARD BEFORE NFLPA GRIEVANCES ARE RESOLVED QUESTIONING NFL COMMISSIONER ROGER GOODELL'S AUTHORITY TO DISCIPLINE THE PLAYERS AND TO HEAR THEIR APPEALS.





News For Monday Morning 05/07/12


NEWS FOR MONDAY 050712
BY DAVE GRAICHEN

EFFECTIVE TODAY, BUTCH BROWNING BUTCH BROWNING IS BACK AS LOUISIANA STATE FIRE MARSHAL. STATE POLICE SUPERINTENDENT COL. MIKE EDMONSON SAYS AFTER AN EXTENSIVE INVESTIGATION INTO ALLEGATIONS BROWNING ATTEMPTED TO DEFRAUD THE DEPARTMENT OR PUBLIC TRUST, HE ASKED HIM TO RECONSIDER HIS DECISION TO RETIRE. BROWNING SUBMITTED HIS INTENT TO RETIRE IN APRIL TELLING THE DEPARTMENT HE HAD DECIDED TO TAKE A JOB IN THE PRIVATE SECTOR. EDMONSON SAYS THE ALLEGATIONS THAT WERE MADE AGAINST BROWNING WERE TOTALLY WITHOUT MERIT. HE SAYS THE STATE FIRE MARSHAL'S OFFICE HAS MADE GREAT STRIDES UNDER BROWNING'S LEADERSHIP OVER THE YEARS.

THE 2012 LEGISLATIVE SESSION IS DOWN TO ITS LAST 28 DAYS WITH A NUMBER OF CRITICAL ISSUES STILL ON THE TABLE, INCLUDING STATE WORKER RETIREMENT REFORM AND THE BUDGET. LAPOLITICS.COM PUBLISHER JOHN MAGINNIS SAYS THE ADMINISTRATION LOOKED UNSTOPPABLE AFTER PASSING ITS EDUCATION REFORM PACKAGE, BUT IS NOW RUNNING INTO RESISTANCE FROM LAWMAKERS. PROBLEMS WITH THE STATE RETIREMENT BILLS AND THE STATE BUDGET ARE MAJOR STICKING POINTS. THE PROPOSED BUDGET FOR NEXT FISCAL YEAR WILL BE UP FOR DISCUSSION ON THURSDAY IN THE HOUSE. FISCAL CONSERVATIVES ARE NOT HAPPY WITH IT, BECAUSE IT CONTAINS 346-MILLION DOLLARS IN ONE-TIME MONEY. THE STATE IS ALSO 211-MILLION DOLLARS SHORT FOR THIS FISCAL YEAR. MAGINNIS SAYS TAPPING INTO THE RAINY-DAY FUND COULD BE THE STATE'S ONLY OPTION...

STOCKING UP ON FLASHLIGHTS, BATTERIES AND OTHER ITEMS TO GET READY FOR HURRICANE SEASON THIS SUMMER? YOU MIGHT WANT TO WAIT UNTIL MAY 26 AND 27, WHEN THE STATE HOLDS A SALES TAX HOLIDAY FOR HURRICANE PREPAREDNESS ITEMS. THAT WEEKEND, LOUISIANA RESIDENTS WON'T HAVE TO PAY THE 4 PERCENT STATE SALES TAX ON A LIST OF ITEMS LIKE FLASHLIGHTS AND CANDLES, WEATHER RADIOS, WATERPROOF SHEETING, GAS OR DIESEL FUEL TANKS, BATTERIES AND CHARGERS AND STORM SHUTTER DEVICES. THE SALES TAX HOLIDAY EXEMPTS THE FIRST $1,500 OF THE PURCHASE PRICE.
LOCAL SALES TAXES STILL APPLY UNLESS THE MUNICIPALITY EXEMPTED THEM. HURRICANE SEASON BEGINS JUNE 1.

A MEMBER OF THE HOUSE COMMITTEE THAT CRAFTS THE STATE'S ANNUAL BUDGET WANTS TO STRIP THE INSPECTOR GENERAL'S OFFICE OF ITS FUNDING. NAPOLEONVILLE REP. JOE HARRISON SAYS THE IG'S ANNUAL $1.7-MILLION BUDGET REPRESENTS REDUNDANCY IN STATE SPENDING. THE HOUSE APPROPRIATION COMMITTEE VOTED 11-4 THURSDAY IN SUPPORT OF HARRISON'S AMENDMENT TO STRIP THE IG'S FUNDING FOR THE FISCAL YEAR THAT STARTS JULY 1ST. INSPECTOR GENERAL STEPHEN STREET SAYS STRIPPING HIS BUDGET WILL EFFECTIVELY SHUT HIS OFFICE DOWN, SOMETHING HE SAYS WOULD SEND THE WORST POSSIBLE MESSAGE ABOUT LOUISIANA TO THE NATION.

BRANDON WILLIS, A FORMER PRISON GUARD HAS BEEN SENTENCED TO NEARLY SIX YEARS IN PRISON FOR ATTEMPTING TO SMUGGLE DRUGS INTO THE U.S. PENITENTIARY AT POLLOCK. THE 27 YEAR OLD WILLIS WAS SENTENCED FRIDAY TO 71 MONTHS AND THREE YEARS OF SUPERVISED PROBATION. HE WAS ARRESTED IN AUGUST AFTER MEETING WITH AN UNDERCOVER AGENT AND AGREEING TO SMUGGLE HEROIN AND METHAMPHETAMINE INTO THE PRISON, WHERE HE WORKED AS A GUARD.

JUDGE THOMAS YEAGER FRIDAY DELAYED THE SENTENCING OF A FORMER NURSE WHO WAS CONVICTED OF MOLESTING A 23 YEAR OLD MALE APPENDECTOMY PATIENT WHILE WE WAS N A LOCAL HOSPITAL’S RECOVERY ROOM. A SIX-MEMBER JURY TOOK LESS THAN AN HOUR ON APRIL 19 TO CONVICT 47 YEAR OLD PHILIP RAINES, A DECORATED ARMY VETERAN, CLAIMED THAT HE NEVER INAPPROPRIATELY TOUCHED THE VICTIM. YEAGER SAID FRIDAY THAT HE POSTPONED THE SENTENCE UNTIL JUNE 1 SO HE COULD READ LETTERS FROM THE VICTIM'S FAMILY, AND TO ALLOW RAINES' CHILDREN TO FINISH THE SCHOOL YEAR. RAINES FACES UP TO 10 YEARS IN PRISON WITHOUT PAROLE OR EARLY RELEASE.

TWO WOMEN ARE SUING A LOUISIANA SCHOOL BECAUSE THEY SAY OFFICIALS DIDN'T STOP PERSISTENT BULLYING THAT LED A 17-YEAR-OLD GIRL TO HANG HERSELF FROM THE FOOTBALL BLEACHERS IN MARCH. THE LAWSUIT WAS FILED BY THE GRAND MOTHER AND AUNT OF TESA MIDDLEBROOK, A POINTE COUPEE CENTRAL HIGH SCHOOL STUDENT. THE SUIT CLAIMS STAFF FAILED TO ACCOUNT FOR TESA AFTER SHE ATTENDED HOMEROOM ON MARCH 3, DESPITE THE FACT THAT SHE HAD BEEN PLACED ON A SCHOOL "WATCH LIST" AND HER WHEREABOUTS WERE SUPPOSED TO BE MONITORED. THE SUIT ASKS FOR FUNERAL COSTS AND OTHER UNSPECIFIED DAMAGES. THE POINTE COUPEE PARISH CORONER'S OFFICE SAID TESA DIED AROUND MIDDAY, BUT HER FAMILY DID NOT KNOW ANYTHING WAS WRONG UNTIL SHE FAILED TO GET OFF THE BUS THAT AFTERNOON.

A MURDER/SUICIDE INVESTIGATION IS UNDERWAY IN DESOTO PARISH WHERE OFFICIALS SAY A FATHER SHOT HIS TWO CHILDREN, THEN TURNED THE GUN ON HIMSELF. SHERIFF'S OFFICE SPOKESPERSON SGT ADAM EUING SAYS THEY RECEIVED A CALL OVER NIGHT FROM ANOTHER FAMILY MEMBER WITHIN THE HOME. EUING SAYS THE TRAGIC INCIDENT HAPPENED IN THE SMALL COMMUNITY OF FRIERSON. HE SAYS WHEN OFFICERS ARRIVED IT WAS PLAIN TO SEE WHAT HAD HAPPENED THOUGH THE MATTER IS STILL OFFICIALLY CONSIDERED TO BE UNDER INVESTIGATION. SHERIFF ARBUCKLE SAYS 39-YEAR-OLD SCOTT SWANSON SHOT 7-YEAR-OLD ALTON SWANSON AND 4-YEAR-OLD JACOB SWANSON, THEN TURNED THE GUN ON HIMSELF.

SHRIMPING SEASON IN LOUISIANA GETS STARTED TODAY. MARTY BOURGEOIS, WITH STATE WILDLIFE & FISHERIES, SAYS THE FIRST SHRIMPING ZONE OPENED THIS MORNING AT SIX O'CLOCK. LOUISIANA LEADS THE COUNTRY IN SHRIMP PRODUCTION. OVER 90-MILLION POUNDS OF SHRIMP WERE HARVESTED FROM LOUISIANA WATERS LAST YEAR. BOURGEOIS SAYS IT LOOKS LIKE ANOTHER BOUNTIFUL HARVEST THIS YEAR.

THE BULLDOG NATION IS CELEBRATING TODAY AS THE TECH ATHLETIC DEPARTMENT ANNOUNCES THE UNIVERSITY IS JOINING CONFERENCE USA STARTING JULY 1ST, 2013. TECH PRESIDENT DAN RENEAU SAYS BEING A MEMBER OF CUSA IS A LANDMARK EVENT THAT GREATLY ENHANCES THE IMAGE OF LOUISIANA TECH.





News For Friday Morning 05/04/12


NEWS FOR FRIDAY 050412
BY DAVE GRAICHEN

AN AUTOPSY WILL BE PERFORMED ON THE BODY OF A WOMAN WHO WAS FOUND THURSDAY MORNING IN THE AREA OF 14TH AND LEVIN STREETS IN ALEXANDRIA. OFFICIALS ARE NOT RELEASING THE WOMAN’S NAME PENDING POSITIVE IDENTIFICATION. THE AUTOPSY WILL MAKE THE FINAL DETERMINATION, BUT AT THIS POINT IT APPEARS SHE DIED OF NATURAL CAUSES.

IT APPEARS THE DAYS MAY BE NUMBERED FOR THE D.G. HUNTER POWER GENERATING STATION IN ALEXANDRIA. MAYOR JACQUES ROY SAID YESTERDAY THAT CITY OFFICIALS "HAVE COME TO THE CONCLUSION SOME TIME BACK" THAT THE AGE OF D.G. HUNTER AND NEW ENVIRONMENTAL REGULATIONS MAY PREVENT ANY UPGRADES AT THE POWER STATION. UTILITIES DIRECTOR MIKE MARCOTTE EXPLAINED THAT NEW EMISSIONS REGULATIONS PASSED LAST YEAR BY THE ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY LIKELY WOULD DOUBLE THE CITY'S ESTIMATED COSTS ON REGENERATING D.G. HUNTER, WHICH CURRENTLY HAS JUST TWO OF ITS FOUR UNITS OPERABLE. ALTHOUGH ALL POSSIBLE OPTIONS ARE BEING EXPLORED, MAYOR ROY SAYS HE BELIEVES THE CITY'S ELECTRICAL FUTURE SHOULD REMAIN TIED WITH CLECO.

A FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY HIRED BY THE NFL TO EVALUATE ITS INVESTIGATION OF THE NEW ORLEANS SAINTS' BOUNTY PROGRAM SAID THURSDAY THE EVIDENCE SHOWS PLAYERS RECEIVED PAYMENTS FOR HITS ON TARGETED OPPONENTS. MARY JO WHITE SAID IN A CONFERENCE CALL THAT EVIDENCE IN THE LEAGUE'S INVESTIGATION OF THE THREE-YEAR PAY-FOR-PAIN SYSTEM PROVIDED "AN UNUSUALLY STRONG RECORD" AND CAME FROM PEOPLE WITH "FIRSTHAND KNOWLEDGE AND CORROBORATED BY DOCUMENTATION."
WHEN ASKED TWICE WHETHER ANY PLAYERS ACTUALLY WERE PAID FOR HITS, WHITE CONFIRMED THEY WERE WITHOUT GOING INTO SPECIFICS. SHE ADDED THAT MOST OF THE MONEY IN THE BOUNTY SCHEME WAS PROVIDED BY THE PLAYERS.

WILLIAM JEFFERSON, WHO CAME UP FROM NORTH LOUISIANA POVERTY TO BECOME THE STATE'S FIRST MODERN DAY AFRICAN-AMERICAN CONGRESSMAN AND ONE OF ITS MOST POWERFUL POLITICIANS, WAS EXPECTED TO REPORT TO A FEDERAL PRISON FRIDAY — THE LATEST INDIGNITY RESULTING FROM A FEDERAL INVESTIGATION THAT DISSOLVED HIS POWER AND MADE HIM A LAUGHING STOCK OVER BRIBE MONEY HIDDEN IN HIS FREEZER.

THE LOUISIANA HOUSE UNANIMOUSLY AGREED THURSDAY TO EXPAND A 10-YEAR LOCAL PROPERTY TAX EXEMPTION AND MAKE IT AVAILABLE TO MORE BUSINESSES, BUT ONLY AFTER THEY INCLUDED MORE HURDLES FOR BUSINESSES TO CLEAR BEFORE THE TAX BREAK COULD BE OFFERED. THE PACKAGE OF BILLS, SOUGHT BY THE JINDAL ADMINISTRATION, WOULD ALLOW PARISHES TO OFFER THE TAX BREAKS TO DIGITAL MEDIA BUSINESSES, DATA CENTERS, RENEWABLE ENERGY FIRMS, CORPORATE HEADQUARTERS AND RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT FIRMS , IF THEY HAVE A MAJORITY OF THEIR SALES OUT OF THE STATE AND MAKE A CAPITAL INVESTMENT IN LOUISIANA GREATER THAN $25 MILLION. LOCAL GOVERNING BODIES WOULD HAVE TO DECIDE IF THEY WANT TO PARTICIPATE BEFORE THE TAX BREAK COULD BE OFFERED TO COMPANIES AS PART OF A STATE AND LOCAL INCENTIVE PACKAGE. THEY COULD ALSO DECIDE WHETHER TO USE THE PROGRAM ON A PROJECT-BY-PROJECT BASIS. BEFORE THE PROPERTY TAX BREAK CAN BE EXPANDED, IT WOULD REQUIRE A CONSTITUTIONAL CHANGE APPROVED BY VOTERS IN A STATEWIDE ELECTION. THE MEASURE NOW HEADS NEXT TO THE SENATE FOR DEBATE.

