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Michelle Southern reporting.
Governor John Bel Edwards says priority number one for him right now is stabilizing the budget, because we must focus on moving Louisiana forward. He says the vision that he put forth when he was running for governor has not changed, but they have to work on filling the $600 million dollar gap for next fiscal year.


"This is the short term goal because if we are not successful, very little else that I talked about in the campaign, or since, are we going to be able to do," said Edwards.

Edwards says there are many policy related issues that are going to be on the back burner until we can deal with the present crisis.

"There is only so much political capital at one time that can be expended," said Edwards. "And I am trying to be as judicious as possible as I move through this process and do that."

Edwards says he remains very optimistic about his administration and the state as a whole.

He says he doesn’t see any way they could avoid a second special session, but before he makes the call he’s going to wait for recommendations from a panel assigned to review the state budget.

"I'm expecting a fairly streamlined set of proposals that get us a down payment on comprehensive tax reform, but that are achievable in the short term," said Edwards.
 
 
 
 
 

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A poll paid for by the Louisiana Cannabis Association finds that 72% of Louisiana voters support legalizing medical marijuana as a treatment for more diseases. Jesse McCormick is glad to see a majority of voters support the use of medical cannabis to help relieve pain for people who suffer from different diseases, like cancer and HIV. 

“Any relief that you can proved that person is worth it because they’re going through something that a healthy person can’t understand,” McCormick said.

McCormick says 24 other states have already legalized medical cannabis. He says a majority of respondents are also in favor of taxing the prescription drug.

“There’s also 56% of them who don’t have a problem with taxing it and benefitting from it, and we thought that was pretty eye-opening,” McCormick said.

The telephone survey was conducted by Louisiana polling firm JMC Analytics and Polling. They surveyed 600 registered voters. McCormick says he understands that plenty of people will always oppose the legalization, but he hopes that this poll encourages more lawmakers to vote in favor of the legalization.

“If we could lessen some of the opposition and just take a look at crafting it and making it work better, we’d just consider that a huge win,” McCormick said.

Legislators have been conflicted on whether or not to expand the list of diseases for which medical cannabis can be prescribed.

 
 
 

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Tonight is rounds two and three of the NFL draft, and several former LSU Tigers are expected to be selected. NFL draft analyst Mike Detillier believes linebacker Deion Jones will go early in round two.

“Now he’s moved up into probably the early part of round two. He had a great senior season at LSU, terrific athlete when you see him run, not only forward but in reverse.

Detillier also believes defensive back Jalen Mills will go in the second round, as well. 

“He’s a second round pick and I think the one thing that sticks out to me is his versatility. Four year starter, competitive, can play man coverage, and has started at cornerback, free safety, and in the slot. There aren’t a lot of guys that can put that on their resumes and he started

Detillier also believes four year starter Vadal Alexander will be a third round pick and could be a productive offensive guard in the NFL.

“He’s worked hard to get his weight down, terrific run blocker, a guy that has learned to stay low, get good push up front. I think he’s still a little work in progress as a technician, pass blocking and he’s a waist bender, not a knee bender but with the lower weight, I think he can be a starter and quickly in the NFL.”

 
 
 

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Ole Miss center fielder J.B. Woodman threw two LSU runners out at the plate and that was the difference as the Rebels held on for a 7-6 win over the Tigers to begin their three game series in Oxford.

Woodman gunned down Cole Freeman in the 4th inning, as he tried to score on a single from second base. Woodman made an even more impressive play in the 8th inning, when he nailed pinch runner Brennan Breaux at the plate, as Breaux was trying to tie the game.  
 
LSU also blew two, two-run leads as it was a rough night for Tiger pitching. Starter Jared Poche gave up four runs in eight innings. Parker Bugg (0-2) allowed three runs in two innings. Bugg also had a throwing error that led to a run. 
 
The Tigers had 11 hits on the night. Jake Fraley had three singles and Jordan Romero drove in three runs. But the Bayou Bengals were 3-for-15 with runners in scoring position.
 
The loss drops LSU's record to 27-15 overall, 10-9 in the SEC.
 
The Tigers will look to even up the series on Friday night when they take on the Rebels in the second game of the three-game series. First pitch is at 6:30. Alex Lange (4-3, 4.34 ERA) will pitch for LSU. Ole Miss counters with David Parkinson (2-1, 1.70 ERA). 

