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News For Thursday 06/30/16
News for Thursday 063016
By Dave Graichen
Alexandria Mayor Jacques Roy at yesterday’s administrative meeting outlined several possible plans to boost development downtown along the Red river. One plan would involve the city renovating the Capitol One Bank building and moving city hall to the building just a few blocks from the current location. Roy says the project would cost roughly $6 million. Part of the current city hall building would be torn down to create a “mall” or green space while still retaining the Convention Hall part of the building. The project is still very much still in the talking stage.
No change of venue for now.. A decision on whether to grant a change of venue in the case of one of the former Marksville Ward 2 marshals accused in the fatal shooting of a 6-year-old boy and the serious wounding of his father has been deferred until prospective jurors are questioned. Attorneys for Derrick Stafford appeared before 12th Judicial District Court Judge William Bennett on Wednesday morning for a hearing on seven motions they filed in the case. Stafford faces trial on charges of second-degree murder and attempted second-degree murder.
A rather bazaar story out of Pineville yesterday as a police arrested a man who attempted to steel an ambulance at gunpoint. Police say 43 year old Harlan Farque had attempted to steal a car first, only to find it had a flat. He then went to the Acadian Ambulance office on Melrose Street and demanded they give him an ambulance. Farque was booked into the Rapides Parish Detention Center, charged with carjacking, two counts of aggravated assault with a firearm, attempted simple escape and battery on a police officer.
Kenner Police say an armed robbery at a Raising Cane’s left a 21-year-old employee dead from multiple stab wounds. Chief Michael Glaser says the victim is identified as 21-year-old Taylor Friloux. Glaser says they are still working to identify possible suspects in the crime. Cane’s issued a statement saying they are deeply saddened by the loss of one of their crew members and they are working with the Kenner Police Department in an active investigation.
Governor John Bel Edwards asked the Board of Regents and colleges and universities not raise tuition for the upcoming school year. He said he kept his word about protecting higher education and he doesn’t want any more of a burden to be placed on students and families. Still no word on whether the governor will line item veto language in the budget bill that fully funds TOPS in the fall, but pays for less than half in the spring.
Starting today through Monday, more Americans than ever are expected to be hitting the road for the 4th of July weekend. Triple A Spokesperson Don Redman says close to 43 million people will be traveling over the holiday, which is five million more than Memorial Day.
Redman says the average price for a gallon of regular gasoline in the state is $2.10, we haven’t seen prices this low since 2005.
The second special session ended a week ago today, and lawmakers proposed several constitutional amendments to be decided by voters in November. President of the Public Affairs Research Council, Robert Travis Scott, says there will be six changes on the ballot in the fall. He says one of them would change the state’s corporate income taxes. He says another amendment would affect those who have lost a spouse in the line of duty. And finally, one proposal would no longer allow the legislature to set tuition at colleges and universities. That power would go to higher education boards instead.
A statewide campaign begins today that seeks to reduce drunk driving this Fourth of July weekend. Jessica Bedwell with the Louisiana Highway Safety Commission says the Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over campaign will include multiple enforcement efforts aimed at keeping drunk drivers off the road. Bedwell says they also ask people to eliminate distractions while behind the wheel and focus on driving safely
The defense lawyers for Cardell Hayes, the man accused of fatally shooting Saints player Will Smith, do not want the trial to take place during football season. Currently, the trial is set to begin September 20th. Hayes’ attorneys believe any trial date during the season could cause unfair bias against their client. Hayes is charged with second degree murder of Will Smith and attempted murder for shooting Smith’s wife Racquel.
Inspector General Stephen Street has announced that a film company claimed over $1 million in fraudulent tax exemptions in Louisiana. Street says Horizon Entertainment and Productions claimed excess expenses in the 2011 filming of The Sean Payton Show and the documentary Saintsational. He calls on the legislature to put tighter regulations on the film tax credit program to prevent this type of fraud. Horizon denies doing anything wrong.
This week Louisiana’s Interstate Highway System marks it’s 60ith birthday. DOTD Secretary Sean Wilson says our system is very valuable, effective but sometimes over capacity. Wilson says they’re going to work on improving parts of I-10 and I-20 to make room for more travelers. He says travel has increased by 43% on Louisiana’s interstates from 2000 to 2014
The UL-System appointed Leon Sanders, vice president of finance and administration at Grambling State, to act as the school’s leader while the job search is underway. President Willie Larkin’s resignation is effective tomorrow. The UL-System says they are currently accepting applications for the job and hope to do interviews at their July 26th meeting.
State Police say an off duty Terrebonne Parish Sheriff’s Deputy is facing a DWI. Trooper Jesse LaGrange says Tara Whitney was pulled over in Houma after an officer noticed she wasn’t wearing her seat belt, then was found to be intoxicated with an open container. He says Whitney, who was placed on leave from the sheriff’s office, faces multiple charges.
A Baton Rouge man is in the ICU after contracting a flesh-eating bacteria in Mississippi last week. Dick Empson reportedly had to have his leg amputated because of the infection and is currently in a medically induced coma. Doctors told family members that the survival rate for this kind of infection is 20% to 30%. This type of bacteria has been discovered at beaches along the Gulf Coast, and people are advised not to enter the water with open cuts or sores.
Three of the major Republican candidates for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by David Vitter appeared at a debate in Baton Rouge to discuss why they should be elected on November 8th. Congressman Charles Boustany says he wants to create a better sense of trust between the people and government. Congressman John Fleming says he has a record of fighting for what the people of Louisiana want. State Treasurer John Kennedy says government is too big and plans to give the power to the people. So basically nothing new.. Democrat Foster Campbell apologized for not being able to attend the debate.
News For Wednesday 6/29/16
News for Wednesday 062916
By Dave Graichen
Social media has been going wild with rumors regarding an increase in SNAP benefits this month. However the Bureau of Communications and Governmental Affairs had denied these rumors and urges SNAP recipients to remain cautious of online, and telephone scams. DCFS says the rumor is 100% false, and SNAP recipients will continue to receive their usual benefit amount on their regularly scheduled day.
The story of the missing girl out of a quiet Caldwell Parish community seems to be over after authorities located what is believed to be her body inside a vehicle that was found in a lake. Sheriff Steve May says search teams had been looking for Joann Jarrell for about a month and found her in the water Tuesday. He says they do not suspect foul play at this time.
Dow Chemical announced Tuesday it will lay off 2500 workers worldwide, though it’s not clear whether the job cuts would affect the company’s more than 6,000 employees and contract workers in Louisiana. The cuts are part of Dow’s efforts to achieve $500 million in cost savings and boost revenue after taking full control of the Dow Corning Corp.
People making plans for their Fourth of July celebrations like to head to Louisiana for the festivities. According to WalletHub, the New Orleans is the third best city for Independence Day parties. Jill Gonzales with WalletHub says the study looked at entertainment and food options, attractions and activities, and weather forecast. She says New Orleans did particularly well in the food category. Seattle and Minneapolis were the only two cities to top New Orleans on the list.
A Louisiana Congressman has filed legislation that seeks to help prepare for potential health emergencies, like outbreaks of Ebola and Zika. The proposal by Congressman Bill Cassidy would wave some red-tape regulations and authorize funding if a public health emergency is declared. Cassidy, a doctor, says this could help contain outbreaks. The bill would also authorize about $1.5 billion to control the outbreak when a health emergency is declared.
After waiting for more than 10 years, today is the groundbreaking ceremony for the site of the permanent VA clinic in Lake Charles. Chairman of the Lake Charles Mayor’s Armed Forces Commission Jim Jackson says he’s looking forward to finally having a clinic that will help around 10-thousand veterans in the southwest Louisiana area. He says it’s time we looked at the long range issue of care for the men and women who fought for our freedoms. Jackson says the project should take about 12 months to complete.
A crash in Iberville Parish claimed the life a 9-year-old and injured several others. Trooper Bryan Lee with State Police says 27-year-old Tommie Killough was trying to pass another vehicle in a no passing zone when the cars collided. He says Killough is still in the hospital, but once she gets out, she will face multiple charges. Lee says no on in the other vehicle was hurt.
The Catahoula Parish Sheriff’s Office have arrested three people in connection to the murder of a Siciliy Island man shot to death in his front yard. 24-year-old Daquan Thomas and 31-year-old Perry Gibson have been charged with first degree murder in George Harris’ death. 30-year-old April Simmons has been charged with accessory after the fact of First degree murder.
A former Eunice police officer is facing charges of obstruction and malfeasance in office, for allegedly cussing out someone he was arresting and threatening to beat him up. Major Eddie Thibodaux with the St. Landry Parish Sheriff’s Office says Lt. Varden Guillory became irate with Heath Bergeron, a domestic violence suspect, when Bergeron came in to make his statement. It ended up that the husband was the victim. Guillory left the Eunice Police Department after the incident.
State Police says they are reviewing a viral video that appears to show a trooper body slamming a suspect. LSP spokesperson Melissa Matey says the unnamed trooper was walking down Bourbon Street on his way home after a 12 hour shift. Matey says State Police supervisors are reviewing the video.
Country music legend Charlie Daniels and rock band Theory Of A Deadman will be the featured entertainers Saturday at FreedomFest 2016 at Fort Polk. The one-day festival, which begins at 5 p.m. Saturday, is free and open to the public. It will take place at Headquarters Field at Fort Polk. The day will wrap up with a large fireworks display.
News For Tuesday 06/28/16
News for Tuesday 062816
By Dave Graichen
The Supreme Court struck down a Texas abortion law Monday, which could mean a similar Louisiana law is coming off the books as well. The law required abortion doctors to have admitting privileges at hospitals, and Louisiana has similar legislation. Loyola law professor Dane Ciolino says the justices ruled the law violates the Constitution. Attorney General Jeff Landry issued a statement saying his office will review the implications of the Supreme Court’s ruling on Louisiana’s law, but will continue to fight Louisiana’s case to protect women’s health.
Just in time for the soaring summer temperatures, Cleco utility customers are getting a break on their power bills. Cleco spokesperson Robbyn Cooper says beginning July 1, customers will start seeing a credit on their bills, averaging $475. The credit comes as a result of the Pineville-based utility company’s sale to a foreign investment group. Cooper says they want customers to benefit from the sale as well.
Health officials have posted beach advisories along the Gulf Coast as many people put the finishing touches on their 4th of July Holiday plans. They advise folks planning to head the ocean in Louisiana, Florida, Mississippi, Alabama and Texas to not get into the water at certain locations due to high levels of a harmful flesh eating bacteria. You can get Louisiana water advisories online at dhh.louisiana.gov.
Governor John Bel Edwards has been elected as the chair of the Southern Regional Education Board. Edwards’ Communication Director Richard Carbo says says K-12 education has been cut for in the state for the first time in a generation. He says this new position will give Governor Edwards an opportunity to find new ideas to improve education throughout the 16 state region.
Governor John Bel Edwards is taking a lot of heat from industry leaders in the state after he issued an executive order to make changes to a program that gives manufactures big tax breaks. Local governing bodies will now have a say in how the exemptions are handed out, and requires companies applying to show they are creating or retaining jobs. Louisiana Economic Development Secretary Don Pierson says this order is nothing out of the ordinary since 38 other states give local oversight on the local exemption process.
State Police say a Sunday afternoon crash in St. Landry Parish took the life a one-year-old child. Master Trooper Brooks David says 24-year-old Bendel Williams ran off highway 182 and struck some trees. The infant in the back seat was not properly restrained and was killed. Charges are pending against Williams.
State Police say a child is dead and 8 people are injured after an a vehicle was passing in a no passing zone and flipped multiple times after being hit by another vehicle yesterday afternoon in Iberville Parish.
Police say the Bossier City woman who falsely accused a man of molesting his 5-month-old daughter has turned herself in. Authorities say Carrie Rivers has been booked into the Bossier Maximum Security facility. Rivers reportedly worked as a babysitter for the family, and when her services were no longer needed, she made up the story to get back at the family.
Two men are behind bars in Lafayette in connection to the murders of two people who were found in two separate burned out vehicles. Deputies say 31-year-old Joshua Willis and 21-year-old Joseph Sylvester face charges including two counts of first degree murder in the deaths of 23-year-old Ashley Metz and her boyfriend, 22-year-old Walter Hill. The case remains under investigation.
Despite rumors to the contrary, sources say the New Orleans Saints do plan to still hold mini camp at the Greenbrier in West Virginia, following devastating flooding at the site of the team’s practice facility. The Saints say they feel the practice complex and all other necessary facilities will be ready for them when camp opens late next month.
News For Monday 06/27/16
News for Monday 062716
By Dave Graichen
Today is National HIV Testing Day. According to government statistics, one-in-eight people living with HIV don't know they have it.
The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, police and other agencies continue to search the Red River for a man who jumped from the Gillis Long Bridge Saturday afternoon.
Family members have confirmed the man who jumped was 46 year old Eddie Jeter Jr. They say Jeter was depressed and homeless.
State police continue to investigate a single vehicle crash early Sunday morning that claimed the life of a Pitkin teen and injured another. Troopers say 19 year old Alfred Trosclair III lost control and exited the left side of highway 10 and struck a tree. Trosclair was pronounced dead at the scene. 19 year old Carl James, a passenger in the vehicle, was ejected during the crash. He received moderate injuries and was transported to Cabrini Hospital. Alcohol usage is a suspected factor in the crash
Manufacturing facilities who receive a huge local property tax break would now have to prove they are creating and retaining jobs under an executive order by Governor John Bel Edwards. The industry says the rule changes could put major projects on hold or prevent other businesses from coming to Louisiana. But the governor says the program is not doing a service to local governments if the plants aren’t retaining or creating jobs.
There have been developments in the two cases of the officers who were shot in here in Louisiana last week. Jefferson Parish Sheriff Newel Normand says the suspect in the murder of Deputy David Michel Jr. was sending text messages the prior day planning to commit other crimes. He added that witnesses say Jerman Neveaux shot Michel twice in the back as the deputy tried to crawl away.
In the shooting and injuring of a Ouachita Parish deputy, two 17 year olds were arrested with accessory after the fact for allegedly trying to lead cops away from the suspected gunman by giving false information. Ricky Wade Jr. is facing three charges of attempted first degree murder.
Remember we told you Friday that charges were being dropped against a Baton Rouge mother who whipped her children after she found out they had robbed a neighbor’s home. Well, it appears now her problems may have only just begun. State Attorney General Jeff Landry has decided his officer needs to look into the matter to be sure the Parish DA handled the situation properly. But, that’s not all. The state Department of Children and family services is also looking into the case. Landry says he is concerned that the children may be taken away from their mother.
The LSU Board of Supervisors gives the school’s ag center the green light to begin the process of growing medical marijuana. LSU Ag Center Chancellor Doctor Bill Richardson says the weed won’t be grown in a field outside. But rather in a very controlled inside environment.
The AgCenter plans to get a third-party investor involved to help pay for start-up costs.
The LSU board also voted Friday to implement a $177 hike in fees starting in the fall. LSU President F. King Alexander says the increases are a result of continued cuts to higher education. He added he does not like the amendment approved by the legislature that would fund TOPS in the fall, but not the spring. He says this would create series problems for students who need financial aid. Governor Edwards could line-item veto the TOPS language.
A Shreveport woman is wanted by police for making false accusations that a father molested his 5-month-old daughter. Lt. Bill Davis with the Bossier Parish Sheriff’s Office says 32-year-old Carrie Rivers was a babysitter for the family of the infant and when her services were no longer needed, she made up this story to make the parents mad. He says this allegation created major problems.
Plans are in the works for Shreveport-Bossier to get a new bridge over the Red River, and Monroe residents are asking when will the state pay for a new bridge over the Ouachita River, as there’s been talk of a new bridge in that area for decades. Ouachita parish police juror Walt Caldwell says a new bridge in Monroe would cost around $300 million, and there isn’t enough money in the state capital outlay budget to cover the cost. The cost for the new Shreveport bridge is projected between $80 and $100 million. Caldwell says the Monroe project would require a lot of federal funding, and that money doesn’t appear to be available either.