THE GOVERNOR'S OFFICE HAS ANNOUNCED THE LATEST DEVELOPMENT IN PLANS FOR A $6 BILLION LIQUEFIED NATURAL GAS EXPORT TERMINAL IN SOUTHWESTERN LOUISIANA.
A THURSDAY NEWS RELEASE SAYS SEMPRA ENERGY INC., HAS REACHED AN AGREEMENT WITH AN AFFILIATE OF A FRENCH COMPANY, GDF SUEZ, TO DEVELOP THE FACILITY. IT IS THE THIRD AND FINAL COMMERCIAL AGREEMENT SIGNED BY SEMPRA FOR DEVELOPMENT OF THE TERMINAL, WHICH WILL EXPORT 12 MILLION METRIC TONS PER YEAR. EARLIER AGREEMENTS HAD BEEN ANNOUNCED WITH MITSUBISHI CORPORATION AND MITSUI & CO. LTD.
CONSTRUCTION IS EXPECTED TO BEGIN IN 2013. THE GOVERNOR'S OFFICE SAYS THE FACILITY WILL BRING 130 NEW, PERMANENT JOBS TO THE AREA, ALONG WITH 3,000 CONSTRUCTION JOBS.

A PROPOSAL TO CREATE TAX BREAKS FOR DONATIONS TO PUBLIC SCHOOLS RECEIVED UNANIMOUS APPROVAL THURSDAY FROM THE LOUISIANA HOUSE. THE MEASURE BY REP. KATRINA JACKSON, D-MONROE, CAME IN RESPONSE TO A JINDAL ADMINISTRATION BILL, WHICH HAS WON FINAL LEGISLATIVE PASSAGE, TO GIVE A NEAR DOLLAR-FOR-DOLLAR TAX REBATE FOR PEOPLE AND BUSINESSES THAT DONATE TO NONPROFITS THAT GIVE SCHOLARSHIPS FOR CHILDREN TO ATTEND PRIVATE SCHOOLS. JACKSON'S BILL (HOUSE BILL 1006) IS A SMALLER TAX BREAK. IT WOULD GIVE TAXPAYERS A REBATE FOR DONATIONS MADE TO PUBLIC SCHOOLS FOR BOOKS, TECHNOLOGY AND OTHER PROGRAMS. THE REBATE WOULD BE 25 PERCENT OF THE DONATION IF IT WENT TO A SCHOOL GRADED WITH A "C'' IN THE STATE ACCOUNTABILITY SYSTEM, 50 PERCENT FOR A "D'' SCHOOL AND 75 PERCENT FOR AN "F'' SCHOOL. THE PROPOSAL HEADS NEXT TO THE SENATE FOR DEBATE

A MEASURE TO TOUGHEN PENALTIES FOR BUYING, SELLING OR CARRYING A GUN WITH A REMOVED OR OBLITERATED SERIAL NUMBER RECEIVED THE BACKING OF THE HOUSE. PRESENT LAW CARRIES A PRISON SENTENCE UP TO SIX MONTHS. THE BILL (HOUSE BILL 4) BY REP. JOE LOPINTO, R-METAIRIE, WOULD SET A MANDATORY MINIMUM SENTENCE FOR AT LEAST ONE YEAR FOR A FIRST OFFENSE AND AT LEAST TWO YEARS FOR A SECOND OR LATER OFFENSE.

BOTH THE HOUSE AND SENATE HAVE BACKED A PROPOSAL (SENATE BILL 435) THAT WOULD REQUIRE MASSAGE PARLORS, SPAS, HOTELS, STRIP CLUBS AND TRUCK STOPS TO POST INFORMATION ABOUT THE NATIONAL HUMAN TRAFFICKING RESOURCE CENTER HOTLINE. THE MEASURE BY SEN. SHARON WESTON BROOME, D-BATON ROUGE, HEADS BACK TO THE SENATE FOR APPROVAL OF HOUSE CHANGES, BEFORE REACHING FINAL PASSAGE.

LOUISIANA SENATORS ARE WORKING TO CRAFT A TOUGHER STATEWIDE BAN ON BULLYING AT SCHOOLS, BUT WITH STRONG DISAGREEMENT OVER HOW TO LABEL WHAT CONSTITUTES HARASSMENT AGAINST STUDENTS, IN A DEBATE THAT HAS BECOME AN ANNUAL FLASHPOINT OVER GAY RIGHTS. A BILL ADVANCED THURSDAY BY THE SENATE EDUCATION COMMITTEE WOULD DEFINE BULLYING, DESCRIBE WAYS TO REPORT ALLEGATIONS AND SET THE TIMELINE FOR SCHOOL ADMINISTRATORS TO RESPOND. THE PANEL REFUSED TO BACK A SECOND BILL BY SEN. YVONNE DORSEY-COLOMB, D-BATON ROUGE, THAT WOULD SPELL OUT THAT HARASSMENT AND BULLYING WOULD NOT BE ALLOWED BECAUSE OF A PERSON'S CHARACTERISTICS, INCLUDING RACE, ANCESTRY, RELIGION, PHYSICAL OR INTELLECTUAL DISABILITY, MENTAL ILLNESS, LANGUAGE ABILITY, SEXUAL ORIENTATION, GENDER IDENTITY AND POLITICAL IDEAS. SUCH A LIST HAS BEEN REPEATEDLY OPPOSED BY THE CONSERVATIVE LOUISIANA FAMILY FORUM AND RELIGIOUS GROUPS AS INTRODUCING SEXUAL POLITICS INTO THE CLASSROOM AND PROMOTING A "GAY AGENDA" IN SCHOOLS. GENE MILLS, HEAD OF THE FAMILY FORUM, HELPED WRITE THE BILL WITHOUT A LIST OF CHARACTERISTICS.

A FEDERAL JUDGE HAS PUSHED BACK THE START OF A CIVIL TRIAL FOR CLAIMS AGAINST BP PLC AND OTHER COMPANIES INVOLVED IN THE 2010 GULF OIL SPILL. U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE CARL BARBIER ON THURSDAY SET A DATE OF JAN. 14, 2013. TRIAL HAD BEEN SCHEDULED TO START ON NOV. 8. THE LITIGATION CENTERS ON THE OIL SPILL THAT BEGAN IN APRIL 2010 FROM BP'S MACONDO WELL IN THE GULF OF MEXICO OFF THE LOUISIANA COAST. THE JUSTICE DEPARTMENT AND THE STATE OF ALABAMA HAD WANTED THE TRIAL TO START THIS SUMMER, BUT BP ASKED FOR A JANUARY 2013 DATE. THE LATER DATE WOULD GIVE BARBIER TIME TO GRANT FINAL APPROVAL TO A SETTLEMENT ALREADY REACHED WITH A COMMITTEE OF PLAINTIFFS ATTORNEYS.

ANIMAL ACTIVIST AND RETIRED GAME-SHOW HOST BOB BARKER VISITED NORTHWEST LOUISIANA THURSDAY TO OPEN A NEW AREA AT CHIMP HAVEN, A NATIONAL CHIMPANZEE SANCTUARY, AND TO WATCH AS FIVE HIV-INFECTED CHIMPS TRANSFERRED FROM A CLOSED TEXAS FACILITY WERE INTRODUCED TO THEIR NEW HOME. OTHER SANCTUARIES TOOK THE REST OF ITS ANIMALS, INCLUDING 11 CHIMPANZEES. NONE WOULD TAKE DOC, JOJO, MURPHY, FLICK OR PIERRE BECAUSE THEY ARE INFECTED WITH THE HIV VIRUS. ONE ALSO HAS HEPATITIS. THE CHIMPS WERE INFECTED AS PART OF AN EXPERIMENT MANY YEARS AGO. BUT, ARE SAID TO BE IN VERY GOOD HEALTH. BARKER, WHO IS NO 88, GAVE $380,000 TO HELP CREATE THE AREA, WHICH IS NAMED AFTER HIM, AND TO SUPPORT THE ANIMALS FOR A YEAR.

LAFAYETTE PARISH SHERIFF'S DEPUTIES SAY A WORKER WAS KILLED IN AN ACCIDENT WHILE ON THE JOB. OFFICIALS SAY A CRANE OPERATOR ACCIDENTALLY CRUSHED A CO-WORKER WHO WAS ON THE GROUND AS THEY WERE MOVING SOME PIPES. 26-YEAR-OLD KEVIN BENJAMIN OF CARENCRO WAS TAKEN TO A LOCAL HOSPITAL WHERE HE WAS PRONOUNCED DEAD. AN INVESTIGATION IS UNDER WAY, ALTHOUGH NO CRIMINAL CHARGES ARE EXPECTED.

THE LA NINA WEATHER PHENOMENON IS OVER. FORECASTERS SAY THAT'S GOOD NEWS FOR THE DROUGHT IN THE SOUTH AND HURRICANE AREAS ALONG THE COASTS. THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE PRONOUNCED THE TWO-YEAR LA NINA FINISHED ON THURSDAY. LA NINA IS THE FLIP SIDE OF EL NINO AND IS CAUSED BY THE COOLING OF THE CENTRAL PACIFIC OCEAN. LA NINA'S GREATEST EFFECTS ARE IN THE WINTER, USUALLY TRIGGERING DROUGHT IN THE U.S. SOUTH AND MORE RAIN FURTHER NORTH. IT ALSO OFTEN MEANS MORE HURRICANE ACTIVITY IN THE ATLANTIC DURING THE SUMMER. FOR US THIS YEAR, FORECASTERS ARE PREDICTING HOTTER THAN NORMAL TEMPS, WITH AVERAGE RAIN.

A LAFAYETTE GRAND JURY REFUSED TO BRING CHARGES AGAINST A LAFAYETTE HIGH SCHOOL DANCE TEACHER ACCUSED OF INDECENT BEHAVIOR WITH JUVENILES. 30- YEAR-OLD KATIE CHAMPAGNE WAS ACCUSED OF INAPPROPRIATE TOUCHING BY A 14- YEAR-OLD GIRL IN HER CLASS. CHAMPAGNE'S DEFENSE ATTORNEY, WILLIAM GOODE, SAYS NO HARD EVIDENCE COULD BE FOUND TO SUPPORT THE CHARGES. POLICE IDENTIFIED SIX CHILDREN UNDER THE AGE OF 17 WHO HAD ALLEGEDLY BEEN VICTIMS IN THE CASE. CHAMPAGNE WAS ARRESTED ON SIX COUNTS OF INDECENT BEHAVIOR WITH A JUVENILE, SUSPENDED FROM HER JOB AND HAD TO POST A 30-THOUSAND DOLLAR BOND, IN SPITE OF HAVING NO PRIOR CRIMINAL RECORD. NOW THAT THE GRAND JURY HAS RETURNED A RULING OF NO TRUE BILL, ESSENTIALLY DISMISSING THE CHARGES, CHAMPAGNE'S ATTORNEY SAYS SHE WILL BEGIN THE PROCESS OF GETTING BACK TO HER JOB. GOODE SAYS THERE WAS NEVER ANY DOUBT THAT SHE WOULD RETURN TO TEACHING DANCE. CHAMPAGNE HAS BEEN ON PAID ADMINISTRATIVE LEAVE FOLLOWING HER ARREST.

A SHREVEPORT MAN HAS BEEN BOOKED INTO JAIL ON A CHARGE OF SECOND-DEGREE MURDER IN THE DEATH OF HIS 23-MONTH OLD DAUGHTER. POLICE SAY THE CHILD, ALIYAH WEST, WAS FOUND UNCONSCIOUS AND UNRESPONSIVE BY OFFICERS RESPONDING TO A CALL AT A SHREVEPORT HOME WEDNESDAY EVENING. THE CHILD WAS LATER PRONOUNCED DEAD AT WILLIS KNIGHTON MEDICAL CENTER. AN INVESTIGATION BY DETECTIVES AND CORONER'S INVESTIGATORS LED TO THE ARREST OF 37-YEAR-OLD MARQUICE MCNEIL THURSDAY EVENING.

A WINNFIELD MAN WAS CONVICTED THIS WEEK ON METHAMPHETAMINE CONSPIRACY AND TRAFFICKING CHARGES AND FACES UP TO 90 YEARS IN PRISON. 35 YEAR OLD TIMOTHY NORRIS COULD BE LOOKING AT EVEN MORE JAIL TIME IF THE DISTRICT ATTORNEY’S OFFICE IS SUCCESSFUL IN CLASSIFYING HIM AS A HABITUAL OFFENDER. IN 2003, NORRIS WAS CONVICTED OF POSSESSION OF METHAMPHETAMINE AND JAILED FOR FIVE YEARS.
ON THE LATEST CHARGES, A 12-PERSON JURY CONVICTED NORRIS ON WEDNESDAY AFTER ABOUT AN HOUR DELIBERATING. THE VERDICT WAS UNANIMOUS IN THE CHARGES OF TWO COUNTS OF CONSPIRACY TO TRAFFIC METHAMPHETAMINE AND TWO COUNTS OF DISTRIBUTION. WITHOUT THE HABITUAL OFFENDER CLASSIFICATION, NORRIS FACES A MAXIMUM 90 YEARS IN PRISON AT HARD LABOR AND A FINE UP TO $150,000.

SPORTS..

AFTER BEATING IN-STATE RIVAL TULANE ON TUESDAY, THE FOURTH RANKED TIGERS BEGIN A SERIES TONIGHT AGAINST THEIR BIGGEST SEC RIVAL, THE OLE MISS REBELS. SIX OF THE LAST EIGHT GAMES PLAYED BETWEEN THESE TWO TEAMS HAVE BEEN DECIDED BY TWO RUNS OR LESS. LSU ENTERS THE SERIES IN A THREE-WAY TIE FOR THE OVERALL LEAD IN THE SOUTHEASTERN CONFERENCE. KENTUCKY, SOUTH CAROLINA AND THE TIGERS ARE ALL 14-AND-7 IN THE LEAGUE.

News For Thursday Evening 5/3/12


NEWS FOR FRIDAY 050412
BY DAVE GRAICHEN

AN AUTOPSY WILL BE PERFORMED ON THE BODY OF A WOMAN WHO WAS FOUND THURSDAY MORNING IN THE AREA OF 14TH AND LEVIN STREETS IN ALEXANDRIA. OFFICIALS ARE NOT RELEASING THE WOMAN’S NAME PENDING POSITIVE IDENTIFICATION. THE AUTOPSY WILL MAKE THE FINAL DETERMINATION, BUT AT THIS POINT IT APPEARS SHE DIED OF NATURAL CAUSES.

A FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY HIRED BY THE NFL TO EVALUATE ITS INVESTIGATION OF THE NEW ORLEANS SAINTS' BOUNTY PROGRAM SAID THURSDAY THE EVIDENCE SHOWS PLAYERS RECEIVED PAYMENTS FOR HITS ON TARGETED OPPONENTS. MARY JO WHITE SAID IN A CONFERENCE CALL THAT EVIDENCE IN THE LEAGUE'S INVESTIGATION OF THE THREE-YEAR PAY-FOR-PAIN SYSTEM PROVIDED "AN UNUSUALLY STRONG RECORD" AND CAME FROM PEOPLE WITH "FIRSTHAND KNOWLEDGE AND CORROBORATED BY DOCUMENTATION."
WHEN ASKED TWICE WHETHER ANY PLAYERS ACTUALLY WERE PAID FOR HITS, WHITE CONFIRMED THEY WERE WITHOUT GOING INTO SPECIFICS. SHE ADDED THAT MOST OF THE MONEY IN THE BOUNTY SCHEME WAS PROVIDED BY THE PLAYERS.

WILLIAM JEFFERSON, WHO CAME UP FROM NORTH LOUISIANA POVERTY TO BECOME THE STATE'S FIRST MODERN DAY AFRICAN-AMERICAN CONGRESSMAN AND ONE OF ITS MOST POWERFUL POLITICIANS, WAS EXPECTED TO REPORT TO A FEDERAL PRISON FRIDAY — THE LATEST INDIGNITY RESULTING FROM A FEDERAL INVESTIGATION THAT DISSOLVED HIS POWER AND MADE HIM A LAUGHING STOCK OVER BRIBE MONEY HIDDEN IN HIS FREEZER.

THE LOUISIANA HOUSE UNANIMOUSLY AGREED THURSDAY TO EXPAND A 10-YEAR LOCAL PROPERTY TAX EXEMPTION AND MAKE IT AVAILABLE TO MORE BUSINESSES, BUT ONLY AFTER THEY INCLUDED MORE HURDLES FOR BUSINESSES TO CLEAR BEFORE THE TAX BREAK COULD BE OFFERED. THE PACKAGE OF BILLS, SOUGHT BY THE JINDAL ADMINISTRATION, WOULD ALLOW PARISHES TO OFFER THE TAX BREAKS TO DIGITAL MEDIA BUSINESSES, DATA CENTERS, RENEWABLE ENERGY FIRMS, CORPORATE HEADQUARTERS AND RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT FIRMS , IF THEY HAVE A MAJORITY OF THEIR SALES OUT OF THE STATE AND MAKE A CAPITAL INVESTMENT IN LOUISIANA GREATER THAN $25 MILLION. LOCAL GOVERNING BODIES WOULD HAVE TO DECIDE IF THEY WANT TO PARTICIPATE BEFORE THE TAX BREAK COULD BE OFFERED TO COMPANIES AS PART OF A STATE AND LOCAL INCENTIVE PACKAGE. THEY COULD ALSO DECIDE WHETHER TO USE THE PROGRAM ON A PROJECT-BY-PROJECT BASIS. BEFORE THE PROPERTY TAX BREAK CAN BE EXPANDED, IT WOULD REQUIRE A CONSTITUTIONAL CHANGE APPROVED BY VOTERS IN A STATEWIDE ELECTION. THE MEASURE NOW HEADS NEXT TO THE SENATE FOR DEBATE.

A PROPOSAL TO CREATE TAX BREAKS FOR DONATIONS TO PUBLIC SCHOOLS RECEIVED UNANIMOUS APPROVAL THURSDAY FROM THE LOUISIANA HOUSE. THE MEASURE BY REP. KATRINA JACKSON, D-MONROE, CAME IN RESPONSE TO A JINDAL ADMINISTRATION BILL, WHICH HAS WON FINAL LEGISLATIVE PASSAGE, TO GIVE A NEAR DOLLAR-FOR-DOLLAR TAX REBATE FOR PEOPLE AND BUSINESSES THAT DONATE TO NONPROFITS THAT GIVE SCHOLARSHIPS FOR CHILDREN TO ATTEND PRIVATE SCHOOLS. JACKSON'S BILL (HOUSE BILL 1006) IS A SMALLER TAX BREAK. IT WOULD GIVE TAXPAYERS A REBATE FOR DONATIONS MADE TO PUBLIC SCHOOLS FOR BOOKS, TECHNOLOGY AND OTHER PROGRAMS. THE REBATE WOULD BE 25 PERCENT OF THE DONATION IF IT WENT TO A SCHOOL GRADED WITH A "C'' IN THE STATE ACCOUNTABILITY SYSTEM, 50 PERCENT FOR A "D'' SCHOOL AND 75 PERCENT FOR AN "F'' SCHOOL. THE PROPOSAL HEADS NEXT TO THE SENATE FOR DEBATE

A MEASURE TO TOUGHEN PENALTIES FOR BUYING, SELLING OR CARRYING A GUN WITH A REMOVED OR OBLITERATED SERIAL NUMBER RECEIVED THE BACKING OF THE HOUSE. PRESENT LAW CARRIES A PRISON SENTENCE UP TO SIX MONTHS. THE BILL (HOUSE BILL 4) BY REP. JOE LOPINTO, R-METAIRIE, WOULD SET A MANDATORY MINIMUM SENTENCE FOR AT LEAST ONE YEAR FOR A FIRST OFFENSE AND AT LEAST TWO YEARS FOR A SECOND OR LATER OFFENSE.

BOTH THE HOUSE AND SENATE HAVE BACKED A PROPOSAL (SENATE BILL 435) THAT WOULD REQUIRE MASSAGE PARLORS, SPAS, HOTELS, STRIP CLUBS AND TRUCK STOPS TO POST INFORMATION ABOUT THE NATIONAL HUMAN TRAFFICKING RESOURCE CENTER HOTLINE. THE MEASURE BY SEN. SHARON WESTON BROOME, D-BATON ROUGE, HEADS BACK TO THE SENATE FOR APPROVAL OF HOUSE CHANGES, BEFORE REACHING FINAL PASSAGE.

LOUISIANA SENATORS ARE WORKING TO CRAFT A TOUGHER STATEWIDE BAN ON BULLYING AT SCHOOLS, BUT WITH STRONG DISAGREEMENT OVER HOW TO LABEL WHAT CONSTITUTES HARASSMENT AGAINST STUDENTS, IN A DEBATE THAT HAS BECOME AN ANNUAL FLASHPOINT OVER GAY RIGHTS. A BILL ADVANCED THURSDAY BY THE SENATE EDUCATION COMMITTEE WOULD DEFINE BULLYING, DESCRIBE WAYS TO REPORT ALLEGATIONS AND SET THE TIMELINE FOR SCHOOL ADMINISTRATORS TO RESPOND. THE PANEL REFUSED TO BACK A SECOND BILL BY SEN. YVONNE DORSEY-COLOMB, D-BATON ROUGE, THAT WOULD SPELL OUT THAT HARASSMENT AND BULLYING WOULD NOT BE ALLOWED BECAUSE OF A PERSON'S CHARACTERISTICS, INCLUDING RACE, ANCESTRY, RELIGION, PHYSICAL OR INTELLECTUAL DISABILITY, MENTAL ILLNESS, LANGUAGE ABILITY, SEXUAL ORIENTATION, GENDER IDENTITY AND POLITICAL IDEAS. SUCH A LIST HAS BEEN REPEATEDLY OPPOSED BY THE CONSERVATIVE LOUISIANA FAMILY FORUM AND RELIGIOUS GROUPS AS INTRODUCING SEXUAL POLITICS INTO THE CLASSROOM AND PROMOTING A "GAY AGENDA" IN SCHOOLS. GENE MILLS, HEAD OF THE FAMILY FORUM, HELPED WRITE THE BILL WITHOUT A LIST OF CHARACTERISTICS.

A FEDERAL JUDGE HAS PUSHED BACK THE START OF A CIVIL TRIAL FOR CLAIMS AGAINST BP PLC AND OTHER COMPANIES INVOLVED IN THE 2010 GULF OIL SPILL. U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE CARL BARBIER ON THURSDAY SET A DATE OF JAN. 14, 2013. TRIAL HAD BEEN SCHEDULED TO START ON NOV. 8. THE LITIGATION CENTERS ON THE OIL SPILL THAT BEGAN IN APRIL 2010 FROM BP'S MACONDO WELL IN THE GULF OF MEXICO OFF THE LOUISIANA COAST. THE JUSTICE DEPARTMENT AND THE STATE OF ALABAMA HAD WANTED THE TRIAL TO START THIS SUMMER, BUT BP ASKED FOR A JANUARY 2013 DATE. THE LATER DATE WOULD GIVE BARBIER TIME TO GRANT FINAL APPROVAL TO A SETTLEMENT ALREADY REACHED WITH A COMMITTEE OF PLAINTIFFS ATTORNEYS.

ANIMAL ACTIVIST AND RETIRED GAME-SHOW HOST BOB BARKER VISITED NORTHWEST LOUISIANA THURSDAY TO OPEN A NEW AREA AT CHIMP HAVEN, A NATIONAL CHIMPANZEE SANCTUARY, AND TO WATCH AS FIVE HIV-INFECTED CHIMPS TRANSFERRED FROM A CLOSED TEXAS FACILITY WERE INTRODUCED TO THEIR NEW HOME. OTHER SANCTUARIES TOOK THE REST OF ITS ANIMALS, INCLUDING 11 CHIMPANZEES. NONE WOULD TAKE DOC, JOJO, MURPHY, FLICK OR PIERRE BECAUSE THEY ARE INFECTED WITH THE HIV VIRUS. ONE ALSO HAS HEPATITIS. THE CHIMPS WERE INFECTED AS PART OF AN EXPERIMENT MANY YEARS AGO. BUT, ARE SAID TO BE IN VERY GOOD HEALTH. BARKER, WHO IS NO 88, GAVE $380,000 TO HELP CREATE THE AREA, WHICH IS NAMED AFTER HIM, AND TO SUPPORT THE ANIMALS FOR A YEAR.

LAFAYETTE PARISH SHERIFF'S DEPUTIES SAY A WORKER WAS KILLED IN AN ACCIDENT WHILE ON THE JOB. OFFICIALS SAY A CRANE OPERATOR ACCIDENTALLY CRUSHED A CO-WORKER WHO WAS ON THE GROUND AS THEY WERE MOVING SOME PIPES. 26-YEAR-OLD KEVIN BENJAMIN OF CARENCRO WAS TAKEN TO A LOCAL HOSPITAL WHERE HE WAS PRONOUNCED DEAD. AN INVESTIGATION IS UNDER WAY, ALTHOUGH NO CRIMINAL CHARGES ARE EXPECTED.

THE LA NINA WEATHER PHENOMENON IS OVER. FORECASTERS SAY THAT'S GOOD NEWS FOR THE DROUGHT IN THE SOUTH AND HURRICANE AREAS ALONG THE COASTS. THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE PRONOUNCED THE TWO-YEAR LA NINA FINISHED ON THURSDAY. LA NINA IS THE FLIP SIDE OF EL NINO AND IS CAUSED BY THE COOLING OF THE CENTRAL PACIFIC OCEAN. LA NINA'S GREATEST EFFECTS ARE IN THE WINTER, USUALLY TRIGGERING DROUGHT IN THE U.S. SOUTH AND MORE RAIN FURTHER NORTH. IT ALSO OFTEN MEANS MORE HURRICANE ACTIVITY IN THE ATLANTIC DURING THE SUMMER. FOR US THIS YEAR, FORECASTERS ARE PREDICTING HOTTER THAN NORMAL TEMPS, WITH AVERAGE RAIN.

A LAFAYETTE GRAND JURY REFUSED TO BRING CHARGES AGAINST A LAFAYETTE HIGH SCHOOL DANCE TEACHER ACCUSED OF INDECENT BEHAVIOR WITH JUVENILES. 30- YEAR-OLD KATIE CHAMPAGNE WAS ACCUSED OF INAPPROPRIATE TOUCHING BY A 14- YEAR-OLD GIRL IN HER CLASS. CHAMPAGNE'S DEFENSE ATTORNEY, WILLIAM GOODE, SAYS NO HARD EVIDENCE COULD BE FOUND TO SUPPORT THE CHARGES. POLICE IDENTIFIED SIX CHILDREN UNDER THE AGE OF 17 WHO HAD ALLEGEDLY BEEN VICTIMS IN THE CASE. CHAMPAGNE WAS ARRESTED ON SIX COUNTS OF INDECENT BEHAVIOR WITH A JUVENILE, SUSPENDED FROM HER JOB AND HAD TO POST A 30-THOUSAND DOLLAR BOND, IN SPITE OF HAVING NO PRIOR CRIMINAL RECORD. NOW THAT THE GRAND JURY HAS RETURNED A RULING OF NO TRUE BILL, ESSENTIALLY DISMISSING THE CHARGES, CHAMPAGNE'S ATTORNEY SAYS SHE WILL BEGIN THE PROCESS OF GETTING BACK TO HER JOB. GOODE SAYS THERE WAS NEVER ANY DOUBT THAT SHE WOULD RETURN TO TEACHING DANCE. CHAMPAGNE HAS BEEN ON PAID ADMINISTRATIVE LEAVE FOLLOWING HER ARREST.

A SHREVEPORT MAN HAS BEEN BOOKED INTO JAIL ON A CHARGE OF SECOND-DEGREE MURDER IN THE DEATH OF HIS 23-MONTH OLD DAUGHTER. POLICE SAY THE CHILD, ALIYAH WEST, WAS FOUND UNCONSCIOUS AND UNRESPONSIVE BY OFFICERS RESPONDING TO A CALL AT A SHREVEPORT HOME WEDNESDAY EVENING. THE CHILD WAS LATER PRONOUNCED DEAD AT WILLIS KNIGHTON MEDICAL CENTER. AN INVESTIGATION BY DETECTIVES AND CORONER'S INVESTIGATORS LED TO THE ARREST OF 37-YEAR-OLD MARQUICE MCNEIL THURSDAY EVENING.

