KSYL Local News Archives for 2013-05

News For Friday 05/31/13


News for Friday 053113

By Dave Graichen

 

Federal investigators say they are now  looking  into three letters, laced   with  the  toxin  ricin,  that  were  all  postmarked   from Shreveport.  One  was sent to New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, another to his DC-based  gun control group and the third was sent to President Obama. Shreveport Mayor Cedric Glover says police and city

offices are cooperating fully  with  the  FBI's investigation of the potentially deadly letters.

 

Tweeting while driving will now be against the law in Louisiana. Gov. Bobby Jindal announced Thursday his signature on Senate Bill 147. The bill nixes posting on Facebook and accessing other social network sites while behind the wheel.

 

The governor also signed House Bill 265, which creates a lifetime concealed weapons permit. The permit costs $500 and requires training and education every five years.

 

Governor Jindal  has  signed legislation giving residents the option of having the words "I'm  a  Cajun"  emblazoned  on  their  driver's license. Another  bill still moving through the legislature would set up "I'm Cajun" specialty license plates.

 

Another  bill  headed  to  the  Governor's desk  will  increase  the penalties  for acts of domestic violence  that  involve  the  victim being burned.  Monroe Senator Bob Kostelka sponsors the legislation, which makes domestic  violence with burning a felony punishable by 5 to 50 years with or without hard labor.

 

The state House of Representatives approved a bill Thursday that would expand technical education in all corners of the state. The 88-11 vote in favor of the community and technical college construction bill marks one of the last steps for a piece of legislation that has been roundly criticized by the state treasurer, the state Board of Regents and the people who run Louisiana’s four-year schools. The bill now heads back to the Senate for approval of technical changes made in the House. Then the measure goes to Gov. Bobby Jindal’s desk for signing into law.

 

A state Senate committee clipped the fiscal hawks’ wings Thursday on a package of bills aimed at revamping the state budget process. Amendments to the bills marked the second day in a row that the Senate Finance Committee spurned significant portions of the Louisiana House’s approach to the state spending plan. The committee refused to embed the hawks’ proposals into the state constitution, choosing instead to turn them into a pilot program that could fade away in a few years.

 

The Senate Education Committee has denied a compromise intended to spare Louisiana teachers from glitches in the state's evaluation program that could affect their employment status. Senators voted 4-3 against approving House Bill 160 The bill sought to delay for one year the Compass system’s determination that a teacher is incompetent so flaws in the system could be worked out.

 

It a great argument for wearing your seatbelt. Two Slidell police officers were injured when their patrol car hit a cement culvert and flipped during a chase. The officers were buckled up  and suffered minor injuries. The person they  were  chasing  was

eventually caught.

 

It’s a case of a man’s past coming back to haunt him. State  Police  arrest  a  Lafayette man on aggravated rape  charges. L-S-P  says  they  were able gather  enough  information  to  arrest 66-year-old Joseph Thibodeaux even though the encounters occurred 40 years ago.

 

Legislation requiring state government to pay men and women equally who  perform similar jobs is close to final legislative passage. The House  Labor Committee has endorsed the Senate approved bill and it heads to  the House floor for more debate. The bill will give employers the ability to pay one gender  more than the other if the pay structure is based on seniority,  education or experience.

 

A  former  Angola prison guard pleads  guilty  to  covering  up  the beating of an  inmate.  Prosecutors  say  the guard witnessed the beating but filed a false report denying the  assault happened. With his guilty plea he could face up to 25 years in  prison  himself.  A sentencing date is yet unknown.

 

After  her  Senate  floor tirade this week,  declaring  that  anyone opposed  to the Medicaid  Expansion  contained  in  Obamacare  is  a racist, New Orleans Senator Karen Peterson is now dodging questions. A Baton Rouge  TV  crew  asking  about  the comments, was ignored by Peterson as she rushed into the Capitol.  Peterson said Tuesday that opposition  to  the  expansion  "comes  down  to  the  race  of  the President".  Peterson  is also chairman of the Louisiana  Democratic Party.

 

Sports…

 

The Baton Rouge regional gets underway today with LSU taking on Jackson State at 2:00 and then UL Lafayette will battle Sam Houston State at  7:00. If the Tigers and Cajuns win, they'll face each other on Saturday  night.

 

The Alexandria Aces cruised to a 5-1 victory over the Rio Grande Valley Whitewings before 290 fans at Bringhurst Field last night.

News For Thursday 05/30/13


News for Thursday 053013

By Dave Graichen

 

The Senate Finance Committee has approved House Bill 1, the state budget  for the fiscal year that starts in July. However, as in past years, the committee restored about  $350-million that was cut in the House. There is just one week left for the Senate to pass  it, and for the House to concur on Senate changes.

 

A vote by residents  to allow the sale of alcohol in restaurants in the city of Pineville  is one hurdle away from reality. Senate Bill 116 passed the House of Representatives by a 87-6 vote earlier this week, after passing out the Senate on a 24-0 vote. The bill now goes to the governor’s desk for his signature.

 

Hurricane  season  doesn't  even  officially  start until  June  but Forecasters  are  already  tracking Tropical Depression  2-E  in  the Pacific Ocean. Computer models  show  the  system  could  enter  the southwestern  part   of  the  Gulf  of Mexico by the end of the week. However they doubt it will develop  into  anything  more  but if it

should  they  predict it will move toward South Florida rather  than Louisiana.

 

A  mother  and  her  two toddler sons are dead after a early morning apartment fire in Lake  Charles.  State Fire Marshal Butch  Browning  says it  will  take time to

determine the cause of the apartment blaze yesterday morning. But, preliminary  indications show there were no  working smoke alarms at the time of the fire.

 

State Police say the woman who crashed head-on into oncoming traffic in St. Charles parish Sunday - killing three  people  -  was driving while  drunk.  Though  they  haven't  released  40-year-old Jennifer Englade's  blood  alcohol  level,  they say it was above  the  legal limit. Englade in still being treated for her injuries in the crash. Englade has three prior DWI convictions.

 

The state Department of Education says student participation in Advanced  Placement college prep courses was up 33% for this school year.  Education Superintendent John White says over 23-thousand were enrolled  this year, up from about 17-thousand the previous year.  Advanced Placement courses offer students the chance to earn college credit while still in high school.

 

LSU Football Coach Les Miles is scheduled to raffle off a 24-story  building in downtown Baton Rouge today in an effort to raise adoption  awareness. Miles is one of several local celebrities and elected  officials who will participate in the "Over the Edge for Adoption" challenge.

 

The House has passed a bill to reduce  sentences for those convicted of  simple possession of marijuana. The bill  is  sponsored  by  New Orleans  Rep.  Austin  Badon,  who  says the intent is to spend less taxpayer money feeding and housing prison inmates who've committed no violent crime. Badon's  bill  passed  by  a vote of 54 yeas to 38  nays.  13  House members did not vote. It goes  next to a senate committee, with just one week left in the session.

 

Louisiana's judges and sheriffs  will get a pay raise as a result of a  bill  that's  moving  closer to final  legislative  passage.  The measure would give Supreme  Court justices a five-point-five percent pay increase on July 1st. Appeal Court judges, district court judges and sheriffs will see their pay go up four-percent.

 

The New Orleans Saints  are  still  silent on the DWI arrest of wide receiver Joe Morgan over the weekend.  State  Police  say they found him  on  the  side of a Jefferson Parish expressway early  Saturday, with a flat tire and asleep behind the wheel. Troopers say his blood alcohol level was nearly three-times the legal limit.

 

Louisiana ranks at the bottom of another list  for  healthcare, this time   for   the   growing  senior  population.  The  United  Health Foundation's inaugural  Senior  Report ranks the Pelican State 48th. Dr.  Rhonda  Randall,  senior  advisor   with   the   United  Health Foundation,  says there are several key reasons why Louisiana  ranks

so low, including  a  high  number of seniors who live in poverty, a high prevalence of seniors who smoke and of course the big “O”, obesity.

 

Alexandria Police say they busted the ice cream man  for  possessing pot. Officers say the driver of the ice cream van failed to signal a turn and was mighty nervous about being stopped. They found  a small amount of weed in his possession and took him to jail.

 

Police  in  Ponchatoula,  in  Tangipahoa Parish, say they've made an arrest in the city's first murder  in  over 5 years. Authorities say robbery  appears  to  be  have been the motive.

 

A 12-year-old boy has been arrested for making a bomb threat earlier this month at a Lafayette middle school. The threatening message was scrawled  on  a restroom wall.  The school was evacuated; no bomb  found.  The  child  has  been  released  to  his parents' custody and removed from the school.

 

A constitutional challenge to a state law that makes it a felony for non-citizens to drive without proof they are legally in the United States has attracted the attention of three national civil rights groups and four foreign governments. At issue is Louisiana’s “operating a vehicle without lawful presence” statute, which carries a penalty of up to one year in prison and a fine of up to $1,000.

 

People who donate money to public schools may soon be eligible for a tax break after a vote by the state House of Representatives Wednesday. House Bill 324 would authorize a tax rebate of up to 75 percent of the donation given to a public school. The law requires that the donations be used by the school for purchasing instructional materials, maintaining tutorial and in-school child care programs and for school-based health clinics. The bill passed on a 61-34 vote. It heads to the Senate next for further consideration.

 

A bill that would provide an income tax break for certain taxpayers making less than $50,000 per year failed by a large margin in the state House of Representatives Wednesday. House Bill 699, sponsored by state Rep. Jeff Thompson, R-Bossier City, would provide an overtime wages tax credit up to $500. On the House floor, Wednesday, Thompson said the bill was his way of helping people who make less than $50,000 keep more of their money.  The bill failed on a 26-71 vote.

 

The DeSoto Parish Sheriff's Office is searching for three suspects in the theft of about $1 million in copper wire from a Frierson company. The thefts happened in six separate incidents from the Trinidad Drilling Co. DeSoto Parish Crime Stoppers is offering a $1,000 reward for information that result in the suspects’ arrests. Anyone with information can call Crime Stoppers or contact the Desoto Parish Sheriff's Office

 

 

News For Wednesday 05/29/13


News for Wednesday 052913

By Dave Graichen

 

The  2013  Memorial  Day  weekend  was  a deadly one. State Police investigated 6 fatal crashes resulting  in 8 deaths.  This is up  from  last  year's 4 fatal crashes resulting in  4  deaths  last Memorial Day weekend.  They  report  says failure  to  use  a  seat  belt contributed  to most of the 8 fatalities; driving while drinking was also a factor in some of the crashes.

 

The Military is reporting a Louisiana solider was killed in Afghanistan. The family of Chris Drake of Tickfaw was  notified  on Sunday night about Drake's death. Drake was reportedly 20-years-old  and  graduated  from  Independence High School. As of Tuesday, May 28, 2013, at least 2,092 members of the U.S. military had died in Afghanistan as a result of the U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan in late 2001, according to an Associated Press count.

 

A planned contract to allow a partnership between Rapides Regional Medical Center and Christus St. Francis Cabrini Hospital to take over Huey P. Long Medical Center has been delayed because details have yet to be worked out. One of the things apparently holding up the contract is a plan to move the hospital’s functions to the England Airpark in Alexandria, a process that began a year ago but was halted by hospital budget cuts. The LSU Board of  Supervisors  Tuesday did approved  contracts to privatize four  more of its public hospitals, in Houma, Lake  Charles,  Monroe and Shreveport. The board ignored pleas from lawmakers and local residents in Monroe & Shreveport  to delay action until a more complete contract — one that shows cost estimates and personnel actions — could be developed.

 

The  state  Senate  deflected  another attempt to make voters decide whether Louisiana should accept  Medicaid  Expansion  money  in  the White  House  health  care  reform. Governor Jindal has rejected the expansion as being unsustainable  once  the  federal money runs out. Supporters say it'll bring health coverage to  over  250-thousand of

the state's working poor. An attempt was made to tack  that  onto  a hospital debt bill by Bogalusa Senator Ben Nevers. The amendment failed by a 15-23 vote.

