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Lafayette Congressman Charles Boustany will spearhead an effort to re-write the nation’s welfare reform laws. The country’s welfare system hasn’t seen any major changes since 1996 and Boustany has been asked by House Ways and Means Chairman Paul Ryan to lead a rewrite. Boustany says his desire is that welfare recipients find permanent work.

"Lets get people off welfare into work and hopefully meaningful work that helps them move up the opportunity ladder." 

Boustany says in order for welfare recipients to find long lasting jobs, they need to have the ability to receive education and training…

"Programs can be as long as 24 months or short as 6 weeks. We're trying to match up what we're doing with actual job training that gets people into meaningful work. 

Boustany says when welfare was reformed in 1996, steps were taken to make sure recipients to find work. He says the goal this time around is not only employment, but an opportunity to increase earning potential over time for the tens of millions of people who are receiving government assistance

 "We really need to do something. You can't have a productive growing economy and a productive society if you have that many people who are left out of it." 


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GasBuddy is predicting Louisiana's statewide average for a gasoline will fall below $2 a gallon in October. GasBuddy Analyst Gregg Laskoski says the decline in prices will accelerate after the Labor Day Holiday.

"We've got a tremendous inventory of crude oil as well as gasoline. We're also looking at basic crude oil, the West Texas Intermediate trading at about $47 a barrel so all of this points to lower gas prices."

Laskoski says currently the statewide average is about about $2.39 for a gallon of regular gasoline. He says this is good news for consumers when it comes to upcoming holiday shopping.
"Anybody who is watching the prices at the pump knows that they're going to have a little more cash in their pockets come Thanksgiving and Christmas. Unfortunately, it's not a windfall but at least people know that they'll have a little bit more to pay the bills."

Laskoski says February was the last time prices was under two dollars a gallon in Louisiana. He says they're also seeing strong production numbers from refineries, which is steadily keeping prices low.
"We saw refinery output at about 95% of capacity, the Gulf Coast refineries of course is the most significant region for oil production and they were right there at 94 or 95%."


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East Baton Rouge District Attorney Hillar Moore announced that criminal charges against LSU quarterback Anthony Jennings and two other football players have been dropped.
Jennings, defensive lineman Maquedius Bain and defensive back Dewayne Thomas were arrested in June for allegedly breaking into someone's apartment and taking items that belonged to Jennings.

The East Baton Rouge district attorney's office released this statement on Friday describing their decision.

The District Attorney’s Office has thoroughly reviewed all of the evidence and documents associated with the arrests of Anthony Jennings, Dwayne Thomas and Maquedius Bain.

Based upon our review no formal charges will be filed against any of these defendants.

This decision is based upon the request of the victim that no charges be filed and inconsistent and contradictory statements provided. Although the conduct of these students in this situation is unacceptable, it is not one, based on the facts that warrant prosecution, although their actions could have subjected them to such.

Jennings, Thomas and Bain were suspended from the team following the arrest. Coach Les Miles says they've been reinstated and will report with the team for fall camp on August 5th. Miles says the players will face further in-house discipline. 


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Michelle Southern reporting.
State Superintendent of Education John White announces two daycare centers in Louisiana have had their licenses revoked - one in Baton Rouge and one in Bossier City. 

He says while the majority of child care providers do an excellent job taking care of kids, there are a couple who refuse to follow the law.

"In one case a child was even left at a restaurant amusement venue for a time," says White. "We're talking about children who are under the age of 5 and it wasn't even reported to the family or the state."

White says Our Blessings Christian Daycare Learning Center is the one whose staff is accused of leaving a two-year-old child behind during a field trip and didn't tell the parents. 

He says they know of some cases in which a daycare had its license revoked by the state recently but they've continued operating.

"That's illegal and a full force and effect of the law should be brought to bear," says White. "That's why it's important for parents who have children in child care make sure that the center has a license."

White says the Storybook Daycare and Discovery Zone in Bossier City had its license taken away due to continued regulations violations including improper child/staff ratio and not conducting employee background checks. 

He most Louisiana child care providers are doing an excellent job taking care of kids.

"That's why we have to be vigilant anytime someone puts our kids in harms way and that we waste no time and rectify the situation immediately," says White. "We will not tolerate our kids being in unsafe conditions."