A suspect wanted in a 2014 double murder case out of East Feliciana Parish has been returned to Louisiana after being located in Germany. State Police arrested one of the two people accused wanted for the murders of Eddy Earl Hall and Connie Hall of Ethel. State Police are still trying to locate the second suspect.
Louisiana’s major goal of stopping wetland erosion and rebuilding the coast has come to a halt. Director of the National Wildlife Federation’s Gulf Restoration Program David Muth says that’s because sea levels are expected to rise higher than previously predicted. But he says that doesn’t mean they’ll stop trying to solve coastal land loss. Muth says the state is using funding from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill to build barrier islands, marshes and dredging to limit coastal land loss. He says the most important step is for Louisiana to use sediment from the Mississippi River to build up the marshes.
The second special session is over, but ULM political science professor John Sutherlin says Governor John Bel Edwards won’t be taking a breather anytime soon. The governor will have to make at least $300 million dollars in cuts to the state budget for next fiscal year. Sutherlin says Edwards will be involved in trying to bolster the state’s ports, roads and bridges, while also working on some job creation projects. Sutherlin says with a Democrat in the White House it may help Edwards bring down more federal dollars from Washington for infrastructure projects. He anticipates the governor will also look to improve broadband internet service throughout the state.
News For Friday 06/24/16
News for Friday 062416
By Dave Graichen
Just one day after a Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Deputy was shot and killed; two Ouachita Parish Sheriff’s Deputies were shot in Monroe while serving a felony warrant. Sheriff Jay Russell says one of the officers was shot near his face and the other in his the leg. Russell says both deputies underwent surgery and are expected to make a full recovery. The suspect, who has a long rap sheet was arrested a short time later. Both deputies are 25 year veterans of the OPSO.
Just before midnight, the Louisiana legislature gave final approval to a spending bill that calls for the TOPS scholarship program to be fully funded for the fall semester. But legislators left Baton Rouge without fully funding TOPS. Under the plan approved by lawmakers, TOPS students would only have 42-percent of their tuition covered for the spring semester. Several democrats call the front-loading of TOPS a budget gimmick. Governor John Bel Edwards agrees saying TOPS students will be left with a big tuition bill for the spring semester…
Renovation of the Rapides Parish Coliseum is set to be completed later this year. Yesterday, the Police Jury met to give it’s blessing to a $405,000 contract for a bathroom project that is part of the Coliseum renovation. Ratcliff construction, who is already the lead contractor on the renovation project, was the low bidder and was handed the contract.
President of Grambling State University Willie Larkin resigned today after one year at the school. Larkin made the announcement at Louisiana Tech during a meeting of the University of Louisiana Board of Supervisors. In February, Grambling’s Faculty Senate gave Dr. Larkin a vote of no confidence. As they were reportedly upset with falling enrollment, fundraising and the loss of the school’s nursing program.
The LSU Board of Supervisors will vote tomorrow on whether or not their AgCenter will grow medical marijuana that would be sold to patients who receive prescription for the drug. Spokesperson for the LSU AgCenter Frankie Gould says the law passed this year that expanded the diseases for which the drug can be prescribed, also outlined two possible growers for the plant. LSU was one of them. Gould says they aren’t sure if this is a worthwhile investment, especially since state funding for colleges has been slashed in recent years.
Residents in northwest Louisiana will now have access to revolutionary hi-tech methods for breast cancer detection, as new state-of-the-art breast imaging center is opening today in Shreveport. Marilyn Joiner is the spokeswoman for the WK Breast Health Center. She says doctors there will use 3D technology which lets them do a mammogram and a biopsy at the same time.
An Abbeville man will spend the rest of his life in prison for fatally shooting a Vermilion Parish Sheriff’s deputy. District Attorney Keith Stutes says 22-year-old Quintylan Richard entered a plea of guilty on the two-year anniversary when he shot Deputy Allen Bares. Authorities say Bares was gunned down after confronting Richard and an alleged accomplice about a home they just robbed. Stutes says Richard will not get the death penalty, but he will spend the rest of his life in jail. He says the trial was set for next year, but everyone was ready to put this tragedy to rest.
Beginning August 1, assaulting a police officer will be a felony, no matter what kind of weapon is used. West Monroe Senator Mike Walsworth says under the previous law, assaulting an officer with anything other than a gun was a misdemeanor. He says this new law expands that language to include the use of any weapon in the felony, not just a firearm.
The DA is East Baton Rouge Parish says they will not seek the death penalty in the case of the two suspects accused in the brutal murders and kidnapping of an elderly Baton Rouge couple last year. Hillar Moore says this was the decision of the victim’s family. Ernesto Alonso and Frank Garcia are both charged with two counts of first degree murder and kidnapping.
The Louisiana filmed movie, Free State of Jones, starting Matthew McConaughey comes out in theaters today. Executive Director of Celtic Studios Patrick Mulhearn says the movie revolves around a Mississippi farmer who tries to succeed from the Confederacy. He says the movie is set during the Civil War and was filmed in 10 different Louisiana parishes.
News For Thursday 06/23/16
News for Thursday 062316
By Dave Graichen
Law enforcement around the state are mourning the death of 50-year-old Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Deputy David Michel, who was fatally shot yesterday while attempting to conduct a pedestrian stop. Police say a suspect is in custody. Authorities say Michel was shot three times in the back after an altercation with a male pedestrian. After the shooting he was rushed to a local hospital, where he died less than an hour later.
The Town Talk reports today the Alexandria Police officer who broke up a fight involving radio talk show host Tony Brown last month at The Grand Theatre has been exonerated following an Internal Affairs investigation. The Internal Affairs investigation was conducted to see if the officer used excessive force. He took Brown to the ground to arrest him, and in the process Brown’s wife was knocked down. The Town Talk, through a public records request, obtained a copy of the Internal Affairs case report and copies of dozens of pages of evidence in the case. The complete story is in today’s Town Talk.
The special session ends tonight at midnight and lawmakers are still trying to figure out how much state agencies will get based on the revenue that has been raised over the last couple of weeks. The Senate Finance Committee has decided not to give public colleges a reduction in state dollars, so K-12 public schools are on the chopping block. Shreveport Senator Gregory Tarver says universities have been cut enough…This spending proposal still needs the approval of the House and Senate.
The lawyer of a Marksville City Marshall accused of fatally shooting a 6-year-old boy and injuring his father has filed a motion to move the trial out of Avoyelles Parish. 31-year-old Derrick Stafford’s attorney, Christopher LaCour, says with all the media coverage he doesn’t believe Stafford can get a fair trial in this parish. Stafford and Greenhouse are set to go to trial this fall.
Instead of repairing the Jimmy Davis Bridge over the River in Shreveport-Bossier, the DOTD says they’ve decided to build a new four-lane bridge. Now word yet as to how much the new bridge will cost or when construction will begin.
East Baton Rouge District Attorney Hillar Moore says he has yet to decide if he’ll prosecute a Baton Rouge mother who has been charged with child cruelty for allegedly hitting her children with an electric cord, because they broke into a neighbor’s home. Moore says he’s still waiting to get all the facts in the case. Social media has gone crazy with people supporting the woman’s decision. Moore says the woman does not have a criminal history.
Governor Edwards has signed into law legislation that says if you fly a drone over someone’s property to take a peep at what they are doing, you could be charged with trespassing. The law goes into effect immediately.
President Obama signed a bill into law that puts regulations in place to make chemical plants safer. U.S. Senator David Vitter is a co-sponsor of the legislation and says this benefits Louisiana residents, because it creates a federal system to make sure chemicals are made safely based on the latest science. Vitter says the law gives a reasonable set of regulations with a single handbook that our companies can follow to remain a world leader in innovation. He says before this, states were developing their own inconsistent regulatory systems which wasn’t working.
A Baton Rouge woman has been placed under arrest by the Calcasieu Parish Sheriff’s Office for allegedly pretending to be a cop and taking someone into custody with toy handcuffs at a casino. Deputies learned 23-year-old Georgetta Augillard didn’t work for any law enforcement agency and she was booked with false imprisonment and fraudulent portrayal of a cop.
The Ponchatoula-based company Elmer Chocolate cuts the ribbon on their new $40 million expansion today. Elmer president and CEO, Robert Nelson, says they are excited to open their expanded facility right here in the Bayou State. Elmer is best known for its Easter candy, but Nelson says that only accounts for 10-percent of their total sales.
News For Wednesday 6/22/16
News for Wednesday 062216
By Dave Graichen
Manpower says based on its survey of metropolitan areas, New Orleans and Baton Rouge are the two worst in the country to find a job this summer. LSU Economist Doctor Loren Scott says the summer is a slow time for New Orleans tourism industry. Scott says the job outlook is actually much worse in Houma and Lafayette, because of the downturn in the oil and gas industry.
A new report released by the Annie E Casey Foundation finds Louisiana ranks 48th for child well-being. Teresa Falgoust, with the Agenda for Children, says the state ranks so low because of the number of kids who live in poverty, but the report highlights some positives. Falgoust says Louisiana ranks seventh in pre-school attendance and literacy has improved.
A group called Together Louisiana says the state gives away 1.6 billion dollars in local tax revenue as a result of the industrial tax exemption program, which benefits large manufacturers. Together Louisiana spokesperson Broderick Bagert says school districts, parishes and other local entities are missing out on these dollars. Tax and Finance Council Director for the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry, Jim Patterson, says 40 states give this kind of exemption. He says without this exemption, many businesses might not come to Louisiana.
The legislative session ends on Thursday night at midnight and 284-million dollars in revenues have been approved as a result of changes to tax laws. Governor John Bel Edwards has pushed for 600-million dollars in the hopes the state can avoid making cuts to the budget.
Senate President John Alario says he wants to revive a piece of legislation that would reduce the amount of tax deductions a person receives if they itemize on their state income tax forms. The proposal would generate an estimated 88-million dollars. It’s an effort supported by the governor, but such a proposal has already been dismissed by the Louisiana House.
If 284-million dollars is all that could be raised, cuts will occur to higher ed, various health care services and the TOPS program to name a few. How much of the revenue raised in this special session should go to TOPS versus hospitals that provide care for the poor is a major debate right now.
Governor Edwards has established a task Force to develop ways Louisiana can safely lower its prison population and reduce inmate housing costs. Corrections Secretary James LeBlanc says Louisiana incarcerates more residents per capita than anywhere else in the world and this task force will come up with recommendations that the legislature can approve in 2017. LeBlanc says more programs at the local level can help reduce the recividism rate and lower the jail population.
The governor has signed a bill into law that raised the age threshold for victims of sex trafficking from 18 to 21. Before this law, victims between 18 to 21 could have been arrested for prostitution. Executive Director of Project 41 in West Monroe, Lindsey Nadler, says they are thrilled about the new law, because jail is not what these victims need.
Deputies in Lafayette are investigating two bodies that were both located in burned out vehicles separate from each other in the early morning hours yesterday. They say one was found in Carenco around 1:15am, and the other at 3:30am in Scott. Authorities say at this time the bodies have not been identified and it is unknown if the two incidents are connected. Detectives are still working the scenes and the case is ongoing.
Attorney General Jeff Landry and law enforcement are teaming up to tackle cyber-crimes against children. Landry says since April, 57 alleged perpetrators have been arrested for the distribution and possession of child pornography as part of “Operation Broken Heart” State Police is assisting in the effort to reduce internet crimes against children. Superintendent Col. Mike Edmonson says parents can help in this battle by being vigilant and keeping a close eye on your kids online activities.
Former state senator Elbert Guillory is in the race for the 4th Congressional District seat, and he’s running a very unique YouTube ad to gain voters’ support, by using coconuts as a metaphor, saying he has the coconuts for the job. This is not the first time Guillory has made a bold statement in an ad. Last year in the race for Lt. Governor, he used the n-word multiple times to “start a dialogue on race.”
Here’s a bizarre story out of Caddo Parish, sheriff’s office spokesperson Cindy Chadwick says they arrested a Shreveport man for trespassing after he climbed up a historic monument outside of the courthouse during the middle of the night and the statue’s arm fell off in the process. Bond for Twenty-seven-year-old Tromell Conerlious was set at 500-dollars.
News For Tuesday 06/21/16
News for Tuesday 062116
By Dave Graichen
It has happened yet again. Authorities are investigating the deaths of 3-year-old twins who died after being locked in a hot pickup truck. Bossier City Police spokesperson Mark Natale says at some point Saturday afternoon, the children’s mother realized she didn’t know where the kids were. She found the children in a closed pickup truck. A Shreveport television reports the children were in the truck for two hours and temperatures were in the 90s Saturday afternoon. No criminal charges have been filed yet in the case.
With very little fanfare, Rapides Parish Sheriff William Earl Hilton was sworn in Monday to his sixth term. Ninth District Judge John Davidson administered the oath of office to Hilton, who has served five terms in office. Hilton’s 6th term will officially will begin July 1.
The Louisiana House approved two bills Monday that would generate an additional 75-million dollars in tax revenue. If approved by the Senate, the legislature will raise 284-million dollars in this special session, far short of the $600 million sought by Governor John Bel Edwards. Based on the taxes that have been raised in the two special sessions, at least 70% of TOPS would be funded under a bill approved by the House.
With two days left in the special session, lawmakers are arguing over how much to fund TOPS. A bill approved by the House funds the scholarship program at 70-percent. Bogalusa Representative Malinda White believes fewer dollars should go to TOPS in favor of more money for hospitals that provide care for the poor and uninsured. Prairieville Representative Tony Bacala urged House members not to take any more funding away from the scholarship program. The Senate Finance committee will talk more about TOPS funding at its meeting Today.
According to the Department of Children and Family Services, the number of food stamp recipients in Louisiana jumped 9% from April 2015 to April 2016, but that rate is falling nationwide. Director of the Louisiana Budget Project, Jan Moller says those rates should go down when oil prices come back up, and more people in that sector get jobs.
Louisiana ranks third in the country for lightning claims, according to State Farm. Roszell Gadson with State Farm says in 2015, the insurance company paid out over $6 million on almost 14-hundred lightning claims, averaging $46-hundred each.
32-year-old Margaret Sanchez has been sentenced to 40 years in jail after pleading guilty to obstruction of justice and manslaughter in the death and dismemberment of Bourbon Street exotic dancer Jaren Lockhart in 2012. Legal analyst Chick Foret says now that the case is over, Lockhart’s family can finally have closure.
Two Alabama football players arrested in Monroe on gun and drug charges will not be prosecuted. Ouachita Parish District Attorney Jerry Jones told KNOE-TV there was insufficient evidence. Back in May, Cameron Robinson and Hootie Jones were arrested after a Monroe police officer allegedly found them smoking pot inside a vehicle.
Louisiana anglers rejoice as Toledo Bend has been ranked the number one bass fishery in the country for the second straight year by Bassmaster. Magazine Editor James Hall says this is the first time in the history of ranking the best fishing destination in America that one fishery has won back to back or even won twice.
Thursday night is the NBA Draft and the Pelicans have three picks. The sixth overall pick and then two in the second round. New Orleans General Manager Dell Demps believes they can add some significant pieces around All-Star Anthony Davis.
News For Monday 06/20/16
News for Monday 062016
By Dave Graichen
It looks like the appetite just isn’t there for lawmakers to raise any more taxes. Governor John Bel Edwards asked legislators to increase revenue by 600-million dollars in this special session, but it appears the legislature will fall way short of that figure. Alexandria Representative Lance Harris says many lawmakers believe they’ve raised enough revenue.
Last night, state representatives failed to pass a measure that would limit excess itemized deductions in personal income taxes, which would have raised an additional 60-million dollars.
LSU economist Dr. Jim Richardson says Louisiana could finish this fiscal year with a 200 million dollar deficit. Senate President John Alario says Richardson informed him corporate income taxes are way below what was projected. So far, the legislature has agreed to tax changes that will generate 220 million dollars in additional revenue, but there’s a big resistance in the House to raise anymore. The special session ends Thursday.
