A federal judge receives an update today on how much progress abortion providers have made when it comes to obtaining privileges to admit patients at local hospitals. A state law requiring abortion doctors to have admitting privileges has been put on hold.
Center for Reproductive Rights attorney, Janet Crepps, says the doctors they represent they still have applications pending.
"And they still haven't heard from several of the hospitals where they have submitted their applications," Crepps said.
Louisiana's new abortion restrictions law was set to go into effect September first, but a US judge in New Orleans blocked enforcement, so abortion clinic doctors can obtain privileges. Crepps says since the doctors they represent haven't made much progress, she expects the judge to rule legal abortions can continue.
"Both sides have indicated that the appropriate timing for the next hearing maybe after the beginning of the next year, January or February."
There's five abortion clinics in the state, but Crepps says only one doctor in Shreveport has adequate admitting privileges. She doesn't suspect hospitals are purposely dragging their feet when it comes to reviewing applications from the other doctors.
"Just natural process of trying to get privileges takes weeks or months and so at this point we don't think the hospitals have done anything out of the ordinary."
True freshman Brandon Harris is the new starting QB at LSU. Coach Les Miles says Harris deserves a chance to start this Saturday against fifth ranked Auburn after leading the Tigers on seven consecutive touchdown drives against New Mexico State.
Harris also rushed for two touchdowns as LSU scored in all seven positions that he was in at quarterback.
LSU Head Coach Les Miles says Harris made quality decisions with the football and likes his ability to ad-lib
"He's a guy that is really fast and a guy that can really throw the ball. You put him in a quality position to extend a play, some good things can happen."
Harris will make his first collegiate start at Auburn and raucous crowd is expected for this SEC West clash. Miles expects Harris and the rest of the team to handle the hostile environment well.
"Our guys have been through hostile environments before. The noise is, in my opinion, a distraction and the game is certainly that piece that needs to be focused on. I think our guys will get that."
The Louisiana Association of Educators has filed a lawsuit challenging the legality of using public school budget money to fund certain types of charter schools. $60 million from the budget, also known as the MFP, has been designated to fund those charter schools.
LAE President Debbie Meaux says the Louisiana Constitution is clear on this issue.
"Article VIII, Section 13 (B) of the Louisiana Constitution requires monies from the MFP program flow into parish and city school systems. And that's all it provides for."
She says the charter schools in question are schools not controlled by city or parish school boards and, therefore, not eligible for funds from the public school budget. LAE successfully challenged the funding of voucher schools in 2012. Meaux is hopeful this lawsuit will produce similar results.
"Of course, we can never predict what the courts will say, however we think we have pretty strong, solid background and basis to base the lawsuit upon."
Education Superintendent John White says this lawsuit is a money grab for unions and school boards and an attempt to keep parents from choosing the school they think is best for their children.
A new poll on Louisiana's US Senate race shows democratic incumbent Mary Landrieu winning the primary, but trailing by three-percentage points in a runoff with republican Bill Cassidy. CNN poll has Landrieu leading Cassidy in the primary, 43-to-40 percent and republican Rob Maness has nine percent.
ULM political science professor Joshua Stockley says a closer look at the survey, which was conducted last week, also shows Landrieu will have to make sure registered democratic voters get to the polls and she needs more support from white voters.
"The poll indicated that Cassidy has a 71-to-26 percent lead among whites, that's phenomenal," Stockley said.
There is a group of Louisiana lawmakers and other state leaders expressing outrage about Louisiana hospitals charging rape victims for care. Among them is Slidell Representative Kevin Pearson. He says it's completely wrong that women who have reported sexual assault are getting these massive hospital bills.
"The perpetrator will get free healthcare for life once he's in jail but the victims are the ones are paying for treatment of these crimes," said Pearson.
A standard rape kit at a hospital has to be free under federal law, but hospitals can still charge for HIV testing, pregnancy testing or medication that could prevent a rape victim from getting an STD.
Pearson says it would be terrible if a woman didn't report assault because she's scared of the hospital bill.
"This is the very least of a service that we as a state and nation should provide," says Pearson.
Pearson believes part of the reason this is happening is because Louisiana privatized state hospitals which previously covered all medical expenses for rape victims. He says rape separates itself from other types of violent crimes because they so very often go unreported.
"I think stabbing victims report the crime 100% of the time and rape victims don't," said Pearson. "This is is the last thing we want them worrying about."