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Lake Charles Police announce that they have solved an aggravated rape case from October of 1999.  Deputy Chief of Police, Mark Kraus, says the seven month investigation culminated in an arrest warrant for 45-year-old Austin Mott.  

Kraus says advances in technology led to them getting a DNA match from the physical evidence.
"The match came out of a prison in Texas where this person is serving prison time for a sexual crime against a child."

In the 1999 incident, the victim was severely beaten and sexually assaulted while jogging at the Lake Charles Civic Center.  Kraus says they have re-opened several cold cases in recent months and are working diligently to solve them.  Kraus has a message for anyone who has committed a violent crime against the citizens of southwest Louisiana.

"Sleep tonight with one eye opened.  We are not giving up on these cases.  We're not giving up on our victims." 


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A new report finds older adults that stop driving are almost two times more likely to suffer from depression and nearly 5 times more likely to enter a long term care facility than those who remain behind the wheel. The study is by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety and Columbia University. AAA Spokesperson Don Redman says the results are not all that surprising.

"I think that has really been part of of the American psyche for generations, where we equate our vehicles or being able to transport ourselves around the community, as our freedom."

Redman says many adults are having to talk to their elderly parents about taking away their keys. He says if you do take that step, it could lead to your parents becoming less social and active.
"When you lose that, when you have to turn in those keys it has a devastating effect on the mental health and physical health of the person and they also become alienated from the rest of the community."

Redman says this study shows that if you or your parents are no longer able to drive, it's important that you still help them remain mobile.
"Be more vigilant, more involved in their lives to make sure that you're keeping them involved with different activities and maybe there are some outside activities through senior centers and that kind of things."


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Over 260 bills passed in this year's legislative session become law on August 1st.  One measure makes it illegal to post or share nude images of people on the internet without their consent.  

Kenner Representative Julie Stokes, who authored the legislation, says "revenge porn" has destroyed lives.
"People have attempted suicide based on how these pictures get used against them and the exploitive nature that they're used."

Violators of the law could face up to two years in prison and a $10,000 fine.  Prior laws made it illegal to send nude images of someone under the age of 17, but this is aimed at protecting adults.  Stokes says this law sends a powerful message.

"It's not your right to cause someone, sometimes, irreparable emotional harm just because you're mad at them or want to get back at them or want to cyber bully them.  I just think we have to draw a line somewhere."

Another law going into effect Saturday doubles littering fines across the state.  Fines for simple littering will go from $75 to $150 and up to $1000 for subsequent offenses.  Susan Russell, Executive Director of Keep Louisiana Beautiful, says they support anything that increases the litter enforcement effort.

"We can't stress enough of how important it is to hold people accountable for their actions in our state." 

Improper disposal of items like furniture and appliances could end up costing offenders $10,000 under the new law. The additional revenue will go toward the retirement system of the agency that issues the litter citation.  Russell says it's a shame that laws like this need to be on the books.

"If everybody just took personal responsibility for their behavior and their actions, laws on books wouldn't need to be enforced." 


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It’s not too late for the Who Dat nation to head to White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia where the Saints are holding training camp. Greenbrier County Convention and Visitors Bureau Spokesperson Kristi Godby says in small town West Virginia, they don’t have an NFL team so they’re welcoming the Saints with open arms for a second straight year.

 “We’re so excited to have our adopted team here. You see all the Saints flags out all through White Sulphur Springs, you would almost think you were somewhere closer to New Orleans.”

Godby says last year they received many Louisiana visitors and expect to see more this year as training camp continues through August 20th. She says fans that come to the Greenbrier will finally be able to escape the extreme southern heat.

“It’s only about 75 degrees right now and I think the high might get into the low 80s. We’ve ordered really, really good weather for the Saints so we’ll see if our order comes in or not.”

Godby says the Patriots will be making a special appearance toward the end of training camp to have a scrimmage against the Saints. The drive to White Sulphur Springs is 13 hours from New Orleans. She says they do have a local airport which puts you 10 minutes away from the Saints training camp location.

“Some other regional airports would be like Roanoke, Virginia or Charleston, West Virginia would also be good options and those would be a little less than 2 hours to get here.”



