KSYL Local News Archives for 2013-04

News For Tuesday 04/30/13

News for Tuesday 043013

By Dave Graichen


The House Appropriations committee approves a spending plan for next fiscal year that does not contain any one-time money for recurring expenses.  As written, removal of one-time  dollars  from  the state's  24-billion  dollar  budget,  means  a 22-percent across the board reduction in funding for all state agencies, including higher education. .  Higher  Ed  Commissioner  Jim  Purcell  says such a reduction in funding for higher education next fiscal year would not be good for the state. The  proposed budget for next fiscal year heads to the House  floor, and it will be voted on May ninth.


After months of allegations, investigation, arguments and meetings, the Louisiana College Board of Trustees could decide Tuesday on whether Joe Aguillard will remain president of school. The 34-member board is expecting to hear competing motions — one that would terminate Aguillard and another that would that would affirm him as president. The vote is expected to be close.


The  state's  Legislative  Auditor  releases  a report that finds the overall impact of the state's aggressive film & TV tax incentives are a lot less than many originally believed. For example, the state spent $197-million  on  tax credits for  production  projects  in  2010 and received $27-million in  tax revenue  in  return.  Overall,  the   state   has   given  up  about $800-million  in  tax breaks for the movies over the past  5  years.


Deputies in Rapides Parish bust  a  drug suspect, who they say tried to  stash  his  dope  on the candy aisle  of  a  convenience  store. Sheriff's Lt. Tommy Carnline  says  officers  were watching the area outside  the  store  for drug activity. They saw a  transaction  and moved in to make the arrest,  but  the  suspected  ducked  into  the

store.  Store  workers pointed out that the suspect, Donald Hampton, put something on  a  shelf  among  the  candy.  It  turned out to be crystal  meth  rocks.


In response to federal questions, state health officials scaled back their request for blanket approval of the supplemental Medicaid financing included in the private takeover of LSU hospitals. The state Department of Health and Hospitals has submitted only a request for approval of a deal involving Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center in Baton Rouge. The federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, called CMS, had asked numerous questions about an earlier broad-ranging  submission to encompass all potential deals. Among the questions was how the state could propose a November 2012 effective date when no agreements had even been signed at that point.


LSU  has released a written statement indicating running back Jeremy Hill has  been  suspended from the team after his arrest for battery last weekend. Coach Les Miles says he won't comment until the matter plays out through the legal system. Hill was busted after a fight at Reggie's Bar near the LSU campus and charged with simple battery. He was released on $500 bond. Hill was already on probation for a sexual encounter he admitted to with a 14 year old girl.


A House committee has approved a constitutional  amendment  to make it financially  easier  to pay one's sharply increased property  taxes. Speaker of the House Chuck  Kleckley,  of Lake Charles, authored the bill. He says he did so after hearing from  homeowners  who were hit with huge property tax increases. Kleckley proposes a three-year phase-in, if the  tax increase is 15% or  more over the previous year. It will need a two-thirds  vote  in both  the  House  and  Senate  before  it could be sent to voters to

decide on the fall ballot.


The Louisiana House Ways and Means Committee supported a measure to repeal state tax credits for wind energy systems and to phase down tax breaks for solar energy systems. The program has cost far more than originally estimated, and lawmakers have been concerned about the price tag. House Bill 705 by state Rep. Erich Ponti of Baton Rouge, was approved without objection and heads next to the House floor for debate.


A bill aimed at limiting the finance charges on consumer litigation loans sparked heated debate in the state Senate Monday afternoon. State Sen. Dan Claitor, R-Baton Rouge, said he filed Senate Bill 166 because people can end up paying way too much in fees when they borrow money ahead of an expected settlement. The loans have been compared to pay day loans. Critics contend that litigants borrow money that will be repaid once they receive a settlement but often end up paying exorbitant fees. The loans are promoted as a way for plaintiffs to stay in litigation while still paying their bills.


The  LSU  AgCenter  says  high prices and record yields for corn and soybeans drove Louisiana's  agricultural economy to a record high of $11.4-billion last year. That's about 6.5 percent more than the 2011 amount of $10.7-billion.





News For Monday 04/29/13

News for Monday 042913

By Dave Graichen


Nearly $500 million likely will melt away when legislators start making changes to the proposed state spending plan today. The Louisiana House Appropriations Committee will start tackling the $24.7 billion state operating budget that Gov. Bobby Jindal  presented for the fiscal year that starts July 1. The committee will make changes after weeks of testimony that raised concerns about the amount of one-time, or nonrecurring, money piled into the budget. Some changes are certain to please both legislators and the public. The Jindal administration, for example, agreed last week to rethink planned cuts to battered women’s shelters, cancer screenings and a program that helps senior citizens find free or discount prescriptions.


At the State Capitol, the House Appropriations Committee will begin work  on the annual state budget by trying to trim a half-a-billion dollars  from Governor Jindal's proposed budget plan. House Speaker Chuck  Kleckley says the issue is about $500-million of what's proposed by the  Governor, that being non-recurring revenue. Last Spring the House adopted the Geymann Rule, authored by Lake Charles  Rep. Brett Geymann, which mandates NO use of one-time money on recurring  expenditures. Kleckley says that leaves the Appropriations Committee  with the unenviable task of finding where to cut the budget to meet the  new rule. It may all be for nothing though since the Senate has no Geymann Rule, and could add the one- time money back into the budget bill.


Food banks around  the  state  are  lobbying  lawmakers  to  include $5-million  in  next  fiscal year's budget to help their efforts  to feed the needy. The Food Bank of Central Louisiana, says hunger is a real issue in our state  and state Agriculture Commissioner Dr. Mike Strain agrees. He'd like to  see  that  $5-million in the budget, to help  food  banks  buy  and  distribute  food to  the  thousands  of Louisiana  residents who have trouble putting  food  on  the  dinner plate. The  House  Appropriations Committee begins its work  on  the  state budget today. Currently there is nothing in there for Food Banks.


Legislators who have tried and failed to pass laws that would rein in the runaway costs of TOPS, the state’s merit-based college scholarship, could find broader support by focusing on the program’s academic requirements rather than its financial cost to the state. A survey of nearly 1,000 Louisiana residents has been noticed by officials. Part of the 2013 Louisiana Survey, conducted by the LSU Public Policy Research Lab, reported that 78 percent of respondents are against reducing the total amount of money students receive from the program. Another majority, 57 percent of the survey’s respondents,  support increasing the academic requirements for the Tops program.


Former  state  Department  of Health and Hospitals  Secretary  Bruce Greenstein exchanged "hundreds  of  telephone calls and thousands of text messages" with a former employer  who  was  bidding on a claims processing contract with the agency, according to  a letter released by the state Division of Administration. Greenstein  worked for CNSI before  working  for the state. The contract was worth $200-million,

but was abruptly cancelled  when  the  seeming  impropriety  came to light. Greenstein's last day on the job is Wednesday.


A bill to require Internet vendors to charge to all applicable state and local sales taxes on your purchases is moving  through  the U.S. Senate.  Senator  Mary  Landrieu  is  in support. She says Louisiana loses out on hundreds of millions in tax revenue yearly. Republicans say   this  represents  a  new  tax  on  consumers,   but   Landrieu

Disagrees, saying it simply enforces collection of a tax already on the books.


LSU running back Jeremy Hill faces an uncertain future after he was  arrested outside of a nightclub near campus. Hill faces a simple battery  charge after he allegedly punched a victim outside of Reggie's Bar. East  Baton Rouge D-A Hillar Moore says Hill may have violated his probation  stemming from a previous arrest. The former prep star at Redemptorist in Baton Rouge, pleaded guilty in  January 2012 for engaging in a sexual act with a 14-year-old girl in the  school locker room. Hill received a suspended six-month prison sentence  and placed on probation for 2 years. Moore says Judge Bonnie Jackson  will determine if Hill violated his probation.  Moore says that could mean ordering Hill to serve his six-month prison .


A new survey report ranks Louisiana among America's Top Five Least- Stressed States. The Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index report ranks us  #2, behind only Hawaii for average stress levels of our citizens. You can read the whole report online at "well-beingindex.com


Preliminary data by the Department of Health and Hospital's Birth  Outcomes Initiative indicates babies born in Louisiana are spending  fewer days in intensive care. DHH Medicaid Medical Director Dr. Rebecca  Gee says this shows the efforts of the 58 birthing hospitals in the  state's pledge to end elective deliveries before 39 weeks, is working.  Gee says from the time they began in Births Outcomes Initiative in 2010

to 2012, Louisiana's babies have spent 20,000 fewer days in the NICU.


A Lake Charles man known for organizing "Just  For Jesus" rallies is facing  drug  charges.  Calcasieu  Parish deputies  arrested  James Bertrand Jr. last  week for possession  of  crack  cocaine  and  drug distribution.  Bertrand  has  been  arrested  four  times  before on various charges; one of those was less than two weeks ago at a local casino--for possessing cocaine.


It was a tough weekend for the LSU baseball team. They lost 2 of 3 to South Carolina. Up next, the Tigers welcome McNeese to the box Tuesday night.



News For Friday 04/26/13

News for Friday 042613

By Dave Graichen


An article in today’s Town Talk reports a major Louisiana College donor has announced it no longer will support the college “due to actions of President [Joe] Aguillard.

The Cason Foundation has donated $5 million to the private Baptist college in Pineville over the last 2 1/2 years to fund the Caskey School of Divinity. Edgar Cason, who established the foundation along with his wife, Flo, sent a letter dated April 15 to members of the LC Board of Trustees announcing he was withdrawing all future financial support. A report after an investigation by an independent New Orleans law firm, found that Aguillard had improperly diverted nearly $60,000 in funds donated to the Divinity School for use in LC’s projects in Tanzania, Africa. A separate internal committee composed of five LC board members has issued a report saying Aguillard did nothing wrong.


The Rapides Parish School Board approved a three-year contract for Superintendent Nason “Tony” Authement, who will begin work June 1. The contract includes a $160,000 base salary, an $800 monthly expense account and $3,500 for moving expenses. Authement currently resides in Houma. Former Rapides Parish Superintendent Dr.Gary L. Jones earned $145,000 in the final year of his contract.


US Senator Mary Landrieu believes the  strong support that's been on display  from  the  local community could help  Fort  Polk  avoid  a reduction in troops.  The Army is considering whether to reduce Fort Polk's personnel in half  as  it  looks  to  reduce  its active duty ranks.  Landrieu  says the Army should not overlook the  significant investments that have been made on this base. Fort Polk is among  21 posts nationally that could see a significant reduction in soldiers.


A  House  committee approves legislation that delays implementing  a new performance  evaluation system for teachers for a year. The bill is by Minden Rep.  Gary  Reynolds.  He says this is because of fierce opposition  from teachers and teachers  unions,  who  feel  the  new review method is flawed. Reynolds says his bill puts the whole thing

on hold. The so-called Compass evaluation method, also called the Value added

Model, uses student  performance  on  standardized tests as half the teacher's performance evaluation. Reynolds  says during the one-year delay, the system can be fine-tuned to satisfy all parties involved.


House Speaker Chuck Kleckley says he doubts  legislative attempts to force Louisiana to accept federal dollars to expand Medicaid will go anywhere this session. He says a lot of the problem  is inconclusive data on what it would mean fiscally for the state to offer  Medicaid coverage to about 400-thousand more residents who can't afford their

own health insurance. A  House  Committee  rejected  a  Medicaid expansion bill this week. Kleckley says other proposed Medicaid  bills will likely go nowhere. Governor Jindal says he'll veto any such bill that come to his desk.


In response to Decembers Connecticut school shooting, the House has passed a bill that requires state schools  to  work  with  local law enforcement  to  create  a  written  crisis  response  plan,  and to rehearse that plan as well. The bill goes to the Senate for committee assignment and review.


The House has passed legislation  that allows anyone with a concealed weapon carry permit to bring their  gun  into a restaurant that serves alcohol. Haughton Rep. Henry Burns original bill applied only to off-duty cops, but during committee hearing  he successfully amended the measure to include ALL CCP holders. The final vote was 63-25, sending the bill over to the Senate


The  Senate Education Committee unanimously votes against a proposal to cap  the  TOPS  scholarship program. The bill by Jennings Senator Blade Morrish faced  opposition  from  the governor's office. Morrish  says  he  filed  the  bill  as a way to preserve  the  TOPS scholarship because it's becoming too  costly  for the for the state

to fund, as tuition costs continue to rise. The bill is essentially dead for the session.