He says they are calling for legislative action to address this issue.
The Saints had an opportunity to move into a first place tie in the NFC South with a win last night in Dallas, instead New Orleans got off to a slow start and lost to the Cowboys 38-17. It took until the fourth quarter for the Saints to score a touchdown, while the defense allowed Tony Romo to throw for three touchdowns and DeMarco Murray to rush for 149 yards.
"There's not going to be much good to see on this film," Saints head coach Sean Payton said. "We are one 1-and-3 right now and that's how we are playing."
With Atlanta and Carolina both losing on Sunday, a win for the Saints would have put them at 2-2 and in a tie for first place in the NFC South. Instead, the Saints are tied for last in the division with Tampa Bay at 1-3.
"It's not where you want to be, one quarter through the season," Payton said. "We have to closely at the reasons why we are not winning."
One of those reasons is the lack of turnovers. For the third straight game, the Saints failed to force a turnover, while the offense coughed up the football three times on Sunday night.
The Cowboys were also 8-of-14 on 3rd downs and rushed for 190 yards.
According to the Army Environmental Command, Fort Polk has received the most supporting public comments of any of the 30 Army bases across the country facing military cutbacks. Michael Reese, with Fort Polk Progress, says last year during this process, the military received about 8,000 comments with over half coming from Fort Polk.
"This year, out of 30 bases, the Army received about 111,000 responses. Of those, Fort Polk submitted about 34,000, which made us, once again, the most responsive base community in the country."
The Vernon Parish Army base avoided significant cutbacks last year, losing only about 250 troops. Reese says they learned last year that community support of the base makes a big difference.
"Like any other business entity, they want to be located where they're wanted and where they're supported most."
The public comment period is the first step in the military's force reduction process. The report lists Fort Polk's maximum troop reduction at 6,500, out of a current military population of just under 11,000. Reese says the next step of the process is a public listing session in March.
"Leaders of the Pentagon will come down and hear from citizens, community leaders, elected officials from across Louisiana, and our federal delegation to, once again, reinforce all the investments that we've made, what we have planned, and reiterate the commitment we have for Fort Polk."
Reese says the Army will make an announcement next June.
US Senate candidate Republican Congressman Bill Cassidy releases a television ad today featuring former supporters of incumbent Democrat Mary Landrieu. In the spot, three women say they will not vote for Landrieu this year because of her support of the Affordable Care Act.
Political analyst Bernie Pinsonat says this is a good move on the part of Cassidy.
"Running ads pointing out that Mary Landrieu voted for Obamacare is his ticket to winning this election."
One of the women says she voted for Landrieu before, but when the Senator voted for Obamacare she knew she'd made a mistake. Pinsonat says Obamacare is the main issue of this Senate race.
"It's the issue that I would close this election with. It's the issue that's going to make the difference for him that stops her from winning in the primaries."
Another woman states that she'll vote for Cassidy because he'll stand up to President Obama. Pinsonat says President Obama and Obamacare remain extremely unpopular in Louisiana. He says attaching Landrieu to Obama is a smart strategy for Cassidy.
"To run ads linking Mary to Barak Obama or Obamacare, that's the best offense he can have."
US Senator David Vitter will campaign this weekend against his colleague in the senate, democrat Mary Landrieu. Vitter knocked on doors in Baton Rouge Saturday morning, with representatives of the national anti-abortion group, the Susan B. Anthony list. UL Lafayette Political Science Professor Pearson Cross says it's uncommon for a US Senator to actively campaign against the other Senator from their state.
"You don't really go after your colleagues in the senate directly, you might support their opponents covertly, but in this case there's no covert about it."
Landrieu is Catholic and has said she believes women should have the right to make their own decisions over whether to terminate their pregnancy. Cross says for many voters, a candidate's view on abortion helps them decide who to vote for.
"One of things about the abortion issue, for people to whom it makes a difference, it's the single issue that will decide their vote."
Cross says it's also rare for a sitting US Senator to spend time knocking on the doors of voters' homes.
"Maybe in Wyoming, where you probably could meet all of the electorate over a six-year period."
New Orleans Senator JP Morrell leads a new study commission trying to determine how much Louisiana agencies spend on the death penalty. Morrell, a Democrat, says the idea came to mind when the current combination of drugs used for lethal injection became unavailable and seeing what happened in other states.