A WINNFIELD MAN WAS CONVICTED THIS WEEK ON METHAMPHETAMINE CONSPIRACY AND TRAFFICKING CHARGES AND FACES UP TO 90 YEARS IN PRISON. 35 YEAR OLD TIMOTHY NORRIS COULD BE LOOKING AT EVEN MORE JAIL TIME IF THE DISTRICT ATTORNEY’S OFFICE IS SUCCESSFUL IN CLASSIFYING HIM AS A HABITUAL OFFENDER. IN 2003, NORRIS WAS CONVICTED OF POSSESSION OF METHAMPHETAMINE AND JAILED FOR FIVE YEARS.
ON THE LATEST CHARGES, A 12-PERSON JURY CONVICTED NORRIS ON WEDNESDAY AFTER ABOUT AN HOUR DELIBERATING. THE VERDICT WAS UNANIMOUS IN THE CHARGES OF TWO COUNTS OF CONSPIRACY TO TRAFFIC METHAMPHETAMINE AND TWO COUNTS OF DISTRIBUTION. WITHOUT THE HABITUAL OFFENDER CLASSIFICATION, NORRIS FACES A MAXIMUM 90 YEARS IN PRISON AT HARD LABOR AND A FINE UP TO $150,000.

SPORTS..

AFTER BEATING IN-STATE RIVAL TULANE ON TUESDAY, THE FOURTH RANKED TIGERS BEGIN A SERIES TONIGHT AGAINST THEIR BIGGEST SEC RIVAL, THE OLE MISS REBELS. SIX OF THE LAST EIGHT GAMES PLAYED BETWEEN THESE TWO TEAMS HAVE BEEN DECIDED BY TWO RUNS OR LESS. LSU ENTERS THE SERIES IN A THREE-WAY TIE FOR THE OVERALL LEAD IN THE SOUTHEASTERN CONFERENCE. KENTUCKY, SOUTH CAROLINA AND THE TIGERS ARE ALL 14-AND-7 IN THE LEAGUE.







News For Thursday Morning 05/03/12


NEWS FOR THURSDAY 050312
BY DAVE GRAICHEN

NEW ORLEANS SAINTS LINEBACKER JONATHAN VILMA WAS SUSPENDED WITHOUT PAY FOR THE ENTIRE 2012 SEASON BY THE NFL, ONE OF FOUR PLAYERS PUNISHED WEDNESDAY FOR PARTICIPATING IN THE TEAM'S CASH-FOR-HITS BOUNTY SYSTEM. DEFENSIVE LINEMAN ANTHONY HARGROVE, NOW WITH THE GREEN BAY PACKERS, WAS SUSPENDED FOR THE FIRST HALF OF THE 16-GAME SEASON; SAINTS DEFENSIVE END WILL SMITH WAS BARRED FOR THE OPENING FOUR GAMES; AND LINEBACKER SCOTT FUJITA, NOW WITH THE CLEVELAND BROWNS, WILL MISS THE FIRST THREE GAMES. LIKE VILMA, THEY WERE SUSPENDED WITHOUT PAY. ALL FOUR PLAYERS HAVE THREE DAYS TO APPEAL NFL COMMISSIONER ROGER GOODELL'S RULING, AND THE HEAD OF THE NFL PLAYERS ASSOCIATION SAID THE UNION WOULD FIGHT THE PENALTIES. FUJITA IS A MEMBER OF THE NFLPA'S EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE.

THE USE OF HAND-HELD CELL PHONES WHILE DRIVING WOULD BE PROHIBITED IN LOUISIANA, IF SENATORS AGREE WITH THE LOUISIANA HOUSE. SIMILAR PROPOSALS HAVE FAILED IN RECENT YEARS TO GAIN TRACTION WITH THE LEGISLATURE. BUT NEW ORLEANS REP. AUSTIN BADON'S PROPOSAL PASSED IN A 59-29 VOTE WEDNESDAY. DEBATE ON THE IDEA SHIFTS TO THE SENATE. BADON, A DEMOCRAT, SAID HE PROPOSED THE BILL AS A SAFETY MEASURE. DRIVERS COULD USE A HANDS-FREE DEVICE TO TALK ON THE PHONE BEHIND THE WHEEL.

A TOP BUSINESS PUBLICATION RANKS LOUISIANA THE MOST IMPROVED STATE FOR BUSINESS IN THE USA. "CHIEF EXECUTIVE" MAGAZINE POLLED CEOS NATIONWIDE; THE RESULTS SHOWING LOUISIANA WENT FROM 27TH TO 13TH PLACE FOR BEST STATES FOR BUSINESS. GOVERNOR BOBBY JINDAL SAYS THE STATE HAS "WORKED TIRELESSLY TO CREATE A BUSINESS ENVIRONMENT WHERE COMPANIES WANT TO INVEST AND CREATE JOBS".

THE CITY OF PINEVILLE AND TOWN OF BALL ARE HOLDING A HOUSEHOLD HAZARDOUS WASTE COLLECTION DAY FROM 8 A.M. UNTIL NOON ON SATURDAY AT THE NATIONAL GUARD FACILITY, ESLER FIELD, PINEVILLE. ALL RESIDENTS OF CENTRAL LOUISIANA ARE INVITED TO BRING HOUSEHOLD HAZARDOUS WASTE TO ESLER FIELD SO THE WASTE CAN BE DISPOSED OF PROPERLY.

THE LOUISIANA LOTTERY CORP. REPORTS THAT NOBODY WON THE MAJOR JACKPOTS IN THE LOUISIANA LOTTO AND MULTISTATE POWERBALL DRAWINGS WEDNESDAY NIGHT. THE POWERBALL PRIZE WILL RISE TO $60 MILLION FOR SATURDAY’S DRAWING.

THE JUDGES ON "AMERICAN IDOL" DEFINITELY LOVE SOMEBODY, AND HIS NAME IS JOSHUA LEDET. WHILE THE PANEL LAUDED EACH OF THE FIVE FINALISTS REMAINING IN THE FOX SINGING COMPETITION, THE JUDGES ONCE AGAIN RESERVED THE MOST PRAISE DURING WEDNESDAY'S INSTALLMENT FOR THE POWERFUL 20-YEAR-OLD GOSPEL SINGER FROM WESTLAKE, LA. REALITY SETS IN TONIGHT AS ONE OF THE FIVE FINALISTS IS SENT HOME.

GOV. BOBBY JINDAL'S PUSH TO CREATE A NEW RETIREMENT PLAN FOR FUTURE RANK-AND-FILE STATE WORKERS NARROWLY RECEIVED THE SUPPORT OF THE LOUISIANA HOUSE ON WEDNESDAY, A DAY AFTER RUNNING INTO TROUBLE THERE. THE HOUSE STRIPPED AN AMENDMENT, OPPOSED BY JINDAL, WHICH WOULD HAVE REQUIRED THE WORKERS TO ALSO PARTICIPATE IN FEDERAL SOCIAL SECURITY, BEFORE APPROVING THE BILL IN A 55-45 VOTE, GIVING THE MEASURE TWO VOTES MORE THAN IT NEEDED FOR PASSAGE. AS IT HEADS TO THE SENATE FOR DEBATE, THE PROPOSAL WOULD CREATE A CHEAPER INVESTMENT ACCOUNT SIMILAR TO A 401(K) PLAN FOR STATE EMPLOYEES HIRED AFTER JULY 1, 2013, INSTEAD OF A MONTHLY RETIREMENT PAYMENT BASED ON THEIR SALARIES AND YEARS OF EMPLOYMENT.

A REWRITING OF THE STATE'S CONSTITUTIONAL PROTECTIONS FOR WEAPON OWNERS, REMOVING A PROVISION THAT SPELLS OUT LEGISLATIVE AUTHORITY TO LIMIT CONCEALED HANDGUNS, IS NEARING FINAL PASSAGE IN THE LOUISIANA LEGISLATURE.
THE HOUSE CRIMINAL JUSTICE COMMITTEE BACKED THE MEASURE IN A 9-5 VOTE WEDNESDAY, DESPITE CONCERNS THE CHANGE COULD NULLIFY MOST OF LOUISIANA'S GUN LIMITS AND OPEN THE DOOR TO CONCEALED WEAPONS IN SCHOOLS, BARS AND THE LOUISIANA CAPITOL. THE SENATE ALREADY HAS APPROVED THE PROPOSAL, WHICH HEADS NEXT TO THE FULL HOUSE FOR DEBATE.

A PROPOSAL TO SHORTEN VOTING HOURS ON MOST ELECTION DAYS IN LOUISIANA HAS BEEN KILLED BY STATE SENATORS. THE CHAIRMAN OF THE SENATE AND GOVERNMENTAL AFFAIRS COMMITTEE, REPUBLICAN SEN. JODY AMEDEE OF GONZALES, CAST THE DECIDING VOTE WEDNESDAY TO KEEP THE HOUSE-APPROVED BILL TIED UP IN COMMITTEE, WITH A 4-4 VOTE.
OPPONENTS SAY THE CHANGE COULD LIMIT VOTING OPPORTUNITIES FOR PEOPLE. CURRENTLY, POLL HOURS RUN FROM 6 A.M. TO 8 P.M. THE MEASURE WOULD HAVE PUSHED BACK THE OPENING OF POLLS TO 7 A.M. ON SATURDAY ELECTIONS. SECRETARY OF STATE TOM SCHEDLER SAYS THE BILL WOULD SHORTEN WORK DAYS FOR POLL WORKERS. HE SAYS EVEN WITH THE CHANGE, THE STATE WOULD OFFER 79 HOURS TO VOTE WITH EARLY VOTING DAYS INCLUDED.

BILLS THAT WOULD HAVE KEPT STATE LAWMAKERS FROM LEAVING THE LEGISLATURE AND WALKING STRAIGHT INTO STATE JOBS WERE QUICKLY AND UNANIMOUSLY KILLED WEDNESDAY BY A HOUSE COMMITTEE. THE BILLS WOULD HAVE BLOCK HOUSE AND SENATE MEMBERS FROM TAKING JOBS IN STATE GOVERNMENT FOR UP TO TWO YEARS AFTER THEY LEAVE THE LEGISLATURE. REP. GREGORY MILLER, R-NORCO, LED THE OPPOSITION. HE COMPLAINED THAT THE BILLS IMPLY THAT LAWMAKERS ARE DOING SOMETHING WRONG BY TAKING STATE JOBS. A MOTION TO HOLD BOTH BILLS IN THE HOUSE AND GOVERNMENTAL AFFAIRS COMMITTEE PASSED WITHOUT OBJECTION, EFFECTIVELY KILLING THE MEASURES.

SEVEN PEOPLE IN BATON ROUGE HAVE BEEN CHARGED AS PART OF A NATIONWIDE MEDICARE FRAUD INVESTIGATION. BILL ROOT IS AGENT-IN-CHARGE FOR THE DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH & HUMAN SERVICES' INSPECTOR GENERAL. HE SAYS SEVEN EMPLOYEES, WITH THE SERENITY COMMUNITY MENTAL HEALTH CENTER, AND THE SHIFA COMMUNITY MENTAL HEALTH CENTER HAVE BEEN ARRESTED AND ARE ACCUSED OF BILKING MEDICARE OUT OF OVER $200-MILLION OVER PERIOD OF YEARS. ROOT SAYS THE SEVEN SUSPECTS FACE SERIOUS FEDERAL CHARGES, AND PROBABLE PRISON TIME.

A FEDERAL GRAND JURY IN NEW ORLEANS HAS INDICTED A FORMER BP ENGINEER ON CHARGES HE DELETED ABOUT 300 TEXT MESSAGES THAT INDICATED THE COMPANY'S BLOWN-OUT MACONDO WELL WAS SPEWING FAR MORE CRUDE THAN BP WAS TELLING THE PUBLIC AFTER THE 2010 OIL SPILL IN THE GULF OF MEXICO. WEDNESDAY'S INDICTMENT CHARGES KURT MIX, OF KATY, TEXAS, WITH TWO COUNTS OF OBSTRUCTION OF JUSTICE. COURT RECORDS SHOW MIX IS SCHEDULED TO BE ARRAIGNED THURSDAY IN NEW ORLEANS.
MIX WAS ARRESTED IN TEXAS ON APRIL 24 AND FREED ON BOND.

ENVIRONMENTAL GROUPS URGED AN APPEALS COURT ON WEDNESDAY TO BLOCK SHELL FROM DRILLING 10 NEW DEEP-WATER WELLS OFF ALABAMA'S COAST, ARGUING THAT FEDERAL REGULATORS HAVEN'T PROPERLY REVIEWED THE RISKS OF UNDERSEA DRILLING IN THE AFTERMATH OF THE 2010 GULF OF MEXICO SPILL. THE COALITION OF GREEN GROUPS TOLD THE 11TH U.S. CIRCUIT COURT OF APPEALS THAT FEDERAL REGULATORS MERELY "RUBBER-STAMPED" SHELL'S PLANS TO DRILL THE WELLS IN THE SAME CANYON WHERE THE BLOWOUT OF BP'S MACONDO TOOk PLACE.

A 26-YEAR-OLD RAYNE WOMAN, WHO ALLEGEDLY LEFT HER FOUR CHILDREN UNSUPERVISED WHEN THEY DIED IN A MOBILE HOME FIRE, HAS BEEN INDICTED ON FOUR COUNTS OF SECOND-DEGREE MURDER. SHAQUETA MCDADE WAS CHARGED TUESDAY IN THE DEATHS OF 8, 7, 5 AND 2-YEAR-OLD CHILDREN. POLICE BELIEVE MCDADE WENT TO A BAR IN CHURCH POINT ON APRIL 22 AND WAS THERE WHEN HER MOBILE HOME CAUGHT FIRE, KILLING THE FOUR CHILDREN LEFT HOME ALONE. POLICE INITIALLY CHARGED MCDADE WITH NEGLIGENT HOMICIDE, BUT UPPED THE CHARGES AFTER THE DISTRICT ATTORNEY REVIEWED THE CASE.

THE FATE OF LAFAYETTE'S CONTROVERSIAL SAFELIGHT AND SAFESPEED PROGRAMS WILL BE DECIDED ON MAY 15 WHEN THE CITY-PARISH COUNCIL WILL VOTE TO EITHER SCRAP THE PROGRAM ENTIRELY OR TO BEEF UP ENFORCEMENT MEASURES WITH MORE TRAFFIC CAMERAS. THE COUNCIL GAVE INTRODUCTORY APPROVAL TUESDAY TO TWO CONFLICTING RESOLUTIONS, ONE TO EXTEND THE PROGRAM AND ANOTHER TO REMOVE THE CAMERAS.
THREE MEMBERS OF THE COUNCIL SPONSORED AN ORDINANCE THAT WILL REMOVE THE CAMERAS FROM LAFAYETTE WHEN THE CURRENT CONTRACT EXPIRES JUNE 4. BUT, WITH AN 8-1 VOTE, THE COUNCIL THEN GAVE PRELIMINARY APPROVAL TO AN ORDINANCE SPONSORED BY CITY-PARISH PRESIDENT JOEY DUREL'S ADMINISTRATION TO EXTEND THE CONTRACT WITH REDFLEX TRAFFIC SYSTEMS INC. UNDER DUREL'S PROPOSED EXTENSION, REDFLEX WILL ADD MORE TRAFFIC CAMERAS AND SPEED VANS.

