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Governor John Bel Edwards wants a list of budget reform recommendations in two weeks from a special task force that's studying the state's finances. Some of the proposals will likely be presented to lawmakers during a special session in June to address a $600 million shortfall. President of the Council for a Better Louisiana Barry Erwin is on the task force and he says lawmakers have already raised the state sales tax, so they are left with limited options to address the budget gap.

“So if you’re really trying to raise some dollars, you’re kind of left with income tax, and whether that’s personal income tax or corporate income tax or income tax deductions or exemptions, that’s kind of the ballpark you have,” Erwin said.

Erwin says they just want to make sure that whatever revenue raising measure legislators choose are done in a way that doesn’t further hurt the state economy.

“We’re not here to recommend raising taxes. We’re here to say, ‘If you do raise taxes, do it within this kind of a structure,” Erwin said.

Raising more revenue could help reduce cuts to vital state services. Erwin says they will be looking at corporate and personal income taxes to see if enough revenue can be raised by removing some exemptions and deductions.

“You can remove exemptions, and you can raise dollars, but we want to make sure that we do it in a way that’s smart. That’s the bottom line,” Erwin said.

 
 
 

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The LSU AgCenter has developed an eye-drop to prevent and treat cataracts. AgCenter Department of Biological and Agriculture Engineering Professor Cristina Sabliov says they became interested in developing a solution because cataracts are the leading cause of visual impairment in the United States.

She says they found a way to use lutein to prevent the eye lens from becoming cloudy.

“Lutein is a naturally occurring antioxidant that’s known for its benefits to the eye.”

Sabliov says lutein is currently prescribed as an oral treatment for cataracts and eye diseases, but she says LSU AgCenter researchers have developed a solution to drop it directly into your eyes.

“But we found that ingesting lutein is not as efficient in treating eye diseases as would be a direct eye application to the eye.”

The AgCenter is working to patent the drop. Sabliov says they hope this new product will have the unique advantage for both being able to prevent cataracts before they start or to treat cataracts after they form.

“We are providing an alternative to cataract surgery. In our case, no needles are required, just the simple application of the eye-drop daily.”

 
 
 

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The 8th ranked LSU Baseball Tigers evened their series up with 9th ranked Ole Miss by beating the Rebels 6-3 Friday night. Jordan Romero had another big night with two hits, including his team leading 7th home run of the season. Romero drove in three runs on the night, but he was ejected in the 5th inning for colliding with the catcher on a play at the plate.
 
Alex Lange won his fifth game of the year as he went the distance allowing two earned runs and striking out seven. He now has 82 strikeouts on the season and lowered his ERA to 4.05. It's also the second straight game the sophomore right-hander has gone the distance. 
 
LSU had 11 hits on the night. Supporting Romero at the plate were Beau and Bryce Jordan, who each had two hits. Greg Deichmann busted out of a hitting slump with two hits as well.
 
LSU goes for the series victory at 11 AM on Saturday. John Valek III (6-1 3.78 ERA) goes for LSU. Ole Miss will counter with freshman right-hander James McArthur (5-0 2.84 ERA). 
 
 

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The Saints must have liked what they've seen from Ohio State lately. New Orleans used both of its draft picks Friday night to select former Buckeyes. With the 16th pick in the second round, the Black and Gold selected wide receiver Michael Thomas. He's the nephew of former NFL star wide receiver Keyshawn Johnson. While in Columbus, Thomas was the Buckeyes leading receiver the last two seasons. Last fall, he had 56 catches for 781 yards and nine touchdowns.


Later in the 2nd round, the Saints would trade up so they can take former Ohio State safety Vonn Bell. The Georgia prep star had six interceptions during the Buckeyes national championship season in 2014 and had two more in 2015. 

Also in the 2nd round, the Atlanta Falcons took New Orleans native and former LSU Tiger linebacker Deion Jones. Jones led the Tigers in tackles and tackles for a loss last season.
 