The world famous New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival starts today, and  local tourism officials are hoping for record attendance. Kelly Schulz,  with the Greater New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau, says the  2012 Jazz Fest brought just over 450-thousand visitors, from all over  the globe, to the Crescent City. Also this weekend, the festival international continues in Lafayette.


A spokesman with Texas Brine says  a  seismic  survey shows that the subsurface below the sinkhole in Assumption Parish  is  stable. They say  hopefully  residents  in Bayou Corne will be able to return  to their homes in early August. That would be a full year after they were evacuated.


The LSU College of Engineering has received a $15 million gift  commitment from Phyllis M. Taylor to go towards the renovation of  Patrick F. Taylor Hall and construction of a chemical engineering  facility. Rick Koubek (Co-Beck), Dean of the LSU College of Engineering,  says this contribution is a game changer. Koubek says this is the largest private donation to the LSU College of  Engineering in its history. He says the entire project is $100 million  and the state has said it will come up with half if they come up with  the other half.


Because  of  the  federal  sequestration's  severe  budget  cuts  an on-going project  aimed  at  mapping the annual dead zone that forms off our coast each summer maybe  dropped. The dead zone is caused by large-scale agriculture being dumped into the Mississippi that feeds into the Gulf. Mapping helps detect  if  programs created to end the problem are working.


This year's attempt  at  a  law ensuring equal pay for men and women who do the same work has stalled.  The  Senate  Governmental Affairs Committee deadlocked with a 4-4 vote. Bill sponsor Senator Ed Murray of New Orleans can try it again in a future committee meeting.




Two of the top baseball programs in the country over the last five years  meet in Alex Box Stadium tonight as LSU hosts South Carolina. Aaron Nola  will be on the hill for the Tigers. You can hear the entire series on 970 KSYL. Airtime tonight, 6:30.



News For Thursday 04/25/13

News for Thursday 042513

By Dave Graichen


An independent investigation, conducted by a new Orleans law firm, looking into the actions of Louisiana College President Joe Aguillard, found he “engaged in falsehoods and misrepresented material information to the Board of Trustees on countless occasions.” However,  A special committee of the LC board found Aguillard “has not acted improperly.” That committee is due to report back to the board at a special meeting scheduled for Tuesday on the LC Pineville campus .


Central Louisiana community leaders spent Tuesday and Wednesday at the U.S. Capitol and the Pentagon making the case with the U.S. Army for the sustained viability of Fort Polk and its multibillion-dollar annual impact in the state. Baton Rouge economist Loren Scott estimated that Fort Polk has an annual $1.86 billion economic impact, including a $980 million payroll, which makes Fort Polk the largest federal employer in the state. (Scott calculated that a reduction of 5,300 troops would result in an annual loss to the state government of more than $24 million and more than $7 million in local government revenues. Counting families, contractors and more, the troop reduction would mean a total population of more than 20,700 people.)


LSU System President Dr. William L. Jenkins has named a 20-member search committee of faculty, staff and students, as well as community leaders to help select the next chancellor for LSU-Alexandria. The panel that will recommend finalists for the post to the LSU Board of Supervisors, who will ultimately choose the new chancellor to succeed David P. Manuel, who is set to begin serving as chancellor of Drury University in Springfield, Mo., in May.


The House Health  and  Welfare  committee votes down a proposal that would  require Louisiana to cover  more uninsured people through the state's Medicaid program. An expansion  of  the  Medicaid program is part  of  the federal health care reforms. Governor  Jindal  lobbied against it.  Supporters  of  the Medicaid expansion say it will help cover 400-thousand Louisiana residents  who  currently  lack  health insurance.  But Jindal says the Medicaid Program is inefficient  and outdated and it doesn't make sense to expand it.. A  Medicaid  expansion  bill  was  also heard in Senate  Health  and

Welfare but was deferred one week.


The  controversial  bill  to  allow  optometrists   to  perform  eye procedures  currently  only allowed to ophthalmologists  was  pulled from House debate today,  by  its  author  Monroe  area  Rep.  Frank Hoffman. Hoffman asked to return the bill to the calendar, while  he worked   on  some  amendments  that  would  make  the  measure  more

acceptable   to   ophthalmologists.   Ophthalmologists  are  medical doctors; most optometrists are not.


A proposal seeking to create a seamless network of early childhood education programs and standards for kindergarten readiness cleared the Senate without opposition. Under Senate Bill 130 the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education would oversee all publicly-funded programs that provide education services to children from birth to age 5. The bill would require BESE to establish and implement common standards for kindergarten readiness, assessment and accountability. The system would be in place by the 2015-2016 school year. The bill now moves to the house.


Another  attempt  to place a cap on TOPS performance  based  college tuition  grants  is scheduled  in  the  Senate  Education  Committee tomorrow. Jennings  Senator Blade Moorish is the sponsor. He says he supports TOPS, but it's  becoming  unsustainable. His bill would cap it at its current level plus ten percent. TOPS costs taxpayers about

$168-million a year, and it's projected to double in cost by 2017.


The House of Representatives has passed a bill that would allow  residents to apply for a lifetime permit to carry a concealed weapon.  The bill is sponsored by freshman Rep. Barry Ivey, of Baton Rouge, who  says the measure is simply an option for approved CCP holders at a $500  cost. The House passed the  bill by 64-19 vote; sending it over to the Senate.


Attorney  General  Buddy  Caldwell  announces  9  people  have  been arrested  in  the  latest undercover investigation  targeting  child predators across Southern  Louisiana. HE says the Louisiana Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force works tirelessly to pursue people who exploit and victimize children  online.  Additional  arrests are

possible as the investigations continue.


According to a report by the Council For A Better  Louisiana, public schools  are  still  facing "chronic challenges." CABL's  review  is called the Louisiana Report  Card  on  Major  Education Initiatives. CABLE  President  Barry  Erwin  says  72.3  percent of  high  school students graduated on time last year and the  number of dropouts has

dramatically declined in recent years. He hopes  that  policy makers will  use  the report to understand the urgency in keeping  momentum going.


Pointe Copuee Parish deputies  are  investigating  the  murder  of a 92-year-old woman inside her New Roads home. Sheriff Bud Torres says Buelleur  Morris  was found beaten to death yesterday by her family. He says whoever killed  the elderly woman was let into the home, and did not force entry.


On the heels  of  last week's tragedy in Boston, a Vermillion Parish company has seen a  high  demand  from  law enforcement agencies for their  trained  bomb-sniffing  dogs.  US  K9 Unlimited  owner  Roger Abshire says his dogs have been in demand across  the  country, even locally here in Louisiana.


Legislation aimed at ensuring that women and men are compensated equally for doing the same work stalled Wednesday in the state Senate and Governmental Affairs Committee. The panel deadlocked in a 4-4 vote for Senate Bill 153 by state Sen. Ed Murray, D-New Orleans. Murray could try to revive the measure at another meeting.



News For Wednesday 04/24/13

News for Wednesday 042413

By Dave Graichen


Louisiana gets hit with another cold front today, but State Climatologist Barry Keim says the chances for severe weather associated  with this front are low. Keim says we will see some rain today though, with the possibility of some areas seeing up to two inches of rainfall, especially in south Louisiana.


At  the State Capitol, the House Ways & Means Committee has rejected Monroe  Rep. Katrina Jackson's bill, that would have doubled the tax on cigarettes--bringing  it  up  the  level of Mississippi's tobacco tax. The bill failed the pass the committee  by  a  vote of 11-7. It seems  any  efforts to raise the cigarette tax may be dead  for  the session. Two  other  tobacco  tax  bills  have been deferred by their sponsors.


The  House  has approved  a  bill  that  would  protect  the  Second Amendment rights  of  Louisianans  from  possible future federal gun regulations against owning semi-automatic  weapons  or  having large capacity  magazines. Debate was long and heated, with many  Democrat House members  challenging  people's  need  to  own  such  guns, and questioning  the  bill's ability to withstand a legal challenge.  In the end the bill was  approved  by  a  67-25 vote and will go to the Senate for committee review.


The House also passed Bossier  City  Rep.  Jeff Thompson's bill that would ban any public release of private information  on  who  in the state  has  a  concealed  weapon carry permit. Debate lasted over an hour. Thompson  says  concealed carry information is already private,  and his bill would place a $10-thousand fine on anyone who intentionally makes it public, as  was recently done by the New York Times in the

wake of the Newtown, CT school shooting. Thompson's bill passed by a 76-18 vote and moves to the Senate.


Public  school  teachers  from across Louisiana are expected at  the capitol today as the legislature takes up education matters.  The House Education Committee will consider  three  bills which are already state law, but subject to a court challenge.   Part  of that removed seniority as the key factor in teacher layoff decisions.


Lafayette's Festival International bringing in music lovers from around   the world kicks off today. The annual 5-day festival is always held  during the last full week of April. Kelly Strenge with the Lafayette  Convention and Visitors Bureau says the free festival is a celebration of diversity in music.  She says historic downtown Lafayette is transformed into an  entertainment complex featuring six music stages, food court areas,  street musicians and more. Strenge says they are expecting between 300 to 350 thousand people to  attend the festival through the weekend.


Many of us over the years have tempted fate and slipped around the gates at a railroad crossing to beat the train. It’s not a good idea any time, especially when you are driving a school bus filled with kids. A Lafayette parish school bus driver learned that lesson the hard way. He received a ticket for doing just that. He may also lose his job.


State Police say they'll take part in another national  prescription drug  take-back day this Saturday. They say it's an effort  to  help local  residents   rid   their   homes   of   potentially  dangerous prescription drugs. Expired, unused, and unwanted medications may be brought for disposal from 10 until 2 Saturday,  to  any State Police Troop.


The  House  of  Representatives  has  passed  a bill that will allow future drivers of a three-wheeled car to be made in Shreveport to do so  without  a  helmet.  Elio  Motors  will revitalize the old General  Motors  manufacturing plant in Shreveport to produce the three wheeled car which seats two and gets high gas mileage. The bill now heads to the Senate.


With a boom in business comes an interesting employee perk. The Port of  Lake  Charles  plans  to build an "employee village".  They  are expected to add over 5,000  permanent  jobs over the next two years. The  $70 million dollar village will include  recreation  facilities and  more. Scheduled completion is set for November of next year.


The Iberia Parish Sheriff's Office says a woman was shot  and killed in New Iberia last night. They say she was discovered lying  on  the street  and she had been shot twice. The identity of the 41 year old woman is  being  withheld  until the next of kin can be notified. No arrests have been made.. the investigation is ongoing.


Gruesome  testimony  was  heard  in  a  senate  committee  yesterday. It involved a bill that adds "burning by fire" in a domestic abuse case as  a  crime that is punishable by five to fifty years in prison.  A woman from  Ouachita  Parish  told the story of her former boyfriend who used an iron to burn her.  Senate Bill 70 advances to the Senate floor.



News For Tuesday 04/23/13

News for Tuesday 042313

By Dave Graichen


The effort to prevent a troop drawdown at Fort Polk continues today in  Washington D-C. Seventeen Fort Polk Progress members are in the nation's  capitol to make the case the military base should be strengthened. The  Department of the Army is considering whether to add or reduce troops at  Fort Polk.


Opposition from lobbyists  and  not  enough "Yes" votes on the House Ways and Means committee puts a halt on  an  attempt  to  raise  the state cigarette tax. Four  bills  that sought to raise the state tax on cigarettes do not make it out of the House Ways and Means Committee Monday. They only debated one of the measures and  that  was a  proposal to raise the tax on cigarettes from 36-cents a pack to $1.41, but the votes were not there. Governor  Jindal  said  he would veto any  cigarette  tax  increase, unless  lawmakers  pass another  measure  that  would  reduce  taxes elsewhere.