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The State Department of Transportation is warning motorists who are heading west on Interstate 10, west of Baton Rouge that they could encounter heavy delays this weekend. DOTD Spokesperson Rodney Mallett says starting at 8 p.m. tonight, one lane near exit 139 will be closed for repair.

"We have crews out that are going to be doing some repair work for the bridge that goes over the railroad. Some of those approached slabs of asphalt have been deteriorating for quite some time."

Mallett says the lane will reopen on Monday, August 3rd at 6 a.m. He advises drivers to take any detour they can to stay out of the expected congestion.
"Depending on where you're going, you can go up I-10 and get on 190 and do the old bridge. You can go over the new bridge and get on LA-415 and get on US 190."

Mallett says with construction taking place in Iberville Parish and in the Slidell area on I-10, they've advised truckers or those traveling across country to use I-20. He says the public can stay up to date on all roadwork by using their website.
"The deal is you can use that 511LA.org, that's a great service we provide so you can plan your route ahead of time."


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The night sky will light up tonight with what's known as a blue moon. LSU Astronomy Professor Brad Schaeffer says the moon will not look blue, but it's referred as a "blue moon" because it's the second time in a calendar month that there's been a full moon.

"That's a completely wacko definition that has no utility to anything, it just doesn't matter."

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the phenomenon only occurs once every three years. Schaeffer says there's really no scientific reason why it's called a blue moon other than it's the second full moon of the month.
"This is the sort of thing that news stories highlight because it's something you can talk about but there is no utlilty for astronomy, for the average person, for anybody."

Schaeffer says there is a common urban myth that strange things happen during a full or blue moon which studies have now debunked.
"People have troubles all the time and you only remember those around the time of the full moon."


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The Lafayette Police Department has released surveillance video of the Grand Theater lobby and hallways just moments before John Houser opened fire on a theater of patrons, July 23rd, 2015.
 (video and 911 calls posted below)

The gunman can be seen purchasing a ticket, entering the lobby and walking into a screening of "Trainwreck" just prior to the shooting which claimed the lives of two women and injured 9.

Houser walked inside the 7:10pm showing of the film about 10 minutes after the movie started. Initial police reports indicate he opened fire at 7:28pm.

Authorities indicate the time-stamp on the footage is 18 minutes and 25 seconds faster than the actual time that night.
Cops have also released 911 calls from the night of the shooting: 

The two women killed in the shooting are identified as 21-year-old Mayci Breaux and 33-year-old Jillian Johnson. Cops say Houser wasn't in the theater long before he stood up and began methodically firing shots at people.

Authorities say Houser suffered from a series of extreme mental problems and had even been committed by his family in 2008. 

Cops believe Houser began to leave with the crowd rushing out, but turned around when he saw officers had already arrived, then turned the gun on himself.


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The Slidell Police Department says a group of organized criminals were busted for stealing nearly half a million dollars at businesses with ATMs and check cashing outlets over the past year.  Sgt. Daniel Seuzeneau says two suspects, 36-year-old Marvin Hudson and 44-year-old Allden Jones, were arrested after trying to steal $12,000 from the Cash Cow in Slidell.  

Seuzeneau says the pair had a sophisticated scheme going.
"The suspects would methodically choose a location.  They would test the alarm and then conduct counter-surveillance to see how police would respond."

Seuzeneau says the two were often able to complete their burglaries in two minutes.

"And in those two minutes, they would either take the entire ATM machine or cut open the safe.  Sometimes getting away with as much as $20,000 in cash."

He says the duo were chased to a New Orleans East home and were captured after a short standoff.  Hudson and Jones each face burglary and other charges from the Slidell incident.  Seuzeneau says it is believed that more people are involved and is hopeful more arrests are coming.

"We're working very close with the FBI and all the other agencies in hopes that we can piece together this organized group and hopefully bring down everybody." 


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Sweltering heat continues to impact Louisiana.  Much of the state is under a Heat Advisory today, with an Extreme Heat Warning in effect for northeast Louisiana.  

Danielle Manning, with the National Weather Service in Slidell, says a weak cold front will move across the state as we approach the weekend.
"I'd use that term loosely.  Technically it's a cold front, but you're not going to see a whole lot of difference in the temperatures.  The main impact will be that it will dry us out and it won't be quite as humid."