The head of the Louisiana Oil and Gas Association says there are some encouraging signs for the struggling industry. LOGA President Don Briggs says one positive sign is that oil prices are near 50-dollars a barrel, after falling to 26-dollars in February. Briggs says they hope the price can rise some more during the second half of 2016, because of the break-even point for the industry is between 60-and-70-dollars a barrel. He says the price of natural gas is also up, which is particularly good for the northwestern part of the state.
Congratulations going out to the Town Talk.. The Alexandria / Pineville newspaper earned a first-place award for best front page and took third place overall for general excellence Saturday at the 136th Annual Louisiana Press Association Convention. In addition to the two staff-wide awards, six Town Talk staff members won awards as well..
The number of abortions that took place in 2015 fell 10-percent from the previous year. That’s based on numbers from the Louisiana Department of Health. Louisiana Right to Life spokesperson Ben Clapper says there were 93-hundred abortions last year, a decrease of about a thousand from the previous year. He credits pregnancy resource centers for the decline. Clapper says Caddo Parish had the highest number of abortions in a single parish with 34-hundred. He says based on 2015 data, about 26 abortions are performed every day in Louisiana.
Louisiana has the third worst roads in the country, according to a new report from CarInsurance.com. Oklahoma came in 49th on the list, and California finished last. Michelle Megna with CarInsurance.com says poor quality roads had a big impact on the state’s low rating. The report also indicates that 29% of bridges in the state are classified as structurally deficient. Megna says Louisiana is also the second worst in the nation for how much drivers spend on their car insurance. Megna says almost 14% of Louisiana drivers do not have auto insurance.
The former Amite High School valedictorian and standout athlete Andrew Jones finally had his graduation ceremony after not being allowed to attend the one with his classmates, because of his facial hair. The celebration took place last night at the African-American Heritage Museum in Hammond.
A settlement has been reached in the dispute between Saints and Pelicans owner Tom Benson and his heirs. Terms of the agreement are confidential. The 88-year-old sued last year to make sure his wife gained control of the teams , instead of his children and two grandchildren.
More charges have been added in the murder of the Baton Rouge pregnant teacher. Baton Rouge Police Cpl. L’Jean McKneely says evidence leads investigators to conclude 40-year-old Lyntell Washington was fatally shot by 39-year-old Robert Marks. He says Marks was the assistant principal where Washington was a teacher, and she was threatening to reveal their affair. Marks has been charged with first-degree murder and first-degree feticide
A former Livingston Parish teacher has been arrested following allegations of an inappropriate relationship with a student at Walker Freshman High School. Authorities says 33-year-old Lynsie Pendarvis was arrested following an interview with the 15-year-old student who confirmed they had . Sharp says the juvenile was a student in Pendarvis’ science class.
Louisiana Tech is looking for a new baseball coach. Greg Goff has left the program after two seasons as he’s the new coach at Alabama. Goff led the Bulldogs to a 42-20 record this past season and a berth into the NCAA Tournament. Tech athletics director Tommy McClelland says they appreciate the job Goff did in building a winning culture.
News For Friday 06/17/16
News for Friday 061616
By Dave Graichen
The Louisiana House has decided to wait until Sunday night before voting on a tax bill that has the backing of Governor John Bel Edwards. A vote on the measure was scheduled for Thursday, but the author of the bill, Bogalusa Representative Malinda White, says the 53 votes are not there to get it passed. It would temporarily reduce a tax deduction for those who itemize on their state income tax returns. House Speaker Taylor Barras said he believes his members have reached a “saturation point” against raising more taxes after a showdown vote on an income tax bill planned Thursday was postponed, but the Senate upped the ante by approving about $200 million in new revenue.
Four Louisiana cities rank in the top 20 least health cities in the US, according to a study from 24/7 Wall Street. Hammond came in third on the list, Monroe ranked sixth, Shreveport-Bossier is ninth, and Alexandria came in at number 12. Bob Johannessen with the state Department of Health and Hospitals says the study shows many unhealthy cities have a high uninsured rate, and Louisiana’s uninsured rate is currently about 13%. Johannessen says DHH is working to remedy that with the newly expanded Medicaid program. He says they’ve already enrolled over 200-thousand people in the two weeks since enrollment began.
Domestic violence victims with active restraining orders will soon be able to get expedited temporary concealed carry permits under a bill that’s been signed into law. The new law goes into effect August 1. These victims will have access to temporary permits, but they will still have to undergo background checks. Once this permit expires they will have to take a training class and get a regular permit. Louisiana is consistently in the top 5 nationally when it comes to domestic violence.
Law enforcement is taking extreme precautions in New Orleans for the Gay Pride parade and Festival this weekend after the tragic mass shooting at an Orlando gay nightclub. Mayor Mitch Landrieu says they’ve beefed up security in the French Quarter and are working hand in hand with festival organizers. He says their mantra is if you see something, say something.
Thousands of Louisiana state workers will not receive a pay raise this year. The Civil Service Commission voted to block annual pay adjustments for 38-thousand government employees. Commissioner of Administration Jay Dardenne previously said the state couldn’t afford raises, because of budget problems.
A heat advisory is in effect for the entire state, and emergency officials are urging residents to take extreme caution outside. GOHSEP spokesman Mike Steele says we are experiencing these scorching temperatures earlier than usual. Forecasters say heat index values could be between 105-110. Good news is, conditions will be quite a bit cooler over the weekend.
After a brief flirtation with Texas, LSU Baseball Coach Paul Mainieri is staying in Baton Rouge. In a statement, Mainieri says LSU is home to his family and it’s his intention to keep it that way for a long time. While Maineri is staying, there are reports that Louisiana Tech coach Greg Goff is heading to Alabama to take over the Crimson Tide’s baseball program.
The East Baton Rouge Coroner has been able to confirm that the body found in Iberville Parish this week is the pregnant missing teacher from Baton Rouge. 40-year-old Lyntell Washington was reported missing last Thursday. Authorities believes the assistant principal where Washington worked has something to do with her disappearance.
A review by the International Agency for Research on Cancer finds drinking beverages above 149 degrees Fahrenheit could cause people to develop esophageal cancer. Deputy Director of LSU Health New Orleans Cancer Center, Dr. Edward Trapido, says hot drinks cause damage to the superficial cells in the upper esophagus. Trapido says however there is no evidence that shows coffee causes cancer so you should feel okay having your morning cup of joe.
According to the National Retail Federation, people will spend more on Dad this Father’s Day than ever before. Spokesperson Ana Serafin-Smith says it’s expected Americans will spend about 14 billion dollars this weekend. She says the uptick is linked to kids treating Dad to a nice steak dinner or giving him the latest in electronics. All of which have gone up in price.
Fox Louisiana Productions has been filming for the new Wolverine movie in Ferriday this week. Mayor Gene Allen says the town’s residents are thrilled to have such a big cinematic event taking place in the small Concordia Parish town. Allen says the filming has boosted local business tremendously.
News For Thursday 06/16/16
News for Thursday 061616
By Dave Graichen
A heat advisory is in effect for the upper half of the state, including Rapides Parish. State Climatologist Barry Keim says the summer is off to a hot start, with temperatures reaching into the mid and upper 90s. He says on top of that, humidity levels are running high leading to high heat index values. Today heat indices are expected to be near or at 110.
A House committee and a senate committee approved separate bills that would generate revenue to address a 600-million dollar shortfall. In House Ways and Means, the panel on a 10-9 vote sent a measure to the House floor that would reduce a tax break for those who itemize on their tax returns. It would generate over 100-million dollars.
The Senate Revenue and Fiscal Affairs committee approves a bill that would make industries choose between taking an industrial tax exemption or receiving an inventory tax credit. Business groups expressed concerns about losing one of these tax credits. But New Orleans Sen. Karen Peterson says the state can’t afford these large tax breaks, when it’s facing cuts to higher ed, public schools and healthcare. The measure would generate 146-million dollars in tax money. It now moves to the Senate floor.
Teachers in public schools will soon have to teach students cursive writing because of a bill signed into law by the governor. Franklinton Senator Beth Mizell authored the legislation, because she’s concerned children will not be able to sign their name in cursive. The law takes effect in July of next year.
The fines for texting or using social media while driving have been increased from $175 to $500 for a first offense, as a bill has just been signed into law by the governor. Drivers could pay a fine of up to $1,000 for a subsequent offense. For minors caught texting and driving, the fines more than doubled, and subsequent offenses could result in a 6 month suspension of their driver’s license.
Many of the former Wal-Mart Express Stores that closed earlier in the year will soon reopen under a new name. Brookshire foods announced yesterday the pending acquisition of 25 former Walmart Express stores, they will be reopened this summer as "hometown convenience" stores under the name Spring Market. The stores reopening include Colfax, Iowa, Lake Arthur, Mamou and Zwolle.
A new study shows that, In Louisiana, parents average premium for car insurance increases by over 86-percent when they add a teen driver to an existing policy. Senior insurance analyst with InsuranceQuotes.com Laura Adams says although it’s still expensive, rates have been dipping slightly. She says this is because many teens are waiting to drive under they’re older.
FEMA has released a smartphone app to help residents get prepared for potential natural disasters. It also allows users to receive safety and preparedness tips, including practicing a fire escape plan and updating emergency tips. FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate says many tools are built in to the app. The app is available in the iTunes store and on Google Play.
East Baton Rouge Coroner, Doctor Beau Clark, says the body found of a woman found in a ditch in Iberville Parish yesterday was shot in the head, but he’s unable to make a positive identification because of advance stages of decomposition. It will take DNA testing to do that. Authorities believe the body is that of a pregnant teacher from Baton Rouge. Clark says there’s no doubt the victim was pregnant at the time of her death.
A former deputy with the Ascension Parish Sheriff’s Office is under arrest amid charges he had sex with a juvenile while he was on duty. Cops say 31-year-old William Lanoux of Prairieville is charged with malfeasance in office and 1st degree rape. Deputies say the juvenile was considered a runaway when she allegedly met Lanoux on social media and the two went off to have sex. Upon Lanoux’s arrest he was immediately terminated.
The Caddo Parish Sheriff’s Office arrests three people amid allegations tey stole over $31,000 from an elderly victim. They say the suspects worked as sitters for the woman.
The third installment of the “Ask the Governor” call-in radio show featured a wide variety of questions from callers. Governor John Bel Edwards was asked about everything from food stamps to marijuana and the budget was a key topic. One caller asked about changes to the state’s film tax credit program. Edwards says the state capped the program at 180-million dollars in credits paid out and there are no plans to change it. Another caller asked whether a gas tax could be imposed to address the state’s budget shortfall. Edwards says he has established a transportation task force that will look into revenue raising measures such as gas taxes, tolls, and other ideas. But he says those dollars will have to go towards transportation.
One caller asked the governor about gun control, in light of the mass shooting in Orlando. Edwards says he is a big supporter of the Second Amendment, but he is in favor of a measure that would prohibit people on terrorist watch lists, who cannot even board planes, from purchasing guns.
LSU says they will now allow visiting bands to perform during halftime, after not allowing them to do so during football games last season. LSU Deputy Athletic Director Eddie Nunez says their plan involves changes to seating in the South End Zone to allow bands to take a more direct route onto the field. He says there were safety concerns with having two bands along the sidelines before the end of the first half.
News For Wednesday 6/15/16
News for Wednesday 061516
By Dave Graichen
The Town Talk reports the proposed 5% pay raises that were set to take effect on July 1st for Police Jury Civil Service employees has been voted down after it was discovered the raises would cost the Jury a lot more than projected $15,600. Richard Billings offered the motion for the pay hikes, saying the parish can afford increase. However, jury President Craig Smith on Tuesday said that with the way the resolution was worded, the cost would have actually been more like $181 thousand. The employees who would have benefited haven’t seen a pay raise in years.
Lawmakers are taking another look at a bill that would limit itemized deductions on personal income taxes, after the House Ways and Means Committee rejected the proposal 11-10 last week. The bill would raise more than $100 million in taxes for next fiscal year’s budget. The compromise would make the bill temporary and limit the revenue raised if other bills bring in more money. The special session must end by midnight on June 23.
Governor John Bel Edwards has signed the REAL ID Act into law, bringing Louisiana into compliance with the 2005 federal ruling that created national identification standards in the wake of 9/11. Edwards says these ID’s will be required for air travel, even domestic, in the near future. The Office of Motor Vehicles anticipates it will begin issuing REAL ID licenses in the fall of this year, and they will not cost any more than a regular driver’s license.
Local FBI officials say they are on alert in the New Orleans area as the city prepares to host a number of gay pride events. The Orlando shooter appeared to have targeted the gay club where 49 people were killed. The area FBI says there are no specific terror threats for New Orleans, but they are going to be sure if any come up they will be addressed.
State Police say they’ve arrested three people that led investigators to the largest ever seizure of child pornography by LSP. Sgt. Jared Sandifer says over one million files were seized. Sandifer says the Special Victims Unit will continue to work as hard as possible to find those individuals who exploit children in Louisiana.
Lotte (Low-tay) Chemical and Axiall have broken ground on a three billion dollar chemical manufacturing complex in Lake Charles. Louisiana Economic Development Secretary Don Pierson says this investment will create hundreds of quality jobs. Pierson says with these jobs coming to southwest Louisiana it will help make up for the employment losses in the oil and gas industry. Pierson expects the plants will be up and running by 2019.
A new report shows Baton Rouge is the second most dangerous city to drive, ranking only behind Detroit. The analysis by the personal finance website NerdWallet examined risks for those who drive in nearly 200 of the nation’s most populated regions. The rankings were based on the rate of fatal crashes, the likelihood of an accident, and other factors.
U.S. District Judge Brian Jackson has scheduled a hearing today to determine if death row inmates at Angola should have air conditioning. Legal Analyst Tim Meche says the state came up with their own heat remediation plan that consists of fans, ice chests, and cold showers for the prisoners, rather than AC. Meche says Judge Jackson will not likely reverse his ruling of installing air conditioners in death row, which would cost about a million dollars. Jackson ruled that it is unconstitutional for the inmates to live where the heat index is higher than 88 degrees.
The first murder to occur in the Hammond city limits in over two years took place last night. Lisa Lambert with Hammond Police says 24-year-old Tremayne Sandifer fatally shot 34-year-old William Davis in a drug deal gone wrong then stole his car and fled the scene. Lambert says Sandifer has been arrested and faces multiple charges.
Multiple agencies are investigating the discovery of a badly decomposed woman’s body in a ditch in Iberville Parish. Authorities say it could possibly be the body of 40-year-old Lyntell Washington, who is a pregnant teacher from Baton Rouge that disappeared last Wednesday. The body has been taken to the East Baton Rouge Parish Coroner’s office.
News For Tuesday 06/14/16
News for Tuesday 061416
By Dave Graichen
The Rapides Parish Police Jury made it official yesterday. Transgender people will not get to pick and choose which bathrooms they use. Police jurors on Monday unanimously approved a resolution to go on record opposing the federal directive that public schools allow transgender people to use bathrooms of the gender with which they identify. Juror Richard Billings, who authored the resolution, said “We live in a country that everybody knows their gender. They might not appreciate what they were born with, but they should appreciate and evolve to that,”
Two people with ties to Louisiana were among the victims in the mass shooting at an Orlando gay nightclub. Twenty-seven-year-old Frank Hernandez, a former Lafayette Parish resident, was one of 49 killed and 39-year-old Leonel Melendez, a New Orleans native, is in a coma after he was shot in the head. A vigil was held in the Rotunda of the State Capitol for the victims and families of the Orlando mass shooting. Governor Edwards has ordered US and State of Louisiana flags should be flown at half-staff until sunset on Thursday.