 

A national business magazine ranks Lafayette first in the country for  economic strength and year-over-year growth indicators. Lafayette  Economic Development Agency President Gregg Gothreaux says being ranked  number one overall is a big deal for the city. Area Development Magazine, a site selection and facility planning  publication, ranked 380 metro areas in 21 different economic and  workforce measures over the last five years.

 

Two gun bills were heard on the  House  floor Tuesday. One received it final passage; another was sent to a conference  committee  to  hash out  differences  over  an  amendment.  John  Schroder's HB 6 allows off-duty cops to carry their weapons onto school campuses. That bill now goes to Governor Jindal's desk. The other,  HB  8  from  Bossier City  Rep. Jeff Thompson would penalize anyone who publicly releases names or personal information on the state's concealed weapon permit holders.  Thompson  objected to an amendment tacked on in the Senate to allow said information release IF the CCP holder commits a crime. A conference committee  was assigned to try to resolve that disputed amendment.

 

The state House of Representatives approved final passage Tuesday of a bill that would exempt students with disabilities, and who are not pursuing a traditional high school diploma, from taking the American College Test, commonly known as the ACT. Senate Bill 127, which passed on a 101-4 vote,  provides that schools accountability scores won’t be affected by students who opt out of taking the test.

 

LSU’s Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday to appeal 19th Judicial District Judge Janice Clark’s ruling that the university illegally denied The Advocate and other news outlets the names and other information related to LSU’s search for a new president.  LSU general counsel Shelby McKenzie told the board the university followed all applicable public records laws and would be willing to take its case to the Louisiana State Supreme Court, if necessary. The judge issued a one-paragraph ruling April 25, saying the documents requested by The Advocate and the Times-Picayune should have been surrendered by LSU.

 

This sounds like a joke waiting for a punch line, There are  snakes  in  the Louisiana State Capitol and this is not a political jab. Apparently  baby  water snakes have been found in the basement committee rooms curled up in closets, slithering across the

carpet, and in a bathroom corner.  Workers  are  installing  weather stripping to help keep the snakes out. A wildlife official say they are water snakes and  are  completely  harmless  to humans.

 

State Police say a Ragley man is charged with 3rd offense DWI, hit & run and other offenses, after crashing his  pickup truck into a home in Moss Bluff. Troopers say Brian K. LeBlue rear-ended  a car...then left that accident scene. He later ran a stop sign and smashed  into the  house;  stopping  partially in the living room. The two persons

inside were not injured.

 

Police in Eunice say a man who used  a glass coffee pot as a weapon to rob a local casino has been apprehended. Officers say 32-year-old John  Guillory allegedly took over $800 from  the  register  and  stole an employee's  smartphone  before  fleeing on foot. They say using  the coffee pot as a weapon gave them additional grounds to arrest Guillory.

 

 

 

 

Sports..

 

LSU's Aaron Nola has been named SEC Pitcher of the Year and shortstop  Alex Bregman has received SEC Freshman of the Year honors. Nola has won  ten games for the top ranked Tigers, while Bregman leads the team in  hitting.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

News For Tuesday 05/28/13


News for Tuesday 052813

By Dave Graichen

 

A bill that would ban publishing names or addresses of those who apply  for, or have been granted, concealed weapon permits could clear its last  legislative hurdle today. Bossier City Rep. Jeff Thompson says the bill  was triggered by the New York Times printing CCP holders' addresses.  Some of those folks were burglarized afterward; their guns stolen. The bill has already been passed in the House and the Senate.  It's scheduled today on the House floor for concurrence on changes made  in the Senate. After that it goes to the Governor's desk.

 

Legislation designed to create more details on privatization contracts effectively died Monday afternoon in a state Senate committee. The Jindal administration opposed House Bill 240, arguing it would curtail efforts to turn state government functions over to the private sector. HB240’s sponsor, state Rep. Kenny Havard, told the Senate Committee on Finance that he just wants to ensure that the deals save taxpayers money. Legislators complained that Havard’s 12-page bill was complicated.

 

The  Louisiana  Highway  Safety Commission says pickup truck drivers and passengers have the lowest level of seat-belt use at 72%. That's despite state law that requires all passengers in vehicles to wear a seat belt. Executive director,  Colonel  John  Leblanc, notes that's especially important in pickup trucks. Over  150 un-belted people riding in pickup trucks  were  killed  in accidents in 2011.

 

Though still over two years away, prospective candidates for Governor in  2015 are already fundraising. With no official announcements, both  David Vitter and Jay Dardenne are scheduling events with, and for,  financial backers.  Senator David Vitter has appearances scheduled for political action  groups who support him in state and federal races. Secretary of State  Jay Dardenne is also engaged in fundraising appearances and events. Neither man has declared his plans to run for the office. Although, Lt. Governor Jay Dardenne has said on several talk shows he would like to do so.

 

State Police say a suspected  impaired  driver ran across the median and head-on into a another car early Sunday  morning  on  U.S. 61 in St.  Charles  Parish--killing  three  people.  The  driver  and  two passengers  in  the other vehicle were pronounced dead. A toxicology test is ordered for the motorist who lost control.

 

A  32-year  veteran  of the U-S Air Force is challenging  democratic Senator Mary Landrieu.  Rob  Maness of Madisonville is a retired Air Force colonel, who has never run  for  political office. Maness says while serving in the Armed Forces he took  an  oath  to  support and defend  the Constitution, and he says Congress is not living  up  to

that same oath.  Maness  joins  Baton  Rouge  Congressman  Bill Cassidy  as  the  two

announced republican challengers to Landrieu.  The  election will be held in the fall of next year.

 

Organizers  of the Bayou Country Superfest  in  Tiger  Stadium  this weekend say they  WILL  be back for a 5th anniversary BCS next year. The Zac Brown Band closed  the  two-day show late Sunday night, to the delight of thousands of fans who crowded  into Death Valley. The city of Baton Rouge says the festival brings an  estimated $30-million in economic impact.

 

With over a week to go in the legislative  session,  Governor  Bobby Jindal has signed a handful of bills into law that were approved  by lawmakers.  One  of  those  bills  makes  it  illegal  to possess or purchase  the  different  chemical  compounds  needed  to  make  the synthetic  drug  known as 25-I. The  bill  was sponsored after a Little Rock

resident died after taking 25-I at last year's  Voodoo  Fest  in New Orleans.

 

Work to raise the funds needed to build a National Hurricane Museum in  Lake Charles continue to move forward. Gray Stream is chairman of the  museum's board of directors. He says talks with corporations have gotten  the project off to a good start towards their $70-million goal, raising about $14-million, in mostly corporate donations, for the museum. The museum will be built near the Lake Charles Civic  Center, where it can be easily seen and accessed from Interstate 10.

 

Someone purchased a Powerball ticket in the New Orleans area that  matched all six numbers from Saturday night's drawing. The jackpot was  50-million dollars, which will be split three ways as winning tickets  were also sold in Florida and Delaware.

 

Sports..

 

LSU Baseball will play Jackson State Friday afternoon to open up the  Baton Rouge Regional. U-L Lafayette and Sam Houston State are the other  two schools in the regional. The Tigers and Cajuns will play each other  on Saturday night if they both win on Friday. LSU is a national four seed, even though they just won the SEC  Tournament. But Coach Paul Mainieri says the important thing is that they are a top  eight national seed and will have the opportunity to host a super-regional.

 

 

News For Friday 05/24/13


News for Friday 052413

By Dave Graichen

 

On Saturday and Sunday the state is offering a state sales tax holiday  on items residents need for the upcoming hurricane season. Louisiana  Department of Revenue spokesperson, Byron Henderson, says during the  next two days, consumers will not have to pay the state's 4-percent  sales tax on items like flashlights, batteries and generators.  Henderson says the exemption applies to the first 15-hundred dollars of

the purchase price of each item. Henderson says a complete list of the items exempt from the state's  sales tax on Saturday and Sunday can be found on the Department of Revenue's website.

 

Fewer people are expected to take trips this Memorial Day weekend.  Louisiana AAA ("triple A") spokesman Don Redman says just under 35- million Americans will travel 50 or more miles for the holiday; a dip of  about 1% below last year. He says highway travelers will likely not  notice any difference.

 

The state Commissioner of Administration Kristy Nichols announced Thursday, The total operating expense associated with the privatization of nine LSU hospitals will hit $1 billion during the new fiscal year. That’s more than is in the current year’s budget of $955 million for the state to operate the charity hospitals. And substantially more than the $626 million Gov. Bobby Jindal proposed for private companies to operate the public hospitals in the fiscal year that begins July 1. Nichols said the administration would submit amendments to the state Senate Finance Committee to close the funding gap, recommending using some money from hospital leases as well as other state and local revenues.

 

A plan to privatize operations at Huey P. Long Medical Center, which could close the Pineville hospital and move operations to England Airpark in Alexandria, will be considered Tuesday. Commissioner of Administration Kristy Nichols said Thursday that operating agreements are expected to be signed by the end of next month for private and public hospitals or foundations to take over nine hospitals currently operated through the LSU Health System. Rapides Regional Medical Center and Christus St. Francis Cabrini Hospital will be providing medical care at the airpark facility While the effective transfer date for the Monroe and Shreveport hospitals is Oct. 1, Huey P. Long’s transfer won’t be complete until October 2014. The hospital will continue providing care in Pineville, through most of next year until the Airpark facility is ready.

 

The state Attorney General's Office says a  special  grand  jury has been  selected to look at possible criminal activity in the awarding of a $200-million  Medicaid  contract  by the Jindal Administration. The  contract holder,  CNSI is the former employer  of  former  Health  & Hospitals head Bruce  Greenstein,  who  resigned  when  the  seeming impropriety  came  to  light.  The state abruptly cancelled the CNSI contract as well.

 

An amendment to the federal Farm Bill to deny food stamp benefits to convicted  rapists,  pedophiles  and  murderers,  has  been added by Senator David Vitter. He notes in Louisiana alone, from 2010 through 2012 over a million dollars’ worth of food stamp benefits were issued to people who were in prison. This would be a lifetime ban  that  no state could opt out of it. While Vitter's amendment passed, the Farm Bill itself is still under debate.

 

The state Legislative Auditor is requesting financial documents from the Louisiana Republican and Democratic  Parties,  but the state GOP is questioning whether the request is politically motivated. Auditor Darryl  Purpera  says  he  asked  for the financial documents  after learning state law requires both parties to file yearly reports. Louisiana Republican Party executive  director  Jason  Dore says the request  came  after  the  state  republican  party  fought  against proposed  tax increases that House members were discussing. He  says they already  file  campaign  finance  reports with the state ethics board and the federal elections commission. Purpera says there's no political agenda at play. The State Democratic party submitted the requested paperwork.

 

Louisiana's Congressional delegates are attempting to stave off big  impending rate hikes for the National Flood Insurance Program. Metairie  Congressman Steve Scalise says he and New Orleans Congressman Cedric  Richmond are co-sponsoring a bill to delay those premium increases for  three to five years. Scalise says the 2012 Flood Insurance Reform Act would  mean rate hikes of up to 20% a year over a four-year span, in an effort  to keep the program well-funded. Scalise says those proposed increases  are unrealistic.

 

A bill allowing clerks of court to receive a 4 percent pay raise zipped through the state Senate Thursday. The Senate voted 27-7 in favor of House Bill 174, giving the proposal final legislative passage. To be eligible for the pay increase, clerks would have to complete annual certification updates and other education requirements. State Sen. Ed Murray, D-New Orleans, said the pay boosts would not cost the state anything. He said the money would come from the clerks’ budgets.

 

Attempts to  stop  AGL Resources from expanding its salt mine in Lake Peigneur (Pin-your)  has  been  defeated  in  the  state senate. The company has requested a permit that would allow them  to  use  up to 5-million gallons of water every day. The bill would have called for an Environmental Impact Statement first.

 

Fire officials in Lafayette say nine horses  are dead after the barn they  were in caught on fire. They say upon arrival  the  smoke  was already  venting  through  the sides of the barn and the flames were too intense for firefighters  to  make entry and it was too late for the nine horses inside. It is believed  the  blaze  started  from  a lightning strike.

