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Colbert cracks audience up with Louisiana chicken boxing jokes


Michelle Southern reporting.
Comedy Central's Stephen Colbert poked some fun at the Louisiana Legislature on his show Wednesday night over one lawmaker's fight to keep the sport of chicken boxing alive.


Opelousas Senator Elbert Guillory opposes a bill that would expand Louisiana's ban on cockfighting.

"Senator Guillory explained that the chickens can engage in their sport without hurting each other," Colbert said. "They put little boxing gloves on and fight in rounds so they can get water and cool off. So if they're hot they get water and if they're losing they get olive oil, salt and pepper and a squeeze of lemon."

Before New Orleans Senator JP Morrell's bill came up on the Senate floor, Guillory released a list of chicken boxing rules to illustrate that the sport was perfectly safe.

Colbert read the rules with a touch of sarcasm.

"Chicken boxing has strict rules like each combatant has to wear standard foul safety boxing gear," Colbert said. "Just check the poultry counter at your local Sports Authority."

Colbert said that, sadly, the state Senate ended up agreeing with Morrell's bill that would close certain loopholes in cockfighting laws.

But the comedian who was recently named the successor to David Letterman, says he commends Senator Guillory for trying to keep big government out of our chicken sporting events.

"What's next no more poultry jousting? You tell me Louisiana Senate! What manner of chicken combat shall your law allow? Just tell us the way we can have chickens attack each other for our amusement and we will do it," exclaimed Colbert.

You can watch the clip here. - Chicken boxing begins at 2:55.


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Legislation being discussed today that will allow the sale of raw milk from farmers to consumers


The House Ag Committee will meet today to discuss a bill that would allow the sale of raw milk from farmers to consumers. Carencro representative Stephen Ortego says raw milk has the same health risks as eating a hamburger or a raw oyster and can be beneficial to people that are lactose intolerant. 
"One of the things that really made me realize that we needed to legalize the sale was when I had the parent of two children who have lactose intolerance and whenever she told me she was trying to nourish her children and was being made into a criminal, I realized that maybe we need to visit this law," Ortego says. 

Ortego says the sale of raw milk is currently illegal because some diseases in the turn of the century were found in it but those diseases have now been eradicated in the United States. He says the changes in technology now make the consumption of raw milk a lot safer and popular in other states.
 
"There are a handful of states that have the legal purchasing of heard shares where you technically own a piece of heard and there are also many states like Texas, Arkansas and Mississippi around us that have the legal sale of raw milk from the farmer to the consumer," Ortego says. 

Ortego says this will open up new markets and help out smaller farms. He says it should be a close vote in committee but they have a good shot of getting the bill passed.
 
"It is sort of a question of food rights versus consumer protection. I think most of the people on the committee grew up on raw milk and don't see it as a problem," Ortego says. 
 
 

 


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Pregnant women close to death must remain on life support under House bill


Legislation that would require doctors and hospitals to keep brain-dead pregnant women on life support until they give birth, regardless of the family's wishes, is heading to the House floor. It passed out of the House Health and Welfare Committee. New Orleans Representative Austin Badon says his bill gives an unborn child a voice.


Badon says unfortunately there are cases where a pregnant women can't speak or is incoherent and steps need to be taken to protect that child's life.
 
"So what I'm asking for in that very unfortunate situation that we step in as a state and realize we have a responsibility to that unborn child and give that unborn child a chance."
 
Opposition came from New Orleans resident Julie Schwam Harris. She says the legislation could create a dangerous precedent.
 
Harris says this legislation could also go against a dying woman's living will. She says if there is no living will, than a loved one should make the decision on whether brain-dead pregnant women should remain on life support.
 
"This bill wrongly in my opinion puts government between a woman and her family, between a woman and her doctor, a woman and her faith." 
 
Despite the objection, the House Health and Welfare committee approved the measure and it heads to the House floor. 

 

 
 
 
 

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A push to expand Medicaid in Louisiana fails


Louisiana voters will NOT get the opportunity to vote on whether the state should expand it's Medicaid Program. A proposed constitutional amendment to do so was defeated in a Senate Committee. Governor Jindal has said expanding the Medicaid program would be costly and  Department of Health and Hospitals Secretary Kathy Kleibert voiced the same opinion.