A new poll from LSU shows nearly two-thirds of Louisiana feel the big  cuts being made to state health care are unnecessary, and that Governor  Jindal should accept federal money to expand Medicaid. LSU Public Policy  Research Lab Director Kirby Goidel (goy-DEL) says almost 2 out of 3  don't want to see further health care cuts. The House Health & Welfare Committee is scheduled this week to hear  three bills pertaining to taking the federal Medicaid expansion money  that's part of the President's health care reforms. Goidel says 70% of  Louisianans polled say "take the money".


For the 3rd year in a row Louisiana has once again ranked highest in the nation for car insurance rates. Insure.com notes a variety of factors make up the ranking. Including

the number uninsured drivers  as  well  as  the  number  of  insurers competing  for  business,  driving  conditions,  and  the  way state insurance systems are set up.


The Louisiana Senate has overwhelmingly agreed to a new abortion restriction that would require doctors to be present when the abortion pill is administered. Senators voted 32-2 Monday for Senate Bill 90, which would prohibit doctors from remotely administering the pill via video hookup, a process criticized as “telemedicine abortion.”

The abortion pill works during the first nine weeks of pregnancy, causing an embryo to detach from the uterine wall.


A Senate panel Monday killed legislation that would have reduced the pension benefits of many current state employees, teachers and others in some state or statewide system retirement systems. The Senate Retirement Committee voted 4-2 against passage of the legislation which state Sen. Barrow Peacock said he sponsored to improve the financial health of the pension plans. Opponents said the legislation had the same constitutional problem as pension revamp efforts Gov. Bobby Jindal failed to pass last year changing current employee’s contracts with their employers.


The fiscal hawks, a group of Louisiana House Republicans, take flight this week with a package of bills aimed at changing the state budget process. With income tax repeal likely dead for the session, the focus shifts to a state operating budget that funds health care, education and other public services. The hawks want to rein in the use of one-time, or nonrecurring, dollars for expenses that must be met year after year. Gov. Bobby Jindal did little to appease their concerns by proposing a $24.7 billion state spending plan that relies on more than $400 million in one-time money to fund the state’s public colleges and universities.


A  bill  that  would ban employers from demanding access to personal social media and  email  accounts of potential employees or students passed in House Commerce and  is  now  headed  to the full House for further debate. Baton Rouge Representative Ted James  says under his bill an employee who refused to show their boss their Facebook Page couldn't be punished unless the information could harm the employer.


The  Jefferson Parish Sheriff's office says 5 people, three children and two  women,  were  shot  this  Monday morning  in  Harvey. They say the shooting happened around 4:30 while all the victims  were  sleeping. Four suspects were arrested. Four of the victims injuries appear  to be non-life threatening and one child is in critical condition.


The gas prices continue to drop. The current statewide average for a gallon of regular  in  Louisiana is $3.30 according to the American Automobile Association. That's  down  22  cents  from a month ago.


The  Mississippi  River  at  Vicksburg  has been re-opened to vessel traffic  after  barges  hit  the  U-S 80 railroad  bridge  yesterday morning. Lt. Ryan Gomez, with the US  Coast  Guard says a barge sank into the river as a result of the collision but it's been determined other vessels can still safely pass through. Gomez says the barges contained petroleum coke,  but  there  are  no environmental concerns at this time.


Trial  begins  today  in Lafayette for a man accused  of  a  1989 murder. In 2006, DNA evidence  connected  Daniel  Harmon to the rape and  murder  of Christina Wood. Jury selection in his  trial  starts tomorrow. Harmon  was  tried previously, but a mistrial was declared on a technicality.


Shreveport   Police  are,  again  this  year,   cracking   down   on cruising--which  they  define as large groups of vehicles driving up and down local streets very  slowly,  and  parking  and loitering in parks   and  parking  lots.  Complaints  about  cruisers  run   from obstructed  traffic  flow,  to  loud  music  and  noise,  to public intoxication  &  underage  drinking,  to  suspected  drug  activity. Cruising patrols lasted well into summer last year in Shreveport.


A House committee  has  found favorable a bill that would let parish governments choose if they wish to post bilingual traffic signs. The bill is aimed for areas of  Louisiana  where folks still speak Cajun French. That bill will go forward to the House floor for debate.


Hundreds of public school teachers are expected at the State Capitol on Wednesday as lawmakers renew arguments over the same education changes that sparked bitter debates last year. The focus is the Louisiana House Education Committee, which meets at 9 a.m. and is set to consider three overhaul bills that are already state law but also the subject of a court challenge. Backers contend the bills will serve as insurance if the Supreme Court strikes down a 2012 law that trimmed the authority of local school boards, removed seniority as the key factor in teacher layoff decisions and revamps salary schedules.


State Senate President Pro tem Sharon Broome said she will seek funding for  demolition of LSU’s Earl K. Long Medical Center during the current legislative session .

Broome said the hospital is antiquated and there are not many options available for its continued use because of its age and deterioration. The north Baton Rouge hospital  closed April 15.


Three years after the nation’s worst offshore oil disaster, Baton Rouge wants more than $35 million in lost taxes and other expenses the city alleges are the responsibility of oil giant BP and several of its contractors. The city’s civil suit was filed late last week.

News For Monday 04/22/13

News for Monday 042213

By Dave Graichen


The House Ways and Means Committee will consider legislation this  morning that would raise tobacco taxes. Monroe Representative Katrina  Jackson proposes to increase the tax on a pack of cigarettes from  36-cents to 68-cents. Jackson is moving forward with her bill, even  though Governor Jindal has said he'll "veto" any bill that raises taxes. Jackson says her proposed  cigarette tax increase would bring in 129-million dollars a year in  additional revenue. She says that's much needed money for a state that  has a large revenue shortfall for next fiscal year.


The Louisiana Workforce Commission reports 31 consecutive months of jobs  growth in the private sector; meaning a record of nearly 2-million  people currently employed in Louisiana. LWC Executive Director Curt  Eysink says the data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics shows the state with a March unemployment  rate of 6.2-percent; significantly lower than the national average.


A political battle is brewing between the Governor and state lawmakers  over privatization of state hospitals. Both the House and Senate have passed resolutions saying privatization  plans for state hospitals now run by LSU should be approved by a Joint  Budget Committee, but Mr. Jindal says those resolutions do not carry the  weight of law. Governor Jindal says he'll consider a bill that would change state law  where his hospital plans are concerned, but so far one hasn't emerged.


Nearly a year after Gov. Bobby Jindal declared that Louisiana wouldn’t tap into billions of federal dollars to expand Louisiana’s Medicaid program, lawmakers will take their first vote on whether to challenge his stance. Political squabbling over the federal health care law championed by President Barack Obama will be the nearly sole focus of Wednesday’s House Health and Welfare Committee hearing. Five measures on the agenda, all sponsored by Democrats, seek to enact the Medicaid expansion under the law. Similar proposals await debate in the Senate.


Saturday marked three years since the explosion of BP's Deepwater Horizon  oil rig in the Gulf, which began a months-long struggle to contain the  biggest environmental disaster in U.S. history. Governor Bobby Jindal  says about 200 miles of Louisiana marshes and beaches still have  oil, sheen and tar balls. He says there have been measurable impacts on  sea life in the Gulf as well. The Governor says BP needs to stop  saying they'll make it right in commercials, and actually put up the  money to get the job done.


According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,  Louisiana ranks 17th in the nation for the number of infants who are  immunized by two years of age. State Immunization Director Dr. Frank  Welch says 75-percent of two-year olds in Louisiana are up-to-date on  their shots.  Welch says this week is National Infant Immunization week and the  goal is to encourage parents to make sure their child's  immunizations are up to date. Also this week, The Louisiana Shots for Tots Coalition is  sending reminder cards to parents of children who are behind on  their shots.


A University of New Orleans study says Super Bowl 47 had a 480-million  dollar economic impact for the region. John Williams, Dean of U-N-O's  College of Business Administration, says that's a higher dollar figure  than expected. He says it helped that the fans of the Super Bowl teams  had to fly in and spent several nights in a hotel. The study also shows Super Bowl 47 generated 21 million dollars in state  tax revenue and local governments in the greater New Orleans area  received nearly 14-million dollars.


Governor Jindal threatens to veto proposed legislation that would add a  2-cent fee to all cell phone bills, and dedicate it to services for the  hearing & speech-impaired. Mr. Jindal says, as written, he can't back it  because it means extra tax revenue when the goal is revenue neutrality.  Shreveport Rep. Patrick Williams, the bill's sponsor,  says   an existing 5-cent monthly fee on land lines to fund services for the  deaf brings in less each year, as more people move to cell phones. Mr.  Williams says by reducing that fee to 2-cents, and adding it to all cell  phone accounts, $1-million yearly will be raised for the LA Commission  for the Deaf.


The Eunice Police Department says a 30-year-old woman is under  arrest after her pit bulls attacked and injured a mailman. Nicole Courville is booked with cruelty  to animals, negligent injury and dogs running loose. Authorities say when officers responded one of the officers was attacked  and that's when shots were fired. He said one dog was shot dead and  two others were captured by animal control.


The Coast Guard closed the Mississippi River at Vicksburg after barges hit a railroad bridge there and about 30 barges broke free from the towboat “Captain Buck Lay.”

Petty Officer Ryan Tippets says nine towboats with 134 barges were waiting to get through Sunday evening. Every barge was accounted for, but the river remained closed with no word on when it might reopen. Tippets says three barges carried grain and the rest held coal. Tippets says one barge sank in the traffic channel. He did not know whether it must be removed before the channel can reopen.




The LSU Tigers completed spring practice on Saturday with the white team  blanking the purple team 37-0. Quarterback Zach Mettenberger threw for  236 yards and two touchdowns and Odell Beckham led all receivers with  six catches for 202 yards and two TDs. Coach Les Miles told the press, he liked what he saw.


In LSU tiger baseball, the boys took 2 from Alabama over the weekend. The Tigers lost for just the second time in 20 games, falling to 37-4 overall and 15-3 in Southeastern Conference play. LSU remains atop the SEC West standings, four games ahead of second-place Arkansas. A huge SEC homestand begins Friday against South Carolina.




News For Friday 04/19/13

News for Friday 041913

By Dave Graichen


Alexandria police report an apparent home invasion took place early yesterday morning on 14th street in the city.  According to police, Two suspects forced their way into  the home, shooting one person in the leg and firing at another. The suspects then fled the scene. Police say their investigation has developed a person of interest.


The Rapides Parish  Sheriff's office says a 30-year-old man is under arrest  on one count of  first  degree  murder,  armed  robbery  and obstruction  of  justice  for allegedly stabbing his mother to death then taking her car. They say  Jeffery  Bell  was  booked  into  the Rapides Pairhs Detention Center and is being held without bond.


Citizens of Pineville are closer to being able to vote on whether to allow restaurants in their city to sell alcohol. SB 116,  that would allow the city to call an election on the “restaurant only” option cleared the Louisiana Senate by a 24-0 vote Thursday.

The bill now goes to the House of Representatives and, if it passes there, to Gov. Bobby Jindal for his signature. City officials are hoping to get a proposition on the ballot in October.


State  Police  say  a  man  from Hessmer died yesterday morning after crashing his  truck in Avoyelles  Parish.  They say 36-year-old Joey Henderson lost control on a highway near Hessmer and hit a driveway causing his truck to overturned several times. It then became  engulfed  in flames. He was pronounced dead at the scene.


Governor Jindal says he won't support legislation to raise cigarettes  taxes, as a path to higher state revenues. The House Ways and Means  Committee will review four tobacco tax bills Monday. Mr. Jindal says he  won't back any of them if they're not "revenue neutral".


Gov. Bobby Jindal said Thursday he won’t seek legislative approval of his  administration’s LSU hospital privatization agreements, though both the House and Senate have voted that they want such decision-making authority. Jindal said he believes the legislative resolutions that have received support requiring budget committee backing of the lease agreements don’t carry the force of law.


A Colfax lawmaker drafts legislation that would require the LSU  Board of Supervisors to offer incoming freshman tickets to every LSU  home game. Representative Terry Brown says it's a shame that new  tiger freshman are only given the chance to buy tickets after

upperclassmen and members of the public and are often left out.