"The chemical composition that they were basically making on the fly to try and replace the existing protocols led to botched executions, exposing those states to millions of dollars in liability under the Constitution for cruel and unusual punishment."
Morrell says they want to find out if it is too expensive for the state to enforce the death penalty. He says several factors must be considered when determining the cost of the death penalty.
"What's the price tag on putting someone on death row, running through all the various appeals, and, ultimately, what's the cost of executing them?"
He says, right now, when the state budget is so bad, the actual cost of enforcing the death penalty should be considered. Views differ widely on the topic. Morrell says prosecutors will say the cost of executing someone is negligible, while defense attorneys say it cost millions of dollars.
"And we're really just trying to get an accurate number as far as what that cost actually is."
The Saints go after their second straight win on Sunday night when they visit the Dallas Cowboys. NFL Analyst Mike Detillier says for the Black and Gold to come away with a win, they have to slow down Cowboys running back DeMarco Murray and the Saints have to establish their running game.
"You have to keep those weapons of Dallas, which is very impressive, off the field," Detillier said. "So that means offensive line play has to be strong again. Run the ball against the Cowboys and play some keep away."
The Saints have won the last three games played between these two teams. New Orleans scored 30 or more points in each contest and Detillier expects a lot of points to be scored on Sunday night.
"Both teams will have some success throwing the football, the key here is which team can run the football better."
The Saints have lost their last five regular season road games, but Detillier says the Saints are 9-and-0 in Sunday night games, when Coach Sean Payton is on the sidelines.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Louisiana has filed a lawsuit against the Abbeville Police Department claiming they are violating the First Amendment with their social media policy. Executive Director Marjorie Esman says the rule basically states that employees can't post anything on social media which casts the city in a negative light.
"And doesn't really adequately define what that means," said Esman. "It's up to the mayor to decide what that means."
Esman says they filed the lawsuit on behalf of a man who says he made comments on his private Facebook page about working conditions at the Police Department. She says these employees could be banned from doing anything on social media because they don't know how the city would interpret the policy.
"We've asked them to cease the implementation of this policy because nobody understands what it means and it censors free speech," said Esman.
Colt Landry decided to take action because he felt the policy at the police station violated his right to free speech.
The Abbeville Police Department is not commenting on the suit.
The investigation into the shooting death of a 14-year-old allegedly by a Terrebonne Parish Sheriff's deputy continues today and Sheriff Jerry Larpenter is calling the incident a freak and tragic accident. He says the cops were responding to a report of armed men entering a house in a Houma subdivision where drugs have been a problem.
"The door within a few seconds was open with a suspect brandishing a weapon towards the deputy," said Larpenter. "In a few seconds he had to make a decision."
The weapon the teen had was reportedly a BB gun but family members are apparently saying the juvenile had no weapon. Larpenter says the incident could have been avoided.
"Whether they are juveniles or not," Larpenter said. "I don't know why anyone would want to be brandishing weapons knowing that people are going to call the cops."
Larpenter says he's spoken with the family of Cameron Tillman and it doesn't sound like he was a teenager who would be looking for trouble.
Louisiana State Police is investigating the incident.
Sugar cane harvest season starts to ramp up with the beginning of grinding season today. American Sugar Cane League's Jim Simon says this year's start-up is a week to ten days later that normal.
Simon says the crop looks to be a little short compared to the last few years.
"The last few years have been really bumper crops for us so we're kind of getting back to average, now. Hopefully, in the next couple of years, we'll see better production."
Simon says weather conditions really affected Louisiana's sugar cane beginning with the cold winter.
"Then the late start of summer and the cool spring and cooler summer just kept our tropical plant from emerging and growing as much as we'd like it."
He says a couple of sugar mills will begin operation today and all 11 mills in the state will be up and running by October 10. Simon says with the harvest getting into gear, you'll begin seeing more trucks loaded with sugar cane on the roads. He asks drivers to be cautious.
"If you're in an area with a lot of sugar cane activity and traffic, you probably should leave just a little bit early and give yourself a little bit of extra time so you're not forced to rush and make poor driving decisions."
State Police say an on-duty St. John the Baptist Parish Sheriffs deputy was fatally shot by a fellow deputy yesterday during a domestic dispute in LaPlace. Spokesperson Melissa Matey says the St. John Sheriff's Office received a call of a deputy involved in a domestic dispute brandishing a weapon.