"Each state that rejects this massive entitlement expansion, saves taxpayer money and prevents further growth of the federal debt," Kleibert said. 
 
The measure was defeated by the Senate Health and Welfare Committee on a six to two vote. Before the vote, Bogalusa Senator Ben Nevers made the case that the expansion of Medicaid would provide insurance to 250-thousand Louisiana adults who desperately need health coverage. 
 
"Make no mistake members, if we fail to expand Medicaid in this state, people will die because of it."
 
 
 

 

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Louisiana ranks 49th for return of investment when it comes to taxes paid


Louisiana's government services are providing the third worst return in investment based on the amount taxes Louisiana residents pay.  That's according to Wallethub.com. Senior analyst John Kiernan says based on their research Louisianians are not getting a lot in return for the amount of taxes they pay.


Kiernan says Louisiana's tax rate is the 17th best in the country, which is good. But he says the state ranks poorly in the areas of education and infrastructure and health care, which leads to a poor return on investment for taxpayers.
 
"Louisiana ranks 44th in terms of infrastructure, so that includes quality of roads and bridges," Kiernan said. "The state also ranks 50th in education." 
 
Kiernan says only Arkansas and Mississippi received a lower rankings on their return on taxpayer investment study. He says it's this type of information that voters should keep in mind when they go to the polls. 
 
 

 
 

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Equal pay legislation passes out of Senate committee


Michelle Southern reporting.
A bill that would expand the "Equal Pay for Women Act" to include men and also apply to private sector employers passed in Senate Committee today. SB 334 is by New Orleans Senator Karen Carter Peterson who says paying unequal wages based on sex is unjust and discriminates against the person receiving the lesser rate.

"It also leads to lesser morale and threatens the well being of our citizens of this state," Peterson said.

Peterson says there are certain exceptions to her measure when it comes to seniority or merit based pay systems.

She says in 2010, Louisiana ranked 46th in the nation for lowest paid women.

"And I know we've become immune to these numbers because we're always 46th, 47th, and 48th," Peterson says. "But at some point don't you think we should wake up and try to attain number 1, 2, 3 .. so we can be proud of our wives, our mothers our grandmothers and our daughters?"

Legislation that would require state employees to pay women the same as men passed last year, but this bill would cover private employers as well.

Peterson says in the same year, Louisiana women earned 67 cents for every dollar earned by a man who does the exact same work.

"It's not fair," Peterson said. "Louisiana has the second largest wage gap in the US. Why is that fair?"

The legislation passed out of the Senate Governmental Affairs committee unanimously Wednesday and now heads to the Senate Floor.



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Drone bill passes Senate on second try


Michelle Southern reporting.
A day after rejecting a bill that would regulate certain drones in Louisiana, Baton Rouge Senator Dan Claitor ended up getting enough votes to advance his legislation Tuesday. SB330 would prohibit unmanned flying devices from taking pictures of private property with several exceptions.

Claitor wants laws to keep up with technology.

"The purpose of this bill is on the very basic level of," said Claitor. "Should someone be able to take a look in your backyard and through your back window simply because they have the technology to do it?"

Claitor says buying a device that can fly into your neighbors yard and look around is extremely easy and relatively inexpensive.

The legislation failed Monday by a vote of 21-15, then it passed yesterday 22-16.

New Orleans Senator Karen Carter Peterson says you can't stop technology from happening.

"I don't think we can accomplish what you're trying to accomplish with this bill," said Peterson. "People can accomplish exactly what you're trying to prohibit, just not with a drone."

Claitor says he decided to bring the bill back up so he could better explain it.

He went over some of the exceptions to the law which include allowing drones to be used in agriculture, crime scene processing, television filming and more.

Claitor says his bill would also prohibit distribution of images captured with a drone.

"So when I fly into Senator Nevers backyard, I can take a picture and I can send it immediately to the internet, if I wish to, through the handy dandy application" Claitor said. "It is a lower level penalty when you distribute it."

The bill now heads to the House.