 

It’s not nice to fool with the IRS.. 42-year old Roderick  Dewitt  Aguillard the Third has pleaded guilty to not filingt income tax returns  over  a  four  year  period.  The former Denham Springs resident reportedly earned 2.3 million dollars during that four year period.  He was sentenced to eight  months  in federal prison.

 

Hurricane season  begins  in  10  days, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration forecasts  a  highly  active season. NOAA expects  13 - 20 named storms, 7 - 11 hurricanes. three  to  six  of those could  be  major hurricanes of Category 3 strength or higher. The  season  officially   begins   June   1st   and   ends  November 30th...though storms have occurred both before and after  those dates in recent years.

 

The  Governor's Office of Homeland Security & Emergency Preparedness launches a new smartphone app to let you receive emergency alerts as they happen.  GOHSEP director Kevin Davis says the Alert FM app is a free download for iPhone or Android systems. The app receives  special  alerts sent out by GOHSEP, which could be related to disasters, weather  emergencies and even Amber Alerts. It can  be  downloaded  free  at  the  online   Apple  store,  or  from GooglePlay.

 

Governor Bobby Jindal has signed into law a bill  that  will  assist and  encourage  Louisiana military servicemen and women to come home to the Bayou State.  House  Bill 312 does that by extending the time allowed for returning military  to  renew  any state or professional licenses  they may have had before going into  active  service.  New Orleans Rep.  Nick  Lorusso's bill met no opposition in the House or the Senate.

 

After losing to Arkansas yesterday 4 to 1. The LSU Tigers will face Alabama again today in the SEC baseball tournament. Airtime 2:30p

 

 

 

News For Thursday 05/23/13


News for Thursday 052313

By Dave Graichen

 

State  Police  say  a  76-year-old  man  from  Pollock is dead after crashing  his  truck  late  Tuesday  night. They say Coy  Kirtland  was northbound on Hwy 165 in Grant Parish  when  he left the roadway and slammed  into  two culverts before over turning.  Kirtland  was  not wearing his seat-belt and was pronounced dead on scene.

 

The  House  Appropriations  Committee approves a Senate-passed  bill calling for $263-million in construction  of community and technical college buildings. The bill is sponsored by  Benton  Senator  Robert Adley,  who says enrollment at Louisiana's 2-year schools has doubled in recent years. Adley's bill calls for selling bonds to  finance  the building plan. The  committee  passed  the  bill--sending it to the House floor for

what could be final passage.

 

Plans to wrestle tuition-setting authority away from lawmakers and put it in the hands of educators fizzled and died in the state House of Representatives this week,  representing a major blow to Louisiana’s higher education community. Currently, two-thirds of the state Legislature must sign off before colleges and universities can raise tuition. It is the toughest threshold in the country to overcome. At the same time, Louisiana is near the bottom nationwide in funding colleges while keeping tuition at some of the lowest rates in the country.

 

Good  news for Louisiana public school education as this year's LEAP and iLEAP test results show an  increase  of  students  in  grades 3 through   8   performing  at  or  above  their  grade  level.  State Superintendent  of Education John White says this reduces the number of students performing  below  grade  level by nearly 5000.

In Central Louisiana, Evangeline Parish was listed as one of the most improved districts in the state, while Vernon Parish ranked as one of the top performing districts. Overall the performance of the voucher-supported students in private schools in the state scholarship program improved by less than a percentage point.

 

Legislation is moving through both chambers of the state legislature that attempts to make it difficult for Planned Parenthood to build a new  facility  in  New Orleans. Metairie Senator Danny Martiny has a resolution that was  passed by the Senate, which urges the state not to provide any tax incentives  for  the  construction  of  the  four

million dollar building. Planned  Parenthood  Gulf  Coast spokesperson Julie Mickelberry says the new health center in New Orleans is not just a place where women

can receive assistance to terminate  their pregnancy. She says women and men will also be able to receive reproductive health care, including breast exams and cancer screening.  Planned Parenthood doesn't currently operate  an  abortion clinic in

Louisiana.

 

A watered-down “Equal Pay for Women” measure cleared the Louisiana Senate on Wednesday. The state Senate voted 23-13 for the legislation after making it apply only to women who work for state government. Senate Bill 153 originally applied to women whether they worked in the private or public sector.

 

The Louisiana Senate gave final approval Wednesday to a year’s delay in Gov. Bobby Jindal’s new pension plan for future state employees. The Senate voted 35-0 for a Louisiana House-passed resolution suspending the law scheduled to go into effect July 1. The Jindal administration originally opposed the delay, but reversed course with the filing of the special resolution that can suspend a law without the governor’s approval. The administration has filed what it calls a “clean up” bill to fix flaws.

 

Louisiana’s judges would get steady pay raises over the next five years under legislation approved late Wednesday by the Louisiana Senate. The Senate voted 27-9 to accept the recommendation of the Judicial Compensation Commission which is embodied in Senate Bill 188. The bill now heads to the House for debate.

 

Consumers looking to pick up meat for this weekend's cook-out will see  beef prices are higher than normal at the grocery store. LSU AgCenter  livestock economist Ross Pruitt says that's because wholesale beef  prices are at historically high levels. Pruitt says beef is not the only meat seeing higher prices this year, the same can be said for chicken and pork as well.

 

A federal court has approved a class-action  lawsuit  for the people effected  by  the  Assumption  Parish  sink-hole.  The  now 15-acres sinkhole apparently caused by work performed by Texas Brine has left about 350 people forced out of their homes for nearly a year with no buyouts offered. WAFB is reporting a spokesman for the company  said

they  only  just found out that their insurance carriers were not in support of the buyout process.

 

Another  suspect  in  the  fatal  shooting of two  St.  John  Parish sheriff’s deputies has pleaded guilty. Derrick Smith is the third suspect  to  enter  a  guilty plea in the

case.   He  agrees  he  is  guilty of  accessory after the  fact  to attempted first degree murder  and  possession  of  a  firearm by an convicted felon. The suspected gunman

Brian Smith, Derrick's older brother and  Kyle  Joekel  are  both charged with first degree murder.

 

Deputies in Lafourche Parish have charged a Mexican  national  -  in the  country illegally - with 2nd degree murder for the death of his girlfriend's  20-month-old  son.  Sheriff  Craig Webre says the baby died from being shaken. 24-year-old Emmanuel  Hernandez  is  being  held  pending a million  dollar  bond.  The investigation into the baby's death is ongoing.

 

A bill that would consider coercing a minor-aged girl into having an abortion  a  form of child abuse has moved closer to final  passage. Denham Springs  Rep.  Valarie  Hodges'  bill  has already passed the House  and  this week was approved by a Senate Judiciary  Committee. She says her  bill  is  to  protect  young mothers who want to carry their baby to full term. That bill now goes to the Senate floor.

 

Sports..

 

LSU shut out Alabama yesterday in the SEC tournament. Today, they’ll be facing the razorbacks at 4pm.

 

Once again the LSU/Arkansas game will be  played  on its traditional Friday  after  Thanksgiving  time  slot  in  2013.  The Southeastern Conference   and   CBS  made  the  announcement  today.  LSU  Sports Information Director Michael Bonnette says since Arkansas joined the SEC in 1992, the Tigers  and Razorbacks have played 21 times with 16 of those games coming on a Friday. He says some of the other  dates  announced  also makes it look like the  LSU/Bama  game  in  Tuscaloosa  on  November  9th  will  be  in prime-time.

 

News For Wednesday 05/22/13


News for Wednesday 052213

By Dave Graichen

 

Roy O. Martin announces a $20-million expansion at its Chopin  (Sho-pan) plywood facility in Natchitoches Parish. The project will  retain nearly 700 jobs at the plant and produce 80 new direct and  indirect jobs. Company president Roy O. Martin III says

during this expansion, they'll upgrade their drying  equipment and add a production line.  Martin says construction will begin this summer, with the majority  of hiring taking place shortly before production begins on the new  timber line next year.

 

The Rapides Parish School Board voted 7-2 Tuesday to approved a plan brought, forward by Incoming Superintendent Tony Authement,  that will restructure the school district. The restructuring plan calls for the elimination of 44 central office positions. But,  the creation of 36 positions, plus changes to some existing positions. Authement says  the plan accomplishes three things,  streamlines the district, places “intense focus” on support for schools and provides targeted professional development opportunities for all schools. The plan’s initial cost to the district’s budget is an overall increase of about $680,000. The school board gave it’s stamp of approval to the plan at a special meeting last night.

 

A $3.5 billion spending plan for public schools was rejected by a Senate committee Tuesday morning, which may kill the measure for the session. The proposal, Senate Concurrent Resolution 23, was sharply criticized for proposed changes in how the state would fund special education students. A move to shelve the proposal won approval in the Senate Education Committee without objection. Unless there is a sudden change, the action means that the state’s 2011-12 public school financing plan will be in effect for the 2013-14 school year. That aid package did not include any changes in special education.

 

A 34-member Cleco team is expected to arrive today in Oklahoma City to  help Oklahoma Gas and Electric Company get their system back online.  Cleco spokeswoman Robbyn Cooper says (OGE called to request help because  they believe their entire electric grid was destroyed by the massive  deadly tornado.  Cooper says Cleco is a member of the Southeastern Electric Exchange's  mutual assistance program where member utilities offer power  restoration assistance after major weather events. She says) OGE serves  801,000 customers in Oklahoma and western Arkansas but at this time it  is impossible to say exactly how many people are without power.

 

Teams of  volunteers  from  the Red Cross in Louisiana left yesterday to help  those  affected  by  the  tornado   in   Oklahoma.  Red  Cross spokeswoman  Nancy  Malone says their workers will  help  distribute food and supplies to  the storm victims and first responders and are prepared to stay for at least two weeks..

 

Proposed gun bills met with mixed success on the Senate floor. A House  bill to assure that concealed weapon permit holders' identities remain  private won Senate passage.  The bill was amended to allow publishing a name, if the CCP holder  commits a crime with a handgun. The bill passed and goes back to the House for amendment concurrence.  The Senate delayed voting on a House-passed bill that would defy any  possible future federal ban on semi-automatic weapons.  But,one gun bill is on its way to Governor Jindal's desk. HB 265 would allow  concealed weapon permit holders the option of buying a lifetime permit,  rather than renewing every five years.

 

Law  enforcement  statewide  is  increasing patrols and  checkpoints through June second as part of the state's largest-ever concentrated effort to increase seat belt usage  through the "Click It or Ticket" campaign.  Colonel John LeBlanc with the  Louisiana  Highway  Safety Commission says  the  campaign  coincides with the upcoming Memorial Day Weekend. LeBlanc also reminds motorists all  occupants  of  the  vehicle must wear their seat belts. Not just the front seat passenger.

 

The  bill  that  would prohibit drivers from posting to Facebook  or Tweeting while behind the wheel gets final legislative passage Tuesday  in the Senate. Also heading to the Governor's desk for his signature is the bill by Shreveport  Representative  Barbara  Norton that says drivers  of  Elio,  the three wheeled vehicle to be manufactured  in

Shreveport won't have to wear helmets.

 

The state revokes Explo Systems  license  to  operate  in  Louisiana after the company failed to properly store millions of pounds  of  a military  propellant.  Explo was renting out space at Camp Minden, a Louisiana  National  Guard  Base  in  Webster  Parish  to  dismantle military propelling charges.  State  Police Lt. Julie Lewis says all the  improperly  stored  material  is  now  in  appropriate  storage magazines at Camp Minden and Explo has surrendered  its  keys to the facility.

 

State Police say a 10-year-old  child  is dead after a car driven by her unlicensed 15-year-old sister crashed  on  their way to baseball practice  in  Tangipahoa  Parish.  Spokesman  Nick Manale  says  the 15-year-old was driving the car with her three  siblings: ages 9, 10 and 12. The 10-year-old died from her injuries; the driver and the other two juvenile passengers suffered minor to moderate injuries.

 

Sports..