In the wake of the deadly shooting at an Orlando gay nightclub, Republican Congressman Ralph Abraham, from Richland Parish, says the United States must do more to eliminate ISIS. Abraham says our military commanders have told the Obama administration what the U.S needs to do, but the President will not address the elephant in the room. Abraham says the mass shootings in Orlando and San Bernardino by radical Islamic extremists will continue to get out of control, until these terrorists are eliminated
A bill signing ceremony to include 17-year-olds in the Juvenile Justice System takes place today. The Policy Director for the Louisiana Center for Children’s Rights, Rachel Gassert, says this law brings Louisiana in line with 41 other states that currently set the age of criminal responsibility at 18. She says 17-year-olds are not adults and shouldn’t be treated as such for even minor offenses. Gassert says this will improve public safety because the recidivism rates in the Juvenile Justice System are far better than those in the adult system.
The standstill continues at the State Capitol over whether lawmakers should pass tax increases that would raise 600 million dollars in revenue, which is what the governor is seeking. The Edwards Administration says without that money there will be cuts to healthcare, education and the TOPS program. So far the House has approved 220 million dollars in tax increases.
The Baton Rouge father of the eight-month-old baby girl who was left in a hot car will not be criminally prosecuted in her death. That decision was made by East Baton Rouge District Attorney Hillar Moore, who says Marvin Mercer forgot to drop his daughter, Raylee, off at daycare on his way to work, because it’s not something he usually does. Baton Rouge police charged Mercer with negligent homicide. But, Moore says Raylee’s death was an accident and Mercer’s actions do not rise to the standard of criminal negligence
The Baton Rouge PD reports three people, including a 16-year-old, are under arrest in connection with the apparent accidental shooting death of a woman inside a vehicle. They say the group was allegedly traveling to the scene of an earlier conflict, when an assault rifle the teen was holding went off in the back seat and killed a 20-year-old female.
The Associated Press is reporting Louisiana has spent one-million dollars over the last three years fighting a lawsuit that seeks to get the court system to mandate air conditioning on death row at Angola. The story says it would cost about a million dollars for an air conditioning system that would satisfy a federal judge overseeing the case.
The charges have been dropped for now against a man accused in the murder of a 21-year-old woman in Desoto Parish. Sheriff Rodney Arbuckle says autopsy findings could not determine how Maranda Whitton died, so they had to release the suspect, 33-year-old Jarrod Earl Johnson of Logansport. He says they are still actively investigating this incident.
Police in Baton Rouge are still hopeful they will be able to find out what happened to the pregnant mother who went missing after her child was found alone near a vehicle filled with blood. They say the search of swamps near Ramah was suspended for 40-year-old Lyntell Washington, and now cops are looking for other leads or a break in the case. Police arrested 39-year-old Robert Marks for allegedly abandoning the child.
The massive sinkhole that formed about four years ago in Bayou Corne has showed reduced action and is close to stable. That’s the word from Assumption Parish Director of Emergency Operations, John Boudreaux, who says the sinkhole shows some growth but nothing intense. He says the deepest part has reached 174 feet and has consumed close to 35 acres of land.
News For Monday 06/13/16
News for Monday 061316
By Dave Graichen
For the third time in five seasons, LSU baseball has seen its season come to an end on its home field. Coastal Carolina’s Michael Paez’s single into left field scored the game winning run in the bottom of the 9th inning handing the Tigers a tough four to three defeat. Coach Paul Mainieri’s team finishes with a record of 45-and-21. A majority of the team will return next season.
Gov. John Bel Edwards said Louisiana is standing by Florida in the wake of the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history. Early Sunday morning a gunman opened fire in a gay nightclub in Orlando, killing 50 people and injuring at least 53. Edwards said in a statement “This is a senseless tragedy of unimaginable scale,” “In the face of adversity, as we always do, we stand united against acts of terrorism that threaten our people and our way of life.”
The investigation continues into a deadly crash that claimed the lives of four people in Vernon parish over the weekend. State police report the crash occurred shortly after four in the morning Saturday on LA 10 between Pitkin and Oakdale. Police say the driver of the vehicle lost control and left the road hitting several trees and bursting into flames. The names of the four who lost their lives have not been released pending DNA testing. Excessive speed is a suspected factor in the crash.
A recent independent poll of 800 voters shows Republican Scott Angelle is leading in the 3rd Congressional District race as 39% of the respondents support the Public Service Commissioner. The Traflagar Group poll has Clay Higgins, who recently joined the race, at 18%. UL Lafayette Political Science Professor Pearson Cross the poll shows 24% are undecided.
Legislators return to the State Capitol today as they look to solve the state’s budget issues. Governor John Bel Edwards has asked legislators to raise revenues by 600-million dollars in this special session to avoid cuts to health care, higher education, public schools and TOPS. But so far the House has only agreed to 220-million dollars in tax increases. The governor’s chief of staff, Ben Nevers, says if the legislature only approves 223-million dollars in new taxes in this session, it could lead to hospitals closing and TOPS funding cut in half.
The US House has approved a bill that seeks to block President Obama’s proposed $10.25 tax on every barrel of oil. Louisiana Oil and Gas Association Chairman Brian Hanks is pleased with the House’s action, because any additional burden would be a devastating blow to an already struggling industry. Lafayette Congressman Charles Boustany says the proposed tax would drive up the price of gas by as much as 25-cents a gallon. A study by the Tax Foundation also found it would cost 137-thousand American jobs. The proposed tax is an effort to pay for green initiatives and alternative energy research.
A Transportation Infrastructure Investment task force has been formed by the governor to identify priority projects throughout the state. State Department of Transportation Secretary Shawn Wilson says the average driver pays about $108 a year in gas taxes to Louisiana, and they want to make sure those dollars go towards repairing roads, bridges and ports.
Wilson says they are looking at all of their options to fund the much needed infrastructure projects.
Sea lice has been producing rashes for some Gulf Coast swimmers. Texas A&M-Corpus Christi biology professor, Dr Kim Withers, says sea lice are actually jelly fish larvae and they tend to sting people when they get trapped under a person’s clothes. Withers says the irritation caused by the bites usually goes away after 24 hours, but it can become severe. Withers says the best thing people can do is limit the amount of clothes they wear in the water.
A Luling man has been arrested after he allegedly shot his neighbor’s cat with a bow and arrow. St. Charles Parish Sheriff Greg Champagne says Cody Dupre has just been charged with an aggravated cruelty to an animal charge, because the animal survived the ordeal.
Champagne says Dupre apparently shot the cat, because he didn’t want it on his property.
DeSoto Parish authorities have tentatively identified a body found in a pond in Logansport as 21-year-old Miranda Whitton. She was reported missing on Monday. The sheriff’s office says 33–year-old Jarrod Earl Johnson of Logansport has been charged with second-degree murder and he’s been booked into the DeSoto Detention Center.
Police are investigating a fatal shooting that occurred outside the Salvation Army in downtown Monroe. Authorities say two males got into a fight, one of them was stabbed with a knife, while the other was fatally shot.
The Baton Rouge Police Department is searching for a pregnant woman whose 3-year-old daughter was found wandering alone Thursday morning. Cpl. L’Jean McKneely says 39-year-old Robert Marks is arrested for child desertion, and they do suspect foul play in the disappearance of 40-year-old Lyntell Washington. Arrest records indicate the child told detectives that her mother was in the lake. Marks is an assistant principal in East Baton Rouge Parish.
News For Friday 06/10/16
News for Friday 061016
By Dave Graichen
The East Baton Rouge Parish man, who is accused of leaving his baby in a hot car for over two hours causing her death, has been released from jail on $10,000 bond. 31-year-old Marvin Mercer, who is also a high school baseball coach, was charged with negligent homicide in the death of 8-month-old Raylee Mercer. He said he forgot to take her to daycare on his way to work. The Baton Rouge Coroner’s office has ruled the death as an accident.
Shreveport has lost one of its most influential social and civil rights activists. The Galilee Missionary Baptist Church confirmed yesterday the passing of Rev. E. Edward Jones. Calling Jones “a civil rights giant,” Shreveport Mayor Ollie Tyler said his legacy will remain in the hearts of the people in the city he served so well. Reverend Jones was 85.
US Senator David Vitter is pushing legislation that attempts to block the Obama Administration’s overtime rule that would require salary employees not making at least $47,476 a year to receive overtime pay. Supporters say this will put more money in the pockets of low to middle-income earners, but Vitter says the overtime rule is actually a bad thing for American workers.
Florida Governor Rick Scott says he’s coming to Louisiana to encourage businesses here to move to the Sunshine State. In a statement, Scott said Governor John Bel Edwards called the special session for the sole purpose of raising taxes which will burden the job climate here. Edwards’ spokesman Richard Carbo said yesterday the visit is nothing more than a political stunt. But, that they welcome Governor Scott to Louisiana and hope he spends a lot of money while he’s here.
At the State Capitol Thursday, the Louisiana House approved a package of tax bills that would increase state revenues by 220-million dollars for next fiscal year’s budget. But Governor John Bel Edwards has said the legislature needs to raise 600-million dollars to avoid major cuts to education and health care. Several other tax bills are having a difficult time getting out of the House Ways and Means Committee. The biggest revenue generating bill to pass is a measure that raises taxes on H-M-Os. The special session must wrap up its business by the 23rd of this month.
A graduation ceremony will be held for the valedictorian who was not allowed to participate in his graduation at Amite High School because of his facial hair. Pastor Roosevelt Wright is one of the coordinators for this event. He says Andrew Jones, a 4.0 student, overcame many challenges and earned the right to lead his class that day. He says the facial hair policy in place in the school had never been enforced prior to graduation day, and he says they have plenty of pictures to prove it.
Former-governor Bobby Jindal turns 45 today. The former-presidential candidate has kept a low profile since he left the Governor’s Office in January. But UL Lafayette political science professor Pearson Cross says Jindal’s political career is probably far from over. At one-time the former governor was considered a rising star in the Republican Party. He finished his second-term as the state’s highest elected official with low approval numbers. Cross says it’s unlikely Jindal run for office again in this state. Cross says the former-governor and Congressman has already accomplished so much at a young age that it’s hard to say what exactly he will do next.
Iberia Parish Sheriff Louis Ackal is facing a new criminal charge. Ackal has been indicted on an allegation that he planned to have another man arrested and beaten, because he assaulted one of the sheriff’s relatives. Back in March, Ackal was initially indicted on charges he directed officers to beat five inmates at the parish jail’s chapel, where no surveillance cameras could catch it.
Governor John Bel Edwards has signed into law a measure that will prevent adult entertainment establishments from hiring strippers that are under the age of 21. Jim Kelly with the Covenant House in New Orleans supports the legislation, because if a girl has to be 21 to drink at a strip club, then she should have to be 21 to take her clothes off in that establishment.
The new law goes into effect August 1st.
Tangipahoa Parish deputies arrest a 15-year-old in connection with the double homicide that occurred last week in Natalbany. The teenage boy has been charged with two counts of first-degree murder. Authorities say the shooting was drug related and connected to another fatal shooting that took place the next day.
State Police have confirmed St. Joseph Mayor Ed Brown is the subject of a criminal investigation. A legislative audit has accused Brown of mishandling the Tensas Parish town’s finances. Officials say says this could be a lengthy investigation. A judge appointed a fiscal manager for the town earlier this week and St. Joe’s financial problems have kept them from receiving state funds to improve their drinking water, which has been a murky brown color for close to a decade.
A job fair is taking place in Terrebonne Parish today that aims to help those in the oil and gas industry find jobs, as unemployment in that sector continues to rise. President and CEO of the South Louisiana Economic Council, Vic LaFonte, says although the bayou region is seeing job losses, there are employment opportunities in other parts of the state. Lake Charles, for example, is seeing an economic boom..
Lake Charles Police announced in a press conference yesterday that they have arrested a 16-year-old suspect in the fatal shooting of 79-year-old man over the weekend. Police Chief Don Dixon says on Sunday they responded to a vehicle that hit a tree and officers discovered Robert Colston behind the wheel suffering from a gunshot wound. Colston was pronounced dead at a local hospital. Dixon says they’ve charged a teenager with second-degree murder, and the Calcasieu Parish DA’s office will seek to prosecute him as an adult.
News For Thursday 06/09/16
News for Thursday 060916
By Dave Graichen
Baton Rouge Police arrest a Zachary man after he left his eight month old daughter in a hot vehicle for approximately two hours. Authorities say 31-year-old Marvin Mercer arrived at work and then realized a couple of hours later that his daughter was still in the vehicle. The infant was pronounced dead at a local hospital and Mercer has been charged with negligent homicide. The Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services is urging parents to take steps not to forget their young children in the backseat of a vehicle during these hot summer months.
The state department of health and hospitals announces 197-thousand adults have been enrolled in the state’s expanded Medicaid program. About 187-thousand of those were automatically signed up because they were receiving state health services from the state. The rest have signed up online, by phone or in person.
The LHSAA has voted to keep the expanded select/non-select school championship split, during a special meeting Wednesday. This means there will once again be nine championships in football, five non-select and four select. And 12 each in boys and girls basketball.
The City of Pineville has announced Fireworks are coming back to Lake Buhlow over the 4th of July weekend. It will be the first display since 2011 when construction of the Curtis Coleman bridge put the event on hold. The Fireworks show and concert will be held Sunday night July 3rd.
Central Louisiana residents are always willing to support a good cause and this weekend was no exception. The 29th annual Children's Miracle Network telethon took place over the weekend and the final tally is now in. Theresa Slater, the executive director of the Cabrini Foundation and the hospital's Children's Miracle Network, reported yesterday the weekend event raised $426,806. All of which will stay in Central Louisiana to improve children's health care.
Two days into the second special session, several of Governor Joh Bel Edwards tax proposals have hit a wall. LaPolitics.com publisher Jeremy Alford says proposals that would have raised income taxes on middle and upper class income earners received a frosty reception from the House Ways and Means Committee. The committee killed a proposal to reduce tax credits for corporations. All revenue generating bills must start in the House Ways and Means Committee and Alford says based on early action, he doesn’t see the legislature raising the $600 million needed to close the budget gap.
Governor John Bel Edwards and members of the legislature are supportive of changes to the Common Core academic standards suggested by a 26-member review panel. BESE President Jim Garvey says the panel was made up of people recommended by local school boards.
Twenty-one percent of the English and math standards were changed by the panel. Garvey says that may not sound like much, but it’s about the same amount of changes that were made when they switched to Common Core initially. Garvey says the changes will give teachers the freedom to teach these standards how they want.
The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries is looking for new field agents, and they are taking applications for up to 23 cadets. LDWF spokesman Adam Einck says the academy is starting in September. Applicants can apply online through the Department of Civil Service website. Einck says if you like law enforcement and the outdoors, this is a perfect job for you:
Starting August 1st, signs will be required to be posted 500 feet ahead of intersections that have red light cameras, because of a bill signed into law by the governor. New Orleans Senator Troy Carter says it’s a great day for the citizens of Louisiana. Carter says red light cameras should be about public safety, not collecting fines. The measure was approved with bipartisan support from both chambers.
As a result of legislation approved state lawmakers and signed by the governor, patients have direct access to physical therapists without having to see a doctor first, but the Louisiana Orthopedic Association says this new law could be costly for patients. LOA spokesperson Barbara Carey says if patients want insurance to cover their P-T treatment, they need to see a doctor first. She says pain can be due to a number of conditions.
Make room on your smartphone because you may be downloading a new app soon: A digital version of your driver’s license. Tuesday, the Louisiana House of Representatives passed House Bill 481 allowing the Office of Motor Vehicles to issue drivers licenses on smartphones.
Residents would still have to go through the same process as getting a regular ID and the digital license would also be accepted by officers during a traffic stop. However, the digital license would not be accepted when buying things like beer, cigarettes or lottery tickets.
According to 24/7 Wall Street, nearly half of Louisiana residents drink soda or other sugary drinks daily. Louisiana ranks second in the nation for the number of people who drink sugary drinks every day, only behind Mississippi. As you may suspect, the obesity rate in Louisiana is over 7% higher than the national average.