(picture from brookstone.com of $370 drone that takes pictures)

 
 
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Most parents who are involved in the state's voucher program are pleased


A survey released by two pro voucher groups shows 92-percent of the parents who have children participating in the state's voucher program are satisfied and happy with their child's academic progress. President of the Louisiana Federation for Children, Ann Duplessis, says the survey sends a strong message to those who oppose vouchers.


"The survey clearly says that parents want choice, parents want to have the opportunity to create or to provide a better educational opportunity for their kids," Duplessis said. 
 
The Black Alliance for Educational Options also helped put the survey together.
 
The state's voucher program, also called the Louisiana Scholarship program, uses state funding to send children, from low income families attending poorly performing public schools, to an approved private school. Duplessis says 87-hundred students have already been awarded a scholarship for next school year.
 



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5-Day Festival International in Lafayette begins today


Michelle Southern reporting.
The massive Festival International which brings in music and art lovers from all over the world, kicks off today in Lafayette. The annual 5-day festival is always held during the last full week of April.

Kelly Strenge with the Lafayette Convention and Visitors Bureau says this is a multicultural festival that draws thousands.
 
"We have a large draw from Louisiana and tourism wise of course from Texas, Mississippi and all over the state," said Strenge. "The Festival International draws journalists and visitors and musicians from all over the world."

Strenge says the free festival is a celebration of diversity in music.
She says historic downtown Lafayette is transformed into an entertainment complex featuring six music stages, food court areas, street musicians and more.

"It's very affordable and very easy to get to," said Strenge. "It's just five days of food, music, fine crafts from Louisiana and a world market."

Strenge says they are expecting between 300 to 350 thousand people to attend the festival through the weekend.

You can get more information at festivalinternational.com.
 
 
 
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Study finds only 3 out of 10 adults in Louisiana have a college degree


Michelle Southern reporting.
According to a report based on 2012 Census data, Louisiana ranked 49th in the nation for lowest percentage of people who graduate from college. The document from the Lumina Foundation indicated The Bayou State graduates only 29% of the population.

University of Louisiana System President Sandra Woodley says that's a concern.
 
"We have to be able to increase the educational attainment of our citizens in order for them to be able, to not only have a living wage, but have a good quality of life," Woodley said.

Woodley says one of the ways they are trying to improve those numbers is through proposed legislation which would create the "WISE" program that would offer incentives to universities for graduating skilled workers.

"We already have lots of examples where companies like IBM, CSC and Century Link have provided resources for the universities to help produce the graduates that they need," said Woodley.

The study found that the only state with a lower percentage of people who had a college degree was West Virginia.

Woodley says they are also working to get more funding from the state to help  higher ed.

She says another thing they're looking at is the 540,000 people in Louisiana who started college but never finished.

"We started an organizational leadership degree that's aimed at these adult students who have some college and want to get back," said Woodley. "If they are already working they can take all of these courses online."




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Bill requiring dogs to be restrained in trucks on interstates squeaks by


Michelle Southern reporting.
A bill requiring dogs to be restrained in the beds of pickup trucks passes on the House floor to the tune of "Who Let the Dogs Out" and heads to Senate. The measure by Kenner Representative Tom Willmott got a close 53-34 go-ahead vote. He says a dog loose in the back of a truck that's going 70 on an interstate is extremely unsafe.

"Think about it, if a dog falls out of a truck in front of you, it's just like an unsecured load," said Willmott. "It creates emergency situations."

Willmott says it's a public safety issue and not to mention when a dog flys out of the back of a truck onto an interstate, it's not a pretty site.

But Bossier City Representative Jeff Thompson is one of the 34 lawmakers who voted against this bill.

He says hunters in his area have no choice but to use interstates when going out with their dogs.

"We've got I-20, 220 and 49 and to go anywhere in town you're going to have to be on these portions of the road," said Thompson.

New Orleans Representative Helena Moreno took to the House Floor to share an experience she had with a dog falling out of a truck in front of her on an interstate.

Willmott says there are three acceptable ways the dog could be restrained: either in a crate, on a short enough rope or in a car top carrier.

 
 

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