 

The LSU Tigers face Alabama this afternoon in the SEC Tournament. The  Tigers took two out of three from the Crimson Tide during the regular  season.

 

News For Tuesday 05/21/13


News for Tuesday 052113

By Dave Graichen

 

After tornadoes ripped through northwest Louisiana last week, the  National Weather Service says the area could be faced with severe  conditions once again today. State Climatologist Barry Keim says the  front that produced destructive tornadoes in Oklahoma yesterday could  spawn more twisters in north Louisiana today.  Keim says there is a slight chance for severe weather in the northern  third of the state, and a moderate chance for severe weather in the northwestern part of the state. He says Louisianians should take these  forecasts seriously and be prepared for anything.

 

The state Senate Finance Committee on Monday advanced two proposed constitutional amendments that opponents said would protect more areas of the budget from cuts.

The propositions, contained in House Bills 532 and 533, would provide more financial stability for hospitals, nursing homes, intermediate care facilities and pharmacists  through constitutionally protected funds. The committee voted 9-1 to approve the measures. The bills now move to the state Senate floor.

 

A  proposal for Louisiana to tap into  federal  healthcare  overhaul funds available for expanding Medicaid has been stalled in the state senate.   The Finance Committee rejected the bill yesterday with all but one Republican voting against expansion.  A similar proposal is slated for house action later this week.

 

Homeowners who use solar power and provide electricity for utility  companies are watching a vote that is expected to take place at today's  Public Service Commission meeting. Those solar customers are eligible  for credits on their utility bill, but P-S-C member Clyde Holloway is  proposing smaller credits for those homeowners.  Holloway says the proposed change would level the playing field for  those utility customers who don't have solar panels. Public Service Commissioner Foster Campbell opposes Holloway's attempt  to change the rules with the solar program. Because he says they would be  breaking its promise to solar customers.

 

Governor Jindal has ordered a review of Texas Brine's permits to operate  in Louisiana. The Governor says has lost patience with the Houston company,  for dragging its feet on property buyouts for residents near the 15-acre  Bayou Corne sinkhole. However, Texas  Brine is blaming their insurance carrier  for the holdup in buying property  near  the  sinkhole. Damage  estimates  from the massive hole in the ground are estimated at some 40-million dollars. Some folks living near the sinkhole have been evacuated for over nine months

 

The Senate Finance Committee quickly signed off Monday on multi-year, 4 percent pay raises for Louisiana clerks of court. Under House Bill 174, the clerks could opt for 4 percent pay raises in each of four years. The money to cover the raises would have to come from self-generated funds. State Rep. Jeff Arnold of New Orleans, said the raises are optional and would be the first opportunity in seven years for a pay increase.

The bill now heads to the state Senate floor.

 

A bid to give judges five years of annual pay raises easily received the backing Monday of the state Senate’s budget committee,  after it was changed to require money for the salary hike to come from the annual judicial budget. Judges haven’t had a raise since 2010. The proposal now goes to the full Senate for debate.

 

The grand opening of the Margaritaville  Resort  in Bossier City has been set for the July 4th week. Officials say the  entire event will include  fireworks,  live  music  and  more.  They are hoping  Jimmy Buffett will be able to make an appearance at the  grand opening and they say the expectation is high.

 

 

 

News For Monday 05/20/13


News for Monday 052013

By Dave Graichen

 

The Jindal  administration  has  proposed  privatization  deals with eight LSU hospitals, but lawmakers have learned there's only  enough money  in next year's budget to fully fund three of them. Department of Health  and Hospitals Undersecretary Jerry Phillips says they are aware of the  problem  and  they  believe  there may be other funding

sources out there to get these deals done.

 

He doesn’t officially start his new job until June 1st. but, Incoming Rapides Parish schools Superintendent Nason “Tony” Authement is planning to create four “school turnaround teams” as part of a restructuring of the school district’s central office.

The School Board will consider Authement’s restructuring plan Tuesday at a special meeting, which will begin after the regularly scheduled committee meetings that start at 5 p.m. The school turnaround will be charged with helping to improve the district’s 17 schools that were graded as a D or F by the state Department of Education.

 

The state Senate settles in this week to begin its work with the  proposed $24-billion budget for the fiscal year that starts in July. The  House passed that bill out over a week ago. Lt. Governor Jay Dardenne,  who is a veteran of the legislature, says he's pleased with how the  House handled tax incentives for the film & TV industry. Dardenne says the budget bill passed by the House makes some cuts to the  departments he oversees,  tourism, culture, state parks and most museums  but they are cuts he feels he can work with.

 

Business as usual? State ethics officials pushed a limited legislative agenda this year, but even that scaled-down approach got nowhere. No bills were filed, although Louisiana Ethics Board members says they sought legislative fixes from the Legislature’s leaders and from Gov. Bobby Jindal. Some of the measures that did get filed in the 2013 regular session of the Louisiana Legislature are contrary to the recommendations the Ethics Board had established. The Ethics Board asked for help with a handful of challenges it continues to encounter in enforcement of conflict of interest, nepotism and campaign finance laws. Some of the disputes have led to lawsuits and others concern about creating some big holes that could allow ethical misconduct.

 

A new report on poverty shows that the number of poor people living in the Baton Rouge suburbs increased by 31.8 percent from 2000 to 2011. But, the good news in the report is that 31.8 percent figure is less than half of the average percentage change reported for the nation’s largest cities. Nationally, the number of poor people living in suburban areas in the 100 largest cities went up 63.6 percent from 2000 to 2011, from just over 10 million to nearly 16.4 million.

 

The Calcasieu Parish  Sheriff's  office announces an arrest has been made in a murder that happened in 1962. Seventy-three-year-old Felix Vail  was  arrested  in  Canyon Lake,  Texas  and  booked  into  the Calcasieu Parish jail last  night. Investigators believe Vail killed his wife Mary Horton Vail, who  was  found  dead  in  the  Calcasieu

River.  Felix  claimed  it  was  a boating accident. The Mississippi native is also a suspect in the deaths  of  a girlfriend and another wife.

 

Marksville police  captured  an  inmate  from  the  Avoyelles Parish Detention  Center  who  was on the run. Authorities say  21-year-old Christopher Roy escaped while  on  work  detail.  He was found early Saturday  morning  at a home in Marksville. Roy has been  in  prison since November and he was scheduled for release in 2015.

 

Congratulations to Louisiana State Police Superintendent Col. Mike Edmonson. Who on Saturday received the Buford Pusser National Law Enforcement Award for his efforts to promote partnerships among local, state and federal law enforcement agencies. The award is given annually to “deserving officers who have exhibited both heroism and leadership in law  enforcement.

 

A state lawmaker will look into whether legislation is needed to allow  parents track their children with G-P-S devices while at school.  Mandeville Representative Tim Burns says there's rules on the books  against electronic devices in the classroom like phones, so legislation  might be needed for parents to track their kids at school. Burns says he's asking the state legislature to approve a study  resolution this year to get a better idea on what schools have to say  about GPS devices in the classroom. He says they'll also look into the available technology and possibly propose legislation next year.

 

The Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services is seeking new  foster families. The state currently has about two-thousand foster homes  that serve four-thousand foster children. But D-C-F-S Secretary Suzy  Sonnier (SAHN-yay) says they are in need of families willing to take  large sibling groups or children with special needs.  Sonnier says parents can learn more about becoming a foster parent by  visiting the department of children and family services website.  Sonnier says foster parents take in children who had to leave their  family because of abuse or neglect.  She says the goal is to eventually reunite those children with their birth parents, relatives or family members.

 

Whitney and Hancock banks, which operate some 250 full-service bank branches in Louisiana, Texas, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida are expected to close 40-45 area branches this year in all five states in which they operate, including Louisiana. The specific branches that will be closed — and how many employees might be laid off — will not be released until later. Most of the closings will occur Aug. 30 and all closings will be completed by year’s end.

 

Sports….After a record-breaking regular season, the second ranked LSU baseball  team can focus on the postseason. The Tigers will begin play in the SEC  Tournament in Hoover, Alabama on Wednesday. LSU will play Against the  winner of Tuesday's game between 10th seeded Auburn and seventh seeded  Alabama. The Tigers will need to win four games this week to win the SEC  Tournament. Hear Those Games On 970AM KSYL.

News For Friday 05/17/13


News for Friday 051713

By Dave Graichen

 

Governor Bobby  Jindal  declares a state of emergency in response to potential flooding along  the  Mississippi River. Flood warnings are posted along the river from Arkansas  City, Arkansas to Baton Rouge. The National Weather  Service  says  the  main flooding concern is with those areas not protected by the main levee system.

 

State senators cracked open the Louisiana House’s version of the nearly $25 billion state spending plan Thursday and immediately raised questions. Members of the state Senate Finance Committee focused their concerns on a planned tax amnesty program, severance tax adjustments and the TOPS program. State Sen. Fred Mills characterized one piece of the plan that the House advanced as almost looking like a pay day loan, referring to a transaction in which someone gets immediate cash but eventually loses money on the deal. The committee will continue to look at the budget today.

 

Legislation prohibiting future teacher union employees from receiving state retirement benefits cleared the Louisiana House Thursday after fierce debate. House Bill 727 would not allow employees hired after Sept. 1 to belong to the Teachers’ Retirement System of Louisiana. State Rep. Herbert Dixon, D-Alexandria, denounced the proposal as a union busting measure. The House voted 57-40 in favor of the legislation, which now moves to the state Senate.

 

A bit of a scare yesterday in Alexandria. Police blocked off the streets surrounding the courthouse at about 10:20 a.m. after a suspicious package was found. Just after 2 p.m., Louisiana State Police bomb technicians and FBI agents determined what was in it. Police retrieved some electric hair clippers and two pocketknives. Sheriff William Hilton said in a news release. "In this day and time, you can never be too careful when something like this is found, especially in light of recent events.

 

One day after rejecting a public school $3.5 billion spending plan, lawmakers  said Thursday, they will consider a slightly different version submitted by the BESE board.

The panel on Wednesday rejected BESE’s initial proposal in light of last week’s ruling by the state Supreme Court, which struck down how the state financed school vouchers. The money was first planned to come from the $3.5 billion. But later in the day BESE officials said the rejected proposal inadvertently included language never considered by the board. The corrected version included language aimed at keeping the resolution intact if the court tossed out the voucher funding method, which it did.

 

Lawmakers have given final  legislative  passage to a bill requiring public  schools  to  formulate  a crisis response  plan  with  local lawmen, and rehearse that plan at  least  once  a year. The bill, received no opposing  votes  on  the Senate floor today. It's  now  headed  to  Governor Jindal's office, where  he can either sign it, veto it or allow  it  to  take  effect without his signature.

 

Lafayette Republican Charles Boustany will be involved in a  Congressional hearing today looking into the allegations that Internal  Revenue Service targeted conservative groups that applied for tax-exempt  status. Boustany says those responsible may have committed civil rights  violations.  Boustany is a member of the House Ways and Means Committee, which is  holding today's hearing. Steven Miller, who resigned earlier this week  as acting IRS Commissioner, is scheduled to testify.

 

There were no big winners  in  Wednesday night’s Powerball drawing so the estimated jackpot climbs to an estimated  $550  million which is the 2nd  largest  of all time. The next Powerball drawing is Saturday night..  By the way, The Mega Millions drawing  for  tonight is also up there.. it’s at  $190 million.

 

Louisiana State Police say a teenager who was not buckled up died in a Calcasieu Parish crash Thursday morning. Three teenage girls were in a car that allegedly ran  a  stop  sign and crashed into another vehicle. All three teenagers  were  unrestrained in the crash. One  died  from her injuries, the other  two  are  in critical condition.

 

New  Orleans Police have arrested the brother of the man accused  of opening  fire  on a crowd of people on Mother's Day, for his part in the shooting spree. Akein Scott was arrested Wednesday for 20 counts of attempted murder.  His  bail  set at $10-million. Yesterday, the NOPD says brother Sean Scott will face the same charges. Four others have been arrested as well for  harboring  the suspects.  Scott  allegedly  shot  and

injured 20 people Sunday; three are still in critical condition.