News For Wednesday 6/08/16
News for Wednesday 060816
By Dave Graichen
The investigation continues in to an apparent drive by shooting in Alexandria’s Garden district Sunday afternoon. The APD reports that two men have been arrested and charged in the incident. 22 year old Farron Jones of Pineville and 20 year old Justin Babin of Gretna were booked into the Rapides Parish Detention Center.
The Rapides Parish Police jury has added it’s comments dealing with an issue that up until a few month ago, was never an issue. It is the belief of the jury that “Someone who is born a male should have to use the men’s bathroom in schools and other public buildings and not be allowed in a women’s bathroom, even if that person identifies as a female.” The Jurors Monday voted unanimously to go on record opposing a federal directive that schools allow transgender students to use bathrooms of the gender with which they identify.
Governor John Bel Edwards addressed a joint session of the legislature yesterday calling on lawmakers to raise enough revenue during this special session to reduce cuts to state programs. He wants lawmakers to limit the itemized deductions taxpayers claim on their state returns. He says this proposal would not affect the majority of Louisiana taxpayers.
Several lawmakers are in a foul mood after failing to approve a construction budget. Ways and Means Chairman Neil Abramson says Senate changes to the spending plan made the bill unworkable and he didn’t bring it up for a vote in the regular session. The construction budget funds road projects, repairs to public buildings and improvement to state parks. A new version of the construction budget bill has begun to move in the special session as the four-billion dollar financing plan was approved by the Ways and Means Committee yesterday afternoon.
The Senate and House education committees have agreed to revisions to the Common Core education standards. A 26-member review panel recommended changing 21-percent of English and math standards used in public schools and now Governor Edwards will decide whether they should be implemented in the classroom.
The LSU baseball team is headed back to the Super Regionals as the Tigers rallied from a two-run deficit to beat to beat the Rice Owls five to two. The most valuable player in this game was Jared Poche, who on three days’ rest, threw six shutout innings and kept LSU in the contest, until the bats woke up in the 7th.
LHSAA principals meet today in Baton Rouge to vote on four proposals regarding the public-private playoff split, which is set to expand to other sports beginning next year. LHSAA President Vic Bonnaffee says one reason for this meeting is because the expanded split to other sports has created logistical issues for the venues that host championship events in basketball, baseball and softball. Bonnaffee says whatever happens today, the debate over public versus private schools will not end.
The governor is signing the Ban the Box bill into law today. The measure would prohibit state employers from asking about criminal history until the interview process. Executive Director for the US Justice Action Network, Holly Harris, says they’re excited to see this legislation pass with bipartisan support, because Louisiana is the incarceration capital of the world and in serious need of criminal justice reform. Harris says this legislation is about showing that former convicts are more than just their one mistake.
A bill that failed to make it out of the final hours of the regular session would have given convicted teen killers serving life sentences parole hearings after 30 years in prison. The bill was a reaction to a Supreme Court ruling that says convicted minors cannot be sentenced to life without the chance for parole. Louisiana is one of 32 states who are not in compliance with the Supreme Court ruling.
The state Department of Environmental Quality has resumed mercury testing in public waterways after the program was halted in 2008 because of budget cuts. DEQ environmental scientist Al Hindrichs says there are currently 48 advisories in place for 85 water bodies in Louisiana.
The family of slain Tulane graduate Thomas Rolfes held a news conference Tuesday to beg for information about the murder which happened a month ago today. There are no suspects in the 25-year-old’s murder. His fiancé, Elizabeth Fried says Rolfes was a wonderful man who touched the lives of everyone he met. There is a $30,000 reward.
A Baton Rouge man is behind bars for allegedly strangling his wife to death following an argument. The Sheriff’s Office says 42-year-old Donald Germany contacted family members and confessed to the crime. The East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff’s Office says 41-year-old Nichole Jones was pronounced dead at the scene after emergency workers tried to revive her.
Authorities in New Orleans report that Officer Natasha Hunter has died from injuries suffered in a crash over the weekend. Hunter suffered traumatic brain injuries. Hunter was working on a car accident on Interstate 10 near early Sunday morning when her vehicle was struck by a drunk driver. Officer Hunter was an 11-year veteran of the.
NOPD Chief Michael Harrison said that flares had been placed around the accident and that officer Hunter was inside her vehicle when it was struck.
The Humane Society of Louisiana says they’ve seen a higher than usual number of animal abuse arrests and seizures over the past 6 months. Director Jeff Dorson credits newly formed partnerships between humane societies and law enforcement agencies that work together as a team to investigate cases of animal abuse. Dorson says now when people report cases of animal abuse, members of the humane society will go out with the law enforcement agencies as they coordinate the arrests, and seize the animals to find them new homes.
The Thibodaux Police Department says they’ve arrested a man on bank fraud charges for allegedly writing checks on an account that did not belong to him, and spelling the numbers wrong. They say 23-year-old Brandon Sims of Thibodaux was caught red handed, and police noticed that “fifty” was misspelled on the check and that actually contributed to an additional charge. Sims is being held on a $17,500 bond.
The Saints have signed free-agent safety Roman Harper, who spent the first eight seasons of his career NFL career in New Orleans before playing his last two with the Carolina Panthers. Harper started 104 games out of a possible 108 during his first tenure with the Saints. NFL analyst Mike Detillier says Harper provides familiarity, a player with high football IQ and depth.
News For Tuesday 06/07/16
News for Tuesday 060716
By Dave Graichen
Local authorities are investigating what appears to have been a hit and run over the weekend on England Drive and Browns Bend Rd. 35-year-old Marquis Butler was pronounced dead at the scene. Anyone with information concerning the incident is asked to call the APD or RPSO.
The second special session of 2016 is underway and lawmakers are looking at their options to raise enough revenue to reduce cuts to state programs, like TOPS and hospitals that provide care for the poor and uninsured. Personal and corporate income taxes are an option for raising revenue. Lawmakers have also proposed reducing or eliminating some corporate tax exemptions. Senate President John Alario believes the legislature needs to raise about $450 million to ensure that TOPS, higher ed and safety net hospitals are adequately funded. Alario says he is not opposed to altering state income tax rates or removing exemptions, if it means all of the state’s priorities will be funded.
Governor John Bel Edwards is set to address a joint session of the state legislature at 10 this morning, which marks the official kickoff to the special session that was called to address a $600 million revenue shortfall. Legislators also have to pass a $4 billion construction budget that would pay for road work and improvements to public buildings and state parks. Edwards is upset the House failed to negotiate the construction spending plan during the regular session.
The special session must end by June 23 at midnight.
The Governor has signed the Louisiana Family Caregiver Act into law, which supporters say will provide critical help for families across the state. Advocacy Director for AARP Louisiana, Andrew Muhl says this will assist the more than 660-thousand family members who help out an aging relative. It’s estimated this type of unpaid care to family members in our state amount to about 6-point-4 billion dollars annually. Muhl says this legislation will save the state money by reducing costly hospital readmissions, as family caregivers will be able to perform the tasks the patients need. The unanimously-approved law goes into effect August 1.
A small Tensas parish town is one step closer to having clean water after being plagued by murky brown tap water. The town of St. Joseph has agreed to appoint a fiscal administrator so audits on the town can be cleared up and work can begin to repair the town’s water system. The governor’s Communications Director, Richard Carbo says St. Jo has not been able to get approval to use state funds to fix the water system because Mayor Edward Brown missed the December deadline to file an audit. Carbo says they’re making progress, but at this point it’s still not clear when clean water will flow from the taps in St. Joseph.
A trooper was injured in a fatal St. Charles Parish incident that involved two suspected drunk drivers and a man who stopped on the Bonne Carre spillway to relieve himself. State Police say a man suspected of being impaired, plowed into the back of the stopped vehicle killing a passenger sitting in the vehicle. A trooper was responding to the first crash scene on the spillway was hit from behind by yet another impaired driver. The trooper was wearing a seat belt and sustained minor injuries in the crash. The only charges filed thus far are against the man who stopped to pee.
Citizens in Franklin Parish continue to mourn the death of a Winnsboro Police Department officer who died in a car crash while he was on-duty over the weekend, according to officials. They say Sergeant Derrick Mingo, who is also a former employee of the Franklin Parish Sheriff’s Office, was on his way to help another officer dealing with a drunk driver, when he left a roadway and crashed into a tree. State Police say he was not wearing a seat belt.
The University of New Orleans will soon have a new digital animation lab on campus. UNO fine arts instructor Jeff Rinehart led the effort to secure a $94-thousand grant for the school’s new Innovation Lab, which will be open to all students working on digital media projects. Rinehart says the department is working toward creating a new media and animation degree.
Rinehart says the lab should be open to students by the 2017 spring semester.
Plans have been unveiled for a Riverfront Improvement Project in Natchitoches. Mayor Lee Posey says the project will update some infrastructure along the river and improve handicap accessibility. Posey says they will put new bathrooms on the riverbank, double the size of the stage on the river, add new landscaping, and even repave the asphalt along the riverbank. He says the project will cost just over $4 million. He says state and private agencies will split the costs of the project. Posey says they hope to have everything ready by the beginning of next year.
It’s win or go home for the LSU baseball team today after losing to Rice 10 to 6 last night. That loss forced a winner takes all match up this afternoon at 4 in the Baton Rouge Regional..
The Ragin Cajuns season came to a quick end last night as they lost two games to Arizona, which resulted in the wildcats winning the Lafayette regional and advancing to the Super regionals.
News For Monday 06/08/16
News for Monday 060616
By Dave Graichen
The APD reports the death of a Pineville man whose body was found early Saturday morning lying on a street is being investigated as a homicide. The body of 43-year-old Donnie Harvey was found around 5am in the 1300 block of Shirland Street. He was pronounced dead at the scene. The cause of death has not been determined, pending autopsy and other forensic testing.
Standing water in the road led to a single vehicle crash that took the life of an 8 year old Avoyelles Parish girl Saturday afternoon. The State Police report 8-year-old Isabella Ducote died when the vehicle she was a passenger in left the roadway and struck a fence. The driver of the vehicle, 40 year old Carmen Moreau, received moderate injuries in the crash.
State lawmakers have approved a 26-billion dollar budget for next fiscal year that does not fully fund the TOPS scholarship program and hospitals that provide care for the poor and uninsured. House Appropriations Chairman Cameron Henry says the spending plan is not perfect, but they can address gaps in the budget in a special session that begins tonight. Because of a 600-million dollar revenue shortfall, the budget also contains cuts to public schools, universities, prisons and child welfare programs. Henry says under this plan TOPS would be funded at 48-percent. The senate approved the budget on a 35-2 vote, but the vote was much closer in the House, 63 “yeas” and 38 “nays”
The regular session must conclude by 6pm tonight. Political analyst Clancy Dubos says Governor John Bel Edwards had a hard time getting key pieces of his legislative package through the legislature, like the bills for equal pay for men and women and increasing the minimum wage. Dubos says there were some victories for the governor. He says the budget lawmakers will pass is close to the one he first proposed. Also, a bill that increases the age to 18 for which a person can be tried as an adult received final legislative passage.
Voters could soon decide if universities should have the authority to set their own tuition as a result of a proposed constitutional amendment that is nearing final legislative passage. Right now, the legislature has to approve a tuition hike if it goes above a certain percentage. Higher Education Commissioner Joseph Rallo says the proposed change to the constitution gives institutions the power to lower and increase tuition depending on the market.
Legislation that would require pet stores to keep records of breeders’ names, addresses, and licensing information heads to the governor’s desk to be signed into law. The Louisiana SPCA says these regulations will help ensure pet stores are held to certain standards. She says pet stores will be required to keep the records of their dogs and cats for at least two years.
The number of Louisiana homes at risk for storm surge damage has increased since last year, according to CoreLogic. Senior hazard risk scientist for CoreLogic, Tom Jeffery says that has a lot to do with new homes being built along the coast. According to CoreLogic, last year there were just over 760-thousand hones at risk in Louisiana, and that number has grown to over 800-thousand. Almost 7 million homes along the Gulf and Atlantic coasts are at risk of potential storm surge damage this year.
The Tangipahoa Parish Sheriff’s Office is investigating three suspected murders that occurred within 24 hours in the rural town of Natalbany. Sheriff Daniel Edwards says they are asking anyone with any information to come forward, as police are offering a reward for any information that leads to an arrest.
22-year-old Ernest Felton, the first shooter arrested in the deadly shooting of two Southern students, has had his charge upgraded to second degree murder. Baton Rouge Police Cpl. L’Jean Mckneely says Felton was originally charged with attempted second-degree murder. Mckneely says police are looking for the brother of the other shooter involved, 25-year-old Brandon Henderson.
A bill to ban hotels, convention centers and trade shows from blocking personal Wi-Fi hotspots is heading to the governor’s desk. Ville Platte Senator Eric LeFleur says his bill saves people from having to pay for daily access to a company’s WiFi. He says disabling personal hotspots when people pay cellular data plan fees is unfair.
A Winnsboro Police officer has been killed in a car crash on Louisiana over the weekend while heading to assist another officer who was pursuing a drunk driver. Sgt. Derrick Mingo had been with the department for five years.
A New Orleans police officer suffered a massive brain injury after being struck by a drunken driver early Sunday morning. Police Superintendent Michael Harrison said the officer was inside her police vehicle on the side of the road with the emergency lights on when she was hit. He identified the officer as Natasha Hunter, a 12-year veteran of the police force. Hunter was taken to the hospital where she remains in critical condition in an unresponsive state.
Draymond Green had 28 points, seven rebounds and five assists, while MVP Stephen Curry scored 18 points despite foul trouble, and Golden State thoroughly overwhelmed the Cleveland Cavaliers 110-77 in Game 2 of the NBA Finals on Sunday night.
LSU starting pitcher Alex Lange struck out 10 hitters to help lead the Tigers to a 4-2 win over Rice. The victory puts the Bayou Bengals into the championship round of the Baton Rouge regional. Lange threw eight plus innings and only gave up two runs. Not an even rain delay could slow down Lange. The game was halted for about an hour in the 6th inning, but Lange returned to put a couple more zeros on the scoreboard. (LSU will play the winner of today’s game between Southeastern Louisiana and Rice at 7 PM.
News For Friday 05/27/16
News for Friday 052716
By Dave Graichen
Governor John Bel Edwards is expected to issue the call for another special session any day now, according to Jeremy Alford, publisher of LaPolitics.com. Edwards has said a second session is needed to raise revenues to address a 600-million dollar budget deficit for next fiscal year. Alford says the call could include reductions to personal or corporate income tax credits and addressing issues not covered in the previous session.
NOAA will issue its outlook for the 2016 hurricane season today. State climatologist Barry Keim expects the federal forecasters will predict an average season. He says there are two factors working against each other, cooler than normal sea surface temperature, which is an indication for fewer storms, and La Nina coming later this season, which is an indicator for more storms. Hurricane Isaac in 2012 was the last hurricane to make landfall in Louisiana. Keim says Louisianans should still be prepared.
The Edwards administration is urging the Senate to reject the House amendments that were made to the proposed budget for next fiscal year. Commissioner of Administration Jay Dardenne told the Senate Finance committee that the spending plan the House approved is not acceptable, because it will result in deep cuts to programs that assist the elderly and disabled. One of the major changes the House made to HB1 was reallocating money towards TOPS and away from hospitals that provide care for the poor.
Every student would be guaranteed that at least part of their TOPS scholarship would be funded if lawmakers have to make some cuts to the program, under a bill nearing final passage. Hammond Representative Chris Broadwater says it would be better to reduce the award for all than to cut some 13-thousand students out of the program. The bill has one more stop in the Senate before heading to the governor’s desk.
Governor Edwards has signed the Blue Lives Matter Bill into law, which makes Louisiana the first in the nation to expand its hate crime laws to protect police, firefighters and EMS crews. The new law allows prosecutors to seek tougher penalties against individuals who intentionally target first responders because of their profession.
A Senate-approved measure that would let patients see physical therapists without a doctor’s referral receives the support of the House as it nears final passage. The measure passed on a 65-33 vote in the House and heads back to the Senate for concurrence on House Language.