Wednesday, several locations in the state either matched or broke high temperature records.  Manning says this cold front won't bring afternoon high temperatures down very much.

"We'll still see temperatures in the mid to, even, upper 90s over the weekend, but our heat index values will not be nearly as high."

She says the state can expect the heat to continue through the rest of the summer.  Manning says everyone should take precautions dealing with these temperatures.

"It's a good idea to stay out of the sun during the peak heating hours of the day and take lots of breaks if you have to do any work outside."


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Baton Rouge Police say a Morgan City man, wanted in a Lafayette shooting death, was killed during a shootout with police.  Cpl L'Jean McKneely says members of the US Marshal's Task Force learned that 37-year-old Lawrence Blackburn was hiding in an apartment complex in Baton Rouge.  

He says authorities began evacuating the apartments.
"And as they were escorting individuals out, there was an exchange of gunfire between Blackburn and some members in the US Marshal's Task Force."

Blackburn was on the run, wanted for first degree murder in the death of 18-year-old Dravin Stevenson of Lafayette.  It is believed that Blackburn initiated the gunfire.  McKneeley says US Marshals shot Blackburn and he was pronounced dead at the scene.

"No member of the US Marshal's Task Force was injured.  One lady was injured, we're just unsure by whom she was injured during the exchange of gunfire."

He says one woman was shot in the leg during the incident.  She was transported to a local hospital with non-life threatening injuries.  The investigation is ongoing.  McKneeley says US Marshals happened to be at the right place at the right time in locating Blackburn.

"They were just checking out some of the location where he may possibly be.  It just so happened he was at one of those locations."


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Michelle Southern reporting.
According to a new report from the National Partnership for Women and Families, more than 45% of the private sector workforce in Louisiana cannot earn paid sick days. Spokeswoman Vicky Shabo says when people can't take paid time away from work, they often jeopardize their job or their ability to make ends meet.

"They are also more likely to go to work sick because they can't afford to be fired or lose income," says Shabo. "That means spreading contagions through workplaces to co-workers and to customers and that's bad for public health."

Shabo says for a typical family in the United States without paid sick days,  3.5 days lost to illness are equal to the family's entire monthly grocery budget. She says about 90 percent of workers in restaurants can not earn a single paid sick day.

"And in Louisiana more than 160,000 people work in restaurants so this is a significant problem," said Shabo.

The National Federation of Independent Business opposes any kind of mandate which would require employers to offer paid sick time.

State Director Dawn Starns says they found 75% of employers already offer some form of paid sick leave and the government should not be telling people how to run their business.

"Mandating this sort of benefit is costly, inflexible and unnecessary," said Starns. "So many business owners are already doing what they can to help their employees."

She says owners should be able to have flexibility when it comes to running their operation.

"A mandate like this would take away that flexibility in the sense of making the best decision for their business and their employees," said Starns.



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Good Houskeeping magazine has named Nachitoches as one of the 50 Most Beautiful Small Towns in America.  The publication selected one town from each state to make up their list.  

Samantha Bonnette, Public Relations Director for the city of Nachitoches, says they are excited to be part of this list.
"Any time we're recognized it's always an honor.  We were just named the Best Southern Small Town and now to named one of the Most Beautiful Small Towns is just, indeed, and honor and we couldn't be more pleased."

Natchitoches was recently named Best Southern Small Town by readers of USA Today and 10Best-dot-com.  Bonnette says they are proud to be on this list that features some real high quality small towns across the country.

"To be compared to Sedona, Arizona, which is so beautiful, and Breckenridge, Colorado, which is so well known, it's just amazing."

Other small towns on the list include Taos, New Mexico and Cooperstown, New York.  Bonnette says she can see how Good Housekeeping picked Natchitoches for this list.

"They fall in love with our architecture and the brick paved streets.  It just puts a really nice, beautiful streetscape together."


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A community gathering in Lafayette to reflect on those lost and injured in The Grand movie theater shooting will take place tonight at Blackham Coliseum. Lafayette Government Spokesperson Cyrda Wingerter says many are still struggling with what happened and this event is for everyone to come together and hug it out. 