Attorney General Buddy Caldwell issues an opinion that says a company  out of New York can't sell its wine ice cream in Louisiana. Mercer's  Wine Ice Cream is sold in at least 14 states, but Alcohol and Tobacco  Control Commissioner Troy Hebert says Louisiana A-G's office has  determined that state law does not allow for it to be sold here. A bill before the legislature may change that.


The state Senate overwhelmingly agreed Thursday to let inmates in parish jails work on churches and other religious buildings. Senate Bill 8 by state Sen. Rick Gallot, D-Ruston, was approved in a 29-1 vote. It heads next to the Louisiana House. SB8 would include religious buildings to the list of places that sheriffs can use inmate work crews.


Tomorrow marks the 3rd anniversary of the BP Deepwater Horizon rig  explosion in the Gulf, which killed 11 men and triggered the largest  man-made environmental disaster in U.S. history. State Coastal  Protection and Restoration director Garrett Graves says fully 100% of the Gulf Coast areas still covered in oil are  IN Louisiana. He says over 200 miles of Louisiana coastal marshes and  sands are still oily...as cleanup work continues. He says BP has not lived up to their promise of making things right.


The  "no  social  networking while driving" legislation known as the "Tweet Bill" passed  in  the  Senate yesterday 25-9. The measure now heads to The House. The proposal  is by Livingston Senator Dale Erdy who says it would prohibit people from  posting to social networking sites  like  Facebook,  Twitter  and  Instagram   while  behind  the

wheel. If the bill becomes law, violators would face a fine  of  up to $175 on a first offense and $500 for second offense.


A bill that would allow students who get an undergraduate degree out of state to use the popular TOPS  grants  for  graduate work here in Louisiana has passed the House Education Committee,  by a 13-2 vote. The bill is sponsored by Baton Rouge Rep. Hunter Greene.  It goes to the House floor next.


The  13-acre  Assumption Parish sinkhole got a little bigger  today. The Parish Police  Jury  reports  there  was  a  "burp"  followed by another  slough-in on the eastern side of the hole. Unknown  as  yet how  much  land  fell  off  into  the  hole.  Residents  nearby  are negotiating  with  Texas Brine, who owns the salt cavern beneath the hole, to buy out their properties.


A  proposed  bill  to  create  a breakaway school  district  in  the southern part of East Baton Rouge  Parish  has  been approved by the Senate Education Committee. This is the second time  around  for the bill;  it cleared the Senate but was squashed by House members  last year.  Baton  Rouge  area  Senator  Bodi  White  feel  there's  less

objection  to  his bill this year, and hopes for better fortunes. Up next, a debate and vote on the Senate floor.




LSU holds its spring football game on Saturday. It's the first chance  Tiger fans will have at watching new offensive coordinator Cam Cameron  direct the offense. You can hear that game on 970 KSYL starting at 2pm.


With the end of the 2012-2013  NBA  regular  season  comes  the  New Orleans  basketball  team's new name, "The Pelicans." Communications VP Harold Kaufman says  the  new website is www.pelicans.com and you can follow them on Twitter, Facebook  and  Instagram  using the name "pelicansNBA". He says they believe the Pelicans name and  new brand is a good representation of what The Big Easy stands for.


News For Thursday 04/18/13

News for Thursday 041813

By Dave Graichen


The world’s largest wood pellet plant is coming to Urania. German Pellets is expected to begin construction soon on a $300 million plant that will create an estimated 500 jobs. The company is the leading manufacturer of wood pellets in Europe. The plant is scheduled to be operational in the spring of 2014 and produce one million tons of wood pellets per year. It will be located on the site of the Georgia Pacific plant in Urania that closed in 2002.


The rapides parish sheriff’s department reports A body found last month in the ruins of a Wardville structure fire has been identified. Dental records and DNA were used to identify the remains of 27 year old Jonathan Sartin of Pineville. Detectives have ruled the death a homicide. A suspect, 44 year old John Purvis was arrested March 19 and is being held in the Rapides Parish Detention Center.


The Alexandria City Council approved an agreement Wednesday with Alexandria Sports Equities that will allow  the group to field a professional baseball  team at the dilapidated Bringhurst field. Under the terms of the agreement , which runs through Sept. 30, the team’s owners will pay the city $12,000. Team owners have the option to extend the agreement for an additional year. As part of the agreement, team owners will also prepare a feasibility study to renovate and reconstruct Bringhurst, which has serious structural issues.


Louisiana lawmakers advanced a batch of bills Wednesday they say are aimed at pre-empting any stricter gun laws that could make it out of Congress. In heated exchanges the House Criminal Justice Committee approved an array of “state’s rights” gun regulations, including bills that would: Prohibit the enforcement of any federal restrictions on owning semi-automatic weapons. Another bill would Make it a felony to release or publish the names and addresses of people who own or have applied for concealed handgun permits. Plus another bill that would  Create the “Louisiana Manufactured Firearms and Ammunition Act” was moved to the full house.  That bill would allow gun buyers to circumvent any federal gun laws as long as the guns were manufactured in Louisiana.


The  U.S.  Senate  has  rejected a federal bill to expand background checks for more people buying  guns.  The  measure failed by a 54-46 vote.   Louisiana  Senator  Mary  Landrieu  voted   for   additional background checks; Senator David Vitter voted against


A measure to allow optometrists  to  perform eye surgery advanced in the House Health and Welfare Committee  today  and heads to the full  House for more debate.


The  House  Education  Committee  advances  a  bill requires  public schools  to  have  a  written  crisis  response  plan;   written  in cooperation  with local law enforcement. The bill also  requires  all  parties involved  rehearse those crisis plans. The bill was conceived  following  the tragic Newtown, Connecticut school massacre.


A bill that would allow students who get an undergraduate degree out of state to use Louisiana’s popular scholarship program for graduate work here passed the House Education Committee on a 13-2 vote. The measure, House Bill 612, next faces action on the House floor. It may also be reviewed by the House Appropriations Committee.


The  full  state  Senate  is  scheduled to debate Livingston  Parish Senator Dale Erdey's bill that  would make it illegal to Facebook or Tweet while driving. The bill also applies to a host of other frequently used social network sites. The bill would make that a moving violation and subject to being pulled over and ticketed.


In Tangipahoa Parish yesterday,  a  suspicious briefcase left in a trash can outside a Mandeville Post Office  brought  out  the  bomb squad. Mandeville  cops say a janitor discovered it and notified his  boss, who - in light  of  Monday's  events in Boston - called police right away. The briefcase was destroyed  by  the bomb squad. It turned out

to be filled with miscellaneous trash. No one was hurt.


The Senate Insurance Committee advances a bill to require lawmakers' approval before the state's last resort property  insurer  can  make big  rate  hikes.  St. Mary Parish Senator Brett Allain sponsors the legislation. He says  Louisiana  Citizens  raised coverage rates for his  constituents by 170% recently. His proposed  legislation  would

rein that in. Allain's bill passed committee vote and  goes  to the full Senate to debate.


A Carencro man was arrested  after allegedly making a bomb threat at the Evangeline Downs Casino in  Opelousas.  Louisiana  State  Police Trooper  Stephen  Hammons says Russell Cormier told casino employees he had allegedly left  a bomb inside the casino. The entire property was searched, but nothing  was found.


Dressed in bright red colors on a windy day, legislators and others gathered on the State Capitol steps Wednesday in a show of support for a state tobacco tax increase.

The likely fate of their efforts is unclear. The House Committee on Ways and Means will start looking at various proposals next week. The proposals include increases of 24 cents, 32 cents and $1.05 in the state tax on a pack of cigarettes.


A bid to give lawmakers more oversight of privatized health care programs created by Gov. Bobby Jindal’s administration appears on track to passage this year after being vetoed twice before by the governor. However,  this time, Jindal said he supports the bill. The state Senate Health and Welfare Committee backed the measure without objection Wednesday, sending it again to the full Senate.


A Baton Rouge man is charged with murder for the death of an 18-month  old child. East Baton Rouge Parish authorities says the little girl was found unresponsive on Monday, and was  pronounced dead at the scene. Deputies suspected foul play,  which was quickly confirmed.




Last night the LSU Baseballers shutout Grambling 4 to nothing. The tigers begin a three game series tomorrow night at Alabama. You can hear the entire series on 970 KSYL.


Also Saturday afternoon at 2, it’s the LSU spring Football Game. That game will also be carried on 970 KSYL.


The L-S-U Board of Supervisors unanimously approved a proposal from the  athletic department to name the baseball field after Tigers legendary  coach Skip Bertman. Associate athletic director Herb Vincent says the  idea has been in the works for quite a while.  Vincent says the athletic department plans to dedicate the field on  Friday, May 17th when L-S-U takes on Ole Miss. The ceremony will be in  conjunction with a 20-year reunion of Bertman's 1993 national  championship team.  Bertman says it is a tremendous honor.





News For Tuesday 04/17/13

News for Wednesday 041713

By Dave Graichen


State Sen. Rick Gallot sid yesterday Residents of the City of Pineville should be allowed to decide whether they want restaurants to serve alcohol. The Senate Judiciary B Committee agreed Tuesday and unanimously sent SB116 sponsored by Gallot, to the full Senate for a vote. The Pineville City Council voted unanimously on April 9 to pursue an election. Residents defeated a 1981 proposal to open the sale of alcoholic beverages but that included more than restaurants. If Gallott’s bill passes the full Senate it would go to the House for consideration. It is not expected to receive much opposition in the Legislature.


The Alexandria City Council gave the go ahead to Mayor Jacques Roy on Tuesday to execute agreements with vendors and bands participating in the upcoming AlexRiverFête. The event, scheduled for  May 9-11, is actually a combination of several existing events — including Louisiana Dragon Boat Races, Dinner on the Bricks and ArtWalk — with some live entertainment as well. City officials hope it will grow into the signature event for the city.


Central Louisiana officials believe  they  made a good impression in front  of  U-S  Army  decision  makers,  who  were  here  to  gather information  about  Fort  Polk. The Army is considering  whether  to reduce  or increase the number  of  troops  at  the  military  base. Central Louisiana  Chamber  of  Commerce  President Deborah Randolph says the Army officials took an impressive tour of Ft. Polk. Randolph  says political and community leaders  also  addressed  the department  of  the  Army  officials  at  a  church  in Leesville. A decision on Fort Polk's future could come as early as May.


Gas  prices  have  dropped  another  penny  overnight.  The American Automobile  Association  says  the current statewide average  for  a gallon of regular is $3.34 which  is also six cents less than it was last month.


The House Committee on Criminal Justice will spend much of today hearing  proposed gun bills. Committee Chairman Joe Lopinto, of Metairie, says  twelve bills providing for gun ownership or gun carrying are scheduled  for his group. But the bottom line, Lopinto says the committee isn't likely  to support stricter gun ownership legislation.


The Louisiana Senate approved a resolution Tuesday afternoon requiring deals for private operation of LSU hospitals to receive the blessing of its budget panel. The Senate approved, without discussion, a resolution bestowing the authority on the Senate Finance Committee. The resolution’s passage came as the LSU Board of Supervisors prepared to vote Today on cooperative endeavor agreements involving LSU hospitals in New Orleans and Lafayette.


The  full House has approved legislation that will lower the monthly fee all  home  and  business  phone customers pay for communications services for the deaf and speech  impaired.  The  same bill places a small  fee to cent monthly fee on  every cell phone account as well. Baton  Rouge  Rep. Patricia Smith says it will raise about a million bucks yearly to pay for  special technology to allow hearing and speech impaired people to use phones to communicate. The bill  passed   by a unanimous vote.


The US Marshal's Office says Acadiana's Most Wanted Man, Wade Lohse, was  arrested  in  Philadelphia at approximately 1:10pm central time today. They say the  man  who  walked  out of his vehicular homicide trial in March was spotted walking out of  a  bar.  He  will  face a judge there then be extradited back to Lafayette.


Shreveport's  Elio  Motors clears a legal hurdle  in  marketing  its low-cost, high mileage  three-wheeled  car.  A House committee today approved a bill that would exempt drivers of the  three-wheeler from the state's mandatory helmet law. Elio's car has a  full cabin, with roll cage and air bags.