 

The ban on social networking while driving  bill  passes 94-0 on the House  Floor.  The  bill  by  Livingston  Senator  Dale  Erdy  would prohibiting  drivers  from  using  sites  like Facebook, Twitter  or Instagram  on  a  mobile  device while operating  a  motor vehicle.

The bill has to go back to the Senate for final passage.

 

A computer issue recently resulted in the disclosure of personal health information about 8,330 LSU Health Shreveport patients. Spokeswoman Meg Willett describes the release as unintentional and says those affected patients are being informed via notification letters sent out Wednesday. "No Social Security numbers, birthdates or financial account numbers were disclosed; so officials do not believe any financial information has been compromised.

 

The LSU Baseballers won game one of their three game series against Ole Miss last night with a 7 to 1 victory. Game two is tonight at 6:30. Tomorrow’s game is at 11:30 in the morning..

 

 

News For Thursday 05/16/13


News for Thursday 051613

By Dave Graichen

 

Residents in the city of Pineville could, in the not  too distant future, have a chance to  give a yea or a nay to the sale of alcohol in restaurants in the dry city. With a unanimous vote the House judiciary committee Wednesday morning sent Sen. Rick Gallot’s Senate Bill 116 to the House floor for a final vote.

 

New Orleans Police late Wednesday arrested 19-year-old Akein Scott, the alleged gunman in a Mother’s Day shooting that injured 19 people Sunday. Four people remain hospitalized, three in critical condition and one in stable condition. Scott has a long criminal record.

 

A state Senate panel Wednesday rejected a $3.5 billion funding request for public schools, further muddling an already confused picture on how classrooms will be funded. The Senate Education Committee approved a resolution, without objection, that asks the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education to submit a new request in light of last week’s ruling by the state Supreme Court. The court’s 6-1 decision held that the state cannot use the Minimum Foundation Program,  the key source of state aid for public schools,  to also finance vouchers for some students to attend private and parochial schools. Gov. Bobby Jindal has said state aid for vouchers will continue but exactly how remains unclear.

 

Louisiana Education Superintendent John White said Wednesday that a court ruling throwing out funding vouchers through the public school funding formula will result in school systems receiving a $12 million refund for loss of the local shares contributed to vouchers. Local school officials have complained that the department was essentially using local funds to pay for vouchers because it deducted from each district's state allotment an amount equal to what local governments pay to educate students.

The $12 million is part of a $30 million payment that White said will have to be refunded to schools.

 

The state construction budget zipped through the Louisiana House Wednesday after millions of dollars were added for maintenance projects on public college and university campuses across the state. The House voted 100-0 in favor of advancing House Bill 2, the capital outlay budget, to the state Senate. House Bill 3, the spending engine for the construction budget, also cleared the House chamber.

 

Louisiana   lawmakers  learned  yesterday  they'll  have  an  additional 155-million  dollars  to spend in the fiscal year budget that starts July 1st. It's the result  of higher than expected individual income tax collections. The Senate  finance  committee  will  begin  its  examination of the House-approved budget next week.

 

The Louisiana Senate on Wednesday narrowly rejected an “Equal Pay for Women” law.

The Senate voted 19-18 for the measure, one vote shy of the 20 needed for passage.

 

A bill that would allow colleges and universities to impose a host of new fees onto students, including one that could cost up to $2,500 per semester for LSU’s digital media students, easily advanced in the Louisiana House Wednesday on an 80-18 vote.

Most of the discussion on the House floor centered on a provision within House Bill 671 that would allow public institutions around the state to charge a fee of up to $48 to help schools keep up with building maintenance.

 

An effort to delay implementing Gov. Bobby Jindal’s 401(k)-type pension plan for new state government hires is one step away from final legislative passage. The House Retirement Committee on Wednesday approved a Senate-passed resolution  suspending the “cash balance” law until July 1, 2014. The law has been challenged in the Louisiana Supreme Court and an IRS ruling is pending that could prove costly. If the IRS decide Jindal’s fails to provide a benefit equal to Social Security, both the state and the employee would have to pay more. A state Senate panel passed a similar House-passed resolution. Now, all that’s needed is for either chamber to pass one of the instruments that would suspend the law until 2014. Suspension resolutions cannot be vetoed by the governor.

 

Legislation that would create a Department of Elderly Affairs in state government cleared the Louisiana House Wednesday. The House voted 102-0 in favor of House Bill 352 , Which would abolish the Office of Elderly Affairs within the governor’s office and create a new state department devoted to senior citizen issues, such as funding for councils on aging, senior centers and meals on wheels. The bill now moves to the state Senate.

 

Minden Congressman John Fleming is calling on Congress to audit the  Internal Revenue Service, after alleged misconduct by the tax agency  surfaced. Fleming says he's filing legislation this week; calling first  for a Congressional audit of the IRS. Yesterday, President Obama announced he's accepted the resignation of  acting IRS Commissioner Steven Miller, after it came to light the agency  had targeted conservative groups for extra scrutiny in their  applications for tax-exempt status.

 

The National  Hurricane  Center  has  released its list of names for Atlantic hurricanes and tropical storms this season. The list starts with Andrea, Barry, Chantal, Dorian, Erin  and  Fernand. One name we won't  see again is Sandy. That name was retired after  last  year's east coast disaster.

 

The Louisiana House on Wednesday approved legislation aimed at protecting public employees from retaliation if they provide information requested by a legislator or legislative committee. The House voted 100-0 for House Bill 387, which is opposed by Gov. Bobby Jindal. Administration officials testified in committee that they found the bill was too broad and could have unintended consequences. State Rep. John Schroder, R-Mandeville the sponsor of the bill, said public employees could wage complaints with the Louisiana Board of Ethics, which would investigate and “offer its remedy.” The bill now moves to the Senate for consideration.

 

The U.S. Senate on Wednesday approved U.S. Sen. David Vitter’s waterway resources bill that is intended to expedite U.S. Army Corps of Engineers processes, set aside more dollars for river dredging and speed up flood-protection projects like southern Louisiana’s Morganza to the Gulf plan in Terrebonne Parish. The bipartisan Water Resources Development Act, sponsored by Vitter  and U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer won out with an 83-14 vote.  The legislation, a version of which has not passed Congress since 2007, next moves to the U.S. House for consideration, although House members are currently working on their own version of the bill.

 

The state Department of  Ag  and  Forestry says Louisiana is at less risk for wildfires this year than other  states who are dealing with serious drought conditions. The US Drought  Monitor shows that as of last week, there were no drought conditions in 93% of the state.

 

The story of the case of a white family who was allegedly beat up by black suspects for  "being in the wrong neighborhood" in Baton Rouge is receiving national  attention  --  and  now BRPD says the FBI may step  in. They say currently the incident does  not  meet  the  hate crime statute but federal laws could be different.

 

Legislation  that  would  add an amendment to the state constitution that removes the mandatory  retirement age for judges clears another committee. Currently the constitution  states a judge cannot remain in office past the age of 70 unless they  are severing a term. The  proposed  amendment by Ville Platte Senator  Eric  LaFleur  has

already made it through the upper chamber and now heads to the House Floor for final  passage.  If  passed,  the matter would head to the voters for the November 4th, 2014 election.

 

The House Bill that would require dogs to be crated in truck beds on  Interstates cleared Senate Transportation and now heads to full Senate  for possible final legislative passage. Tthe primary purpose of the bill is to reduce the number of  accidents caused by dogs who jump out of truck beds. The fine for  violating the proposed law would be $150 plus $50 for each additional  dog.

 

 

Sports..

 

Today marks the beginning of the final three game series for the second- ranked LSU baseball team. The Tigers host the Ole Miss Rebels, with the  team celebrating senior day this weekend.

 

 

 

News For Wednesday 05/15/13


News for Wednesday 051513

By Dave Graichen

 

New Orleans Police say they are  looking for 19-year-old Akein Scott who they say is a suspect in the mother's  day  parade shooting that injured 20 people. Three of the victims remain in critical condition after  the  brutal  attack  Sunday.  Officials  say Scott  has  been arrested many times in the past.

 

A Senate judiciary committee Tuesday  approved a bill aimed at getting around  possible  future  federal  gun regulations,  by  creating  a Louisiana-made  firearms and ammunition  classification.  Under  the Legislation, as long as the guns or ammo are manufactured within the state, they would  not  fall  under the federally-regulated commerce clause. That bill has already passed  the  House. It now goes to the Senate floor for what could be final passage.

 

The Jindal administration’s budget does not contain $42 million in termination pay and unemployment costs for the 5,000-plus state employees losing jobs because of its privatization of LSU hospitals, according to a report issued Monday. The report also notes that there are another $26 million in annually reoccurring “legacy” costs to cover retiree health and life insurance. The legislative auditor’s report looked at various effects of the privatization of hospitals in Baton Rouge, New Orleans, Lafayette, Houma, Bogalusa and Lake Charles.

 

Today is the final day for Louisiana citizens to submit their 2012 state  tax returns. Department of Revenue spokesperson Byron Henderson says  they've processed 1.5 million state returns this year, after processing  just over two-million the year before. Henderson says taxpayers who  waited until today, should file electronically.  Henderson says for those who still mail in their returns, the envelope  must have today's date as the postmark. He says if a taxpayer needs more  time to complete their 2012 state income tax return, they can request an  extension to avoid late-filing penalties.

 

Tonight's Powerball jackpot is up to an estimated $360 million dollars which is the third largest in the game's history. The cash value of tonight's jackpot is a whopping $229.2

million.

 

A Louisiana House committee refused Tuesday to advance legislation criminalizing sexual contact between psychotherapists and patients. State Rep. Dalton Honoré angered a woman by questioning whether legislation next would be filed to forbid a telephone repairman from dating a client.

 

Forging motor vehicle  safety  inspection  stickers would be a crime under  a  House-backed bill approved Tuesday  by  a  Senate  committee. State Public Safety officials told the committee that bogus stickers are on the rise. The bill would levee a $5000 fine and up to 5 years in prison for  a  conviction  of counterfeiting inspection stickers.

Next stop: the full Senate for debate and vote.

 

The Greensburg man who pleaded guilty to driving  drunk  and killing seven people in a car crash had his prison sentence reduced  from 80 years  to  35  years  today.  The  lawyer for Brett Gerald fired the motion  and  asked  the  judge  to consider  his  client's  "extreme remorse" and "lack of intent to cause harm."

 

The  National  Transportation  Safety  Board suggests  lowering  the allowable blood alcohol level from .08 percent  to  .05  percent for drivers. The NTSB's study indicates dropping the BAC could  cut down on  the  nearly  10,000  drunk  driving  related  deaths nationwide. Louisiana Highway Safety Commission Col John LeBlanc agrees. However,  LeBlanc says the last time the NTSB made a  recommendation to lower the  BAC  standard,  it  took 21 years for all 50 states to comply. Louisiana made the switch to .08 for drivers in September of 2003.

 

A  bill  that  would  protect  a minor-aged girl's right  to  choose whether or not to have an abortion  has  been  passed  by  the state House.  The  legislation provides for intervening between child  and parent, if the  girl  wants  to  have  her  baby.  The bills sponsor Denham  Springs  Rep.  Valarie Hodges say it would make  coercing  a minor-age girl into having an abortion an act of child abuse.

 

A House committee has rejected a bill that would require legislative approval of large  rate  hikes  for  the state's property insurer of last  resort,  Louisiana  Citizens. St. Mary  Parish  Senator  Brett Allain's bill has already passed  the Senate. In the House Insurance Committee, Insurance Commissioner Jim  Donelon  argued that, by law,

Citizens'  rates  must remain at least 10% higher than  the  private market. He feels Allain's bill - requiring lawmaker approval of rate hikes of 25% or more - will undo that. The committee voted  9-4  against  the  bill, which kills it for the session.