She says when officers arrived, they found that Lt. Nolan Anderson was armed.
"Deputies found that Lt. Anderson had fired multiple shots into the air and turned the weapon towards the deputies and they were forced to take action against one of their own. Shots were fired at Lt. Anderson and he was taken to River Parishes Hospital where he was pronounced deceased."
Matey says Anderson was a 25-year veteran of the sheriff's office. She says this is a very tragic and difficult time for the St. John Sheriff's Office.
"This is something that no law enforcement officer ever wants to be faced with, dealing with one of their own."
Baton Rouge Congressman and US Senate candidate Bill Cassidy says it was inappropriate for Senator Mary Landrieu to assist another man perform a keg stand at an LSU tailgate. Cassidy says beer distributors are also not happy because it promotes drunkenness.
"Binge drinking is associated with DWIs, with traffic fatalities, death on campuses, rape on young women, the beer industry does not want that."
Cassidy made the comments at an event where he received the endorsement of the National Federation of Independent Business. He says the beer industry spends a lot of money promoting responsible drinking and Landrieu's actions on a college campus were unfitting for a US Senator.
"Isn't it Momma's worst nightmare that her son goes off and be inappropriate in college and gets into an accident."
Landrieu has downplayed the incident. She has said her opponents who are making political fodder over this need to get a sense of humor and get a life.
"This young man 28-years-old, MBA graduate, said senator would help me do it and I said fine and that's what we did and that's the way we roll," Landrieu said.
There's a new radio ad hitting the airwaves in the 5th District today featuring Phil and Kay Robertson of Duck Dynasty endorsing their nephew, Zach Dasher, for Congress. ULM Political Science Professor Joshua Stockley says, with this, Dasher is trying to create legitimacy and name recognition.
"Legitimacy in terms of moving from a marginal candidate," says Stockley. "Doing so by having a significant cultural figure endorse him."
Stockley says a lot of people still don't know who Dasher is, but almost everyone recognizes the Duck Dynasty label.
"So having a known label endorse an unknown label, you're trying to generate recognition of that unknown label," Stockley says. "He's trying to generate the name Zach Dasher."
On the negative side, Stockley says Dasher is trying to run a campaign on his own merits and the Duck Dynasty endorsement could be seen by some as contradictory to that claim.
"It's not the conservatives that are going to get Zach Dasher elected to Congress, it's the moderates. We saw that with Congressman McAllister and State Senator Neil Riser," said Stockley.
Louisiana State Police are investigating the death of a 14-year-old high school freshman who was allegedly shot by a Terrebonne Parish Sheriff's deputy. The teen is identified as Cameron Tillman -- a student from Ellender High School. Trooper Evan Harrell says deputies got a 911 call around 5:30 Tuesday evening.
"They stated that several suspects were running into a home with weapons on Kirkland Loop which is in the east section of Houma," said Harrell.
The deputy involved in this shooting is not being identified while the investigation into this incident is underway. Harrell says they aren't sure exactly what transpired inside the home when cops arrived.
"We can say that a 14-year-old was fatally shot on the scene by a deputy and a weapon was found in close proximity to the body," Harrell said.
Harrell says three other suspects were taken into custody at the abandoned home where the shooting took place --- two were juveniles and the other is 18-years-old. He says a fifth person was seen fleeing the residence and LSP is asking anyone with information on that person's whereabouts to please call 911.
Harrell says investigating troopers are actively working on this case.
"So we ask that everyone please be patient until the investigation is over and don't make any snap judgment calls," Harrell said.
Today marks the nine year anniversary of Hurricane Rita making landfall on Sabine Pass. Jennings Senator Blade Morrish says southwest Louisiana learned a lot as a result of Rita and has done quite well rebuilding. He says, even today, as the area builds, they build with hurricanes in mind.
(photo courtesy of epa.gov)
"As we expand, as new industry comes, one of the first things we talk about is hurricane protection plans and issues revolving around hurricanes."
Morrish says most of the infrastructure of the area damaged by Hurricane Rita has been rebuilt and is functioning well. But he says there is still an issue of people moving back to Cameron Parish. Morrish says prior to Rita, there were around 10,000 residents there, now there's around 6.,000.
"The issue is insurance, not only for individuals, but for business."