A House committee has advanced a bill that will require pickup truck drivers  to  have  any  pets in the truck bed secured in kennels  or cages while on busy Interstate  highways.  Kenner  Rep.  Tom Wilmott sponsors  the  legislation  aimed  at reducing the number of animals killed when they're thrown from the  backs  of moving vehicles. That

bill now goes to the House floor for debate.


Police in Slidell say a man who auditioned  for  the X-Factor in New Orleans on Sunday, stole a car at a gas station Monday because he said  he  needed  to get back home to Florida. They say  20-year-old Orrion  Wilson  led  police  on  a  high-speed  chase  before  being apprehended. He faces many charges.


A Monroe lawmaker Tuesday temporarily shelved his proposal to ban the state’s social services department from trying to collect child support from people who haven’t been proven to be parents through a paternity test.


State Rep. Marcus Hunter, D-Monroe, said he’d continue to discuss the idea with the Department of Children and Family Services, which raised concerns about House Bill 459. He agreed to defer his proposal in the House Civil Law and Procedure Committee for at least a week while the two sides talk. But it’s unclear if they can reach a compromise. State Department of Children and Family Services Secretary Suzy Sonnier said Hunter’s proposal would put Louisiana in direct conflict with federal law and could jeopardize the state’s ability to receive more than $200 million in federal social services money annually.




The L-S-U baseball team is back in action tonight, seeking their second  straight win, as they host Grambling State. Airtime 6pm on 970 KSYL..


The New Orleans Hornets finish out their season tonight in Dallas. Airtime 7p on Alexandria’s ESPN 1410.




News For Tuesday 04/16/13

News for Tuesday 041613

By Dave Graichen


Attempts  to  repeal the state income tax in Louisiana could be dead for this legislative  session.  The Ways and Means Committee was set to  hear  several  income tax repeal  proposals  Monday, but  Chairman  Joel Robideaux of Lafayette  asked  all  bills  that would get rid of the state's  income  tax  to  be  deferred. As of right now, there  are  no  plans  to reschedule them. During  the  short  committee hearing, Robideaux read off  cards  in opposition to proposed legislation to repeal income taxes.


A large running group from Baton Rouge says all of their members are  safe and accounted for after yesterday's bombing at the Boston  Marathon. Chase Batty with Varsity Sports in the Capitol City says  they sent 18 runners to the race. He says there was a scare at first  but thankfully most had already finished the race. Batty says the Baton Rouge group was celebrating at a local pub when  the bombs went off.


A Baton Rouge man pleaded guilty Monday to calling in a bomb threat that closed LSU’s main campus for more than 12 hours on Sept. 17th of last year. 43 year old William Bouvay Jr. faces a prison term of 13 to 28 years under the terms of a plea agreement.


The Governor's Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness is  on alert as a result of the deadly bombings at the Boston Marathon.  GOHSEP Director Kevin Davis says their "fusion" center is receiving  intelligence information from Boston and they are disseminating that  info to local law enforcement throughout the state. Davis says there are no plans for extra security personnel at large  public areas in Louisiana, like airports the state capitol or Wednesday  night's LSU baseball game. But he says that could change based on the  intelligence information they receive from their federal partners.


Now that a House committee has deferred all discussion of bills to repeal  state incomes taxes, where does that leave Governor Jindal's top agenda  item? Political analyst Bernie Pinsonat says Mr. Jindal's tax reforms  are "on life support".  Pinsonat says ending personal and corporate income taxes was at the top  of the Governor's legislative wish list. However, he says House and  Senate members generally feel that a balanced, fiscally responsible  state budget is MOST important.  Pinsonat feels the rest of the legislative session will focus on the  state budget, and how to balance it without using large amounts of one time revenues for recurring expenses.


State Police say a teenager  from  Many is dead after crashing an ATV. They say 16-year-old Justin Brevelle was traveling on a road Sunday in Sabine Parish when he lost control of his ATV, ran off the road and hit a ditch embankment. He  was  ejected  from  his ATV and killed instantly.


State Police say  an  Opelousas  Police  Officer is dead following a Sunday  morning crash on Highway 31. Trooper  Stephen  Hammons  says 50-year-old  Assistant  Warden Peggy Sylvester was not restrained as she was driving her Ford police unit and attempted to pass a car. Hammons says it was raining  at the time of the crash which may have been a factor.


A Haynesville man is dead after leading police on a high speed chase through Webster Parish Sunday  night.  Minden  Police were trying to pull  44-year-old  Tony  Burns for reckless driving.  He  ran.  They chased. He lost control,  ran  into  an  embankment and rolling  his vehicle several times. He was pronounced dead at the scene.


The House Transportation Committee  met yesterday, on the agenda a bill  aimed at accommodating Shreveport's  Elio  Motors,  which  will build three-wheeled  autocycles".  The  bill,  by  Shreveport  Rep. Barbara  Norton  would  exempt  drivers of these autocycles from the state's mandatory motorcycle helmet law. Elio Motors'  autocycle will have a completely enclosed cabin, with a roll cage and airbags.


The U-S Senate could vote as early as today on legislation that would  expand background checks for gun buyers. Republican Senator David Vitter  has already said he opposes the proposal, but it's unclear how  Democratic Senator Landrieu will vote. U-L at Lafayette Political  Science Professor Pearson Cross says it's a difficult vote for Landrieu.  Landrieu recently released a statement that says she supports the Second

Amendment, however the country is plagued by gun violence and our state  sadly has the nation's highest death rate per capital by gunfire. Cross  says a vote for legislation to expand background checks will be used by  republicans, who seek to defeat Landrieu in next year's election.


Authorities arrested a 15-year-old East Baton Rouge High School student on campus Monday after finding a loaded gun in his sock. The eighth-grade student was booked into the Juvenile Detention Center on one count of illegal carrying of a weapon on school property. The student gave no reason for having the weapon.





News For Monday 04/15/13

News for Monday 041513

By Dave Graichen


The Internal Revenue Service has some useful tips for last-minute  federal income tax filers. The deadline to file your taxes is today, and  IRS spokesman Michael Dobinsky says you MUST have your taxes filed by  midnight tonight. You can do that electronically online or by getting it postmarked at the post office. Keep in mind though, no all post offices are open late. Just dropping it in the box doesn’t count. Dobinsky says, if  you're not finished with your 2012 return, you can  file an extension and have more time to get your tax return together.  However, he says you must send the IRS some money today, if you're going  to owe.


Governor Bobby Jindal vows to veto any legislation that attempts to cap  funding for the TOPS scholarship. Because of the growing cost associated  with the state scholarship program, there's a senate bill that would cap  how much tuition the state would pay for a TOPS recipient.  TOPS will cost the state 168-million dollars this fiscal year. The House

Fiscal Division projects the program could cost as much as 340-milllion  in 2017, if tuition keeps rising at the current pace.


The first week of the legislative session is in the books and Governor  Jindal's message to lawmakers has not changed. The governor wants to see  the legislature pass legislation to eliminate the state income tax. How  to replace the revenue lost, if the income tax is repealed is a big  question. Jindal say he's not putting any limitations on legislators.


The House Ways & Means Committee starts hearing state lawmakers'  proposals for eliminating the state income tax today. Baton Rouge Rep.  Hunter Greene says his House Bill 272 would slowly phase income taxes  out over a ten-year span. Greene says lawmakers will need to look for ways to offset the revenues  lost, even with an incremental phase-out of income taxes. Greene says  he and other conservatives at the Capitol felt the Governor's plan was  too much, too fast.


The Department of the Army is in Leesville today as it decides whether  to add or reduce troops at Fort Polk. Mayor Robert Rose says a meeting  will be held at 5 this evening for the department to gather additional  information from the community concerning the Army 2020 Force  Restructure decision. The meeting is being held at the United Pentecostal Church in  Leesville and Rose says they are encouraging concerned citizens to  line the streets with flags and signs of support that show just how  far Fort Polk's impact is felt.


Lafayette Rep. Nancy Landry has dropped from consideration this session legislation that would have established a voucher program for children with disabilities to attend regional schools where they could receive specialized care. HB642 sought to identify and designate schools that offer the best special education or to create new ones. These schools would be allowed to charge tuition to offset the high cost of educating disabled students but parents , not just those with low incomes, could apply for vouchers. Numerous private schools participate in the state-funded voucher program but many don’t have the necessary staffing or facilities to properly educate disabled students who need the most attention.


State employee and teacher retirement systems are opposing bills filed in the current legislative session that would require their members to pay more and others that would reduce benefits. The boards of the Louisiana State Employees Retirement System and the Teachers Retirement System of Louisiana cite constitutional problems that plagued Jindal administration efforts last year. Unlike last year’s push, the retirement revamp legislation is sponsored by individual legislators, not the administration.


Authorities are investigating an apparent child abuse case that led to  the death of a two-year-old girl from Oberlin. Allen Parish Sheriff Doug  Hebert says the little girl suffered from third-degree burns.  Hebert says they believe the mother's boyfriend, 29-year-old Bobby Davis  Junior is responsible for the child's death. Davis has been arrested.  Hebert calls it the worst child abuse case he's ever seen.  Hebert says for some reason Davis burned the little girl with an  electric heater.


Baton Rouge area Manda Fine Meats has expanded its tainted meat recall from a little more than 20,000 pounds to about 468,000 pounds. The products that may be affected are roast beef, ham, turkey breast, tasso pork, ham shanks, hog-head cheese, corned beef and pastrami. The suspected tainted meats were all produced at the company’s Baker facility. No illnesses have been reported associated with the tainted meats


The Louisiana Department of Transportation broke ground Friday in  Shreveport on another segment of Interstate-49 north. DOTD spokesperson  Susan Stafford says they are getting closer to finishing this much  anticipated transportation project. which will extend I-49 from  Shreveport to Arkansas State line. The ground breaking ceremony on Friday is for segment J, which is about  four miles long and it will cost nearly 50-million dollars.




Right fielder Sean McMullen delivered a sacrifice fly in the top of the 10th inning for the go-ahead run as top-ranked LSU recorded a 5-3 victory over No. 10 Arkansas at Baum Stadium. LSU improved to 34-3 overall and 13-2 in the SEC as the Tigers won two of three of the three games played over the weekend. LSU plays host to Grambling State at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday in Alex Box Stadium. You can hear that game on 970 KSYL.





News For Friday 04/12/13

News for Friday 041213

By Dave Graichen


The building in Shreveport that was meant to house Louisiana College’s Law School, The former Joe D. Waggonner Federal Building, has been put up for sale. The town talk reported today that building is expected to list for about $4 million. It’s believed LC, has slightly more than that invested in the building.


An investigation into possible drugs at an Alexandria residence resulted in five people being arrested. The Alexandria/Pineville Narcotics Unit found suspected marijuana, Ecstasy, LSD and several types of designer drugs Wednesday at a house in the 1800 block of Dartmouth Street. The five arrested, ranged in age from 19 to 23. All were booked and released on bond.


A  report  from  the  Legislative  Fiscal  Office  says  a  ten-year phase-out  of  state  income  taxes  will  cost  the   state  nearly $24-billion to implement. The report is in response to  Baton  Rouge Representative  Hunter  Greene's  bill, which would lower income tax rates by 10% a year, starting in 2014.  The  report  says  the state

would  lose  $78-million  in  revenue  that  first  year.  Louisiana currently  brings  in  a  little over 2 & a half billion dollars  in revenue from income taxes .


House Speaker Chuck  Kleckley says he endorses a ten-year income tax phase-out. Kleckley says,  however,  that  SOMETHING  has to replace that lost revenue; perhaps higher tobacco tax or eliminating certain tax  exemptions. Though he favors the ten-year  phase-out,  Kleckley says he'd  like  to  delay  starting  it for at least two years. The

House Ways & Means Committee will begin  hearing proposed income tax phase-out bills next week.


Lawmakers have given final approval  to  plans  to shut down the LSU Earl K. Long Medical Center, in Baton Rouge. The vote came after two hours of oft-times heated discussion of the Jindal administration's privatization of public teaching and charity hospitals. The hospital will  shutter  on Monday. Almost 780 people are losing  their  jobs; fewer than 300 have been hired by other facilities.