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The Saints have made some surprising moves in the 1st round of the NFL draft in years past, but not this year. Many mock drafts had New Orleans selecting Louisville defensive lineman Sheldon Rankins and that's who the Black and Gold took with the 12th overall pick.
 
Rankins was a productive player at Louisville his last two seasons, as he had 14 sacks and 26.5 tackles for a loss.


The interior of the defensive line was a position of need going into the draft and based on early projections Rankins will bolster a defense that's been one of the worst in the NFL the last couple of seasons.
 
Rankins is considered an athletic player, who is very quick and can defend the run and rush the passer. He's also able to play multiple positions on the defensive line.
 
The Georgia native didn't make the All-ACC 1st team, but he impressed scouts at the Senior Bowl.  

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The House has approved two more pro-life measures. One of the bills, authored by Baton Rouge Representative Rick Edmonds, prohibits women from getting abortions just because a child will have a genetic disorder. Edmonds says his son was born with a disorder, and if he’d taken medical advice, he wouldn’t have his grandchildren today.

“If I would’ve taken the medical advice, my son would’ve never become an adult. My son is an amazing blessing, and so are thousands of those across Louisiana that we’re blessed with,” Edmonds said.

Edmonds says life is hard, and women shouldn’t be able to abort their babies just because it would be easier.

“We’re basically saying that all these children ultimately have no purpose, they have no meaning,” Edmonds said.

Edmond’s bill passed 75-1. Another proposal by Bossier City Representative Mike Johnson would outlaw a procedure commonly used in second trimester abortions. Johnson calls these “dismemberment” abortions and says every year more than a thousand unborn children are aborted through this “barbaric” process.

“The child is alive during this torturous process dies bleeding out during its dismemberment, as any of us would if your arm or your leg were ripped off,” Johnson says.

Johnson’s bill was approved unanimously. Opponents of the measure say outlawing this procedure would force women to undergo invasive, unnecessary procedures or lose access to abortion services entirely. Both measure now head to the Senate.

 
 
 

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A Vermilion Parish teacher is facing rape charges. Lt. David Hardy with the Abbeville Police Department says James Harber has been charged with two counts of second-degree rape and one count of first-degree rape. He says a search of Harber’s home indicates that more charges could be coming.

“We obtained evidence, computers and other devices, which contained photographs and videos containing child pornography,” Hardy said.

Police have shared their evidence with the Sheriff’s Office as well as the US Attorney’s office, in the hopes that they would seek an indictment. Hardy says child pornography was found on Harber’s home computer. He says they learned of the rape charges after interviewing the victims that were in the explicit pictures on Harber’s computer.

“Interviews were conducted on the victims, where a victim disclosed that she had sexual relations with Mr. Harber,” Hardy said.

A Lafayette TV station reports that Harber was a 7th grade teacher a J.H. Williams Middle School. Hardy says it is not clear if the victims attended the school where Harber taught, but he did know his victims.

“There was a relationship between Mr. Harber and the mother of the victims, which led to somehow or other the victims residing in Mr. Harber’s residence,” Hardy said.

 
 
 

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The alleged shooter of the former Saints player Will Smith has been indicted on charges of second degree murder and attempted murder. Legal analyst Tim Meche says it looks like the Orleans Parish District Attorney is handling the case against Cardell Hayes cautiously.

“He could’ve returned a first-degree murder indictment, which would’ve called for capital punishment, and the fact that he didn’t do so tells me he’s decided to treat this case cautiously,” Meche said.

The indictment came down during the middle of a preliminary hearing that was called to establish probable cause against Hayes. Meche says he’s not surprised the DA’s office was able to get an indictment, before the defense was able to call witnesses to the stand during today’s preliminary hearing.

“It was always predictable that Leon Cannizzaro would return an indictment to prevent the defense from having the opportunity to question the witnesses,” Meche said.

Hayes’ Attorney John Fuller said in court today that the prosecution is trying to jam an indictment down. Meche says the DA is just going through the procedure according to the law.

“The District Attorney has the ability to circumvent a preliminary exam by obtaining an indictment, and that’s the law of Louisiana,” Meche said.

After the indictment, Hayes plead not guilty to four charges. Hayes was also indicted on charges of aggravated assault and aggravated damage to property to go along with the murder and attempted murder charge. His bond has been set at 1.75 million dollars and a motion date has been set for June 3rd.

 
 
 
 

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Michelle Southern & Emelie Gunn reporting.