A TUESDAY AFTERNOON CRASH IN UNION PARISH HAS LEFT TWO CHILDREN AND THEIR MOTHER DEAD, AND THE FATHER IN CRITICAL CONDITION. STATE POLICE LT. JULIE LEWIS SAYS 34-YEAR-OLD JAMIE HAMILTON DROVE INTO THE PATH OF A MACK DUMP TRUCK. HAMILTON AND HER TWO KIDS--AGES 8 AND 5 WERE KILLED. THE FATHER, JAY HAMILTON IS IN CRITICAL CONDITION.

AN ASCENSION PARISH FAMILY IS GRIEVING TODAY OVER THE LOSS OF A SEVEN-YEAR-OLD GIRL, WHO WAS STRUCK BY A TRAIN IN GONZALES AND DIED LAST NIGHT AT A LOCAL HOSPITAL. GONZALES POLICE SAY THE LITTLE GIRL'S FAMILY LIVED ABOUT A BLACK AWAY FROM THE TRACKS. HE SAYS THE VICTIM AND HER OLDER SISTER, ALONG WITH TWO
OTHER CHILDREN WERE ON THEIR WAY HOME AFTER PLAYING AT A NEARBY PARK.

SEN. A.G. CROWE HAD LIMITED SUCCESS WEDNESDAY WITH HIS ATTEMPT TO REVIVE A BILL HE SAYS WOULD CLARIFY THAT THE LEGISLATURE HAS THE POWER TO SET ANTI-DISCRIMINATION LAW, AND THAT CRITICS SAY COULD BE USED TO FOSTER DISCRIMINATION. AFTER SHELVING CROWE'S BILL EARLY IN THE SESSION, SENATORS VOTED TO DEBATE IT WEDNESDAY. HOWEVER, THE VOTE TO PASS THE BILL WAS 16-13 IN FAVOR — BUT IT NEEDS 20 VOTES IN THE 39-MEMBER SENATE. STATE LAW ALREADY PROHIBITS DISCRIMINATION ON SIX FACTORS: RACE, RELIGION, NATIONAL ANCESTRY, AGE, SEX OR DISABILITY. CROWE'S PROPOSAL WOULD PREVENT STATE AGENCIES FROM ADDING TO THAT LIST WHEN WRITING NON-DISCRIMINATION CLAUSES INTO CONTRACTS OR BIDS. THE BILL HAD THE SUPPORT OF THE CONSERVATIVE LOUISIANA FAMILY FORUM AND THE LOUISIANA CONFERENCE OF CATHOLIC BISHOPS.







News For Wednesday Evening 5/2/12


NEWS FOR THURSDAY 050312
BY DAVE GRAICHEN

NEW ORLEANS SAINTS LINEBACKER JONATHAN VILMA WAS SUSPENDED WITHOUT PAY FOR THE ENTIRE 2012 SEASON BY THE NFL, ONE OF FOUR PLAYERS PUNISHED WEDNESDAY FOR PARTICIPATING IN THE TEAM'S CASH-FOR-HITS BOUNTY SYSTEM. DEFENSIVE LINEMAN ANTHONY HARGROVE, NOW WITH THE GREEN BAY PACKERS, WAS SUSPENDED FOR THE FIRST HALF OF THE 16-GAME SEASON; SAINTS DEFENSIVE END WILL SMITH WAS BARRED FOR THE OPENING FOUR GAMES; AND LINEBACKER SCOTT FUJITA, NOW WITH THE CLEVELAND BROWNS, WILL MISS THE FIRST THREE GAMES. LIKE VILMA, THEY WERE SUSPENDED WITHOUT PAY. ALL FOUR PLAYERS HAVE THREE DAYS TO APPEAL NFL COMMISSIONER ROGER GOODELL'S RULING, AND THE HEAD OF THE NFL PLAYERS ASSOCIATION SAID THE UNION WOULD FIGHT THE PENALTIES. FUJITA IS A MEMBER OF THE NFLPA'S EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE.

THE USE OF HAND-HELD CELL PHONES WHILE DRIVING WOULD BE PROHIBITED IN LOUISIANA, IF SENATORS AGREE WITH THE LOUISIANA HOUSE. SIMILAR PROPOSALS HAVE FAILED IN RECENT YEARS TO GAIN TRACTION WITH THE LEGISLATURE. BUT NEW ORLEANS REP. AUSTIN BADON'S PROPOSAL PASSED IN A 59-29 VOTE WEDNESDAY. DEBATE ON THE IDEA SHIFTS TO THE SENATE. BADON, A DEMOCRAT, SAID HE PROPOSED THE BILL AS A SAFETY MEASURE. DRIVERS COULD USE A HANDS-FREE DEVICE TO TALK ON THE PHONE BEHIND THE WHEEL.

A TOP BUSINESS PUBLICATION RANKS LOUISIANA THE MOST IMPROVED STATE FOR BUSINESS IN THE USA. "CHIEF EXECUTIVE" MAGAZINE POLLED CEOS NATIONWIDE; THE RESULTS SHOWING LOUISIANA WENT FROM 27TH TO 13TH PLACE FOR BEST STATES FOR BUSINESS. GOVERNOR BOBBY JINDAL SAYS THE STATE HAS "WORKED TIRELESSLY TO CREATE A BUSINESS ENVIRONMENT WHERE COMPANIES WANT TO INVEST AND CREATE JOBS".

A REWRITING OF THE STATE'S CONSTITUTIONAL PROTECTIONS FOR WEAPON OWNERS, REMOVING A PROVISION THAT SPELLS OUT LEGISLATIVE AUTHORITY TO LIMIT CONCEALED HANDGUNS, IS NEARING FINAL PASSAGE IN THE LOUISIANA LEGISLATURE.
THE HOUSE CRIMINAL JUSTICE COMMITTEE BACKED THE MEASURE IN A 9-5 VOTE WEDNESDAY, DESPITE CONCERNS THE CHANGE COULD NULLIFY MOST OF LOUISIANA'S GUN LIMITS AND OPEN THE DOOR TO CONCEALED WEAPONS IN SCHOOLS, BARS AND THE LOUISIANA CAPITOL. THE SENATE ALREADY HAS APPROVED THE PROPOSAL, WHICH HEADS NEXT TO THE FULL HOUSE FOR DEBATE.

A PROPOSAL TO SHORTEN VOTING HOURS ON MOST ELECTION DAYS IN LOUISIANA HAS BEEN KILLED BY STATE SENATORS. THE CHAIRMAN OF THE SENATE AND GOVERNMENTAL AFFAIRS COMMITTEE, REPUBLICAN SEN. JODY AMEDEE OF GONZALES, CAST THE DECIDING VOTE WEDNESDAY TO KEEP THE HOUSE-APPROVED BILL TIED UP IN COMMITTEE, WITH A 4-4 VOTE.
OPPONENTS SAY THE CHANGE COULD LIMIT VOTING OPPORTUNITIES FOR PEOPLE. CURRENTLY, POLL HOURS RUN FROM 6 A.M. TO 8 P.M. THE MEASURE WOULD HAVE PUSHED BACK THE OPENING OF POLLS TO 7 A.M. ON SATURDAY ELECTIONS. SECRETARY OF STATE TOM SCHEDLER SAYS THE BILL WOULD SHORTEN WORK DAYS FOR POLL WORKERS. HE SAYS EVEN WITH THE CHANGE, THE STATE WOULD OFFER 79 HOURS TO VOTE WITH EARLY VOTING DAYS INCLUDED.

BILLS THAT WOULD HAVE KEPT STATE LAWMAKERS FROM LEAVING THE LEGISLATURE AND WALKING STRAIGHT INTO STATE JOBS WERE QUICKLY AND UNANIMOUSLY KILLED WEDNESDAY BY A HOUSE COMMITTEE. THE BILLS WOULD HAVE BLOCK HOUSE AND SENATE MEMBERS FROM TAKING JOBS IN STATE GOVERNMENT FOR UP TO TWO YEARS AFTER THEY LEAVE THE LEGISLATURE. REP. GREGORY MILLER, R-NORCO, LED THE OPPOSITION. HE COMPLAINED THAT THE BILLS IMPLY THAT LAWMAKERS ARE DOING SOMETHING WRONG BY TAKING STATE JOBS. A MOTION TO HOLD BOTH BILLS IN THE HOUSE AND GOVERNMENTAL AFFAIRS COMMITTEE PASSED WITHOUT OBJECTION, EFFECTIVELY KILLING THE MEASURES.

SEVEN PEOPLE IN BATON ROUGE HAVE BEEN CHARGED AS PART OF A NATIONWIDE MEDICARE FRAUD INVESTIGATION. BILL ROOT IS AGENT-IN-CHARGE FOR THE DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH & HUMAN SERVICES' INSPECTOR GENERAL. HE SAYS SEVEN EMPLOYEES, WITH THE SERENITY COMMUNITY MENTAL HEALTH CENTER, AND THE SHIFA COMMUNITY MENTAL HEALTH CENTER HAVE BEEN ARRESTED AND ARE ACCUSED OF BILKING MEDICARE OUT OF OVER $200-MILLION OVER PERIOD OF YEARS. ROOT SAYS THE SEVEN SUSPECTS FACE SERIOUS FEDERAL CHARGES, AND PROBABLE PRISON TIME.

A FEDERAL GRAND JURY IN NEW ORLEANS HAS INDICTED A FORMER BP ENGINEER ON CHARGES HE DELETED ABOUT 300 TEXT MESSAGES THAT INDICATED THE COMPANY'S BLOWN-OUT MACONDO WELL WAS SPEWING FAR MORE CRUDE THAN BP WAS TELLING THE PUBLIC AFTER THE 2010 OIL SPILL IN THE GULF OF MEXICO. WEDNESDAY'S INDICTMENT CHARGES KURT MIX, OF KATY, TEXAS, WITH TWO COUNTS OF OBSTRUCTION OF JUSTICE. COURT RECORDS SHOW MIX IS SCHEDULED TO BE ARRAIGNED THURSDAY IN NEW ORLEANS.
MIX WAS ARRESTED IN TEXAS ON APRIL 24 AND FREED ON BOND.

ENVIRONMENTAL GROUPS URGED AN APPEALS COURT ON WEDNESDAY TO BLOCK SHELL FROM DRILLING 10 NEW DEEP-WATER WELLS OFF ALABAMA'S COAST, ARGUING THAT FEDERAL REGULATORS HAVEN'T PROPERLY REVIEWED THE RISKS OF UNDERSEA DRILLING IN THE AFTERMATH OF THE 2010 GULF OF MEXICO SPILL. THE COALITION OF GREEN GROUPS TOLD THE 11TH U.S. CIRCUIT COURT OF APPEALS THAT FEDERAL REGULATORS MERELY "RUBBER-STAMPED" SHELL'S PLANS TO DRILL THE WELLS IN THE SAME CANYON WHERE THE BLOWOUT OF BP'S MACONDO TOOK PLACE.

A 26-YEAR-OLD RAYNE WOMAN, WHO ALLEGEDLY LEFT HER FOUR CHILDREN UNSUPERVISED WHEN THEY DIED IN A MOBILE HOME FIRE, HAS BEEN INDICTED ON FOUR COUNTS OF SECOND-DEGREE MURDER. SHAQUETA MCDADE WAS CHARGED TUESDAY IN THE DEATHS OF 8, 7, 5 AND 2-YEAR-OLD CHILDREN. POLICE BELIEVE MCDADE WENT TO A BAR IN CHURCH POINT ON APRIL 22 AND WAS THERE WHEN HER MOBILE HOME CAUGHT FIRE, KILLING THE FOUR CHILDREN LEFT HOME ALONE. POLICE INITIALLY CHARGED MCDADE WITH NEGLIGENT HOMICIDE, BUT UPPED THE CHARGES AFTER THE DISTRICT ATTORNEY REVIEWED THE CASE.

THE FATE OF LAFAYETTE'S CONTROVERSIAL SAFELIGHT AND SAFESPEED PROGRAMS WILL BE DECIDED ON MAY 15 WHEN THE CITY-PARISH COUNCIL WILL VOTE TO EITHER SCRAP THE PROGRAM ENTIRELY OR TO BEEF UP ENFORCEMENT MEASURES WITH MORE TRAFFIC CAMERAS. THE COUNCIL GAVE INTRODUCTORY APPROVAL TUESDAY TO TWO CONFLICTING RESOLUTIONS, ONE TO EXTEND THE PROGRAM AND ANOTHER TO REMOVE THE CAMERAS.
THREE MEMBERS OF THE COUNCIL SPONSORED AN ORDINANCE THAT WILL REMOVE THE CAMERAS FROM LAFAYETTE WHEN THE CURRENT CONTRACT EXPIRES JUNE 4. BUT, WITH AN 8-1 VOTE, THE COUNCIL THEN GAVE PRELIMINARY APPROVAL TO AN ORDINANCE SPONSORED BY CITY-PARISH PRESIDENT JOEY DUREL'S ADMINISTRATION TO EXTEND THE CONTRACT WITH REDFLEX TRAFFIC SYSTEMS INC. UNDER DUREL'S PROPOSED EXTENSION, REDFLEX WILL ADD MORE TRAFFIC CAMERAS AND SPEED VANS.

A TUESDAY AFTERNOON CRASH IN UNION PARISH HAS LEFT TWO CHILDREN AND THEIR MOTHER DEAD, AND THE FATHER IN CRITICAL CONDITION. STATE POLICE LT. JULIE LEWIS SAYS 34-YEAR-OLD JAMIE HAMILTON DROVE INTO THE PATH OF A MACK DUMP TRUCK. HAMILTON AND HER TWO KIDS--AGES 8 AND 5 WERE KILLED. THE FATHER, JAY HAMILTON IS IN CRITICAL CONDITION.

AN ASCENSION PARISH FAMILY IS GRIEVING TODAY OVER THE LOSS OF A SEVEN-YEAR-OLD GIRL, WHO WAS STRUCK BY A TRAIN IN GONZALES AND DIED LAST NIGHT AT A LOCAL HOSPITAL. GONZALES POLICE SAY THE LITTLE GIRL'S FAMILY LIVED ABOUT A BLACK AWAY FROM THE TRACKS. HE SAYS THE VICTIM AND HER OLDER SISTER, ALONG WITH TWO
OTHER CHILDREN WERE ON THEIR WAY HOME AFTER PLAYING AT A NEARBY PARK.