A plan designed to rein in the cost of TOPS, the state’s merit-based college scholarship, appears doomed at the State Capitol before debate over the program could begin. Senate Bill 83 would cap the popular merit-based scholarship at current tuition levels plus 10 percent. Because much of the money for the TOPS program comes from the state general fund, many legislators said they were open to finding a way to better control the program’s steadily rising costs. Gov. Bobby Jindal said Thursday he would not sign legislation that limited TOPS awards. The governor called TOPS a good investment for the state.


A Louisiana House committee approved legislation Thursday morning that would require some parents of developmentally delayed children to help pay for therapy and treatment from the state. The House Committee on Health and Welfare advanced without objection House Bill 375. The measure now heads to the full House of Representatives for consideration.HB375 would allow the state to receive a co-pay for services provided by the Early Steps program.


Today, as you know is  Friday.  That  means  the House and Senate have the day

off, as is the tradition until much later in the session. Their work

will resume Monday.


Governor Bobby Jindal announces Louisiana's graduation rate has reached  an all-time high. Jindal says 72-percent of freshmen who started high  school in 2008, completed high school in four years. The governor says the graduation rate is on the rise, because the state  eliminated ineffective dropout prevention programs, rigorous standards  are in place to prepare students for college.


The  Ouachita  Parish  teenager  who  was  convicted  of killing his parents  is  going to be re-sentenced. Dalton Fletcher, who  was  15 when he committed  the  crime, was sentenced in February 2012 to two life sentences without the  possibility  of  parole.  But the latest ruling comes in light of the fact that the Supreme Court  ruled last year  states  can't  impose  mandatory  life  sentences  without the possibility of parole on juveniles convicted of murder.


The  East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff's office says a 48-year-old man shot his wife, then shot and killed his step-daughter before turning the gun  on  himself.  They  say  the wife, who survived the ordeal, called 9-1-1 screaming that her husband,  William  Benham,  had gone crazy. When deputies arrived the step-daughter was alive long enough to say what had happened before she died inside the house.


Senator  Mary  Landrieu's latest campaign finance reports show she's raised over a million  dollars  so far this year. That's about twice as much as her only declared challenger,  Baton  Rouge   Congressman Dr. Bill Cassidy.


A Louisiana meat processor is recalling over 20-thousand  pounds  of roast  beef  deli   cuts  tainted  with  bacteria. Baker-based Manda Packing  says  the beef cold cuts may contain  listeria.  They  were shipped, under different brand names, to eight states.


Looking  for something  to  do  this  weekend?  The  French  Quarter Festival is  on  -  rain  or  shine  - in New Orleans. In Tangipahoa Parish,  the Ponchatoula Strawberry Festival  starts  today.  And there's the  Baton  Rouge  Blues Festival this weekend. Expect great blues music on multiple stages in Baton Rouge.


A run of the mill car accident  on  I-49  was what brought police on the. But as a St.  Landry  Parish  Sheriff Deputy  arrived  a  naked  22-year-old  Byron  Simon of Ville Platte charged  him, entering the officer's vehicle. Then  when  a  trooper arrived a  short time later he discharged his weapon to draw Simon's attention. A  Taser was finally used to subdue the naked man who has been  taken to a  hospital  for  treatment.  He now  faces  several charges.


Registration begins today for The X Factor Auditions being held at the  UNO Lakefront Arena in New Orleans on Sunday. Executive Producer Andrew  Linares (Lin-Air-Ess) says they'll begin distributing wristbands this  morning and tomorrow, then auditioners will be asked to return Sunday.  He says the competition is open to one and all.





The top ranked LSU baseball team faces a big test this weekend as they  visit 10th ranked Arkansas. The Tigers have won 9 consecutive SEC games  and they are 11-and-1 in the league. The Razorbacks are 8-and-4 in the  SEC and LSU Coach Paul Mainieri says this series will go a long way in  deciding the Western Division. You can hear the entire series this weekend on 970 KSYL.



News For Thursday 04/11/13

News for Thursday 041113

By Dave Graichen


By a 5 to 4 vote, the Rapides Parish School made it decision on who will be the new school superintendent. In the end the choice was Nason “Tony” Authement of Houma. Authement was picked from a group of three finalists, including Rick Williams of McKinney, Texas and Karl Carpenter, principal at Pineville High School. Contract details still need to be worked out. But, it’s expected Authement will start the job in early June.


It’s the case of a chief, but, no Indians. The town of Boyce has a new police chief but no  police department , yet. Boyce has been without a police department since September 2012. The first step to getting a department was to elect a chief. 60 year old Eddie Washington,  is that man. He defeated Steve Stokes in Saturday’s election.  Washington will be sworn in April 17.


A strong weather front moving across Louisiana has us waking up to  temperatures much cooler than yesterday. Forecaster Chris Nuttall with the National Weather Service in Shreveport says grab a  jacket and perhaps an umbrella before leaving home today.

Nuttall says we can expect the rains to begin moving out to the east by

the middle of the day.


The   annual  Colorado  State  University  hurricane  forecast  team predicts  the  2013 Atlantic hurricane season will be above-average. Dr.  Bill Gray's  report  calls  for  18  named  storms  during  the hurricane  season. He says that's due primarily to the lack of an El Nino event. The report says  of  the  18  named  storms,  they predict nine will

become hurricanes and four of those will be major hurricanes. 


The first week  of  the  2013  Legislature  is,  for  all  practical purposes, over. The Senate has adjourned until Monday. House members meet  Today  for  some  committee  meetings  and  required ethics training.


House Appropriations Committee members have heard two days of public testimony  of  areas  of the state budget they feel should  be  left uncut. Representatives of the state's food bank used empty plates to illustrate their need.  They  ask  for $5-million in the budget that starts July 1st. Tourism officials & domestic violence programs also

made  earnest  pleas  for  adequate state  funding.  Lawmakers  must deliver a balanced $25-billion  budget  before  the  session ends on June 6th.


Many cellphone users would pay a few cents more a month under legislation that cleared a House committee Wednesday. House Bill 238 by state Rep. Patrick Williams would add long distance, pager and wireless lines to the list of telecommunications lines taxed to generate money for the deaf, hard of hearing and speech impaired. Williams, who is from Shreveport, said the addition is needed because people are dropping their land lines and switching to wireless phones.


President  Obama  wants  to  nearly  double  the  federal   tax   on cigarettes.  In the 3.8 trillion dollar budget for next fiscal year, the President proposes to increase the cigarette tax by 94-cents per pack. It's  unclear how much support their is for a higher state cigarette tax.


Zoo officials  in  Acadiana  are looking for an exotic bird that was one of three stolen Thursday morning.  They  say the suspect fled police and crashed his car then later died at a local  hospital. A sky-blue Indian Ringneck was spotted flying away from the  burning  car after the crash, a parrot escaped with a broken leg and another parrot  is

presumed dead.


A bill that would prohibit people from accessing, reading or posting to  a social networking site while driving passed in committee yesterday and is  headed  to  the  Senate floor for further debate. Livingston Senator Dale Erdy says his  bill is specific to sites like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. That loophole he says is what he wants to close with this bill.


The reward for the missing elementary  school  teacher  in Jefferson Parish has increased again. Crime stoppers says thanks to  supporters in  the  community  who have contributed, the reward for information regarding the whereabouts of Terrilynn Monette is now $20,000.


A new poll shows a high percentage of voters in Orleans Parish approve  of the job Mayor Mitch Landrieu is doing as he completes his third year  in office. UNO Assistant Professor of Political Science, Ed Chervenak,  says according to a survey conducted by the University of New Orleans,  Landrieu's approval rating is 70-percent.




Former L-S-U All-American golfer John Peterson is set to tee off today  in his very first Masters Tournament. Peterson will be playing at  Augusta after qualifying for the tournament by tying for fourth at the  U-S Open last June. Peterson says he's played the course at Augusta  before but he's not sure what to expect for this weekend's tournament.



News For Wednesday 04/10/13

News for Wednesday 041013

By Dave Graichen


The Pineville City Council unanimously passed a resolution Tuesday backing legislation that would allow the city to hold an election on the “restaurant only” option to sell alcohol in the city. . Senate Bill 116 has been pre-filed for the state legislative session that started Monday. The people of Pineville could get a chance to vote as early as October on the matter.


The Jindal administration says if lawmakers pass a bill to phase out state income taxes, the loss of revenue does not have to be entirely offset.  Revenue  Department  spokesman  Tim  Barfield  told  Senate Revenue & Fiscal Affairs Committee members yesterday that  such  a  bill would not HAVE to be "revenue neutral' for the Governor to sign it. The Governor said Monday, he's putting  his  own tax swap plan on hold, tossing that ball to legislators to handle.


The state's Democratic Party says the legislature should not address tax  reform  legislation  at  all  this  year. House Democratic Caucus chairman John Bel Edwards, of Amite, says the bigger priority should be passing a state  budget that won't result in more mid-year budget cuts. However, The state's  Republican  Party  urges  residents to tell their local legislators if they want an end to state  income  tax. Louisiana GOP

director Jason Dore' suspects a majority would like  those  taxes to go away.


Tuesday, the Louisiana Hospital Association endorsed Medicaid expansion. John Matessino, president of Louisiana Hospital Association, said it is “critically important for Louisiana to take advantage of the significant federal resources available to expand health care coverage.” According to Matessino, increasing the number of individuals who have health care coverage will help to offset the cost of uninsured care, help stabilize insurance premiums and ebb cost-shifting to the private insurance market. Governor Jindal’s administration insists the state will not go along with the Medicaid Expansion.


President Obama will reveal today his federal budget plan, which is  expected to contain significant cuts in Social Security benefits,  something Louisiana retirees dread. AARP Louisiana spokesperson Denise  Bottcher says annual cost of living increases would be calculated using  the so-called "chained" Consumer Price Index to reduce spending.  The White House says doing so will reduce federal spending by $130-Billion over ten years.  Bottcher says that'll be disastrous to Louisiana retirees, who collect, on average,  about $13-thousand a year from Social Security. She hopes  Louisiana congressional delegates are paying attention


A bill that would  create  an  "I'm  Cajun"  license plate has passed in committee and is headed to the House Floor. The bill is by Breaux Bridge Representative Mike Huval who  says  fees generated from  the prestige plate would be used to help fund scholarships  to France  for  students who want to teach French Immersion programs in Louisiana. And no.. you don’t have to be a pure blooded Cajun to purchase one..


A Livingston Parish  man accused of stabbing his wife and ripping an unborn fetus from her  womb  has  changed  his plea to not guilty by reason of insanity. 31-year-old Jeffery Reynolds'  initial  plea was not guilty. The sheriff's office says  Reynolds told detectives he smoked herbal incense and began having visions  when  he  allegedly  cut the fetus

from his wife last October.


Lottery  officials  say  a woman from Greensburg had to dig  an  old Powerball ticket out of her  trash  when  she  realized  she  hadn't checked  the  numbers  that  ended  up  being  worth  $10,000. Joyce Womack's ticket was for the March 23rd drawing.


A new fence and netting system has not helped contain the black dust being released by the Industrial  Carbon  Services  Company  in Lake Charles. So now an investigation by DEQ is looking into the possible health  hazards  that  could  occur  from  breathing it in. City  leaders are also checking into  zoning  issues  and other possible violations.  The  black  dust  has  been a concern of residents since last summer.


Bossier   Parish  Sheriff's  investigators  say  a  Princeton  woman swindled her  own grandmother out of over $100-thousand; used to buy cars, computers  and  more  without  the  elderly woman's knowledge. 35-year-old Allison Jones is charged wth money  laundering, identity theft,  felony  theft  and  racketeering. She's now in  the  Bossier Maximum Security Facility, pending  a  $130,000 bond. Jones says she

didn't steal anything.


Shreveport  PD  is  asking  for  the  public's  help  in  locating a "Craigslist  Bandit"  who  posts  fake  stuff for sale then collects money wired to him. The suspect never produces the items and pockets the victims cash -- at times as much as $850.  $500.00  reward being offered.


Officials in Terrebonne Parish will vote today on a proposal that would  ban saggy pants. If passed, anyone who wears pants in public that hang  below the belt line could be punished. Neighboring Lafourche Parish has  already passed an ordinance that makes it illegal to reveal underwear  in public.