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A Bossier Parish Sheriff’s Deputy left his job with the Medium-Security Facility to play professional minor league baseball after discovering he can throw a 91 mile-per-hour-fast ball. 26-year-old Randy Zeigler was a pitcher for LSU and caught the eye of a Chicago White Sox scout. Zeigler says he’ll be playing for the Lincoln Nebraska Saltdogs.

“I just think it’s the talent that the good Lord has given me. I’m wanting to use my ability, use the gifts He’s giving me to the best of my ability and for His purpose.”

Zeigler says he was just messing around with a radar gun when he discovered he was throwing at the same speed he was three years ago. He says he’s excited to play baseball but he’ll miss being a deputy in his hometown.

“I wanted to help and serve the community, be a part of something bigger than myself. This is where I’ve grown up, this is where I’ve lived my whole life, it’s just the community I’ve grown up in.”

Lt. Billy Jones says he’s sad to lose such a dedicated employee but is excited for Zeigler to do what he’s always had a passion for.

“I really hope the best for him. If he don’t go he’ll never know what he could’ve done, so my hats off to him. I want to see him do good and chase his dream.”

 
(photo courtesy of the Bossier Parish Sheriff's Office Facebook)
 
 
 

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A Grand Isle man has been arrested for attempting to purchase a child for sexual purposes. That’s according to State Police trooper Jesse LaGrange who says 30-year-old Wade Perkins asked someone to locate a 6 to 8-year-old child so Perkins could pay for a sexual encounter. LaGrange says that person then contacted police.

“An undercover trooper made contact with the subject Mr. Perkins through electronic communication, and they arranged a meeting,” LaGrange said.

LaGrange says when Perkins met up with an undercover trooper, he was arrested for attempt and conspiracy to commit first-degree rape. Perkins is a registered sex offender in Michigan for criminal sexual conduct. LaGrange says they expect to file more charges against Perkins.

“We have additional electronic devices that are being analyzed right now to determine if he had any child pornography or things like that,” LaGrange said. 

 
 
 

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Investigators from the U.S. Department of Agriculture are looking into the number of animal deaths that have recently occurred at the Baton Rouge Zoo. Curator Sam Winslow says they asked for the USDA and the American Zoo Association to send in officials to assess the situation after 18 animals have died in the last year.

“Everyone is not necessarily going to believe what we say so if we can bring in outside opinion and to try and validate what happened here, that’s the reason why we did it. So we volunteered to have these two agencies come in and review our procedures.”

Winslow says the 2-year-old Malayan tiger that died earlier in the month likely suffered from gastric dilation. He says her death was something you unfortunately can’t do anything about.

“Abdominal distress or something, she was just feeling uncomfortable then she looked like she got bloated from the view we could see and she died within 25 to 30 minutes.”

Two giraffes also recently died at the zoo. Winslow says they were 24 and 30-years-old. He says the normal life expectancy for a giraffe is about 13 years.

“They were up there. Even on necropsy, the pathologist was remaking what good shape they were in for such old animals. It’s not from neglect certainly.”

 
 
 

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State Police announces the arrest of a Lafayette man who was allegedly traveling 150 miles per hour before crashing his 2016 Chevrolet Corvette and killing one person. Trooper Brooks David says 31-year-old Martin Nguyen was at the wheel when his vehicle ran off the road on April 18th on LA Highway 339 and it killed 30-year-old Hoang Nguyen of Lake Charles.

“His passenger was seat belted but died of injuries sustained in that crash,” David said.

David says Martin Nguyen’s blood alcohol concentration was over the legal limit when the crash occurred.

“Anytime you’re doing that speed and impaired, that cocktail mixer, excuse the pun, you’re going to crash. There’s no way that you’re going to be able to control the vehicle at 150 miles an hour,” David said.

David says Martin Nguyen was in the hospital being treated for injuries after the accident, but he has now been arrested and charged with vehicular homicide, speeding, reckless operation, and improper lane usage.

“Upon his release, we had a warrant already secured. When he was released, troopers were there to affect the arrest and serve that warrant on Mr. Martin Nguyen,” David said.

 
 
 

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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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