Governor John Bel Edwards says the special interest group that’s running attack ads accusing him of breaking his promise about keeping existing school vouchers is not telling the truth. He told reporters Thursday that no student currently receiving a voucher, would lost it.

“I have consistently said I was not going to end the voucher program, nor would I propose taking away vouchers from students who already receive them.”

Edwards says he’s been told by the Department of Education that there is no plan to take a voucher away from a student, and that he is disingenuously being called a liar. He told a pro-voucher man at the news conference that he never said he was going to zero out funding for vouchers.

“Find where I said I was going to zero out vouchers, find where that happened because you’re not going to find it.”

Edwards says there are cuts coming to several areas of the state due to the shortfall, and the voucher special interests are upset they aren’t getting preferential treatment. Before the governor spoke, the Louisiana Federation for Children held a press conference featuring parents whose children benefit from the voucher program. New Orleans single mother Corrine Celestine is upset over the proposed cuts.

“Don’t take that opportunity away from me as a parent, don’t take that opportunity away from us and our children because they’re our future, they’re the next generation.”

Baton Rouge mother Pamela Gauthier says her son Joseph has Down syndrome and struggled in public school because teachers didn’t have adequate resources. But she says thanks to the voucher program, Joseph is now excelling at a private school that teachers developmentally disabled children.

“He has shown great improvement academically, as well as, socially. His report card in the public school system was Fs and Ds.”

 
 
 

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A Senate committee has approved the bill to prevent members of the LGBT community from being fired or turned down for jobs because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. New Orleans Senator Troy Carter authored the legislation. He says we need to protect people from discrimination.

“As a black man, I might still be caught in the trap of discrimination that is still there but at least I’ve got recourse,” Carter said.

Carter says discrimination is still alive, and lawmakers need to do what they can to protect people from it in the workplace.

“There are people day in and day out in this country, in this state, in this city, in this building that are discriminated against for whatever reason,” Carter said.

Lake Charles Senator Ronnie Johns voted against the proposal. He says it could pose problems for business owners in the state.

“There are some problems with the bill from a practical standpoint of owning a business. I own a business, and there are no discriminatory policies in my business, I can assure you of that,” Johns said.

The measure passed on a 4-2 vote and now heads to the Senate floor for more debate.

 
 
 

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Two people are dead after a shootout involving a police officer in the small southwest Louisiana town of Carlylss. Calcasieu Parish Sheriff Tony Mancuso says his officers were responding to a 911 call for an armed robbery when they got another call from a man saying people were running through his field close to the location of the burglary. Mancuso says deputies met the individuals in the field.

“When deputies got out of their cars to confront them, the male subject started shooting at the deputies. Deputies returned fire, and the subject drops,” Mancuso said.

Mancuso says the suspect, identified as Cody McAdams, fired several shots at the deputies before the officers returned fire. The sheriff says when police approached the suspect, they found another victim.

“We also had a female victim that was deceased in the field. Deputies only fired one shot, so we assume that he shot and killed her. Obviously we’re still investigating,” Mancuso said.

Mancuso says the female victim is Brandy McAdams, Cody's estranged wife. Mancuso says their 5-year-old child was also there in the field, and she is unharmed. He says two investigations are ongoing.

“Basically we, the Sheriff’s Office, are conducting the investigation on the murder of the female victim, and the State Police is investigating the officer-involved shooting,” Mancuso said.

 
 
 

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A Louisiana mother, who moved to Colorado so her daughter can receive medical marijuana to treat her epilepsy, tells her story to state legislators. Lawmakers are conflicted over how many different illnesses should be allowed to use medical marijuana once it becomes available in Louisiana.

Michele Hall of Vernon Parish says her daughter, Ella, is doing much better since starting her cannabis medication. She says when her daughter takes the marijuana-derived medication, she is by no means “high.”
 
“If I gave what I give her to a junkie, they would be very pissed off,” Hall said.

Hall says the medical marijuana works better for Ella than any other medication they have tried in the past four years. She pleaded with lawmakers to approve the legislation so she can bring her children home.

“I’m begging you to please pass this law, so we can come home to my family,” Hall said.

Hall told the House Health and Welfare Committee that the medication is not a drug that gets her child high. She says it’s just a medication that actually works. Hall says there are other families from Louisiana that use the same dispensary, Hailey’s Hope, in Colorado.