Former U.S. Rep. Jeff Landry is staying in the political spotlight by launching a conservative super PAC on Tuesday to help support more far-right Republicans in congressional races nationally and in Louisiana. Landry’s new “Restore our Republic” political action committee comes a few months after the one-term congressman’s defeat in a congressional race against U.S. Rep. Charles Boustany, and while Landry, R-New Iberia, was mulling a challenge of Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., in 2014.










News For Tuesday 04/10/13

News for Tuesday 040913

By Dave Graichen


Governor  Bobby Jindal  took  a  lot  of  people  by  surprise  Monday afternoon when  he addressed the opening session of the legislature. Seems he's changed  his mind about doing away with the state income tax and replacing it with  high sales taxes.  Jindal told lawmakers he's "parking" his tax plan for now,  but wants legislators to come up with their own  ideas  on  how  to  do away with income  taxes  in Louisiana. The governor's address was extremely short. He made no suggestion as to how to replace the nearly $3-billion  in  state revenue raised by income taxes.


The  governor  stands  behind  his  contention that eliminating  the income tax will make Louisiana more business-friendly  and give most households  more  pocket money. He says the states with the  highest jobs growth in America  are those that have no state income tax. The session ends on June 9th.  Lawmakers  have  over 900 bills to review

and debate.


Natchitoches Parish deputies are investigating  the  parish's  first homicide  of  2013. A couple in their car alerted officers to a body lying in roadside  field near the town of Natchez, LA. The man has been identified as 32 year old Derrick Wayne Howard of Natchitoches.  Detectives have not said what the cause of death was, but do say it is  being handled as a homicide case. A post-mortem is scheduled to determine cause of death.


The city of Alexandria has an agreement with the principals of the newly formed United Baseball League to place a team in Alexandria, pending approval from the City Council. The council introduced an ordinance Monday authorizing Mayor Jacques Roy to execute the agreement and will vote on the ordinance on April 17. Bringhurst Field is still in need of major renovations. However, those renovations have been put off until a later time. If all goes according to plan, the team will start training May 16 and open its season on May 23 at Bringhurst Field.


The Pineville City Council could decide Tuesday to explore allowing limited alcohol sales in the city. On the agenda for the 6 p.m. meeting tonight is a resolution asking for the introduction of legislation that would allow Pineville to hold an election to allow restaurants to sell alcohol. Alcohol sales are currently not allowed in Pineville, but there has been a recent push to explore at least allowing it in restaurants. Supporters of loosening the restrictions say it would spur development.


Second Amendment supporters rallied  on  the Capitol steps yesterday, to show support for defending individual gun  ownership rights. Bossier City  Rep. Jeff Thompson anchored the rally,  and  says  legislation aimed at  law-abiding  gun  owners is not the answer to reducing gun violence." Thompson  has  two  bills  this legislative  session;  one  to  keep information on who has concealed  carry  permits private. Another to

allow concealed carry permits to be issued  by  parish  sheriffs for persons to carry weapons ONLY in their parish of residence,  and  in parishes  with  which  they  have  reciprocal agreements with other sheriffs.


Food  banks  across the state  are  currently  experiencing  extreme shortages. northeast  Louisiana  Food  Bank  program  director Stacy Guidry says the federal government has cut off its food distribution due   to  sequestration   and  it's  wreaking havoc  on  their  food supplies.


The first A-10 Thunderbolt  jets  to  be  re-positioned  by U.S. Air Force  reorganization  and  budget  cutting have left Barksdale  Air Force  Base  in  Shreveport-Bossier. Most  of  the  A-10's  will  be re-stationed in Arizona.  The  remaining jets will be gone by year's end.


Lafayette  Parish's  Most  Wanted  Fugitive makes a YouTube video to explain why he walked out of court last  month just as his vehicular homicide trial was set to begin. Lafayette Police say Wade Lohse was impaired when he crossed the center line in  June  2012  and  killed 29-year-old  Cacie Barras. Lohse believes he's being falsely charged by prosecutors. Authorities say Lohse was in a wooded area when he made the video.




LSU sits atop the latest Collegiate Baseball Poll. The Fighting Tigers  own the number one ranking after improving their record to 30-and-2,  with a sweep of Kentucky over the weekend.  LSU will have five games this week. Mainieri and the Tigers will face  Southern in the Wally Pontiff Junior classic tonight. You can hear that game on 970 KSYL. LSU is at 10th ranked Arkansas this weekend.


The Bolton bears have found their new head football coach and he reportedly will hit the ground running today. Principal Misty Slater announced that Chris Kuykendall is the new Top Bear. Coach Kuykendal is originally from Oklahoma. He spent the last three years at Natchitoches Central High School as the offensive coordinator. Kuykendal replaces Reynolds Moore, who resigned last month to take the head coaching job up at Benton.

News For Monday 04/08/13

News for Monday 040813

By Dave Graichen


As the 2013 Louisiana State Legislature convenes today, Governor Jindal  is expected to make his strongest case for lawmakers to get behind his  tax reform plan. The Governor wants to eliminate personal and corporate  income taxes, while raising state sales tax by two and a quarter  percent. He says the plan will be good for Louisiana. The tax swap plan, which Mr. Jindal says will be revenue neutral, is his  top priority item for the session. Louisiana Public Broadcasting will broadcast Gov. Bobby Jindal's opening address to the Legislature on Monday. Starting at 1pm.


A prison guard at the maximum-security  federal prison in Pollock is recovering at an Alexandria hospital after he was beaten by inmates. Officials say other officers, armed with pepper spray,  came to Cory Barron's aid, but not before the young officer suffered serious injuries. The attack occurred during a security check.


Two  Baton  Rouge  men  have been charged by federal prosecutors for allegedly  working  together   to   fraudulently   obtain   at  least one-point-two  million dollars in film tax credits that they  should not have received.  In  a  bill  of  information  the  men have been identified  as Daniel Garcia, who owned and operated D-M-G  Holdings and Louisiana  Film  Finishers  and  Matthew  Keith,  who  owned and operated  Dirty  District  Entertainment.  Louisiana  taxpayers  are listed as the victims of the alleged conspiracy.


The  consulting firm, Ernst and Young, has released report that says it would be a bad idea if Louisiana started taxing services that are a part  of a business' regular expense, such as accounting, computer programming  and advertising. Taxing those type of services are part of Governor Jindal's  tax  reform  plan  that would eliminate income

taxes in exchange for higher sales taxes.


The Federal Aviation Administration  is  delaying closure of 149 air traffic control towers across the U.S. until June. The closures were dictated  by the federal budget sequestration  earlier  this  year. Shreveport Downtown  Airport  is  the only Louisiana tower slated to close.  It  WAS  all  set  to shut down Sunday,  then  came  the



The ongoing civil trial in New Orleans that will determine liability for  2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill begins an important chapter today. BP will  begin presenting its defense in Judge Carl Barbier's courtroom. It's up to Judge Barbier to determine how much BP, Transocean and  Halliburton are to blame for the 2010 Deepwater Horizon explosion. The fines could exceed 20-billion dollars. A BP lawyer told Judge Barbier they will call their last witness to the stand sometime between April 18th and the 23rd.


A  new report shows Louisiana has seen a dramatic  increase  in  the number  of  businesses owned by women. According to the third annual State of Women-Owned  Business  report,  there's  been an 84-percent increase in the number of women-owned companies in  Louisiana  since 1997. That's the fourth largest increase in the country.


Louisiana  State  Police  have  been  recognized  as having the best uniforms  out of all state agencies in the nation. That's  according to the North  American  Association  of  Uniform  Manufacturers  and Distributors  Best  Dressed  Public  Safety Award. This is the second time L-S-P has received this recognition.


A 29-year-old Duson man is facing a vehicular  homicide charge after he was allegedly driving drunk when involved in  a   fatal  crash in Lafayette  on  Thursday  night of last week. State Police Trooper Stephen Hammons says Gerard Richard ran a stop-sign on Highway 724 and West Congress Street, striking another vehicle. A passenger in  Richard's  vehicle,  21-year-old Harold Arnold of Duson, died from his injuries sustained in the crash.


A Crowley man  was  killed  in a shootout with Acadia Parish Sheriff deputies early Saturday morning. State Police say two deputies responded to a domestic disturbance complaint at a home south of Crowley. When the deputies arrived, they found  41-year-old  James  A Trahan armed with a shotgun. Investigators say Trahan fired his gun,  striking  a deputy  in  the  leg, the deputies returned fire killing Trahan. The deputy shot underwent surgery and is recovering.


Tulane University has won a big grant for the study of possible new  treatments for depression. Molecular Biology and Neuroscience professor  Benjamin Hall says typical anti-depressant medicines can be ineffective  for many patients. His research is looking into the drug ketamine, which  produces fast results, but with troubling side effects.




The second ranked LSU Baseball team put together a dominating  performance over the weekend. The Tigers easily won all three games to  sweep 7th ranked Kentucky. The final score on Sunday was 11-to-4. Coach  Paul Mainieri told the LSU Sports Radio Network's he's proud of his  team, which has a record of 30-and-2.






News For Friday 04/05/13

News for Friday 040513

By Dave Graichen


Minden  Congressman  John  Fleming has announced  he  will  not  run against US-Senator Mary Landrieu, but he still wants her replaced in 2014. In a statement Fleming  says he doesn't want to risk a contest between two Republicans which would potentially split votes and give Landrieu a better chance of winning.  He  goes  on  to  say  the New

Orleans Senator has turned her back on Louisiana.


The control tower  at  Shreveport's Downtown Airport will close this Sunday. The tower was one  of 149 forced to close due to budget cuts forced by the sequestration  earlier  this  year.  The  airport will remain open, despite the tower closure.


Higher education Commissioner Jim Purcell tells members of the House Appropriates Committee he's not pleased with the governor's proposed budget  for  next  fiscal  year. Purcell says 490-million dollars of their budget is tied to other things happening, like property sales, legal settlements and certain bills passing the legislature. If the so-called contingency  dollars do not show up, it will result in a  massive 19-percent cut in funding for higher education.


Meanwhile, House Speaker Chuck Kleckley will lead an effort to allow universities, community  and technical colleges to set their tuition at the Southern Regional Average  without  legislative approval. But he says cost controls for TOPS should be part  of  the discussion to give colleges more freedom to raise their tuition rates. Kleckley  says it will cost the state about 204-million  dollars  to fund the TOPS program.


Voting booths will be open across Louisiana at 7 tomorrow morning as several local issues are  on the ballot in 38 different parishes. There are two tax propositions on the ballot in Rapides Parish regarding road maintenance and related items. One for ward one the other ward 11. Election officials are expecting a small turnout.


A survey conducted by the LSU Public Policy Research Lab shows nearly  half of Louisiana residents feel Governor Bobby Jindal's tax swap plan  is a bad idea. Director Kirby Goidel says they also found that many  people don't know how to feel about the tax proposal just yet. The say they just don’t know enough about it. Another interesting part of the survey found that 70% of Louisiana residents feel the current tax system is fine. Their  biggest concern, some people who  get away without paying their fair share.


State Treasurer John Kennedy supports proposed legislation to aid the  state in collecting more of the massive outstanding debt owed Louisiana,  at a faster pace. Kennedy says the bill would replace the state's  current inefficient method of collecting debts, which will only collect  $26-million of over a billion owed the state during the next five years. Kennedy says House Bill 629 would contract with a private technology  firm to collect for the state. He says the bill has bipartisan  sponsorship.


A Gonzales  city  cop  has  been suspended after his weapon went off while he was in the men's room at a strip club. The off duty officer  was  reportedly adjusting an ankle holstered  gun,  when  it discharged. Gonzales PD has a policy about off-duty officers carrying  guns  into  bars. The strip club reported a gunshot hole in the restroom door.