 

A congressional effort to delay upcoming flood insurance rate increases for many thousands of Louisiana residents, and others nationwide, was defeated Tuesday by a single senator who threatened to bring this week’s U.S. Senate floor action to a screeching halt. The proposal,  by Sen. Mary Landrieu, with the backing of Sen. David Vitter, R-La,  was an amendment to Vitter’s water resources infrastructure bill. The amendment would have stalled premium increases of 20 percent or more annually for some residents in the National Flood Insurance Program. But Sen. Pat Toomey, a republican from Pennsylvania, used a procedural move to block all the proposed amendments to the bill from receiving votes, unless Landrieu withdrew her proposal. She did in order to avoid gridlock. Landrieu said afterward that she will file a standalone flood insurance bill that she will push to move quickly.

 

A state House panel Tuesday endorsed the creation of special courts to divert non-violent offenders with mental health problems into treatment programs instead of prisons. The Administration of Criminal Justice Committee, without objection, approved Senate Bill 71. The legislation would authorize district courts to create divisions that would deal with offenders who have mental health problems, much like there are drug courts today. The mental health courts would be established by rule by each district court. They would not be mandatory. The bill now heads to the House floor for debate.

 

Louisiana seafood industry leaders  and state officials announce the official launch of the state's Seafood  Certification  program.  The program is aimed at boosting confidence in the quality of seafood for retailers,  restaurateurs and consumers by allowing easy recognition of products as being from Louisiana. Louisiana Seafood Promotion and Marketing Board  director  Ewell  Smith says the state Department of Wildlife and Fisheries will have oversight. Television ads for "Louisiana Certified  Seafood" are already on the air.

 

Wade   Lohse  is  finally  back  in  a  Lafayette  Parish  jail  and authorities  don't  expect  he'll have a chance at freedom for quite some time. Lohse became Acadiana's  Most  Wanted after he walked out of his vehicular homicide trial in March.

 

The Dalai Lama will visit Louisiana this week. The Tibetan holy  man will make public appearances in New Orleans Friday and Saturday, and will speak at Tulane University's commencement in the Superdome.

 

State Sen. Gary Smith and his wife went out of state to have their biological children born using a surrogate mom. On Monday, the Montz legislator got a House committee to advance legislation that would regulate the practice if other married couples want to do the same thing in Louisiana. The House Civil Law Committee voted 9-1 for the Senate-passed measure, which was opposed from both ends of the political spectrum. Gay rights advocates complained about exclusion and the Louisiana Family Forum and Louisiana Conference of Catholic Bishops objected on ethical and moral grounds. Senate Bill 162, which cleared the Senate 30-4, now moves to the House floor for debate.

 

In a sign that the GOP is rallying around Rep. Bill Cassidy as its choice for the 2014 Senate race, all of the Republicans in the state’s congressional delegation are supporting Cassidy at a June fundraiser in Washington. The Republicans want a one-on-one race between Cassidy and incumbent Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La. The invitation for June 11 fundraiser at the National Republican Senatorial Committee headquarters in Washington suggests minimum donations of $500 and touts “special guests” in Sen. David Vitter, and Reps. Rodney Alexander of Quitman, Charles Boustany, of Lafayette; John Fleming of Minden; and Steve Scalise of Jefferson.

 

 

 

 

News For Thursday 05/09/13


News for Thursday 050913

By Dave Graichen

 

The Louisiana House of Representatives is scheduled to vote today on a  24-billion dollar budget for next fiscal year. Many lawmakers do not like the governor's budget because of the  use of one-time dollars, but insiders say the votes are not there for an alternative  plan that would reduce state tax credits as a way to raise revenues. A group of republican lawmakers known as "fiscal hawks" were working  with democrats on a proposed budget that the Jindal administration  criticized as a tax increase on businesses. But that  plan fell apart when the governor put pressure on republican legislators.

 

Senator David Vitter has introduced legislation to end the free cell  phone program for the poor. The Senator says the  Lifeline Program, introduced in 1984, was originally about expanding  land line phone service to rural areas and low income households--at a  relatively low cost to taxpayers. But, the Lifeline Program has somehow become a dispensary of free  cell phones that currently costs taxpayers over $2-billion a year.

 

According to a new survey, Louisiana is the second best state in the nation to retire. The  study  by  Bankrate.com says besides jazz and beignets, our state offers retirees  an excellent combination of low taxes and balmy weather. Analyst Chris  Kahn  says  people  like  to retire in places where it's warm. Kahn  says popular places with warm weather, beaches and other major attractions  are  great  places  to  visit, but they don't make good places to retire due to overall tax rates and high cost of living.

 

The  House  Health  and Welfare Committee has approved a bill to tap into federal dollars  available  to expand Medicaid coverage to more of Louisiana's working poor. Testifying  before  the  panel,  former state  Health  and  Hospitals  Secretary  David  Hood says the state should take the federal money. Also testifying on the bill, acting Health and Hospitals  head Kathy Kliebert   who   says   the   expansion   will   eventually   become unsustainable. The  Jindal Administration has resisted the Medicaid expansion.  The committee passed the measure by a close 10-9 vote, sending it to the House floor.

 

A bill to increase student fees  at  LSU advances in House Education today. The bill by Baton Rouge Representative  Franklin  Foil  would implement  a  $60  a  year  fee  to  go  towards  campus maintenance projects. If passed it would go into effect this fall  and could top out at $300 a year by fall of 2017. It now heads to the House floor.

 

A  USA  Today  report  shows  LSU's  athletic department took in 114 million dollars in revenues in 2012 which  is  the  seventh  highest figure  among  public universities. LSU Associate athletics director Herb Vincent says  the  report  is accurate and the study also shows LSU's athletic department is one of the few in the country that does not rely on subsidies. Ticket sales, contributions and right  licensing  help  make  up the

revenue  totals. Vincent says LSU expects to see its revenue numbers continue to  grow  with  the  launch of the SEC Television Network in August 2014.

 

The  House  has  passed West Monroe Rep.  Frank  Hoffman's  bill  to prohibit smoking within  25  feet  of state-owned buildings. Hoffman amended  his bill to make it apply only  to  office  buildings,  the Capitol and nothing else. Hoffman's legislation passed the House by 84-11 vote. It now goes to the Senate for committee review in that chamber.

 

A Senate committee has approved a House-passed bill that would place criminal  penalties  on  anyone  who  makes  public  information  on Louisiana's holders of concealed weapon carry permits. That bill now goes to the full Senate, where it will be up for final passage.

 

The  "I'm  a  Cajun"  license  plate  bill  has made it another step further.  The  legislation by State Senator Fred  Mills  that  would start offering the  specialty  plate passes the Senate and now heads to the House for further consideration.

 

An  Abbeville man has been indicted on a second-degree murder charge in the  death  of  his girlfriend's 3-month-old daughter. Police say 25-year-old  Shane  Jude  Vincent  was  arrested  without  incident. Vincent was also charged  with  tampering with evidence in the death of Jayla Broussard last November.

 

Federal regulators are investigating whether workers at the Shaw Modular Solutions facility in Lake Charles, which supplies parts to nuclear plants, broke quality control rules and falsified records. CB&I, which acquired the facility’s owner, Baton Rouge-based Shaw Group, in February, said it is cooperating in the probe and has turned over all the requested documents.

 

The Louisiana House on Wednesday voted 99-0 to allow public high school students with disabilities to avoid taking the ACT and other standardized tests.

 

State Rep. John Bel Edwards, D-Amite and sponsor of the plan, said the exclusion would apply to students who are not pursuing a high school diploma and who have an exceptionality listed in state law. The proposal does not cover gifted and talented students. The legislation, which next faces action in the state Senate, is the latest move aimed at revamping rules of the state Department of Education.

 

A state Senate-passed bill that would spell out details of a 2012 law to overhaul early childhood education in Louisiana cleared the House Education Committee on Wednesday. The measure, Senate Bill 130, next faces action on the Louisiana House floor. Last year’s law calls for early learning performance guidelines for those from zero to age 3 and academic standards for 3- and 4-year-olds. In addition, pre-kindergarten centers and schools will get letter grades, and state aid will be linked to how the centers perform. The changes take effect in the 2015-16 school year.

 

Sports..

 

The number three LSU baseball team is in College Station, Texas,  preparing for a three-game series that starts tonight against the Texas  A-and-M Aggies. Head coach Paul Mainieri says he's excited about the  opportunity to play on the road in a new environment and in front of a  raucous crowd. You can hear all three games of that series on 970 KSYL.

 

 

 

 

 

News For Wednesday 05/08/13


News for Wednesday 050813

By Dave Graichen

 

A  single  vehicle  crash on Interstate 49  claims  the  life  of  a Pineville woman. State  Police reports the victim, 58-year-old Linda Jett, lost control of her  car and crashed into several trees on the side of the highway. She was  able  to  be  removed from the burning vehicle  by a passing motorist but was later pronounced  dead  at  a local hospital. The accident happened yesterday morning.

 

The Alexandria mall is cracking down on those roaming mobs of young people who seem to fill the mall on weekends. Mall officials announced a new policy Tuesday stating,  anyone under the age of 18 must be accompanied by an adult from 5 p.m. until close on Friday and Saturday evenings. The program is being branded “@5 Family Weekends” because it’s intended to put the focus back on a family friendly atmosphere in the mall. The policy will be enforced by mall security.

 

The annual Stamp Out Hunger! food drive involving letter carriers nationwide is set for Saturday. Locally, the drive will benefit the Food Bank of Central Louisiana in Alexandria. To participate, residents are asked to leave a sturdy bag containing non-perishable foods -- such as canned soup, canned vegetables, pasta, rice or cereal -- next to their mailbox prior to the time of regular delivery on Saturday, May 11. Local letter carriers will collect these donations as they deliver the mail and take them to The Food Bank of Central Louisiana.

 

The  state  Supreme  Court  has  ruled  the  funding  mechanism  for Louisiana's  private  school  tuition vouchers program violates  the state Constitution. The High Court ruled that using dollars from the so-called Minimum Foundation Program,  the  fund  for  public school funding  to  pay  the  vouchers  goes  against  the language of  the

Constitution.  Seemingly  un-phased, Governor Jindal  said he can get the millions needed to fund the vouchers in house bill #1, the state’s overall budget, before  it  makes  final  passage. That budget is already over a billion dollars in the red.

 

Details emerge on what's contained in the Louisiana House's proposed budget  for  the fiscal year that starts July 1st.  A  coalition  of Democrats and Republican "Fiscal Hawks" proposes to reduce state tax credits by 15  percent  as a way to fund critical services. The Governor's Office  says the plan will increase taxes on business and manufacturing by over  a  billion dollars over 4 years, and will severely damage the state's burgeoning  film  and  electronic media industries.

 

A  state  judge  has imposed a 9pm curfew on LSU running back Jeremy Hill. Under the judge's order, Hill must stay off the streets between 9 at night and 6 in  the morning, and must stay away from bars. It's all conditions of Hill's  probation  for  a fight on April 27th at a Tigerland  bar.  Hill  was  already  on probation  for  his  January conviction for carnal knowledge of a juvenile.

 

Shreveport  Police  say  a  high  school student is under arrest for bringing a handgun on a school campus.  Police  say  the 17-year-old Fair   Park  High  School  student  was  taken  into  custody  after authorities found a .22 caliber handgun in his backpack.

 

Dozens  of  people from Louisiana are listed as missing, so does the amazing tale  of three women who were found in Cleveland Monday give more  families hope?  State  Police  Captain  Doug  Cain  says  it's important  they  work  with parents of missing children to keep hope alive, but also not give  them false hope. He says human trafficking cases seem to be on the rise. The  website  for The National  Center  for  Missing  and  Exploited Children lists  32  kids,  with  pictures, as currently missing from

Louisiana -- some for decades.

 

A House  bill  that  would  allow  off-duty cops and concealed carry permit holders to bring their guns into  eating  establishments  has been killed in a Senate Committee. The bill is sponsored by Haughton Representative  Henry Burns, who explains his original intent was to allow officers to  eat  at  restaurants  that  serve  liquor without

leaving their weapon in the car. Burns says he may bring the original intent of his bill  back  as an amendment to other legislation.