"It's an opportunity for us to come together as a community to honor those who were injured, those who survived, our first responders and ultimately start that path of healing for our community."

Wingerter says there will be music, artistic opportunities to create prayer flags, and recognition of people involved, including those caring for victims after the tragedy. She says they want the gathering to portray the culture and spirit of Lafayette.
"It's a time for us to come together as a close community. There have been prayer vigils, we've been meeting in small groups. We wanted to offer this opportunity to come together in a much larger capacity. "

Wingerter says the healing ceremony will provide resources and crisis professionals for those struggling with last week's tragic event.
"Essentially, our idea is we want to make this an event that appeals to everyone as much as possible to give a multitude of our citizens the opportunity to heal."


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Michelle Southern and Jeff Palermo reporting.
East Baton Rouge District Attorney Hillar Moore says it's likely that the criminal charges against LSU quarterback Anthony Jennings could be dropped. The QB and two other Tigers are accused of breaking into an apartment in June to retrieve items which belonged to Jennings.

Moore says the tenant has contacted his office.

"They've already filed an affidavit with me asking that the charges be dropped," said Moore.

LSU Coach Les Miles says the status of the players fully depends on the schedule of the DA.

"I'm a tremendous supporter of what he does and I recognize that the legal process takes its direction," says Miles. "We will follow thereafter, I promise."

Moore is not giving a timetable on making a decision but did say that all he needs at this point is paperwork on what the complainants told cops the night of the incident.

"I would expect that once I get the transcripts and take a look at those and possibly interview a couple folks that it could be very soon," says Moore. "Possibly a week or two."

The team reports for fall camp on August 5th. 

Jennings, defensive tackle Maquedius Bain and safety Dwayne Thomas were all charged with unauthorized entry of an inhabited dwelling and were suspended from the team.

Moore says since then, the people renting that apartment have asked that the charges be dropped.

"That would routinely mean the charges are dismissed," says Moore. "But this takes on a different light and I need to make sure what I'm doing is correct."



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Michelle Southern reporting. Lt. Clay Higgins of the St. Landry Parish Sheriff’s Office and his CrimeStoppers videos are officially all over the place after getting exposure on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon this week. In the latest video, Higgins, aka “The Cajun John Wayne,” calls out someone who robbed a local supermarket.

"We're going to identify you, arrest you and put you in a small cell. After that I'm going to have a cheeseburger here. Meanwhile, your next meal will be served through a small hole in a cell door," says Higgins. 
The video, which is also making the rounds from CNN to Fox News, has over 1.3 million views on YouTube. Lt. Higgins tells us this crime is being seen by people from all over the world and remarks in the video, “Congratulations son, I’m about to make you famous,”

"Yeah, they're getting famous and it has helped, we've received many tips on this most recent video and I'm quite sure it's going to lead to an arrest," Higgins tells LRN.

After playing the video, Fallon told the audience that he believes Lt. Higgins should run for president.
Lt. Higgins says creating these Crimestopper videos and getting the word out about crimes happening in the Acadiana region, even on this national stage, is his job.
"My job is as a public information officer for the St. Landry Parish Sheriff's office is to cultivate and maintain a good relationship with the media and that requires honest and prompt responses," Higgins said.


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Legislation that will increase benefits for veterans has been unanimously approved by the US House. Republican Congressman Ralph Abraham of Richland Parish authored the legislation and it’s his first bill that’s been approved by the house. Abraham says under the bill vets will receive a cost of living adjustment tied to social security.

“I think social security recipients got a bump of 1.7 percent and we’re looking at something in that neighborhood to bump up our veterans.”

Abraham says this is the least we can do and more should be done for our veterans. He says reforming the V-A is his top legislative priority.

“I’m glad to see us pass my bill that will bring at least some financial stability for veterans who are plagued by this dysfunctional department.”

The bill will now go to the Senate for consideration. Abraham says if this becomes law, the benefits will begin in December. He says vets regularly come into the the office and tell him what a struggle it is to make ends meet in this economy.

“So anything we can do up here to at least bridge that gap between the debts coming in, the bills coming in, and the money coming in, we certainly want to be a part of that solution.”



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