SEN. A.G. CROWE HAD LIMITED SUCCESS WEDNESDAY WITH HIS ATTEMPT TO REVIVE A BILL HE SAYS WOULD CLARIFY THAT THE LEGISLATURE HAS THE POWER TO SET ANTI-DISCRIMINATION LAW, AND THAT CRITICS SAY COULD BE USED TO FOSTER DISCRIMINATION.AFTER SHELVING CROWE'S BILL EARLY IN THE SESSION, SENATORS VOTED TO DEBATE IT WEDNESDAY. HOWEVER, THE VOTE TO PASS THE BILL WAS 16-13 IN FAVOR — BUT IT NEEDS 20 VOTES IN THE 39-MEMBER SENATE. STATE LAW ALREADY PROHIBITS DISCRIMINATION ON SIX FACTORS: RACE, RELIGION, NATIONAL ANCESTRY, AGE, SEX OR DISABILITY. CROWE'S PROPOSAL WOULD PREVENT STATE AGENCIES FROM ADDING TO THAT LIST WHEN WRITING NON-DISCRIMINATION CLAUSES INTO CONTRACTS OR BIDS. THE BILL HAD THE SUPPORT OF THE CONSERVATIVE LOUISIANA FAMILY FORUM AND THE LOUISIANA CONFERENCE OF CATHOLIC BISHOPS.






News For Wednesday Morning 05/02/12


NEWS FOR WEDNESDAY 050212
BY DAVE GRAICHEN

THE RAPIDES PARISH SCHOOL BOARD VOTED LAST NIGHT 5-4 NOT TO RENEW SUPERINTENDENT GARY JONES' CONTRACT. VOTING NOT TO RENEW WERE PRESIDENT WILTON BARRIOS, VICE PRESIDENT JANET DIXON, MEMBERS JOHN ALLEN, DARRELL RODRIGUEZ AND JULIE MCCONAUGHY. VOTING TO RENEW WERE MEMBERS STEVE BERRY, STEPHEN CHAPMAN, PAM WEBB AND KEITH BREAZEALE. CENTRAL LOUISIANA BUSINESSMAN ROY O MARTIN SAID FIVE MEMBERS OF THE SCHOOL BOARD VOTED AGAINST THE PEOPLE AND FOR THEIR OWN SELFISH INTERESTS. BOARD VP JANET DIXON SAID IT WAS OBVIOUS, BY HER VOTE AND OTHERS THAT THEY FEEL THAT A NEW DIRECTION AND LEADERSHIP IS NEEDED. MARTIN WAS AMONG A GROUP FROM THE LOCAL BUSINESS COMMUNITY THAT PRAISED JONES' EFFORTS TO WORK WITH LOCAL INDUSTRY TO PRODUCE MORE WORK-READY STUDENTS. JONES HAS BEEN SUPERINTENDENT SINCE 2003. HIS CURRENT CONTRACT RUNS OUT ON DEC. 31.

THE RAPIDES PARISH POLICE JURY HAS CHOSEN NOT TO SUPPORT A PROPOSED TAX INCREMENT FINANCING DISTRICT LOCATED MOSTLY IN AND AROUND PINEVILLE.
THE JURY HELD A SPECIAL MEETING TUESDAY TO DISCUSS THE TIF, WHICH IS PROPOSED IN HOUSE BILL 919 BY REP. HERBERT DIXON. AFTER LENGTHY DISCUSSION, JUROR THEODORE FOUNTAINE MOVED TO SUPPORT THE TIF, BUT THE MOTION DIED FOR LACK OF A SECOND.
DIXON SAID TUESDAY THAT WITH THE POLICE JURY'S FAILURE TO SUPPORT THE TIF, HE WOULD DEFER THE BILL, ESSENTIALLY KILLING IT THIS YEAR.

IN THEIR CONTINUING EFFORT TO OBTAIN A CLEAR TITLE TO THE ALEXANDER FULTON HOTEL, THE ALEXANDRIA CITY COUNCIL UNANIMOUSLY APPROVED A $425,000 SETTLEMENT BETWEEN THE CITY AND CAPITAL ONE BANK. THE CITY WILL PAY CAPITAL ONE $300,000 TO REIMBURSE THE BANK FOR KEEPING THE HOTEL OPEN IN 2008 AND 2009 WHILE ITS OPERATOR, NR GROUP, FILED FOR BANKRUPTCY. THE REMAINING $125,000 WILL BE FOR THE CITY TO PURCHASE ALL OF THE MOVABLES IN THE HOTEL.

LEGISLATION PUTTING NEW STATE AND HIGHER EDUCATION EMPLOYEES UNDER A NEW RETIREMENT SYSTEM WAS SHELVED TUESDAY AFTER OPPONENTS OF THE BILL ATTACHED AN AMENDMENT OVER OBJECTIONS OF THE BILL'S AUTHOR, REP. KEVIN PEARSON, R-SLIDELL.
SINCE PEARSON CALLED OFF DEBATE, HE CAN BRING UP HB61 AGAIN. HE SCHEDULED IT FOR DEBATE THIS AFTERNOON AFTER THE HOUSE CONVENES. REP. JOE HARRISON, R-HOUMA, AUTHORED THE AMENDMENT THAT BROUGHT A SUDDEN HALT TO THE SEVERAL-HOUR DEBATE. IT ADDS PARTICIPATION IN THE SOCIAL SECURITY SYSTEM AS AN ADDED BENEFIT FOR THE NEW EMPLOYEES. THE PLAN BEING DEBATED PUTS THEM UNDER A "CASH BALANCE" PLAN SIMILAR TO A 401(K).

A GUARD AT THE U.S. PENITENTIARY IN POLLOCK WAS TREATED AND RELEASED FOR INJURIES HE RECEIVED WHEN HE WAS ASSAULTED BY TWO INMATES AT THE FACILITY.
PRISON SPOKESMAN STEVEN NILES SAID TUESDAY THAT THE ASSAULT HAPPENED ABOUT 9:30 P.M. MONDAY. HE REFUSED TO RELEASE THE NAME OF THE GUARD OR THE INMATES, SAYING BOTH PRISON INVESTIGATORS AND THE FBI WERE INVESTIGATING. NILES SAYS THE TWO INMATES INVOLVED WERE QUICKLY SUBDUED AND OFFICERS TOOK CONTROL OF THE SITUATION. HE WOULD NOT SAY WHAT SPARKED THE INCIDENT.

THE HOUSE BUDGET-WRITING COMMITTEE BOGGED DOWN TUESDAY OVER HOW TO CRAFT NEXT YEAR'S $25 BILLION BUDGET, DISAGREEING OVER WHETHER TO CUT MORE DEEPLY OR POUR IN MORE PATCHWORK FUNDING TO MAKE THE NUMBERS WORK. DOLLARS FOR PUBLIC COLLEGES AND HEALTH CARE SERVICES DEPEND ON OUTCOME OF THE HAGGLING IN THE APPROPRIATIONS COMMITTEE, SINCE THOSE TWO AREAS ARE THE MOST VULNERABLE TO SLASHING SPENDING. STATE REVENUE PROJECTIONS HAVE DROPPED BY MORE THAN $300 MILLION SINCE GOV. BOBBY JINDAL MADE HIS SPENDING RECOMMENDATIONS FOR THE NEW FISCAL YEAR THAT BEGINS JULY 1. THE INCOME ESTIMATE SLIDE IS TIED TO LOWER-THAN-EXPECTED PERSONAL AND BUSINESS INCOME TAX COLLECTIONS.

THE HOUSE APPROPRIATIONS COMMITTEE VOTED 11 TO 4 TUESDAY TO DO AWAY WITH THE OFFICE OF THE INSPECTOR GENERAL AND THEN RELOCATED THE $1.7 MILLION SPENT ON IT TO OTHER AREAS OF THE STATE GOVERNMENT. LAWMAKERS ON THE PANEL STRIPPED ALL FUNDING FOR THE INSPECTOR GENERAL AND REMOVED REFERENCE TO THE OFFICE IN NEXT YEAR'S BUDGET BILL, SAYING THE AGENCY'S WORK OVERLAPS THE DUTIES PERFORMED BY OTHER LAW ENFORCEMENT AND AUDITING OFFICES IN STATE GOVERNMENT. THE INSPECTOR GENERAL SERVES AS A WASTE AND FRAUD WATCHDOG WITHIN THE EXECUTIVE BRANCH. HARRISON SAID THE ATTORNEY GENERAL, THE LOUISIANA STATE POLICE AND THE LEGISLATIVE AUDITOR'S OFFICE DO THE SAME TYPES OF INVESTIGATIVE WORK.

MAY IS MOTORCYCLE AWARENESS & SAFETY MONTH IN LOUISIANA. STATE HIGHWAY SAFETY COMMISSION DEPUTY DIRECTOR KEN TRULL SAYS FATAL CRASHES INVOLVING MOTORCYCLES HAVE DECLINED BY 21% OVER THE PAST FIVE YEARS. TRULL SAYS EXPANDED CYCLE OPERATOR TRAINING AND SAFETY COURSES – COUPLED WITH THE STATE'S MANDATORY HELMET LAW-HAVE HELPED BRING MOTORCYCLE FATALITIES FOR LAST YEAR TO THEIR LOWEST LEVEL IN YEARS. EVEN THOUGH NUMBERS HAVE DROPPED, 74 PEOPLE WERE KILLED IN MOTORCYCLE ACCIDENTS LAST YEAR.

THE U.S. DEPARTMENT OF HOUSING AND URBAN DEVELOPMENT HAS AWARDED THE TUNICA-BILOXI TRIBE OF LOUISIANA $779,279 FOR A BUILDING TO HOUSE EDUCATION, JOB TRAINING AND OTHER SOCIAL SERVICE PROGRAMS. THE GRANT AWARDED TUESDAY WAS AMONG 95 TOTALING $56 MILLION NATIONWIDE UNDER THE INDIAN COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT BLOCK GRANT PROGRAM. THE TUNICA-BILOXI TRIBE IS BASED NEAR MARKSVILLE. ITS PARAGON CASINO RESORT IS THE LARGEST EMPLOYER IN AVOYELLES PARISH AND WAS THE FIRST LAND-BASED CASINO TO OPEN IN LOUISIANA

A BILL TO BAN USING HAND-HELD CELL PHONE WHILE DRIVING IS SCHEDULED FOR HOUSE FLOOR DEBATE TODAY. THERE ARE TWO SUCH BILLS. ONE FROM NEW ORLEANS REP. AUSTIN BADON, WOULD MAKE IT A PRIMARY OFFENSE. ONE BY BATON ROUGE REP. REGINA BARROW WOULD MAKE IS A SECONDARY OFFENSE--MEANING POLICE COULDN'T PULL YOU OVER FOR IT. BADON SAYS HIS BILL IS BETTER, BECAUSE DATA FROM OTHER STATES WHO'VE PASSED SIMILAR LAWS SHOW A REDUCTION IN HIGHWAY DEATHS AND INJURIES. BADON'S BILL HAS STALLED OUT IN THE LEGISLATURE FOUR TIMES IN PREVIOUS YEARS. HIS BILL WOULD PERMIT CELL PHONE USE, PROVIDED ONE USES A HANDS-FREE DEVICE. OPPONENTS ARGUE IT'S THE CONVERSATION, NOT THE PHONE TO THE EAR, THAT PROVIDES THE DISTRACTION WHILE DRIVING.

THE GOVERNOR HAS ASKED THE U.S. ARMY CORPS OF ENGINEERS TO OPEN A SPILLWAY AND LET MISSISSIPPI RIVER WATER RUN THROUGH THE ATCHAFALAYA BASIN. STATE WILDLIFE & FISHERIES SECRETARY BOB BARHAM SAYS THE OLD RIVER STRUCTURE IS LOCATED IN EXTREME SOUTHERN CONCORDIA PARISH. SECRETARY BARHAM SAYS WATER LEVELS IN THE ATCHAFALAYA BASIN HAVE BEEN BELOW NORMAL, AND WATER QUALITY AND CRAWFISH HARVESTS ARE THREATENED IF THE SPILLWAY ISN'T OPENED. A YEAR AGO, SPILLWAYS WERE OPEN TO AVOID FLOODS ALONG THE MISSISSIPPI.

A BILL BANNING SEX OFFENDERS, CONVICTED OF CRIMES AGAINST CHILDREN, FROM SOCIAL WEBSITES HAS CLEARED A SENATE COMMITTEE AND NOW HEADS TO THE FULL SENATE FOR A FINAL DEBATE. THE BILL'S AUTHOR, OPELOUSAS REP. LEDRICKA THIERRY, SAYS HER LEGISLATION GIVES TEETH TO POLICIES KEEPING SEX OFFENDERS OFF SOCIAL WEBSITES. THIERRY'S LEGISLATION REPLACES A LAW PASSED LAST YEAR, BUT WHICH WAS STRUCK DOWN BY U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE BRIAN JACKSON. SHE SAYS THEY USED JACKSON'S RULING AS A GUIDE TO REWRITE THE PROPOSED LAW, NARROWING ITS FOCUS AND USING MORE SPECIFIC LANGUAGE.

A SENATE-PASSED BILL TO EXTEND MOTOR VEHICLE INSPECTIONS TO TWO-YEAR STICKERS--INSTEAD OF ONE-YEAR--HAS STALLED IN A HOUSE COMMITTEE. THE BILL WAS TEMPORARILY DEFERRED, SO LAWMAKERS CAN CRAFT SOME AMENDMENTS THAT MAY ADDRESS PUBLIC SAFETY CONCERNS.

A BILL THAT WOULD REQUIRE ANYONE CONVICTED ON A FIRST OFFENSE DWI TO SPEND AT LEAST TWO DAYS IN JAIL HAS CLEARED A SENATE COMMITTEE. THE MEASURE, IS SPONSORED BY KAPLAN SENATOR JONATHAN PERRY. THE BILL MOVED FORWARD WITHOUT OPPOSITION AND NOW HEADS TO THE SENATE FLOOR.

TWO STARS OF THE POPULAR TV REALITY SHOW WAMP PEOPLE WERE INJURED IN A MULTI-VEHICLE ACCIDENT ON U-S HIGHWAY 71 NORTH OF CADDO PARISH YESTERDAY. JOE LAFONT AND TOMMY CHAUVIN WERE NOT SERIOUSLY HURT, BUT THREE OTHER PEOPLE SUFFERED SERIOUS INJURIES IN THE FIVE-VEHICLE CHAIN REACTION WRECK. THE ACCIDENT OCCURRED JUST NORTH OF THE LOUISIANA-ARKANSAS STATE LINE. LAFONT AND CHAUVIN WERE TOWING A TRAILER FILLED WITH SWAMP PEOPLE MERCHANDISE WHICH SPILLED OUT ONTO THE ROADWAY DURING THE ACCIDENT.