 

It's  already passed the Senate,  and  now  a  bill  to  ban  social networking while driving has cleared another legislative hurdle. The House Transportation  Committee  approved  Livingston  Senator  Dale Erdey's  bill,  which makes posting to Facebook Twitter or Instagram from behind the wheel  punishable with fines and possible jail time.

Next stop the House floor, where it's expected to win final passage.

 

A solar energy tax credit would be phased out by 2020 under a bill approved in the Louisiana House on Tuesday. The House voted 95-1 for the measure which sponsor state Rep. Erich Ponti said is backed by the industry. Under House Bill 705, the tax credit would drop 35 percent in 2016 and then go away entirely by 2020. The credit cost  Louisiana $24 million in 2012. The bill now moves to the state Senate.

 

 

News For Tuesday 05/07/13


News for Tuesday 050713

By Dave Graichen

 

The House Ways and Means  committee  advances  several  bills to the House floor that limit the amount of tax breaks Louisiana doles out. These  measures  will  be  used  in a budget deal House members  are working to approve later this week.  One  bill  heading to the House floor  will  cut  tax  credit programs by 5-percent,  raising  state

revenues by an estimated  47-million  dollars.  Governor Jindal held a press conference after the committee meeting say what the state reps were doing was sneaky and he believes all they want to do is raise taxes.

 

An audit on Louisiana's food stamps program shows about two-million  dollars in benefits went to ineligible residents, including prisoners.  Legislative Auditor Daryl Purpera says one-point-one million dollars in  food stamp benefits went to over 17-hundred incarcerated participants  during fiscal years 2011 and 2012. The audit also shows that about 300 participants spent 100-percent of their  benefits at a single retailer. Purpera says it's an indication the food  stamp recipient used their benefit card to possibly by liquor or tobacco. Something not allowed under the program.

 

The  House  has  passed  a bill that will exempt Louisiana-based gun manufacturers from federal  gun  regulations.  The bill, by Metairie Rep. Joe Lopinto, provides for a license for in-state  made firearms and  that  the  making  and  selling of said guns is not subject  to federal laws. The measure passed by a wide margin.

 

A  House bill that would loosen restrictions on who can carry a gun into  a restaurant that sells alcohol will be heard in a Senate committee  today. The legislation by Haughton representative Henry Burns was  originally written to allow off-duty police officers into bars and  restaurants.  Burns believes his bill was amended to include ALL permit holders in a  effort by opponents to kill it, but that backfired and it passed. It

also passed on the House Floor despite confusion over who the bill  applied to.

 

In an effort to help traditional retailers and financially strapped state and local governments, the US Senate Monday passed a bill that would allow for the charging of state sales taxes on most purchases made over the internet. The Senate passed the bill by a vote of 69-27, getting support from Republicans and Democrats alike. But opposition from some conservatives who view it as a tax increase will make it a tougher sell in the House. President Barack Obama has expressed his support.

 

Louisiana judges would no longer be subject to a mandatory age 70 retirement under a proposition endorsed Monday evening by the state Senate.The Senate voted 33-2 for a proposed constitutional amendment contained in Senate Bill 5 , which  now moves to the House for debate. The proposition must receive a two-thirds vote of each legislative chamber before it goes to voters at the next statewide election which is in 2014.

 

Gas  prices continue to slide in  Louisiana.  The  current  statewide average  for a gallon of regular is $3.27 which is down a penny from yesterday.  Some  analysts  from the American Automobile Association say it's very possible prices  could  be  $3  a  gallon  by the time summer rolls around. A year ago at this time the price was $3.63.

 

A  proposal  to  help  state  road and bridge funding keep pace with inflation was rejected in a House  committee  Monday.  The bill would have indexed the gasoline tax to the Consumer Price Index.

 

A state audit shows that more than 44 percent of the Louisiana students who received scholarships from the state's TOPS program over a seven-year period had their awards canceled for one reason or another. The audit says the state spent $165 million in TOPS awards for the more than 42,000 students whose awards were eventually canceled. In response, TOPS administrators said more than 80 percent of money paid for TOPS awards went to students who completed the program. And they said most of the canceled awards were lost by students who failed to maintain enough credit hours but still had good grades.

 

The Iberia Parish Sheriff's office is investigating  the  death of a 3-year-old  child. Capt Ryan Turner says no charges have been  filed in the death  of  the  child because cause of death has not yet been determined. However he says  they  did  arrest  the four adults that were in the home that day after drugs were found during the investigation.

 

A  16-year Baton Rouge boy was  killed  when  the   car  he  was   a passenger  in  ran  off  I-10 in Ascension Parish and crashed into a line  of  trees.  The non-licensed  16-year-old driver and two other passengers in  the  vehicle were wearing  seatbelts  at  the time of the  wreck  and  suffered  only  minor  injuries.  An  investigation continues.

 

Legislation  that  would  prohibit  drivers  from  posting  on their Facebook  or  tweeting  while driving moves one step closer to final legislative approval. Livingston  Senator  Dale  Erdey says his bill calls  for  a  fine  of  up  to  175-dollars for the first  offense,

500-dollars for subsequent violations. The bill now heads to the House Floor, it's already been approved by the Senate.

 

 

News For Monday 05/06/13


News for Monday 050613

By Dave Graichen

 

All tax items on the Saturday ballot here in Rapides Parish all easily passed with over 70% of the vote.  The 9.60 Mil 15 year Sherriff’s tax renewal. Pineville School Dist. No. 52 -- 7.41 Mills - SB - 10 Yrs. And Big Island Sch. Dist. Number 50 -- 6.36 Mills - SB - 10 Yrs.  Race for Justice of the Peace Ward 4, Patricia "Pat" Paul won with close to 53% of the vote.

 

Boise  Incorporated  will  invest 111-million dollars to upgrade its paper mill  in  Deridder.  The  governor's office says the expansion will  retain  440  existing jobs and  create  54  new  direct  jobs. Deridder Mayor Ron Roberts  says  Boise  plans  to  convert  an  old newsprint  machine, so that it will be able to produce cardboard for

packaging. Roberts says Boise's investment, which will also create an estimated

600 construction jobs, is the  biggest ever by a private employer in Beauregard Parish.

 

The man who escaped from the Natchitoches  Detention Center Thursday was  captured  by  US Marshals Friday evening.  29-year-old  Derrick Evans was a trustee  serving time for attempted manslaughter when he turned up missing while  working at the jail's farm. Authorities say Evans was discovered in Jackson,  Mississippi  so  he  now sits in a jail there until he can be extradited back to Louisiana.

 

Discussions on the proposed state budget continued over the weekend and  more details could be released today. Lake Charles Representative Brett  Geymann says the state House wants to vote on a spending plan that has  bipartisan support and prevents the midyear budget cuts that have  occurred during the Jindal administration.  Geymann says their budget proposal will call for spending cuts, while  also suspending certain tax exemptions.

 

The 2013 legislative session has reached the halfway point. Council for  a Better of Louisiana President Barry Erwin says the session started  with a discussion on phasing out the state income tax. But Erwin says  that idea was quickly shot down, so the focus in the Louisiana House has  been on the proposed budget for next fiscal year. As far as other legislation goes, not one bill has passed the entire legislative process during the first 4  weeks of the session.

 

Legislation that would protect parents from FALSE child abuse claims  will be debated on the Senate floor today. Jennings Senator Blade  Moorish says he decided to file this bill after an innocent Iota family  was investigated by the Department of Children and Family Services in  the death of their baby.  Moorish says Amanda and Jerry  Spaetgens' baby died of SIDS, but since  one doctor reported suspected abuse, DCFS protocol removed the other  children from the home while they conducted an investigation. Moorish  says his bill would establish a "level of risk" that DCFS would use when  determining abuse.

 

The House Way & Means Committee is scheduled today to debate a proposal  to help state road and bridge funding keep pace with inflation. Ken  Perret, with the  Louisiana Good Roads and Transportation Association,  says the bill would index the state's 20 cent gasoline tax – dedicated  to highways - to the Consumer Price Index.  The state has a multi-billion dollar backlog of road and bridge repair  and replacement projects, with too little cash to get them started.  Perret says - if passed - House Bill 675, sponsored by Plaquemine Rep.  Karen St. Germain, would likely raise the gas tax by just under a penny  in its first year. The governor has said he will veto any bill that would raise taxes.

 

 

 

Sports..

 

Third ranked LSU has another nice winning streak going as they head into  the final two weeks of the regular season. The Tigers rebounded from a  series loss to South Carolina by sweeping Florida this past weekend. The Fighting Tigers will get back on the diamond Thursday night when  they begin a three-game series at Texas A-and-M.

 

 

News For Friday 05/04/13


News for Friday 050213

By Dave Graichen

 

What is up with the weather? Over the next couple of days, Louisiana is expected  to  set new records  for  low  temperatures. State climatologist Barry Keim says these chilly temperatures  are  the result of a late Spring cold air mass.

 

Next week, Louisiana's House of Representatives will debate the  24-billion dollar state operating budget for  the  fiscal  year that goes  into effect July 1st. Thursday, House Speaker Chuck Kleckley gave a strong indication the House will vote on a spending plan that does not include  the  patchwork  financing  recommended by Governor

Jindal.  Kleckley  told  lawmakers  Thursday  that a reworked  proposed budget could be unveiled on Monday. It's been reported  the  House  is  working  on  a budget that would

contain  spending  cuts,  while also reducing or eliminating certain tax breaks to raise revenue.

 

Former Governor  Edwin  Edwards spoke for about seven minutes on the Senate  floor  Wednesday  then  received  a  standing  ovation  from members. The expectant father  reminisced  about  working  with  the legislature  during  his four terms in office and told Senators that never more than now does  Louisiana  need leaders who are willing to

set aside personal interests.

 

Officials in 63 of Louisiana’s 70 school districts have submitted new salary schedules that will reward teachers for effectiveness and other areas, the state Department of Education announced Thursday. The new pay plans stem from a 2012 state law aimed in part at giving local school officials more flexibility in how educators are paid. The law has been declared unconstitutional by a 19th Judicial District Court, in Baton Rouge, but remains in effect while attorneys for the state appeal.

 

The   Southeastern  Conference  along with  its  primary  television rights  provider,  ESPN,  announced the start  of  the  SEC  network which  will televise  more   than   one-thousand  events  each year. The   network  will  broadcast  24-7  starting   in   August   2014. Commissioner  Mike  Slive  says the  SEC Network will televise three

SEC football games each week.  The new network will also televise 75 college baseball games a year.

 

A West Monroe newspaper reports the  sponsor of a controversial bill that  would  allow  optometrists  to  perform   eye   surgeries   is withdrawing  the  bill from consideration. Rep. Frank Hoffman's bill met fierce opposition  from ophthalmologists, who feel eye surgeries should only be done by medical  doctors.  Optometrists  are not MDs. Hoffman told the Ouachita Citizen he's reconsidered the wisdom of the bill.

 

A bill to allow voters to decide  if  they  want  traffic cameras in their area was killed in a House committee Thursday today. Bill  sponsor Jeff Arnold  says  his  bill would prohibit using the cams to levy  fines unless voters approved them. Opposition came from representatives of local governments, who  say  the  cams reduce accidents and generate revenue. The committee rejected Arnold's bill by a 5-to-10 vote.

 

In  a meeting that went into the evening hours, the Senate Education Committee  once  again  rejected  an  effort  to  repeal Louisiana's Science Education act, which allows discussion of alternate theories to  mainstream science. Chief among them the theory  of  Intelligent Design  creation  of  the  universe--as  opposed  to  the  Big Bang. Critics,  like New Orleans Senator Karen Peterson says the 2008  law is nothing less than sneaking religion into public school classrooms through the  back  door.  The committee deferred the bill--ending its progress for another year.

 

A proposal to increase certain fees the Secretary of State can collect failed to pass in the state House Thursday. House Bill 430 sponsored by state Rep. Walt Leger, D-New Orleans, got a favorable vote — 48 to 35 — but failed to meet the 53 vote majority to advance out of the House. The law would have authorized the Secretary of State to raise fees for filing and recording articles of incorporation for businesses from $60 to $75 among other fee increases.