The House has approved a bill that would require cursive writing to be taught in public schools. The Senate still has to agree to House changes. Under the proposed law, the cursive writing requirement would go in effect for the 2017-18 school year.
Yesterday the price of oil rose above 50 dollars a barrel for the first time since October. Executive Director at LSU’s Center for Energy Studies David Dismukes says this marks an important milestone and it might put an end to the job losses in this industry. Crude oil was below 30 dollars a barrel earlier this year.
An investigative report by the American Association of Zoos and Aquariums finds that the Baton Rouge zoo is not at fault for the deaths of two elderly giraffes, who died in March during a severe thunderstorm. Baton Rouge zoo director Phil Frost says they welcomed the findings of report and were glad the investigators found that the zoo did all they could for the animals.
A Baton Rouge man is in jail on felony child abuse charges amid allegations he forced his 8-year-old nephew to smoke weed. A report indicates the child told hospital staff that 29-year-old Jason Taylor made him smoke mojo which gave him a headache and a racing heart. When officers learned the child tested positive for marijuana, Taylor was booked with cruelty to juveniles.
The Iberia Parish Sheriff’s Office says a man is under arrest after a 17-year-old woman died of an apparent drug overdose. They say Melissa Sharpe drove the victim to the hospital, and it was determined the woman had been deceased for several hours. She is charged with obstruction of justice. Noah Sharpe is booked with 2nd degree murder in the incident. They’re asking anyone with information on this incident contact authorities.
LSU stayed unbeaten in the SEC Tournament with a 6-2 win over the first-place Mississippi State Bulldogs. Jared Poche got the win for LSU. The boys have the day off today. But, will meet Florida Saturday afternoon at 3:30pm
News For Thursday 05/26/16
News for Thursday 052616
By Dave Graichen
Louisiana and 10 other states are suing the Obama administration over the recent transgender bathroom policy in public schools. The federal government announced that public schools must allow transgender students to use bathrooms and locker rooms consistent with their gender identity, or risk losing federal funding. The lawsuit says the Obama administration is trampling on policies and the directive should be ruled unlawful.
State lawmakers have agreed to raise the GPA requirement for upper-tier TOPS students, who also receive a stipend to help pay for their higher education costs. The legislation heading to the governor’s desk would raise the GPA requirement to 3.25 for a TOPS Performance Award and 3.5 for a TOPS Honors Award.
Triple-A expects over 38 million Americans will travel over the Memorial Day weekend, the highest number of travelers since 2005. Spokesperson Don Redman says it’s due to low gas prices, which are currently around $2.10 a gallon for regular gasoline. He says these are the lowest gas prices we’ve seen in 11 years.
The nonprofit group Rebuild Louisiana is raising money that will go towards getting public support for Governor John Bel Edwards’ legislative agenda. It’s expected the governor will call a special session next month to address a 600-million dollar budget shortfall. Chairman of Rebuild Louisiana, Mary Olive Pierson says the group is raising money because there are plenty of what she calls “hard heads” in the legislature. Pierson says they are concerned about some items that have already been defeated, such as equal pay for men and women. She says the fight isn’t over yet, because after this session, there will be another special session, and her organization will continue to push for their concerns.
The Republican-dominated House Labor and Industrial Relations Committee gave a thumbs down to every bill on its Wednesday agenda, including an increase in the minimum wage, equal pay for women and measures dealing with back pay and equal pay for women. It was the committees final meeting of the regular legislative session.
The town talk reports a federal judge has ruled that the owner and others associated with Silver Dollar Pawn Shop must pay attorney fees and costs totaling more than $121,000 for filing a baseless lawsuit against the city of Alexandria, police officers and others. The lawsuit was filed by owner Jimmie DeRamus and others in November 2014 and claimed Alexandria police officers and others acted improperly during the investigation of stolen items, which were found at the shop.
A bill to help parents know who their kids are talking to online is heading to the Governor’s desk. Metairie Representative Cameron Henry says his bill requires sex offenders to register any email addresses or online user names, as they would with a phone number or address. Henry says sex offenders have a whole new way to find victims, thanks to online games and social media sites. The measure passed unanimously in both the House and the Senate, and Governor Edwards is expected to sign the bill.
A bill to require warning signs to be posted 500 feet ahead of red light cameras has just received final legislative passage. New Orleans Senator Troy Carter says red light cameras should be about safety, not collecting revenues. The measure now heads to the governor’s desk to be signed into law.
The website BayouOpportunity.com, has been launched to aid oil and gas industry workers find new jobs, as unemployment continues to rise in that sector. Louisiana Economic Development Secretary Don Pierson says the site has information about a job fair that will be held this June to help people get jobs and find training opportunities.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention finds the adult smoking rate in the US is falling faster than is has in the past 20 years. Renee Underwood, with the state department of health and hospitals, says they’ve partnered with organizations, like the Louisiana Public Health Institute and the American Cancer Society, to reduce the number of people who start smoking and to get smokers the resources they need to quit.
An LSU AgCenter scientist has discovered a new way to reduce the sodium content in food. Marvin Moncada developed nanosalt, which is salt in a powder form that is about one-thousand times smaller than kosher salt. Moncada says nanosalt is a natural alternative to reducing the amount of salt content in foods. Moncada says The CDC recommends individuals eat 23-hundred milligrams of sodium a day but most people in the US eat double the amount. He says they’re still in the lab stage but expects tests to be conducted with consumers shortly.
A deputy with the St. John the Baptist Parish Sheriff’s Office is under arrest on many charges after a variety of drugs were allegedly found in his vehicle during a traffic stop while he was off duty. 23-year-old Barry Conner II was booked for drug possession, use of a firearm around a controlled dangerous substance and traffic violation.
The Justice Department is urging a federal court to let government regulators decide if a New Orleans company has done enough to end an oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico that began nearly 12 years ago. Taylor Energy Company sued the federal government in January to recover more than $400 million it set aside for work to stop the leak off Louisiana’s coast. The leak began in 2004 when an underwater mudslide triggered by Hurricane Ivan’s waves toppled a company-owned platform and buried a cluster of 28 oil wells under 100 feet of sediment and mud. Taylor Energy claims nothing can be done to completely eliminate the leaks, which create sheens that often stretch for miles. Regulators have warned the leak could last a century or more if left unchecked.
LSU baseball rallies past Florida, 5-3, in longest game in SEC tournament history. The win gives LSU a tussle with No. 1 seed Mississippi State at 8 p.m. Thursday and, to the victor goes the enviable Friday day off.
News For Wednesday 5/25/16
News for Wednesday 052516
By Dave Graichen
Governor John Bel Edwards and other state and local officials cut the ribbon yesterday on the Curtis Coleman Memorial Bridge over the Red River in Rapides Parish, as all four lanes are now open. The bridge replaced the O.K. Allen Bridge at a cost 83-million dollars.
The Red River Waterway Commission has reopened some of the public boat ramps on the Red River now that water levels have started to recede. These include several of the ramps in Red River, Natchitoches, and Rapides Parishes. However, the commission warns boaters to use caution when launching into the current and be highly aware of obstacles such as trees and sandbars while navigating the river.
A report from the Tulane University Cowen Institute says if the legislature is forced to reduce state funding for TOPS cuts, they hope students most in need of financial assistance are protected first. Policy director Vincent Rossmeier says the program has increasingly awarded scholarships to students who are coming from families, who could otherwise afford college.
Rossmeier says TOPS is an excellent vehicle for students who can least afford to go to college.
The Louisiana Senate voted 8-25 to reject a bill that would have protected LGBT people from discrimination in the workplace after passionate testimony in support of the bill. None of those opposed spoke or asked questions. The bill would prevent employers from discriminating against people based on their real or perceived sexual identity. Discrimination would apply to hiring, firing, compensation and terms of employment.
Work on a waterline near Donahue Ferry Road will result in a water boil advisory for about 125 water customers today. Water service will be turned off while the repairs are being made, and affected customers will be under a water boil advisory until further notice. Affected streets are Rue Donahue, Leonard Drive, Walker Drive, Louise Drive, Donahue Ferry Road and Holly Moore Drive.
Fifth District US Representative Ralph Abraham says he’s introduced legislation that attempts to stop President Obama’s order that calls on public schools to let transgender students use the bathroom consistent with their gender identity. Abraham says there’s support for his legislation. Abraham’s bill clarifies in federal law that the term “sex” refers to a person’s biological sex, not their gender identity.
A House-approved bill that would have punished so called “sanctuary cities” for implementing policies that are deemed to protect illegal immigrants, failed to get enough votes to pass out of a Senate committee. The Louisiana Sheriffs Association opposed the bill and Jefferson Parish Sheriff Newell Normand was vocal in his dislike saying it’s the federal government’s job to combat illegal immigration. Attorney General Jeff Landry supported the legislation as he would have authority to determine which municipalities should be defined as sanctuary cities. The proposal could have hurt New Orleans and Lafayette’s ability to borrow money for construction projects.
A House-committee voted against a proposed program that would allow law enforcement agencies to automatically scan motorists license plates. Supporters say the program would be used to catch car thieves and uninsured motorists, but opponents raised concerns about a private vendor making a nice profit from the fine money.
The Senate Health and Welfare Committee voted for legislation that would ban abortions in cases where the fetus is determined to have a genetic abnormality. The House-approved measure passed on a three to one vote. Baton Rouge Senator Dan Claitor raised concerns the proposed law is unconstitutional, but despite his objection, the panel advanced the measure to the full senate.
On a 3-2 vote, a Senate committee killed The Pastor Protection Act, which would have provided protection for religious organizations if they refuse to perform a same sex marriage. Bossier City Representative Mike Johnson says this bill is NOT as expansive as some religious freedom bills passed in other states. But New Orleans Senator JP Morrell says pastors and clergy members are already protected under the Religious Freedom Protection Act. He says there was no need for another bill that basically did the same thing.
PETA has issued a statement in response to LSU’s Mike the Tiger’s cancer diagnosis. PETA sent a letter to the university, calling for them to end their live mascot program all together, when Mike VI eventually succumbs to his terminal diagnosis. The animal rights activists say large breed cats are not meant to live in captivity on a college campus.
Atlanta, not New Orleans will host Super Bowl 53 in 2019. The Big Easy made a proposal to NFL owners who are meeting in Charlotte Tuesday, but the vote went Atlanta’s way. Some considered New Orleans a long shot, because Atlanta is in the process of building a new stadium.
The Department of Children and Family Services says a newborn was turned in to a Safe Haven facility in Baton Rouge by a mother who said she could not care for the child. The Safe Haven law states anyone can bring an infant up to 60 days old to an emergency designated facility with no questions asked. DCFS says 44 babies have been relinquished in Louisiana which they say proves this law saves lives.
News For Tuesday 05/24/16
News for Tuesday 052416
By Dave Graichen
Gov. John Bel Edwards will be in town today to dedicate the Curtis-Coleman Memorial Bridge over the Red River. The ceremony will begin at 10:30 a.m. Tuesday at Lake Buhlow on U.S. Highway 165 in Pineville. The public is invited to attend.
Governor John Bel Edwards legislative agenda for this regular session has NOT done well. A proposal to increase the state’s minimum wage has been bottled up in the Senate, an effort to require women and men receive equal pay for equal work was killed by a House committee. The governor’s attempts to limit charter schools or vouchers has also fallen on deaf ears by a legislative body that has a republican majority. Political analyst Bernie Pinsonat says Edwards’ inability to get a majority of his legislative agenda accomplished in the regular session, could hurt his efforts during an anticipated special session next month that would seek to raise revenue to address a 600-million dollar budget shortfall.
Members of the Tangipahoa Parish Chapter of the NAACP are calling for the resignation of school Superintendent Mark Kolwe. This is because 4.0 African American student and athlete Andrew Jones was not allowed to walk at his graduation ceremony at Amite High School because of his facial hair. Tangipahoa NAACP President Patricia Morris says this has more to do with Jones’ race than his goatee. She also believes Jones was targeted because he was also the school’s valedictorian. Morris says Jones was told to shave his beard for the first time just before the ceremony, and when he refused, the school refused to let him walk.
New Orleans sports officials make their pitch to the NFL owners today to host the 2019 Super Bowl in the Louisiana Superdome. Atlanta, Miami, and Tampa are the other cities competing against the Big Easy. CBS Sports.com NFL Insider Jason La Canfora says the age of the Superdome hurts New Orleans’ bid. However, he says the fact that Saints owner Tom Benson is 88-years-old and this could be his last shot to host the Super Bowl in New Orleans also resonates with some of the NFL owners. He says the vote will be close.
Legislation to require retail pet stores in the state to keep records and post breeders names along with licensing information now heads to the House floor for final legislative passage. Author of the bill, Metairie Sen. Danny Martiny, says this specifies where these animals come from. The Human Society and the Department of Health and Hospitals are supporting the bill. The bill will not apply to animal shelters and rescue facilities.
LSU’s mascot, Mike the Tiger, has been diagnosed with a rare form of cancer, spindle cell sarcoma. Mike’s attending vet, Dr. David Baker, says they’ve discovered a tumor in the right side of Mike’s skull. Baker says because of the proximity to normal tissues in Mike’s head, the tumor is inoperable, and the condition is incurable. He says Mike will undergo radiation treatment. Doctors say the treatment should be able to prolong Mike’s life for another year or two.
The House Transportation Committee gave the green light today to a Senate approved measure that would make it the law for oncoming traffic to stop for a school bus on a two-lane road with a turning lane. Metairie Senator Danny Martiny says the rule would apply on roadways with that lane in the middle where you could either turn left or right. The measure passed without objection and now heads to the House floor.
The city of New Orleans is not accepting bids at this time to remove four monuments that have ties to the Confederacy or white supremacy. The start of the statue relocation bid process was scheduled for this week, but it was canceled by the mayor’s office as the issue remains tied in the federal appeals court system.
The bill that increases the minimum age for strippers to 21-years-old heads to Governor John Bel Edwards’ desk to be signed into law after the Senate gave final approval.
Baton Rouge Police are trying to determine who fatally shot a member of the East Feliciana School Board. Thirty-four-year-old Broderick Brooks was found dead in his vehicle with multiple gunshot wounds at around 3:30 Monday morning.
Police in Louisiana say a burglary suspect who was being chased by his victim ended up wrecking his car and killing a female passenger.
News outlets report that Shreveport police received a call Sunday morning from a man who saw someone breaking into his car in a casino parking lot. The vehicle owner told police he saw the suspect stealing items and loading them into a truck. The suspect drove off and the vehicle owner followed him. Police say the suspect then lost control of his vehicle, which crashed and caught fire. The suspect, 21-year-old Christian Smith of Shreveport, was injured and a female passenger was killed. Her name has not been released. Smith faces aggravated burglary charges. Additional charges are pending.
A 20-year veteran of the Bossier City Fire Department was killed when he was accidently electrocuted while riding a horse in a field. Authorities say 41-year-old George William Chambers the Fourth of Benton made contact with a low-hanging power line. The electric shock killed both Chambers and his horse.
LSU freshman left-hander Jake Latz will start on the mound tonight for the Tigers when they take on Tennessee in the SEC Tournament. LSU enters the SEC Tournament with 11 victories in their last 12 games and they’ve put themselves in a position to possibly be a Top 8 National seed and host up until the College World Series.
News For Monday 05/23/16
News for Monday 052316
By Dave Graichen
60 year old Bobby Houston of Pineville was killed Saturday night when the lost control of his motorcycle and drove off of highway 71 near Montgomery. State police say he was wearing a helmet, but was ejected from the motorcycle. Houston was pronounced dead at the scene of the crash.
Early Sunday afternoon a single vehicle crash claimed the life of a man from Clarence. State police say the accident occurred on LA Hwy 480 near US 71. When a vehicle driven by 56 year old John Turner Jr. left the roadway, collided with a ditch and over turned. Turner, who was not wearing a seatbelt, was ejected and was pronounced dead on the scene.
Louisiana’s unemployment rate is up to 6.3%, which is a 0.2% increase since March. This rate is the fourth worst in the nation. Oil and gas job losses slowed, but employment in that sector remains much lower than last year.