A NEW IBERIA MAN IS CHARGED WITH THE AGGRAVATED RAPE OF A 6-YEAR-OLD BOY. 34-YEAR-OLD ERIC ARCEMONT TURNED HIMSELF IN TO IBERIA PARISH DEPUTIES MONDAY, AND WAS RELEASED LAST NIGHT ON $25-THOUSAND BOND. BECAUSE THE CASE IS ABOUT TO GO TO COURT, DETECTIVES ARE WITHHOLDING FURTHER INFORMATION.

LOCAL SCHOOL BOARDS SHOULD BE ABLE TO SELL THEIR USED COMPUTERS TO PARENTS AND STUDENTS, THE LOUISIANA HOUSE AGREED TUESDAY. THE PROPOSAL (HOUSE BILL 1009) BY REP. ED PRICE, D-GONZALES, WOULD APPLY TO COMPUTERS BEING REMOVED FROM THE CLASSROOM AND WOULD OTHERWISE BE SOLD AT AUCTION OR RECYCLED.
THE BILL, APPROVED UNANIMOUSLY, HEADS TO THE SENATE FOR DEBATE.

HOTELS AND MOTELS IN NORTHWESTERN LOUISIANA SAY THE SLOWDOWN OF NATURAL GAS EXPLORATION IN THEIR REGION IS AFFECTING OCCUPANCY RATES. TOM LUBBE (LOO-BEE) IS PRESIDENT OF THE SHREVEPORT-BOSSIER HOTEL & LODGING ASSOCIATION. HE SAYS BUSINESS IS FALLING OFF AS GAS DRILLERS MOVE TO OTHER PARTS OF THE COUNTRY.
A NATIONWIDE GLUT OF NATURAL GAS, COUPLED WITH EXTREMELY LOW GAS PRICES, HAS SLOWED EXPLORATION SIGNIFICANTLY.

SPORTS..

LOUISIANA TECH'S EFFORTS TO JOIN CONFERENCE USA APPEAR TO HAVE PAID OFF. IT'S REPORTED THAT TECH ALONG WITH FIVE OTHER SCHOOLS WILL JOIN CUSA IN 2013. AN OFFICIAL ANNOUNCEMENT COULD REPORTEDLY COME AS EARLY AS FRIDAY.

 

News For Tuesday Evening 05/01/12


THE RAPIDES PARISH SCHOOL BOARD VOTED TONIGHT 5-4 NOT TO RENEW SUPERINTENDENT GARY JONES' CONTRACT. VOTING NOT TO RENEW WERE PRESIDENT WILTON BARRIOS, VICE PRESIDENT JANET DIXON, MEMBERS JOHN ALLEN, DARRELL RODRIGUEZ AND JULIE MCCONAUGHY. VOTING TO RENEW WERE MEMBERS STEVE BERRY, STEPHEN CHAPMAN, PAM WEBB AND KEITH BREAZEALE. JONES HAS BEEN SUPERINTENDENT SINCE 2003. HIS CURRENT CONTRACT RUNS OUT ON DEC. 31.

A GUARD AT THE U.S. PENITENTIARY IN POLLOCK WAS TREATED AND RELEASED FOR INJURIES HE RECEIVED WHEN HE WAS ASSAULTED BY TWO INMATES AT THE FACILITY. PRISON SPOKESMAN STEVEN NILES SAID TUESDAY THAT THE ASSAULT HAPPENED ABOUT 9:30 P.M. MONDAY. HE REFUSED TO RELEASE THE NAME OF THE GUARD OR THE INMATES, SAYING BOTH PRISON INVESTIGATORS AND THE FBI WERE INVESTIGATING. NILES SAYS THE TWO INMATES INVOLVED WERE QUICKLY SUBDUED AND OFFICERS TOOK CONTROL OF THE SITUATION. HE WOULD NOT SAY WHAT SPARKED THE INCIDENT.

THE HOUSE BUDGET-WRITING COMMITTEE BOGGED DOWN TUESDAY OVER HOW TO CRAFT NEXT YEAR'S $25 BILLION BUDGET, DISAGREEING OVER WHETHER TO CUT MORE DEEPLY OR POUR IN MORE PATCHWORK FUNDING TO MAKE THE NUMBERS WORK. DOLLARS FOR PUBLIC COLLEGES AND HEALTH CARE SERVICES DEPEND ON OUTCOME OF THE HAGGLING IN THE APPROPRIATIONS COMMITTEE, SINCE THOSE TWO AREAS ARE THE MOST VULNERABLE TO SLASHING SPENDING. STATE REVENUE PROJECTIONS HAVE DROPPED BY MORE THAN $300 MILLION SINCE GOV. BOBBY JINDAL MADE HIS SPENDING RECOMMENDATIONS FOR THE NEW FISCAL YEAR THAT BEGINS JULY 1. THE INCOME ESTIMATE SLIDE IS TIED TO LOWER-THAN-EXPECTED PERSONAL AND BUSINESS INCOME TAX COLLECTIONS.

THE HOUSE APPROPRIATIONS COMMITTEE VOTED 11 TO 4 TUESDAY TO DO AWAY WITH THE OFFICE OF THE INSPECTOR GENERAL AND THEN RELOCATED THE $1.7 MILLION SPENT ON IT TO OTHER AREAS OF THE STATE GOVERNMENT. LAWMAKERS ON THE PANEL STRIPPED ALL FUNDING FOR THE INSPECTOR GENERAL AND REMOVED REFERENCE TO THE OFFICE IN NEXT YEAR'S BUDGET BILL, SAYING THE AGENCY'S WORK OVERLAPS THE DUTIES PERFORMED BY OTHER LAW ENFORCEMENT AND AUDITING OFFICES IN STATE GOVERNMENT. THE INSPECTOR GENERAL SERVES AS A WASTE AND FRAUD WATCHDOG WITHIN THE EXECUTIVE BRANCH. HARRISON SAID THE ATTORNEY GENERAL, THE LOUISIANA STATE POLICE AND THE LEGISLATIVE AUDITOR'S OFFICE DO THE SAME TYPES OF INVESTIGATIVE WORK.

MAY IS MOTORCYCLE AWARENESS & SAFETY MONTH IN LOUISIANA. STATE HIGHWAY SAFETY COMMISSION DEPUTY DIRECTOR KEN TRULL SAYS FATAL CRASHES INVOLVING MOTORCYCLES HAVE DECLINED BY 21% OVER THE PAST FIVE YEARS. TRULL SAYS EXPANDED CYCLE OPERATOR TRAINING AND SAFETY COURSES – COUPLED WITH THE STATE'S MANDATORY HELMET LAW-HAVE HELPED BRING MOTORCYCLE FATALITIES FOR LAST YEAR TO THEIR LOWEST LEVEL IN YEARS. EVEN THOUGH NUMBERS HAVE DROPPED, 74 PEOPLE WERE KILLED IN MOTORCYCLE ACCIDENTS LAST YEAR.

THE U.S. DEPARTMENT OF HOUSING AND URBAN DEVELOPMENT HAS AWARDED THE TUNICA-BILOXI TRIBE OF LOUISIANA $779,279 FOR A BUILDING TO HOUSE EDUCATION, JOB TRAINING AND OTHER SOCIAL SERVICE PROGRAMS. THE GRANT AWARDED TUESDAY WAS AMONG 95 TOTALING $56 MILLION NATIONWIDE UNDER THE INDIAN COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT BLOCK GRANT PROGRAM. THE TUNICA-BILOXI TRIBE IS BASED NEAR MARKSVILLE. ITS PARAGON CASINO RESORT IS THE LARGEST EMPLOYER IN AVOYELLES PARISH AND WAS THE FIRST LAND-BASED CASINO TO OPEN IN LOUISIANA

A BILL TO BAN USING HAND-HELD CELL PHONE WHILE DRIVING IS SCHEDULED FOR HOUSE FLOOR DEBATE WEDNESDAY. THERE ARE TWO SUCH BILLS. ONE FROM NEW ORLEANS REP. AUSTIN BADON, WOULD MAKE IT A PRIMARY OFFENSE. ONE BY BATON ROUGE REP. REGINA BARROW WOULD MAKE IS A SECONDARY OFFENSE--MEANING POLICE COULDN'T PULL YOU OVER FOR IT. BADON SAYS HIS BILL IS BETTER, BECAUSE DATA FROM OTHER STATES WHO'VE PASSED SIMILAR LAWS SHOW A REDUCTION IN HIGHWAY DEATHS AND INJURIES. BADON'S BILL HAS STALLED OUT IN THE LEGISLATURE FOUR TIMES IN PREVIOUS YEARS. HIS BILL WOULD PERMIT CELL PHONE USE, PROVIDED ONE USES A HANDS-FREE DEVICE. OPPONENTS ARGUE IT'S THE CONVERSATION, NOT THE PHONE TO THE EAR, THAT PROVIDES THE DISTRACTION WHILE DRIVING.

THE GOVERNOR HAS ASKED THE U.S. ARMY CORPS OF ENGINEERS TO OPEN A SPILLWAY AND LET MISSISSIPPI RIVER WATER RUN THROUGH THE ATCHAFALAYA BASIN. STATE WILDLIFE & FISHERIES SECRETARY BOB BARHAM SAYS THE OLD RIVER STRUCTURE IS LOCATED IN EXTREME SOUTHERN CONCORDIA PARISH. SECRETARY BARHAM SAYS WATER LEVELS IN THE ATCHAFALAYA BASIN HAVE BEEN BELOW NORMAL, AND WATER QUALITY AND CRAWFISH HARVESTS ARE THREATENED IF THE SPILLWAY ISN'T OPENED. A YEAR AGO, SPILLWAYS WERE OPEN TO AVOID FLOODS ALONG THE MISSISSIPPI.

A BILL BANNING SEX OFFENDERS, CONVICTED OF CRIMES AGAINST CHILDREN, FROM SOCIAL WEBSITES HAS CLEARED A SENATE COMMITTEE AND NOW HEADS TO THE FULL SENATE FOR A FINAL DEBATE. THE BILL'S AUTHOR, OPELOUSAS REP. LEDRICKA THIERRY, SAYS HER LEGISLATION GIVES TEETH TO POLICIES KEEPING SEX OFFENDERS OFF SOCIAL WEBSITES. THIERRY'S LEGISLATION REPLACES A LAW PASSED LAST YEAR, BUT WHICH WAS STRUCK DOWN BY U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE BRIAN JACKSON. SHE SAYS THEY USED JACKSON'S RULING AS A GUIDE TO REWRITE THE PROPOSED LAW, NARROWING ITS FOCUS AND USING MORE SPECIFIC LANGUAGE.

A SENATE-PASSED BILL TO EXTEND MOTOR VEHICLE INSPECTIONS TO TWO-YEAR STICKERS--INSTEAD OF ONE-YEAR--HAS STALLED IN A HOUSE COMMITTEE. THE BILL WAS TEMPORARILY DEFERRED, SO LAWMAKERS CAN CRAFT SOME AMENDMENTS THAT MAY ADDRESS PUBLIC SAFETY CONCERNS.

A BILL THAT WOULD REQUIRE ANYONE CONVICTED ON A FIRST OFFENSE DWI TO SPEND AT LEAST TWO DAYS IN JAIL HAS CLEARED A SENATE COMMITTEE. THE MEASURE, IS SPONSORED BY KAPLAN SENATOR JONATHAN PERRY. THE BILL MOVED FORWARD WITHOUT OPPOSITION AND NOW HEADS TO THE SENATE FLOOR.

TWO STARS OF THE POPULAR TV REALITY SHOW WAMP PEOPLE WERE INJURED IN A MULTI-VEHICLE ACCIDENT ON U-S HIGHWAY 71 NORTH OF CADDO PARISH YESTERDAY. JOE LAFONT AND TOMMY CHAUVIN WERE NOT SERIOUSLY HURT, BUT THREE OTHER PEOPLE SUFFERED SERIOUS INJURIES IN THE FIVE-VEHICLE CHAIN REACTION WRECK. THE ACCIDENT OCCURRED JUST NORTH OF THE LOUISIANA-ARKANSAS STATE LINE. LAFONT AND CHAUVIN WERE TOWING A TRAILER FILLED WITH SWAMP PEOPLE MERCHANDISE WHICH SPILLED OUT ONTO THE ROADWAY DURING THE ACCIDENT.

A NEW IBERIA MAN IS CHARGED WITH THE AGGRAVATED RAPE OF A 6-YEAR-OLD BOY. 34-YEAR-OLD ERIC ARCEMONT TURNED HIMSELF IN TO IBERIA PARISH DEPUTIES MONDAY, AND WAS RELEASED LAST NIGHT ON $25-THOUSAND BOND. BECAUSE THE CASE IS ABOUT TO GO TO COURT, DETECTIVES ARE WITHHOLDING FURTHER INFORMATION.

LOCAL SCHOOL BOARDS SHOULD BE ABLE TO SELL THEIR USED COMPUTERS TO PARENTS AND STUDENTS, THE LOUISIANA HOUSE AGREED TUESDAY. THE PROPOSAL (HOUSE BILL 1009) BY REP. ED PRICE, D-GONZALES, WOULD APPLY TO COMPUTERS BEING REMOVED FROM THE CLASSROOM AND WOULD OTHERWISE BE SOLD AT AUCTION OR RECYCLED.
THE BILL, APPROVED UNANIMOUSLY, HEADS TO THE SENATE FOR DEBATE.

HOTELS AND MOTELS IN NORTHWESTERN LOUISIANA SAY THE SLOWDOWN OF NATURAL GAS EXPLORATION IN THEIR REGION IS AFFECTING OCCUPANCY RATES. TOM LUBBE (LOO-BEE) IS PRESIDENT OF THE SHREVEPORT-BOSSIER HOTEL & LODGING ASSOCIATION. HE SAYS BUSINESS IS FALLING OFF AS GAS DRILLERS MOVE TO OTHER PARTS OF THE COUNTRY.
A NATIONWIDE GLUT OF NATURAL GAS, COUPLED WITH EXTREMELY LOW GAS PRICES, HAS SLOWED EXPLORATION SIGNIFICANTLY.

SPORTS..