“I want to come home to my family. I shouldn’t have to live in another state, and I’m not the only parent. I asked them how many other families are from Louisiana, and she said, ‘I know we have a dozen just using Hailey’s Hope,’” Hall said.


 
 
 

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A bill to require cursive to be taught in public elementary schools passes through the full Senate. Bossier City Sen. Ryan Gatti spoke in favor of the legislation and says many historic documents were written in cursive. He says our children need to be able to read and write in script, not just from their iPads or iPhones.

“Because cursive is the way we connect great ideas to paper.”

Gatti says Abraham Lincoln didn’t use his iPad or Siri, he took out his quill pen and wrote the Gettysburg Address on a train.

“If they would’ve had a typewriter and a computer and a quill pen, they would’ve chose a quill pen.”

Gatti says men and women chose to write the Articles of Confederate, the Constitution and the Louisiana Purchase in cursive not print or any other method.

“1215, June 15th 1215, the Magna Carta written in, Wikipedia says cursive.”

 
 
 

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The 2016 NFL Draft begins Thursday in Chicago at 7 P.M. on ESPN and NFL Network. The New Orleans Saints are expected to draft defensive players early and often as the team finished 31st in total yards given up in the NFL.
 
When asked about his team's draftboard based on the depth of certain positions on this draft class, Saints General Manager Mickey Loomis says it varies.
 
"Right now we probably have more defensive players on our board than offensive and yet the strength of the draft is going to be determined two and three years from now when we look back as opposed to today, just looking at the numbers on the board. Look, it's going to be a different viewpoint for every team."
 
In addition to defensive help, the Saints are also looking at options on the other side of the ball. Loomis says the team has looked into this quarterback class similarly to previous drafts.
 
"I think we look into the quarterbacks every year. We have for the last few years. We've got to have an eye toward the future and yet we're happy with our quarterback situation as well so I think that it is just part of the process every year."

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Latest campaign finance numbers show Republican Senate candidates Charles Boustany and John Fleming each have around $2 million in their campaign war chest. GOP state Treasurer John Kennedy has about $700,000. UL-Lafayette political science professor Pearson Cross says the November 1st primary is about six months away, and the numbers reflect an expensive race.

“It looks like it’s going to be a very heavily spent race. There’s going to be lots of money around. If the people who don’t have money don’t start raising it soon, they’re going to be left out,” Cross said.

Other republican candidates include Rob Maness, who has $213,000 on hand, while former Congressman Joseph Cao reported raising zero dollars during the first quarter. Democrats Caroline Fayard and Foster Campbell each have about $250,000 as of March 31st. Cross expects Democrats will continue to lag behind the Republican favorites.

“It’s going to be very difficult for these Democrats to compete with the Republicans statewide,” Cross said.

Cross says the candidate who is in the best position for fundraising is Boustany, who sits on the House Ways and Means Committee and that gives him better connections.

“He will have a better success raising money from PACS, political action committees, and from leadership PACS in the House. Se he has a source of money that the other candidates don’t,” Cross said.

 
 
 

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The FBI is reopening the case of a 2-year-old that went missing in Clinton 15 years ago. Avery Davidson is a former WAFB reporter who covered Wesley Morgan’s disappearance in 2001. Davidson says the child was playing on the front porch when his mother went inside and came back outside to find the little boy was gone.

He says there was a huge search after his disappearance.

“Sheriff Talmadge Bunch, there in East Feliciana Parish, believed little Wesley Dale Morgan was alive. He also believed, the mother, Ruby Renee Havard, knew where he was.”

Davidson spoke with Sheriff Bunch a few years ago and Bunch still believes the mother had something to do with the boy’s disappearance even though nothing ever turned up during the investigation. He says there must be a reason the FBI has reopened the case and released an age progression picture of Wesley Morgan.

“There must be some kind of information they have to possibility bring this case to a close and find out what happened to little Wesley Dale.”

The FBI is offering up to a $10,000 reward for information that leads to Morgan’s location. Davidson says everyone is eager to find out what happened to Wesley Dale Morgan.

“It was just so emotional and without any kind of ending. Not a sad ending, not a happy ending, just a cliffhanger that we’ve been on for the last 15 years.”

 
 
 

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A bill to extend the waiting period for getting an abortion to 72 hours has been approved by the Senate Health and Welfare Committee. Sancha Smith, the State Director for Concerned Women for America, spoke in favor of the measure and sharing her experience getting an abortion at 16-years-old.