Just two weeks are left in the regular session, and the budget is still the biggest issue for lawmakers. Jeremy Alford with LaPolitics.com says legislators are trying to fund priorities like TOPS and safety net hospitals with a $600 million budget shortfall.
According to state officials, Governor Edwards hopes to have some tax proposals for a planned June special session ready for lawmakers by the end of the week. Edwards wants to call another special session so lawmakers can raise more revenues to close the budget deficit and stave off deep cuts to vital state services, because lawmakers cannot raise taxes during this regular session that ends June 6.
Health experts will share information about the Zika Virus with the public during a 5:30 PM meeting at LSU Health New Orleans Human Development Center. A panel of experts will discuss where the virus is, where it’s expected to go, and other important information. Health leaders want people who live in the southeastern states to be as prepared as possible for a potential Zika outbreak.
Based on released court records from a deposition, Saints and Pelicans Owner Tom Benson says his daughter and grandchildren “tried to kill him” during a confrontation at the Mercedes Benz Superdome. The deposition took place at the end of March and Benson gave that answer when he was asked why he was looking to remove control of his sports franchises from Renee Benson and Rita Benson LeBlanc.
New Orleans is seeking to host the Super Bowl in 2019 and those who will present a bid to the NFL owners on Tuesday are already in Charlotte putting the finishing touches on their presentation. New Orleans competition to host the 2019 Super Bowl is Atlanta, Miami and Tampa Bay. President and CEO of the Greater New Orleans Sports Foundation Jay Cicero says they go in as the underdogs.
A new rule from the White House goes into effect on December 1 that would require employers to pay their workers overtime if they work more than 40 hours a week and make less than about $47-thousand a year. This would affect about 35% of salaried workers. LSU Economist Stephen Barnes says this will impact business owners more than anyone. The organization that represents small businesses says this will result in entry-level management positions disappearing and those employees falling back into hourly jobs. Proponents say it’s time workers get paid for the hours they work.
Governor John Bel Edwards has signed two pro-life bills into law, one measure increases the wait time for a woman to receive an abortion to 72 hours and the second requires doctors performing abortions to be board certified. Louisiana Right to Life Legislative Director Deanna Wallace says this truly is a victory for women in the state. Pro-choice supporters say it is quite the opposite.
As we approach a the Memorial day weekend, motorists can expect to see prices at the pump up more than 6 cents from the prior week. Senior Petroleum Analyst Gregg Laskoski from GasBuddy.com says they’ve got the current statewide average for a gallon of regular at about $2.06. Laskoski says prices haven’t been this low since 2008.
The governor’s daughter Samantha got married Saturday to Johnathan Ricau. Samantha and Jonathan met in 2012 and both graduated from Southeastern Louisiana University. She is the oldest daughter of the governor and First Lady Donna.
Authorities say a man is behind bars and a three-year-old is recovering following a shooting in a Shreveport home late last week. Shreveport police say the child had already been taken to a local hospital by the time they arrived. The child reportedly suffered a single gunshot wound to the right arm, and although the injuries are serious, the child is expected to survive. The incident is still under investigation, but 17-year-old Dezhun Kendrick has been booked into the Shreveport City Jail on two counts of illegal use of a weapon.
Police say a Baton Rouge man who stopped to help at a car crash was struck and killed by a suspected drunk driver. Baton Rouge police said in a statement that 36-year-old William Warren died early Saturday after he was struck by a car driven by 41-year-old Gregory Hamilton, of Baton Rouge. Hamilton was arrested on charges of vehicular homicide, second-offense drunken driving, reckless driving and driving on a suspended license. Hamilton’s license had been suspended since 2007 and his prior DWI was in 2009. He also was ticketed for driving without insurance.
A Baton Rouge-area sheriff’s office said two men were gunned down in a trailer home, and five people have been arrested after a good Samaritan reported seeing a wallet and papers thrown from a car about 60 miles from the trailer home. West Feliciana Parish sheriff ’s spokeswoman Erin Foster said two men turned themselves in Sunday and were arrested on first-degree murder charges in the St. Francisville killings, which occurred early Saturday. She said three women were arrested Saturday on charges accusing them as principals to murder. Foster said in an email that a shed behind the trailer home held remnants of a meth lab.
The LSU Baseball team leaves for Hoover, Alabama today where they’ll play tomorrow night in the SEC Tournament against Tennessee. The Tigers nearly swept top ranked Florida over the weekend as they took two of three from the Gators. But it wasn’t enough to get a first round bye in the SEC Tourney. Coach Paul Mainieri is not disappointed. It’s the first time LSU will have to play in the opening round of the SEC Tournament since it expanded in 2012.
News For Thursday 05/19/16
News for Thursday 051916
By Dave Graichen
The investigation is ongoing into a Tuesday night car wreck that claimed the life of a 16-year-old girl from Ball. Chloe James died at the scene of the wreck when the vehicle she was riding in left the roadway and struck a car parked in a driveway. 24 year old Michael Baden, the driver of the vehicle, received moderate injuries and was taken to a local hospital. The State police report neither person was wearing a seatbelt.
Legislation is heading to the governor’s desk that would result in Louisiana becoming the sixth state in the nation to prohibit a commonly used second-trimester abortion procedure. Opponents say this legislation would prohibit the safest method of a second-trimester abortion.
State courts have blocked similar laws from taking effect in Kansas and Oklahoma.
A House committee supports a bill that would give law enforcement agencies the ability to scan motorists license plates. The bill’s author, Lake Charles Senator, Ronnie Johns, says the goal of this legislation is to help authorities catch motorists who do not have auto insurance. The measure passed the House Criminal Justice Committee on an eight to three vote and it heads to the full House for consideration. It’s already passed the Senate.
Baton Rouge Mayor Kip Holden has announced his candidacy for the 2nd Congressional District Seat, challenging incumbent Cedric Richmond. Holden says he has accomplished great things for Baton Rouge in his 12 years as mayor, and he hopes to do the same in Congress. Holden and Richmond are both Democrats. Richmond has represented the district since 2011.
Governor John Bel Edwards says he’ll sign a bill today that expands the list of medical conditions for which medical marijuana can be prescribed. Under the legislation by St. Martin Parish Senator Fred Mills, individuals with seizure disorders and cancer could use medical cannabis once it becomes available. Edwards says it’s just the right thing to do. The governor says, however, he does not support the legalization of recreational marijuana.
A bill to require students to recite part of the Declaration of Independence daily has made it out of the House Education Committee. Author of the bill, Denham Springs Representative Valerie Hodges says kids should understand this important historic document. Hodges says many Americans wouldn’t be able to pass the citizenship test because although they live here, they don’t know about much our country. She says schools need to prepare students for citizenship.
Democratic US Senate candidate Foster Campbell held a press conference at the Old Governor’s Mansion in Baton Rouge to discuss what he would like to get accomplished if elected as US Senator this fall. Campbell says coastal restoration is on the top of his list. He says his values reflect the residents of Louisiana, not party lines. Campbell is one of several well-known candidates seeking to replace David Vitter, who is not running for re-election.
The federally regulated insect pest of Ash Trees, the Emerald Ash Borer, has been found in Union Parish. Agriculture and Forestry Commissioner Dr. Mike Strain says the pest originates in Asia and was first found in the U.S. in 2002 and is now in four Louisiana parishes. He says the Emerald Ash Borer is now in Union, Bossier, Claiborne, and Webster Parishes and a quarantine is in place. Strain says you can lose an entire forest of ash trees in 10 years, because of the pest.
Female lawmakers are not happy about a joke a male member of the House made during debate over legislation that rises the age from 18 to 21 to be hired as a stripper at a dance club. Jackson Representative Kenny Harvard proposed an amendment that strippers in Louisiana could only be between the ages of 21-and-28 and less than 160 pounds. Kenner Representative Julie Stokes called the amendment disrespectful and disgusting. Havard says the amendment was just a joke. The bill ended up passing the House 96-0 without Havard’s amendment and it goes back to the Senate for final approval, before heading to the Governor’s desk.
An arrest has been made in connection with the dead body that was found in the median of Interstate 10 in Ascension Parish. Two days before the discovery, State Police say they responded to a crash in the same area where they located a truck with significant damage, but the driver, 25-year-old Brodnick Whittington, was not at the scene. Troopers tied Whittington to the hit and run death of 35-year-old Jenise Williams. He is charged with felony hit and run, obstruction of justice, and driving with an open container..
The LSU Tigers begin their final regular season series tonight against number one ranked Florida. Alex Lange will pitch tonight, but game two’s starter is Riley Smith. Florida comes into the Box with an overall record of 43-9, 18-8, which is the best record in the SEC.
News For Wednesday 5/18/16
News for Wednesday 051816
By Dave Graichen
Spirited debate took place in a Senate committee over the sanctuary city bill that would punish cities who refuse to enforce the federal immigration law. Attorney General Jeff Landry is a strong supporter of the bill. But Senators expressed concern that the proposal would give Landry too much power. If the attorney general determined a jurisdiction operated as a sanctuary city, the state could then prohibit that city or parish from borrowing money for large construction projects. The legislation has already been approved by the House, and a vote by the Senate Judiciary A committee is expected next week.
The Senate voted unanimously Tuesday to remove the firearm requirement for a charge of aggravated assault of a police officer. In a separate action, it also made attacks against police, firefighters and EMT personnel hate crimes.
There have been significant changes to the three different sales tax holidays that Louisiana consumers have enjoyed over the last several years. Louisiana Department of Revenue spokesperson Kizzy Payton says the Hurricane Preparedness Sales Tax Holiday, when people can but things like generators without paying sales taxes has been discontinued. Payton says the back to school sales tax holiday, during the first weekend in August, and the 2nd amendment holiday, during the first weekend in September, will offer partial sales tax breaks this year and next. This is a result of the resent special legislative session.
The Louisiana House killed a bill that would have allowed wide open public school choice within each district after members expressed concern about capacity of premier schools.
House Bill 1101. Sponsored by Rep. Stuart Bishop of Lafayette, would have allow parents to send their children to any school within the public district in which they live beginning in the 2017 academic year, expanding current school choice law that allows only children who attend failing schools, those listed as “D” or “F” schools, a choice to move.
A house-approved abortion bill has also stalled in a senate committee. This legislation would prohibit abortions if the parents learn that the fetus has a genetic abnormality. Members of the Senate health committee expressed concerns over whether this proposed law violates the constitution.
A bill to expand the number of diseases that could use medical marijuana in Louisiana is sitting on the governor’s desk. The measure by state senator Fred Mills received final legislative approval and Mills says those with cancer, epilepsy or HIV/AIDS will benefit. Governor Edwards is expected to sign the bill, but Mills says it will probably be another year or two before the public has access to medical marijuana.
Students in public and charter schools would be required to learn cursive under a measure nearing final legislative approval. The Senate-approved measure won unanimous approval in the House Education Committee and heads to the House floor.
Two coaches and three students from Plaisance Elementary School have been arrested for “questionable disciplinary actions” against three students, according to St. Landry Parish sheriff’s deputies. They say PE teachers Kendrick Owens and Mona Wilson are accused instructing three older students to take at least three younger students into the back of the locker room and whip the younger students with belts.
Youtube sensation and law enforcement officer, Captain Clay Higgins, is expected to announce tonight he will run for political office. Higgins recently told a Lafayette TV station he’s considering a run for either Congress or US Senate. UL-Lafayette Political Science Professor Pearson Cross believes Higgins will run for the seat being vacated by Senator David Vitter. He says Higgins has a big personality and is looking for the biggest stage.
A new study by LSU, UCLA and NASA finds New Orleans and surrounding cities are sinking at high rates because of natural and human processes. Lead Scientist Dr. Cathleen Jones says they used hot spot radar to determine which areas were sinking the fastest. She says Norco and Michoud are sinking at a rate of two inches a year. Jones says these new numbers can help with flood modeling and prevention.
The Calcasieu Parish Sheriff’s office has charged a 17-year-old with murder in the stabbing death of a 69-year-old man. Sheriff Tony Mancuso says this was a burglary that turned violent. He is also booked with attempted murder in the injuring of the victim’s wife. The boy is being held on several charges including murder and attempted murder with $2 million dollars bond.
Two Alabama football players have been arrested in Monroe after they were found smoking weed in a vehicle at Forsythe Park with two guns in the car, one of which was stolen. Cam Robinson played at West Monroe High School and has started at Alabama at left tackle the last two seasons. Hottie Jones, a former Neville Tiger, has been a backup safety for the Tide. KTVE sports director Gene Ponti says this arrest took everyone by surprise because the boys have never been trouble makers.
A measure headed to the desk of Governor John Bel Edwards would ban the ticketing of lemonade stands set up in neighborhoods. The bill exempts minors who make less than $500 year from a law requiring businesses to pay an occupational license tax. The new law goes into effect in August.
Wendy’s’ announces they’ll put kiosks in six-thousand restaurants around the country by the end of the year to take customers’ orders. It’s to combat the push to increase minimum wage for fast food workers. Tulane Business Professor Mark Rosa doesn’t think customers will mind.
Rosa anticipates the kiosks will go in restaurants in states where minimum wage is the highest.
LSU Football Coach Les Miles announces his coaching staff will hold “Satellite Camps” in north and south Louisiana during the first week of June. The first camp takes place June 2nd in Bossier City and they’ll also have a kicking and specialist camp on June third at the Saints practice facility. Those camps will cost 20-bucks and Miles says there will be a free youth camp on June 7th at Joe Brown Park in New Orleans. Miles says the new NCAA rule on satellite camps allow LSU to partner with instate schools to host these camps, which should benefit the likes of UL Lafayette, Louisiana Tech, Southeastern and other Louisiana schools.
News For Thursday 05/12/16
News for Thursday 051216
By Dave Graichen
Grant Parish authorities say no charges are expected to be filed against a husband who fatally shot his wife on Tuesday afternoon after she stabbed him multiple times. Sheriff Steve McCain says 36 year old Anthony Racina was airlifted to an Alexandria hospital. The investigation showed 34-year-old Elizabeth Racina was shot and killed in the incident. McCain said Anthony Racina acted in self-defense, but said the case would be forwarded to the Grant Parish District Attorney's Office for review.
Officials at Ft. Polk report a soldier has died from injuries suffered Tuesday while doing live fire training at the Joint Readiness Training Center. The soldier, whose name has not been released pending notification of next of kin, was not based at Fort Polk. He was with the 101st Airborne Division. The incident is under investigation.
The Edwards Administration is very concerned about state funding for healthcare, as the full House is set to debate the proposed spending plan for next fiscal year. Department of Health and Hospitals Sec. Rebekah Gee says the House budget committee shifted dollars away from DHH and this could lead to multiple hospital closures and would eliminate jobs that inspect potentially unsafe facilities. The budget bill is slated to be taken up on the House floor today.
The full House is expected to discuss today whether the TOPS scholarship program should be fully funded for next school year, as they address the proposed budget for next fiscal year. [Publisher of LaPolitics.com, Jeremy Alford, says he’s spoken with some lawmakers on the Senate side, who are torn on the matter. Alford says the TOPS funding issue will likely be brought up again before the end of this fiscal year, regardless of what happens to the program in the proposal before the lower chamber today.] Other budget concerns include the Attorney General’s Office requesting its own separate budget, talk of eliminating the Inspector General’s Office completely, and more cuts to the state’s health budget.
More layoffs are coming to the state. The Louisiana Workforce Commission announced yesterday Martin Mills will be permanently closing its Vidalia Distribution Center, which will result in 167 employees losing their jobs starting July 10th. LWC says their Rapid Response team will conduct orientation sessions for affected workers in two weeks.
The House has given final legislative passage to a bill that extends the waiting period for an abortion from 24 to 72 hours. The measure was unanimously approved and heads to Governor Edwards’ desk to be signed into law. Six other states have similar legislation, and it’s the longest waiting period in the country.