LOUISIANA TECH'S EFFORTS TO JOIN CONFERENCE USA APPEAR TO HAVE PAID OFF. IT'S REPORTED THAT TECH ALONG WITH FIVE OTHER SCHOOLS WILL JOIN CUSA IN 2013. AN OFFICIAL ANNOUNCEMENT COULD REPORTEDLY COME AS EARLY AS FRIDAY.

News For Tuesday Morning 05/01/12


NEWS FOR TUESDAY 050112
BY DAVE GRAICHEN

20 YEAR OLD GERALD KIMBLE OF ALEXANDRIA HAS BEEN ARRESTED AND CHARGED WITH THE 2ND DEGREE MURDER OF HIS BROTHER OVER THE WEEKEND AT AN OLIVE STREET HOME. 29 YEAR OLD ANTHONY KIMBLE WAS PRONOUNCED DOA AT A LOCAL HOSPITAL SATURDAY MORNING. INVESTIGATORS WITH THE APD BELIEVE IT WAS AN ARGUMENT THAT ESCALATED BETWEEN THE BROTHERS THAT LED TO THE SHOOTING. THE INVESTIGATION IS ONGOING.

EVEN THOUGH HE’S UNDER CONTRACT THROUGH THE END OF THE YEAR, THE RAPIDES PARISH SCHOOL BOARD WILL CONSIDER THE CONTRACT OF SUPERINTENDENT DR. GARY. JONES AT TONIGHT’S MEETING. THE MOTION WAS PLACED ON THE AGENDA BY BOARD MEMBER JANET DIXON.

STATE POLICE REPORT A 24 YEAR OLD PINEVILLE MAN WAS KILLED SUNDAY IN A MOTORCYCLE ACCIDENT. PAUL MARTINEZ DIED WHEN HE APPARENTLY LOST CONTROL OF HIS MOTORCYCLE AND LEFT HIGHWAY 123 IN GRANT PARISH AND STRUCK SOME TREES. THE ACCIDENT IS STILL UNDER INVESTIGATION.

MEMBERS OF THE RAPIDES PARISH POLICE JURY WILL MEET THIS AFTERNOON TO DISCUSS WHETHER OR NOT THEY WILL LINEUP BEHIND A BILL BY REP. HERBERT DIXON THAT WOULD CREATE A TAXING INCREMENT FINANCING DISTRICT, OR A TIF, IN PINEVILLE. DIXON SAID IF THE TIF IS NOT SUPPORTED BY A MAJORITY OF JURORS AT THE MEETING TODAY, HE WILL DEFER IT, BASICALLY KILLING THE MEASURE IN THE LEGISLATURE THIS YEAR. IF THE POLICE JURY DECIDES TO BACK THE BILL, THE LEGISLATION WILL BE HEARD BY THE HOUSE COMMITTEE ON MUNICIPAL, PAROCHIAL AND CULTURAL AFFAIRS ON THURSDAY.

A REPORT FROM THE LEGISLATIVE AUDITOR’S OFFICE SHOWS THE STATE SPENT $63.5 MILLION ON A FAILED SUGAR CANE MILL IN LACASSINE, IN JEFFERSON DAVIS PARISH, INCLUDING $6.4 MILLION IN SALARIES FOR DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE AND FORESTRY EMPLOYEES WHO BUILT THE PLANT. THE REPORT ALSO SHOWED THE STATE SPENT $8.5 MILLION TO BUILD A RAIL LINE TO SHIP CANE FROM LAKE CHARLES TO BALDWIN, BRINGING THE TOTAL BILL TO $72 MILLION. THE MILL WAS PUSHED BY FORMER AGRICULTURE COMMISSIONER BOB ODOM. THE REPORT SAID THE MILL, WHICH HAS BEEN IDLE FOR ABOUT FOUR YEARS, WAS BUILT FOR A GROUP OF CANE FARMERS THAT NEVER NUMBERED MORE THAN 30. ODOM HAD CONTENDED THERE WERE NO CANE MILLS WITHIN 100 MILES OF THE REGION AND THAT THE MILL WOULD PAY FOR ITSELF.

THE LOUISIANA HOUSE REVERSED COURSE MONDAY AND AGREED TO GIVE A 10-YEAR, $37 MILLION TAX BREAK TO THE NEW ORLEANS HORNETS, PART OF THE STATE'S DEAL TO KEEP THE NBA TEAM. THE PROPOSAL BY REP. CAMERON HENRY, R-METAIRIE, EXTENDS AN EXISTING TAX BREAK THAT SAVES THE TEAM $3.7 MILLION A YEAR THROUGH LOUISIANA'S QUALITY JOBS PROGRAM. HENRY'S BILL WOULD CONTINUE THE REBATE THROUGH THE 2024 NBA SEASON. OTHERWISE, THE TAX EXEMPTION EXPIRES IN 2013. HENRY'S BILL WAS SENT TO THE SENATE FOR DEBATE WITH A 62-37 VOTE, A WEEK AFTER IT FAILED IN THE HOUSE, GETTING ONLY 49 VOTES. IT NEEDED 53 TO PASS.

THE LOUISIANA LOTTERY CORPORATION'S THIRD QUARTER TRANSFER TO THE STATE'S TREASURY WAS $43.6 MILLION, EXCEEDING THE STATE'S EXPECTATIONS BY MORE THAN $10.5 MILLION. FROM JANUARY TO MARCH, LOTTERY REVENUE OF $124.5 MILLION RESULTED IN A STATE CONTRIBUTION OF $43.6 MILLION, BRINGING TOTAL FISCAL YEAR-TO-DATE TRANSFERS TO $114 MILLION. THIRTY-FIVE PERCENT OF THE LOTTERY'S PROCEEDS ARE TRANSFERRED TO THE STATE AND DEDICATED FOR K-12 PUBLIC EDUCATION, WITH THE FIRST $500,000 GOING TO FUND PROGRAMS THAT TREAT PROBLEM GAMBLING.

REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE RON PAUL WILL HAVE A STRONG PRESENCE IN LOUISIANA'S DELEGATION TO THE REPUBLICAN NATIONAL CONVENTION IN AUGUST, EVEN IF HE HAS LITTLE HOPE OF WINNING THE GOP PRESIDENTIAL NOMINATION. PAUL DOMINATED THE LOUISIANA REPUBLICAN CAUCUSES HELD OVER THE WEEKEND. DELEGATES WHO BACK THE LIBERTARIAN CONGRESSMAN, WHO IS NOW THE ONLY ONE OF MITT ROMNEY'S ADVERSARIES STILL STANDING, WON THE LION'S SHARE OF THE CONTESTS. UNDER PARTY RULES, PAUL IS GUARANTEED AT LEAST 17 OF THE 46 DELEGATES TO THE CONVENTION AT WHICH ROMNEY WILL ALMOST CERTAINLY BE NOMINATED FOR PRESIDENT. THE DELEGATES ELECTED SATURDAY WILL GO TO A STATE CONVENTION JUNE 2 IN SHREVEPORT, WHERE THEY WILL CHOOSE THE DELEGATES WHO WILL GO TO THE NATIONAL GATHERING IN TAMPA, FLA.

GAS PRICES HAVE CONTINUED THEIR SLOW FALL OVER THE LAST MONTH, LOOSING AN AVERAGE OF TEN CENTS A GALLON FROM THEIR PEAK IN LATE MARCH. THE CURRENT PRICE FOR A GALLON OF REGULAR GAS STANDS AT $3.69. AAA FUEL ANALYST SAYS WE'VE COME A LONG WAY FROM FEARS OF FOUR-DOLLAR A GALLON GAS JUST A FEW WEEKS AGO. HE SAYS THE MARKET FORCES OF SUPPLY AND DEMAND FINALLY KICKED IN AND BEGAN PUSHING PRICES DOWN.

THE TOWN OF MONTGOMERY IN GRANT HAS BEEN GIVEN THE GO AHEAD AND $100,000 TO MAKE REPAIRS TO THE TOWN’S SEWER SYSTEM. THE REPAIRS NEEDED TO MEET A COMPLIANCE ORDER ISSUED BY THE LOUISIANA DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENTAL QUALITY.

A SENATE COMMITTEE ON JUDICIARY MATTERS IS SCHEDULED TO HEAR A BILL THAT WOULD MANDATE JAIL TIME FOR DWI'S CONVICTIONS...EVEN A FIRST OFFENSE. KAPLAN SENATOR JONATHAN PERRY SAYS HIS BILL WILL REQUIRE THAT EVERYONE CONVICTED OF DRUNK DRIVING SPEND AT LEAST TWO DAYS BEHIND BARS. PERRY SAYS CURRENT LAW ALLOWS JUDGES TO WAIVE ALL JAIL TIME IN CERTAIN DWI CASES. HE FEELS A GUARANTEED TWO DAYS IN JAIL WOULD BE A BETTER DETERRENT TO DRIVING DRUNK.

AMERICAN HISTORY COURSES IN LOUISIANA'S PUBLIC HIGH SCHOOLS SHOULD INCLUDE INSTRUCTION ON THE NATION'S "FOUNDING PRINCIPLES," THE HOUSE EDUCATION COMMITTEE AGREED WITHOUT OBJECTION MONDAY. REP. JOE HARRISON OF NAPOLEONVILLE, SAID MOST HIGH SCHOOLS TEACH THE LIST OF ITEMS HE WANTS TO MAKE SURE ARE INCLUDED, BUT HE SAID THE MEASURE WAS DESIGNED TO REINFORCE THAT "PEOPLE UNDERSTAND WHERE WE STARTED AS A COUNTRY AND WHERE WE ARE TODAY."
ON THE LIST OF ITEMS TO BE REQUIRED TEACHING ARE: THE STRUCTURE OF GOVERNMENT, SEPARATION OF POWERS, FREE ELECTIONS, EQUAL JUSTICE UNDER THE LAW, PRIVATE PROPERTY RIGHTS, FEDERALISM, DUE PROCESS, INDIVIDUAL RESPONSIBILITY AND THE BILL OF RIGHTS. THE PROPOSAL (HOUSE BILL 436) MOVES TO THE HOUSE FLOOR FOR DEBATE.

EXXONMOBIL CORP. SAYS IT IS CLEANING UP ABOUT 80,000 GALLONS OF OIL THAT SPILLED FROM A PIPELINE IN A RURAL POINTE COUPEE PARISH, NORTHWEST OF BATON ROUGE.
THE COMPANY SAYS THE PIPELINE WAS SHUT DOWN SATURDAY NIGHT AFTER A LOSS OF PRESSURE. THE SPILLED OIL WAS DISCOVERED ON SUNDAY. NO INJURIES HAVE BEEN REPORTED. THE COMPANY DOESN'T YET KNOW WHAT CAUSED THE PIPELINE TO BREAK.

NEW LOUISIANA SCHOOL BUS DRIVERS WOULD NO LONGER BE ABLE TO REACH THE JOB PROTECTION STATUS CALLED TENURE, IF LAWMAKERS AGREE TO A PROPOSAL THAT RECEIVED PASSAGE MONDAY FROM THE HOUSE EDUCATION COMMITTEE. CURRENTLY, SCHOOL BUS DRIVERS HAVE A PROBATIONARY TERM OF THREE YEARS. IF THEY ARE NOT DISMISSED OR FOUND UNSATISFACTORY DURING THAT TIME, THEY REACH TENURE, WHICH GIVES THEM A PERMANENT JOB STATUS AND MAKES IT HARDER FOR THEM TO BE FIRED. THE HOUSE COMMITTEE BACKED THE BILL IN A 9-3 VOTE, SENDING IT TO THE FULL HOUSE FOR DEBATE.

THE SENATE UNANIMOUSLY AGREED THAT LOUISIANA SHOULD MAKE IT A CRIME FOR ANYONE WHO IS NOT A LICENSED DOCTOR IN THE STATE TO PERFORM AN ABORTION HERE. THE PROPOSAL WOULD CARRY A PRISON SENTENCE OF ONE YEAR TO FIVE YEARS. THE BILL GOES TO THE HOUSE FOR DEBATE.

CRIMINAL COURT FEES WILL GROW $10 IN MOST DISTRICT COURTS TO HELP COVER THE COSTS OF INDIGENT DEFENSE, IF THE SENATE AGREES TO A BILL BACKED BY THE HOUSE IN AN 88-12 VOTE. THE MEASURE WOULD GENERATE MILLIONS OF NEW DOLLARS ANNUALLY TO PAY FOR DEFENSE ATTORNEYS FOR THOSE WHO ARE TOO POOR TO AFFORD THEIR OWN LAWYERS

NEW ORLEANS STATE SENATOR KAREN PETERSON IS THE NEW CHAIRPERSON OF THE STATE DEMOCRATIC PARTY. PETERSON OUSTED LAKE CHARLES BUSINESSMAN BUDDY LEACH AS THE PARTY'S LEADER IN A VOTE OF THE DEMOCRATIC STATE CENTRAL COMMITTEE. PETERSON IS THE FIRST WOMAN AND SECOND AFRICAN-AMERICAN TO LEAD THE STATE PARTY.

A ZACHARY MAN IS DEAD AFTER A SHOOTOUT WITH FEDERAL MARSHALS MONDAY. GARY SEALE FAILED TO SHOW UP FOR A COURT APPEARANCE. WHEN MARSHALS WENT OT HIS HOUSE, THE SHOOTOUT BEGAN. SEALE WAS FACING CHARGES OF WIRE FRAUD, MONEY LAUNDERING AND FILING BOGUS TAX RETURNS.

SPORTS..

ANOTHER IMPORTANT WEEK OF BASEBALL GETS UNDERWAY FOR FOURTH RANKED LSU. THE TIGERS HOST IN-STATE RIVAL TULANE TONIGHT AT ALEX BOX. LSU IS TRYING TO WIN AS MANY AS GAMES AS IT CAN, SO IT SECURES A NATIONAL SEED IN THE NCAA TOURNAMENT. IF LSU IS A TOP EIGHT NATIONAL SEED WHEN THE NCAA TOURNAMENT PAIRINGS COME OUT, IT WILL ALLOW THE TIGERS TO HOST A SUPER REGIONAL, IF THEY ADVANCE PAST A REGIONAL.

THE NEW ORLEANS SAINTS HAVE AGREED TO CONTRACT TERMS WITH 18 UNDRAFTED ROOKIE FREE AGENTS, GENERAL MANAGER MICKEY LOOMIS SAID MONDAY. THE GROUP INCLUDES THREE SAFETIES, THREE LINEBACKERS, THREE WIDE RECEIVERS, TWO OFFENSIVE TACKLES, TWO DEFENSIVE LINEMEN, A RUNNING BACK, A TIGHT END, A CENTER, A DEFENSIVE BACK AND A RETURN SPECIALIST.

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