 

An 82-year-old Jennings woman jumped to her death off the U.S. 90 Mermentau River Bridge Thursday morning. Deputies recovered the body of Irene Jeanise a short time later.

 

 

 

 

News For Thursday 05/02/13


News for Thursday 050213

By Dave Graichen

 

It appears a local couple was very happy with the decision of the Louisiana college board on Tuesday to support it’s president Dr. Joe Aguillard. Yesterday, Aguillard announced an anonymous $10 million donation, the largest single donation in the history of the 106-year-old college.

 

Louisiana is Number One among the 50 states for its rate of births to  unmarried women. The data comes from the U.S. Census Bureau, and shows  48.7% of all births are to non-married mothers. The city of Monroe ranked highly among U.S. cities for  births to single moms; with 62.5% of all births in 2011 to non-married women. Finally, the report shows that nearly a third of all un-married mothers  are women with less than a high school degree.

 

Yesterday the CEO of   Idaho Timber, Ted Ellis,  announced the company will reopen a sawmill in Coushatta later this year, creating 90 new direct jobs. The site was closed in 2008 as a result of the national recession. Idaho Timber LLC recently purchased the facility from Hood Industries. Idaho Timber, based in Boise, will make a $3.5 million capital investment to refurbish and reopen the mill by the third quarter of 2013. Hiring is under way and will be completed when the mill comes online.

 

The House Governmental Affairs Committee rejects a proposal to place term  limits on statewide elected officials. The governor is already term limited  to two terms and Erath Representative Simone Champagne believes the other  statewide elected officials should be limited to three terms. Champagne's legislation would have  asked  voters  if  they  want to restrict   the   Lt.   Governor,   secretary   of  state,  insurance commissioner,  attorney  general  and  agriculture  commissioner  to three, four-year terms. They, as you may suspect, all spoke out against the plan. The measure was defeated on a six-to-two vote.

 

Governor Jindal says 8000 students attending failing  public schools have been matched with the Fall 2013 Louisiana Scholarship  Program, which  provides  state-funded  vouchers to pay private and parochial school tuition. About 12-thousand  families applied for the vouchers this year. The state is appealing a  court  ruling  that the program makes  unconstitutional  use of public school dollars to  pay  those

vouchers.

 

A House committee rejects a bill banning discrimination  against any state employee based on their sexual orientation. Opponents  say the measure  would  advance  a sexual politics agenda. They say existing laws  provide  adequate  protection.  That  bill  was  involuntarily deferred.

 

The  House  Committee  on  Criminal  Justice  has approved a bill to reduce sentences for possessing marijuana, and  give those currently in prison for that offense a chance at possible early  release.  New Orleans  Rep  Austin  Badon  says state prisons are overcrowded and straining the state finances to house non-violent offenders. Under the bill, a 2nd offense would get up to a year in prison.

 

HB152 by Chris Hazel which allows  parole  eligibility for juveniles convicted of murder, advanced to the House floor  today. The bill is silent  on  whether  the  eligibility  would apply to those  already convicted and incarcerated. That issue would  be left for the courts to decide.

 

A state lawmaker  decides not to move his bill that would ban public schools from being  involved with the Louisiana High School Athletic Association. Abbeville  Rep.  Bob  Hensgens  filed  the  measure  in response  to  the  LHSAA's  decision  to  separate  its  high school football playoffs. There will be split football playoffs this fall, public schools will have their own post-season, while private and parochial schools will have their own brackets.

 

A Senate committee rejected a proposed  bill to make the position of Education Superintendent an elected one.  Currently  BESE  picks the Superintendent,  often  at  the Goveror's urging. Monroe Senator  Bob Kostelka brought the bill and was critical of current Superintendent John  White,  as  a  New Yorker who  doesn't  understand  Louisiana. Opponents say educations  gains  of the past several years were made

under an appointed Superintendent. The bill failed by a 2-to-4 vote.

 

The new owner of The Advocate introduced himself to managers of the newspaper Wednesday morning and said he was “extremely proud” to own Louisiana’s largest daily newspaper. John Georges, the CEO of Georges Media Group and publisher of The Advocate, said he had an enormous responsibility to The Advocate’s 450 employees and the Baton Rouge community.  Earlier in the day, governor Jindal told the press the paper could not be in better hands.

 

Here comes the  bride,  but  not  exactly what you may think. Zoo of Acadiana officials have invited the  public to attend the wedding of two giraffes on Sunday. They say their  16  foot giraffe Gabriel has waited  a  long  time  for a mate and thanks to donations  from  the community, they were able to get Evangeline, a new 14 ft girl in the habitat. Sunday is a celebration of this accomplishment.

 

The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and  Fisheries  is now offering an  app  for smartphone users to report outdoor related  violations. The app is  called, "LADWF Tips" and this is part of their Operation Game Thief program  which  could  offer cash rewards for information leading to arrests or convictions.

 

The  state  Department of Transportation says work on I-49 south  of Lafayette should  start  early  next  year. The project will upgrade U.S.Highway 90 to Interstate standards, and add a third lane in each direction.  The  first  section  will  run from  Ambassador  Caffery Parkwway to Albertson Parkway, at a cost  of about $75-million. DOTD expects to be bidding the project out by January.

 

Forcing a minor to undergo an abortion would be considered child abuse  under a bill approved by the House Criminal Justice Committee. The bill passed unanimously and heads to the House floor.

 

A state appeals court has ruled as unconstitutional a Louisiana law that makes it a felony for non-citizens to drive without documents proving they are legally in the United States. The decision, handed down Wednesday by the Lake Charles-based 3rd Circuit Court of Appeal, found that the statute is an improper effort by the state to enforce immigration laws, generally the exclusive realm of the federal government.

 

After defeating McNeese Tuesday night, the number three ranked LSU baseball team is set to open a three-game  series against the 19th ranked Florida Gators tonight. You can hear all the games on 970 KSYL. Airtime this evening is at 6

 

 

 

 

 

News For Wednesday 05/01/13


News for Wednesday 050113

By Dave Graichen

 

It took a daylong meeting, but the Louisiana College Board Of Trustees exonerated Dr. Joe Aguillard of all allegations that were made by several whistleblower complaints. The board was considering competing motions, one that would terminate Aguillard and another that would that would affirm him as president. They opted for the latter.

 

Much of the state is under a flash flood watch through Thursday.  Forecaster Robert Ricks, with the National Weather Service in Slidell,  says the problem is a slow moving low pressure system that's stalled  over southeastern Texas and Louisiana.  Ricks says we can expect periods of heavy rainfall, lightning and  possible severe thunderstorms. He says it comes on the heels of an April  with almost 10 inches of rainfall, bringing the risk of flash flooding  in low-lying areas. The rain should begin to move out tomorrow, with fair & cool  weather behind it...:

 

John Georges, who took over a small family company and transformed it into a billion-dollar business, completed a deal Tuesday to buy The Advocate, the largest daily newspaper in Louisiana. The Advocate, which dates back 171 years and serves readers from Lafayette to New Orleans, is one of the few newspapers in the United States whose print circulation is growing. It was owned by the descendants of Charles P. Manship Sr., who have been newspaper proprietors in Baton Rouge since 1909.

Georges said he will meet today with the newspaper’s 450 employees. He said he has been negotiating with the Manships for nearly two years.

 

Legislation that would double the amount of time a parent would have to  give up their newborn, no questions asked, advances in House Health and  Welfare. The proposal, by Pineville Rep Chris Hazel, would amend the "Safe Haven"  law to say a person could give up their baby within 60 days. Wade Bond with the Rapides Children's Advocacy  Center  supports the extension  of  the Safe Haven law. He believes it would help  assist

parents who feel the only answer is to murder their children. That bill now also heads for the House floor.

 

Two bills that take away the legislature's authority over the setting of  college tuition rates are moving through the Louisiana House of  Representatives. The House Education Committee approved a measure which gives the management boards of the state's 4  public college systems the power to set tuition rates. A similar piece of legislation passed out of the House Governmental  Affairs Committee. That Bill is proposing  a change to the state constitution, so that a two-thirds vote of the  legislature is no longer needed to raise tuition.

 

A bill that  would  prohibit  outdoor smoking within 25 feet of most state buildings passed in the House  Health  and  Welfare Committee. The  bill  by  West  Monroe  Representative Frank Hoffman  says  the penalties for those who violate  this  law  are  minimal  with first offense being a $25 fine, second offense a $50 fine and any  offense

after $100. Hoffman admits enforcement could be difficult. The vote was 15-1 and now heads to House floor.

 

A state Senate panel late Tuesday narrowly endorsed a revamped Medicaid expansion plan that would use the private insurance market place to provide health care coverage to Louisiana low-income adults. The Senate Health and Welfare Committee voted 4-3 for what state Sen. Ben Nevers, D-Bogalusa, called “a Louisiana solution” for state participation in the Medicaid expansion called for in federal law. The bill now heads to the full Senate.

 

A state Senate judiciary committee backed a proposal that would remove a requirement that judges retire after reaching age 70 and completing their current terms. Senate Bill 5 heads next to the full Senate for debate. If approved by the House and Senate, the constitutional change also would require approval from voters in a statewide election.

 

The House Governmental Affairs committee killed a measure that would have opened more of Governor Bobby Jindal's office to more scrutiny. The  committee voted 6-3 to back the governor's effort to keep  most of his records away from public view.

 

The   University   of   Louisiana   Board   of  Supervisors approves U-L-L's  request   to  move  forward  with  the school’s  115-million dollar  athletic facilities  master plan.  The  plan  includes  major renovations to the football stadium, Cajun Field.

 

Lieutenant Governor Jay Dardenne announces 2012 was a record-setting  year for tourism. Dardenne says a record number of visitors came to the state last year. Based on statistics from a U-N-O study, Louisiana attracted 26-point-3  million tourists last year, which resulted in more than 10-billion  dollars in total visitor spending.

 

The  full  House  has passed a bill that requires that dogs must  be secured in cages or  kennels,  while  the trucks or trailers they're being carried in are on Interstate highways. Kenner Rep. Tom Wilmott brought the legislation out of concern for the number of dogs killed when thrown out of moving trucks, and for the safety of motorists as well.

 

A Louisiana House committee rejected a bill that would have allowed convicted felons to vote if they were out of prison but still on probation or parole. Rep. Patricia Smith, D-Baton Rouge, said current law disenfranchises people who pay taxes. She said her house Bill 175 would encourage people to participate in society and would support re-entry programs designed to ensure people don’t reoffend. A victim rights’ organization opposed the measure, saying convicted felons shouldn’t be allowed to vote until they’ve completed their entire sentence.The House and Governmental Affairs Committee voted 5-2 against the bill.

 

A wreck involving two big rigs on  I-20 in Caddo Parish has left one of the two truck drivers dead. Caddo  Sheriff's  office spokesperson Cindy Chadwick says it happened shortly after midnight  last  night, with  one  18-wheeler running into the back of another

 

Ouachita  Parish  deputies  report a homeowner shot a suspected home invasion robber yesterday afternoon. They say the resident confronted the alleged thief and the suspect  tried  to run the homeowner over with his vehicle. The homeowner fired--hitting  the suspect at least once. He  was airlifted to a Shreveport hospital where  his  condition  is

unknown.

 

BP agrees to pay about $340-million to fund coastal restoration projects  for Louisiana. It's part of $1-billion the oil company will invest in  areas damaged by the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill. David Cresson is  CEO of the Coastal Conservation Association of Louisiana. He says this  is good news that's been a long time coming. The state has been requesting BP make a down payment on the billion  dollars promised the state for coastal rebuilding, and they're now  making good on the promise. Cresson says the lion's share of the money  will go to barrier island projects.

 

Lake  Charles  annual  Contraband Days pirate festival begins today. The 54th annual event features pirates forcing the Mayor to walk the plank, a car show, live  music.  midway  rides, fireworks and a boat parade. The vent wraps up on May 12th.

 

 

 

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