Senate approved legislation that would give patients direct access to a physical therapist rather than getting a doctor’s referral first now moves to the full House. Family physician and occupational medicine specialist Dr. Robert Rush is in favor of the legislation and says many people in the orthopedic field are stuck in the past. Rush says direct access to a physical therapist is a time and money saver. President of the American Physical Therapy Association Sharon Dunn says early therapy with an episode of pain reduces costs up to 60-percent.
Former Iberville Parish teacher, Kevin Keith, will spend two years in prison for having sex with three of his students. Keith was sentenced to 10 years in jail for five counts of felony carnal knowledge, but eight of the years were suspended. Keith was arrested after a female student told authorities she had sex with the 30-year-old and conceived his son when she was 15.
It’s every parent’s worst nightmare, authorities in Ruston report a mother ran over her child during morning carpool yesterday morning. Cops say as the mother was pulling into the parking lot, the child opened the door while the vehicle was still in motion, then fell under the wheel of the SUV. The child was pronounced dead by the Lincoln Parish Coroner’s Office.
The Raise the Age bill was sent to the House floor Wednesday for final legislative approval. The measure by New Orleans Senator JP Morrell would prosecute 17-year-olds in the juvenile justice system instead of as an adult. The idea cleared the Senate with strong support and there was no objection today in the House Criminal Justice Committee.
A Houma man who allegedly shot and killed his neighbor’s pit bull after the K-9 bit his 34-year-old son is facing several charges. Sgt. Travis Theriot says 60-year-old Karl Kohman should not have taken matters into his own hands. In addition to animal cruelty and illegal use of a weapon charges, Kohman was also booked with obstruction of justice for allegedly trying to hide the dog’s body.
A St. Landry Parish man is facing several charges after cops say he tried to set his own house on fire in a fit of rage. The Sheriff’s Office says when deputies arrived, they located 34-year-old Eugene Chambers of Eunice pouring gasoline on the residence and threatening officers with a metal pipe. A victim stated she and six children, between the ages of 2 and 13, were forced outside and that Chambers also dumped gasoline on her. He is charged with Attempted Aggravated Arson, Aggravated Assault and Resisting an Officer.
Two teenagers are dead following a crash caused by a motorist who is believed to have ran a stop sign in Iberia Parish. The Sheriff’s Office says the vehicle that failed to yield was hit by an SUV, and the two occupants of the car a 16 year old passenger and the 18 year old driver, were both pronounced dead at the scene. The investigation is ongoing.
A $745 fee has been set by Louisiana lawmakers for burials in state veterans’ cemeteries. But the cost won’t be shouldered by veterans. The Department of Veterans Affairs says the federal government has been paying for veterans’ burials. But the agency says a recent attorney general’s opinion suggested the fee rate needed to be set in law by the Legislature.
The same charge is being set for a veteran’s spouse or relative to be buried in the veterans’ cemetery. That fee, too, already has been charged by the state veterans’ department.
The department can waive the fee if the family member can’t afford it.
The House Appropriations Committee proposed to eliminate all financing for the inspector general in the budget year that begins July 1. Lawmakers suggested the agency’s duties overlap with work done by the attorney general and legislative auditor. The national Association of Inspectors General sent a letter to House members, saying elimination of Louisiana’s office would deny taxpayers the “oversight, accountability and transparency of government they deserve.” The proposal to eliminate the inspector general’s office will be debated today by the House when it takes up the budget bill.
A plan to boost monthly pension checks for retired state employees, public school workers and teachers is headed to the governor’s desk. The cost-of-living increase is part of a package of bills by Shreveport Sen. Barrow Peacock, chairman of the Senate Retirement Committee. The pension hike is tied to adjustments in how the retirement systems pay for raises and administrative costs, aimed at lessening long-term debts. All three bills won final legislative passage this week.
News For Wednesday 5/11/16
News for Wednesday 051116
By Dave Graichen
State Police say a teenager from Marksville died Tuesday morning following a crash with a school bus in Avoyelles Parish. Investigators determined 19-year-old Joshua Frank lost control of his vehicle and collided with the school bus that was going in the opposite direction. There were no children on the bus at the time, but troopers say Frank wasn’t buckled up and he died at the scene.
A major drug bust in Grant Parish has led to the arrests of 9 people. Sheriff Steve McCain says the 4 month investigation was a major undercover operation. All of those arrested live in Montgomery. One was a 16-year-old juvenile.
Governor Edwards signs into law a bill that means the TOPS scholarship is no longer guaranteed to cover the full cost of a student’s tuition, starting in the fall of 2017. The bill locks in the amount of a TOPS scholarship at next year’s amount, and the award will not automatically increase, even if tuition costs go up. If tuition costs continue to rise, students will have to pay more of their tuition, unless the legislature agrees to increase TOPS payments. Mandeville Senator Jack Donahue says this bill won’t solve all of the TOPS funding issues, but it’s a start.
The House Education Committee has approved a bill that would allow students to attend any public school in their district. Hammond Representative Chris Broadwater supports the proposal. He says this opens the doors for children to attend the best schools, no matter where they are zoned, provided the school they choose has room for more students. Associate Executive Director of the Louisiana Association of School Superintendents, Donald Songy, says this would be a difficult policy to put in place. The measure heads to the House floor.
The House Health and Welfare Committee unanimously approved legislation that would establish a Bullying Awareness and Treatment Taskforce aimed at ending bullying in Louisiana. Shreveport Representative Barbara Norton says a large number of Louisiana students are being bullied, and many are too afraid to speak up about it. Norton says this taskforce would include representatives from the Department of Education, as well as the Department of Health and Hospitals’ mental health services. She says the goal is to help children on both sides of the bullying.
Legislation that would make it a hate crime if a person targets police officers or firefighters is nearing final legislative passage. The bill’s author, Alexandria Representative Lance Harris, says additional protections are needed for those who protect and serve. The measure has been dubbed as the “Blue Lives Matter” bill.
A bill to penalize those under 18 for drinking at a private residence failed to pass out of House Criminal Justice Committee Tuesday after lengthy debate.
Under current law, those younger than 21 years old can drink for religious or medical reasons, when accompanied by a parent or legal guardian, or if they are in a private residence.
Legislation that seeks to protect gays and transgender individuals from discrimination on the job is heading to the Senate floor after barely getting enough votes to pass out of a committee. Author of the measure, New Orleans Senator JP Morrell says there shouldn’t be any discrimination. The Louisiana Family Forum and business groups oppose the measure. The bill passed on a 2-1 vote and heads to the Senate floor for more debate.
A bill that would set up a legal framework in Louisiana between parents and surrogate mothers now moves to the full Senate for final legislative passage. The proposed law would grant immediate custody of the child to the genetic parents rather than the surrogate mother. Norco Sen. Gary Smith says this measure will protect Louisiana families.
Digital billboards are up in Baton Rouge and Shreveport urging residents to contact their legislators and ask them to support legislation that would expand the number of diseases medical marijuana can treat. Katie Corkern is featured on one of the billboards and she says FDA approved medication doesn’t help her child that has a seizure disorder. The bill is expected to be debated on the House floor today.
Gonzales Police have arrested a 21-year-old mother from Prairieville after it was learned her two-year-old child ate methamphetamine. Police say the woman told investigators her child got the meth out of her purse.
The photo of a service dog in the yearbook for West Monroe’s Good Hope Middle School is receiving national attention. The dog’s name is Presley and his headshot is next to her 14-year-old owner who has muscular dystrophy. The school’s yearbook advisor Sonya Hogg says it was a no-brainer to include Presley in the school yearbook.
Here’s a shocking story out of Thibodaux. Police there say a juvenile beat up an elderly woman who refused to give oral sex. The incident happened as the 61-year-old woman was walking down the street. The juvenile male was charged with simple battery of the infirmed.
News For Tuesday 05/10/16
News for Tuesday 051016
By Dave Graichen
A poll from JMC Analytics finds if the presidential election was held today, the majority of Louisianans would pick Republican Donald Trump over Democrat Hillary Clinton, 52 to 36-percet. Pollster John Couvillon says nearly 6 in 10 voters disapprove of Clinton. Couvillion says the poll also found people in the Alexandria area really support Trump, where he has 66-29-percent lead. He says he found very little evidence of Republican disunity in the poll.
The House Appropriations Committee has approved a spending plan for next fiscal year that fully funds TOPS. The governor’s proposed budget only funded a third of the costs associated with the program. Chairman, Cameron Henry of Metairie, says they came up with the 183-million dollars to fully fund TOPS by taking dollars from other departments. But, While speaking to the Baton Rouge Press Club yesterday, Governor John Bel Edwards expressed concerns about cutting funding from various agencies that have already seen their budgets slashed…
A new study from Car insurance.com shows Louisiana is the third most dangerous state for teen drivers. Highway safety advocate, Col. Jim Champagne is not surprised because he says we give teen drivers too much freedom at an early age. Champagne says Louisiana also allows driver’s permits at 15, but the rest of the country doesn’t allow permits until 16, and the driving curfew for teen divers is earlier in other states. The study also found Louisiana teens are driving drunk at a rate of 9-percent, and 49-percent are texting and driving.
Deputies say a Bossier parish school bus driver has been arrested for a DWI, immediately after she dropped of dozens of children. Bossier Parish Sheriff’s Office spokesperson Lt. Bill Davis says 33-year-old Bridget Whitley reported for a random drug screen after her morning route, where she showed signs of intoxication and failed a field sobriety test. This is Whitley’s 2nd DWI.
A bill to require warnings 500 feet ahead of red-light camera intersections heads to the house floor for final legislative passage. The author of the legislation, New Orleans Sen. Troy Carter, believes this would limit the ability for cities to bring in revenue, which amounts to a lot of money. Carter says right now there is barely any opportunity for a driver issued a red-light camera ticket to take their case to court. He says the second part of the bill is to provide for due process.
Baton Rouge mayor Kip Holden has filed his paperwork to run for Congress. Holden is expected to challenge fellow Democrat and incumbent US Representative Cedic Richmond, who represents the 2nd congressional district. Political analyst Bernie Pinsonat says Holden, who is term-limited as a mayor, is a strong candidate.
A House committee proposes to give Attorney General Jeff Landry more power over his budget. The House Appropriations Committee voted to remove the A.G. office from the state’s general operating budget and give Landry his own budget. But New Orleans Representative Walt Leger doesn’t think this move is constitutional.
The Jimmy Davis Bridge in Shreveport-Bossier City will not get its planned renovation anytime soon because the construction contract has been terminated. Department of Transportation spokesperson Rodney Mallett says the plan has been halted because of a protected species of bird that’s nesting on the bridge. Mallett says the Highway 511 Bridge will still be renovated, as soon as DOTD can figure out the best way to go about repairing the bridge without hurting the cliff swallows living there.
A bill that would allow blaze pink to be added to the list of acceptable colors that hunters could wear as an alternative to hunters orange, has been signed by Governor John Bel Edwards. The measure goes into effect August 1st.
New Orleans Police Superintendent Michael Harrison says robbery appears to be the motive in the shooting death of Thomas Rolfe. He’s the Tulane grad, who was in New Orleans for the weekend to plan a spot for his wedding. Rolfe’s body was found a few blocks from where surveillance video spotted the 25-year-old purchasing water. Harrison says there were marks on Rolfe’s hands that suggest there was a struggle.
The Calcasieu Parish Sheriff’s Office announces they have made an arrest in the May 3 kidnapping and sexual assault of a woman outside a casino. Police say 23-year-old Jovante Owens of Lake Charles kidnapped a woman outside of a casino and drove around in her car while sexually assaulting her. Owens is charged with first-degree rape and aggravated kidnapping.
LSU shortstop Kramer Robertson is expected to play tonight against Notre Dame, despite a badly swollen upper lip and braces on his top teeth after getting hit with a baseball last weekend. Coach Paul Mainieri says Robertson is one tough cookie and a big reason why they’ve won 31 games this year..
News For Monday 05/09/16
News For Monday 050916
By Dave Graichen
Was it the near perfect weather or a case of practice makes perfect, you be the judge. Large crowds filled the streets of downtown Alexandria each day and night during this weekend’s Alex River Fete’. Many feared the moving of the Dragon Boat races to Buhlow Lake, which in the past has been the anchor for the weekend , would hurt overall attendance. But, that was not the case. While large crowds watched the races many came back to the Alexandria side of the river for the rest of the Fete’.
The Rapides Parish Coliseum Authority has chosen Richard Karamatic to become the Coliseum’s executive director. Karamatic is currently the city administrator in Leesville, a position he will leave at the end of the week. Karamatic also spent 17 years in Dallas in the parks and rec department. The Coliseum has been without an executive director since 2013. The facility closed in April 2014 to await $22.9 million in renovations , which began in April of last year.
A bill that would prohibit open burning of explosives and munitions could be withdrawn from the regular session. There’s opposition from a company called Clean Harbors, which has a location near Colfax that open burns. Minden Rep. Gene Reynolds says he’s talked with Clean Harbors and the state department of environmental quality. Reynolds says if lawmakers and Clean Harbors are able to come up with a reliable solution, the bill will no longer be necessary.
Reynolds says in the bill’s place would be a House resolution which would call for local input before Clean Harbors can receive a new permit next year.
The House Appropriations Committee will vote today on a proposed budget for next fiscal year that’s expected to fully fund the TOPS scholarship program. Governor John Bel Edwards proposed spending plan only allocated a third of the approximately 300-million dollars needed to fully cover tuition costs for eligible students. If legislators fully fund TOPS that means 183-million dollars will be moved from other areas of the budget. Edwards says it would be great if the state can cover 100-percent of the costs for TOPS, but that will mean less state funding for hospitals, public education and state prisons.
Key members of the Governor’s staff are in St. Joseph today, where brown water is flowing from faucets in the Tensas Parish town. The governor’s Deputy Chief of Staff, Julie Baxter Payer, says they are there to inform St. Joseph residents about what’s being done to improve the drinking water. Baxter Payer says there is $7.8 million available to repair the town’s water system, but unfortunately St. Joseph cannot receive the money, because it has yet to complete a 2015 financial audit. She says they are waiting on a court to approve a financial manager that will be assigned to improve the town’s financial records.
A study from the firm KPMG ranks north Louisiana has the most competitive place to do business in the country. Scott Martinez, President of the North Louisiana Economic Partnership, says low utility costs is one reason why Monroe and Shreveport rank high on this list. The data from the study shows that Monroe and Shreveport each rank about 8-percent lower than the national average for business costs.
We’re six months away from Louisiana’s U.S. Senate election and it’s been a slow race so far. That’s the opinion of ULM Political Science Professor, Dr. Joshua Stockley, who says we haven’t seen or heard much from the nine declared candidates. He says this election is very similar to last year’s governor’s election. Stockley says we’ll see an uptick in attention to the race after the major party conventions in the summer. He says right now, many voters are focused on the state’s budget problems and the legislative session. Stockley believes the presidential election will likely play a role in who wins this Senate seat. He says right now, the favorites are any of the major Republican candidates.
A two-year-old girl is dead and authorities say a man who babysat the child is considered a person of interest in the case. Authorities say the child’s body was found in a remote area of Beauregard Parish. Vernon Parish Sheriff Sam Craft says 33-year-old Rodney “Donnie” Bailey Junior was the last person to see her alive and he is in custody.
A 78-year-old Shreveport woman could face the next decade behind bars for cashing Social Security checks that were mistakenly sent to a dead man for nearly three decades. Rose Marie Jackson Allen will be sentenced in September after pleading guilty to theft of government property. Allen shared a post office box with a man who died in 1986, but the government kept sending him social security checks. It’s believed Allen collected over 200-thousand dollars in illegal benefits.
Friday morning prosecutors ruled that no charges will be filed in the fatal officer-involved shooting of a mentally-ill man last year. State Police say 32-year-old Michael Noel was shot and killed at his home in St. Martin parish while resisting officers who attempted to take him into protective custody. Assistant District Attorney Chester Cedars says no one was charged in the incident, because there was no crime.
Right after the 5 O'Clock Flex