“Had I been given enough time, I may have opted to reach out to a family member or share my heart with someone, and maybe someone could have come alongside and helped me make a better decision,” Smith said.

Smith says women need more time to consider all of their options, before making this decision.

“Twenty-four hours is not enough time to make a thoughtful judgement, a thoughtful consideration, to ending a life,” Smith said.

Angela Adkins with the Louisiana Organization for Women opposes the bill. She shared stories of women who died or suffered complications from illegal abortions and attempts to self-abort, because of restrictions to abortions.

“Restricting abortion access, like this bill does by raising wait times, only makes abortion unsafe, and women more desperate,” Adkins said.

Amy Irvin of the New Orleans Abortion Fund also spoke in opposition. She says although the waiting period is currently 24 hours, women can take as much time as they need after the consultation before having the procedure.

“They can take 48, 72, four days, five days, a week. No one is rushing them back to the clinic,” Irvin said.

The House-approved measure passed on a five to two vote and heads to the Senate floor.

 
 
 

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A bill that would require movie theaters to use metal detectors was shot down in a House committee today. Prairieville Rep. Tony Bacala says this legislation creates a false sense of security. He says if someone wants to shoot up a movie theater, the first person to be killed is the 18-year-old minimum wage worker manning the metal detector.

“He’s not a security officer, he’s not an armed guard. The security features that you went through, the people who are manning those are men with guns who are trained to be law enforcement officers and trained to react.”

Author of the legislation, Shreveport Rep. Barbara Norton, says this bill is about protecting the lives of our loved ones. She was upset that many of her colleagues voted against the measure.

“Thank you members and thank you Mr. Bacala for not saving our children.”

The vote was 6-5 against the legislation. Bacala says the people who would work the metal detectors are not trained law enforcement officers and probably would work the concession stand the day before.

“I think it’s a false sense of security you’re putting. Just simply having a piece of mechanical device there doesn’t do anything.”

 
 
 

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A horrifying display of animal abuse is breaking hearts across the state. A small dog was brutally beaten and thrown into a fire in New Orleans’ City Park. That’s according to Jeff Dorson, Executive Director of the Louisiana Humane Society, who says this is one of the most tragic cases of abuse he’s ever seen. He says the dog was beaten around the head, the muzzle and the jaw.

“The jaw was split. It was broken. It had previously been broken and healed, so it tells us a horrible story that this dog had probably been subject to a number of beatings, and then finally tossed into the pit,” Dorson said.

The unnamed dog is being affectionately referred to as the City Park Dog. Dorson says they are still trying to find the people responsible for this gruesome crime, because they are clearly dangerous.

“People who commit heinous crimes against animals usually will do the same against people. It’s just a matter of time,” Dorson said.

Dorson says the Humane Society is asking people to be vigilant for signs of animal abuse. He says the society has issued the first ever city-wide animal abuse alert in the hopes of bringing those responsible to justice. Until then, he’s asking the public to keep the memory of the City Park Dog in their hearts.

“Go out of their way to do something extra nice for animals in memory of this wonderful dog that suffered so much during its short life,” Dorson said.

 
 
 

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An Amite man has been arrested following a fatal hit and run on highway 443 near Hammond early Tuesday morning. State Police Trooper Dustin Dwight says 32-year old Brandon Fowler hit 30-year-old bicyclist Anand Asi of Hammond with his truck.

“Mr. Fowler was travelling southbound and struck a Cannondale Quick CX bicycle, as it was also travelling southbound. He hit it in the rear and then fled the scene,” Dwight said.

Dwight says there were witnesses of the incident, but initially troopers did not have much information to go on. He says through the help of witnesses, other agencies, and local media, they were able to locate Fowler on Tuesday afternoon

“We worked with our detectives and other agencies to make an arrest in this case very quickly, and it also helped that the local news media did a great job in covering the story,” Dwight said.

Asi was reportedly wearing an approved helmet and had both front and rear lamps on his bike. Dwight says Fowler’s Chevy pick-up damage has damage on the passenger side as the head light is busted out.

“Once the investigation is complete, we’re going to forward our findings to the Tangipahoa Parish District Attorney’s office to consult with them on any additional charges. Right now he’s been booked with felony hit and run and illegal passing of a bicycle,” Dwight said.

Troopers are reminding motorists that passing vehicles are required to allow at least three feet when passing a bicycle travelling in the same direction.

 
 
 

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