In  a  wrongful  death lawsuit filed against  the  Lafayette  Parish School System, the  father  of  a  6 year old boy who was dragged to death  by  a school bus in March 2011  has  been  awarded  $300,000. . Attorneys for the school district argued Marcus Miller was an absentee dad and only had an interest in the boy after he died.  Miller also filed the suit against the now-retired bus driver and their insurance companies. He was seeking $2.3 million


A businessman was sentenced today to a year and a half in prison for fraudulently billing  BP  for  roughly  $1.4-million  for  use  of a helicopter after the 2010 Gulf oil spill. Bay Ingram owned Southeast Recovery Group. He's been ordered to repay over $460-thousand to  BP as  well.  Ingram  pleaded  guilty  to  the  charges  of bilking and overbilling the oil company last year. He could have received  up to five years in prison.




A top ten match-up in on tap at the Box this weekend as second ranked  LSU hosts seventh ranked Kentucky. The Wildcats are 22-and-6 and they  are the toughest test that LSU has faced this season.  LSU is entering the second half of its season with a 27-and-2 record. Airtime 6:30 tonight on 970 KSYL.


News For Thursday 04/04/13

News for Thursday 040413

By Dave Graichen


We’re coming down to the wire in the search for a new Rapides schools superintendent. Today the three finalists for the position spend the day in the district. All three candidates, Nason  Authement of Houma, David Carpenter of Pineville and Rick Williams of McKinney, Texas will receive a second interview with the Rapides Parish School board and then visit several schools in the district. The public will have a chance to meet the candidates from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. at the Instructional Resource Center on  Beauregard St., in Alexandria. That meet and greet will be followed by  a public forum beginning at 6 p.m. at the Media Center. The School Board is expected to select the new superintendent next week.


Governor Jindal was in  Alexandria  yesterday,  speaking  before the Alexandria Rotary Club, to  tout  his tax reform plan.  But it appears now that plan may be dead for this upcoming legislative session. House Speaker Chuck Kleckley said Wednesday that the governor’s tax package is on hold until economic experts can clear up the confusion surrounding the plan’s numbers. Kleckley, R-Lake Charles, said he wants the Legislative Fiscal Office to review the bills, an exercise that likely will delay debate on the governor’s initiative for weeks. Kleckley went on to say, if the plan has a negative impact on small businesses in the state, he would have a hard time supporting it. The Jindal administration already said the proposal would shift a $500 million tax burden from individuals to businesses.


Louisiana has the highest rate of gun violence in the country, according to a new state-by-state analysis of gun violence released Wednesday by the Center for American Progress. The report, released at an event in Baton Rouge and other cities, compares the 50 states on 10 key gun-violence indicators such as firearm deaths among children, firearm homicides among women, and law-enforcement agents feloniously killed with a firearm, among others. The report says Louisiana has the highest rate of gun violence of any state and the state has the highest rate of women murdered by guns in the 10-year period from 2001 through 2010.


A new poll conducted  by  researchers  at  LSU  finds  a majority of Louisianans  feel  the  state is headed in the wrong direction.  Dr. Kirby Goidel heads the LSU  Public  Policy Research Lab. He says 52% feel state leaders are doing a poor job,  with  few  confident state government can fix big issues. He says the poll shows less residents

believe  the  economy and education are the biggest problems  facing the state. Goidel  says  last  year at this time, only 39% felt the  state  was headed in the wrong direction.


A new Southern Media & Opinion Research poll indicates a majority of Louisianans want term limits for statewide  elected  officials, like the secretary of state, state treasurer, ag commissioner and others. Legislators  are  limited  to three 4-year terms, and governors  are limited to 8 years in office.  Bill  sponsor, Rep. Simone Champagne,

of  Erath, says she'll try to pass term  limits  for  other  offices again this year...her third attempt.


A federal report says  almost  $700-million  in  development grants, given to Louisiana to elevate and reinforce homes  to make them more hurricane  resistant,  is  missing.  The report from HUD  says  over 24-thousand got the grants but haven't  done  the  work.  The  state Office  of  Community Development, who administered the grants, says they're working  to  bring  all  homeowners  who  got the funds into compliance.


The  state  Legislative  Auditor  says Louisiana's  Recovery  School District, for failing public schools  that  have  taken  over by the state,  is  missing  over $2-million in equipment and property.  The report  says  over 1600  items,  mostly  computers  and  audio/video equipment has been  lost,  strayed  or stolen for nearly four years.

The RSD says 70% of the items ARE still  present in the schools, but have been tagged with incorrect location codes.


The Winnsboro woman who claimed she was the victim of a racial  attack  and  set herself on fire, but it was later determined her story was fabricated,  has plead not guilty

to  charges  of  terrorizing and filing a false police  report.  The district attorney prosecuting the case, Mack Lancaster says he's not looking to send Sharmeka Moffitt to prison for a long time...as she has suffered enough, with burns over most of her body.


Ouachita Parish school officials confirm two West Monroe High school students were killed this morning in a fire. The two  were  inside a mobile home that caught fire. Firefighters were unable to save them.


Texas  Brine,  the  company  that  owns  the underground salt cavern thought  responsible  for the Assumption parish  sinkhole  at  Bayou Corne, says gas has been  detected  under  the  slabs  of  two nearby homes.  The company is negotiating with many residents in that  area to buy out their properties, so they can move on. Many have lived in evacuation since last August.




News For Tuesday 04/03/13

News for Wednesday 040313

By Dave Graichen


Wet weather has arrived across  much of the Bayou State today as a result  of a large storm system that's developed in the Gulf of Mexico. State  climatologist Barry Keim says the system will track slowly along the Louisiana coastline. The heavy rains will linger into Thursday.


Cleco has made some major progress in restoring power to customers  who went off line during that Sunday afternoon thunderstorm. During the noon hour Tuesday, more than 2,000 customers were still with power in Rapides and Grant parishes. Today, that number is less than 10.


A Southern Media and Opinion research poll released yesterday shows  Governor  Bobby  Jindal's  approval  rating  has slipped once again. In the spring 2013 survey Jindal received an approval  rating of  38 percent -- compared to 51 percent last October. Jindal's  tax reform  plan was particularly unpopular with just 27% of respondents supporting  it. The survey funded by Lane  Grigsby  also  shows that President Obama has a higher approval rating among Louisianians than Jindal at 43%. The Governor told the media yesterday he was not interested in poll data.


That same  poll shows three-term democratic senator Mary Landrieu with an approval rating of 56-percent.  There's been one announced challenger so far. Baton Rouge Republican  Congressman Bill Cassidy made his candidacy official today with a video message to his supporters. Minden Congressman John Fleming and a couple  of other republicans could also enter the race.


Substitute teachers in Rapides parish got an a rather hefty  pay raise Tuesday. The school  board increased the daily pay rate to $125 for certified subs, that increase is almost double the previous pay rate of $65 Non-certified teachers with a degree will now receive $65 a day. That’s an increase of $4. Interim Superintendent Gerald Woodard said a look at other districts showed rates at about $100 with the maximum being about $125. This raise also applies to retired teachers who return to work as substitutes.


The  Rapides  Parish Sheriff's Office says four juveniles are facing charges related  to  the theft of dozens of iPads and equipment from Mary Goff Elementary school.  They  say  the  thefts were discovered Friday, four arrests made Monday and more arrests may be coming.


More than 700 employees of the LSU Earl K. Long Medical Center and its clinics will lose their jobs in two weeks as a result of action taken Tuesday by the state Civil Service Commission. The seven-member commission voted 4-2 in favor of a public-private partnership deal, in which Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center, called the Lake, becomes home to the LSU public hospital’s in-patient care and medical education programs, effective April 15. The Lake also takes over management of the LSU hospital’s out-patient clinics the same day.


State lawmakers will again discuss changes to tenure for public school  teachers. Teacher tenure reform passed last year, but a state judge  ruled it was unconstitutional, because it contained too many components.  In response to that ruling, Senate Education Chairman Conrad Appel says  multiple bills have been filed this year, addressing teacher tenure. Appel says the teacher tenure reform effort is not designed to scare  public school teachers. He says tenure should be reserved for the best  educators and the rule changes help to make sure quality teachers are in  the classroom.


Retaliation can be costly. A recent public records search shows that State agencies here in Louisiana  have paid more than $800,000 in the case involving former LSU coastal researcher Ivor van Heerden to defend themselves against claims that he was fired after publicly blaming the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for most of the flooding in New Orleans in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. Documents show that LSU paid a Baton Rouge law firm more than $457,000 over a 30-month period to argue the university’s case. Which it lost. The state Office of Risk Management paid van Heerden a $435,00 settlement last month. In total, state agencies have spent $892,000 on van Heerden’s case.


The chairman of the Louisiana House Appropriations Committee expressed concern yesterday over The state Department of Education’s lack of scrutiny when it comes to the many contracts it relies upon each year. rather than doing the work in-house merits scrutiny. State Rep. Jim Fannin told the committee “I am wondering where the oversight comes. The issue, which Fannin has raised in the past, surfaced during a budget review of the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, which sets policies for more than 700,000 public school students statewide. How many contracts and what they total for the current financial year is unclear.


An environmental group says almost three years after the B-P Deepwater  Horizon disaster, dolphins and sea turtles continue to die in high  numbers. National Wildlife Federation senior scientist Doug Inkley says  this is a sign the Gulf of Mexico is still feeling the effects from the  2010 oil spill. Statistics show dolphin deaths in the oil spill area have remained above  average every month before the spill began.






News For Tuesday 04/02/13

News for Tuesday 040213

By Dave Graichen


According to figures released Monday by the Louisiana Workforce Commission, The number of nonfarm jobs in the state as a whole increased from February 2012 to February 2013. Louisiana gained 29,500 jobs over the year, or a 1.5 percent increase, putting the statewide total up to 1.9 million. Baton Rouge, New Orleans, Lafayette, Lake and Houma-Thibodaux saw strong job growth. While Shreveport-Bossier, which has been hard hit by the shutdown of the General Motors plant, lost 3,100. Alexandria had a 600-job decrease over the year.


The fiscal only session  starts  next Monday and it promises to be a busy one.  By Friday's deadline,  lawmakers had pre-filed 900 bills including  650  in  the House of Representatives. Each legislator is restricted to only five non-fiscal bills for the upcoming session.


The state  lawmaker  who  will lead the effort in the legislature to pass Governor Jindal's tax  reform  plan admits the proposal will be hard to pass. But the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee Joel Robideaux of Lafayette says Governor   Jindal's  tax  package is not dead on arrival as some critics have suggested. And he  says the legislative  fiscal  office  is reviewing the proposal to see if  it will be revenue neutral as Jindal has promised.


Department  of  Health and Hospitals Secretary Bruce Greenstein will leave his post on  May  1st.  Greenstein  is being investigated by a federal grand jury into whether or not he awarded  a  huge  Medicaid contract  to a former employer by using his authority. John Maginnis of LaPolitics.com  says this resignation is coming at a bad time. He says the DHH budget is the largest component of the state's spending plan and Greenstein  is  a  major  player  in an effort to privatize parts of the state's public hospital system.


A prime candidate to run LSU hospitals in Shreveport and Monroe pulled out Monday, citing potential anti-trust challenges. James K. Elrod, president of the Shreveport-based Willis-Knighton Health System, announced the decision in a news release. Hospital system officials had no further comment. The LSU Board of Supervisors last week approved a memorandum of understanding with the Biomedical Research Foundation to work out a deal for the management and operation of the two hospitals, which are key to LSU medical education efforts.


If  you  haven't  filed  your  taxes  yet, it's about that time. The deadline is two weeks from midnight tonight. Louisiana IRS spokesman Michael Dobzinsky encourages citizens to file electronically because it's easier, faster, more convenient and  you  could get your refund in as little as 21 days. He says tax payers should  also be aware of

credits they may be eligible for. Dobzinsky says statistics show that at least 25% of all  tax  payers wait until the last two weeks to file.


A Juvenile Court judge ruled Monday that a 15-year-old Baton Rouge boy charged with murder in a deadly home invasion last year should stand trial as a juvenile, denying a request by prosecutors that he be tried as an adult. After two days of testimony, Judge Pamela Taylor Johnson found Darien Bailey has “borderline” intelligence and the mind of about a 10-year-old, though he was 14 when he was arrested. If convicted, Bailey could be held in a state juvenile facility until he is 21


The Advocate and LSU’s student newspaper filed public records lawsuits against the LSU Board of Supervisors on Monday, seeking documents related to LSU’s search for a new president of the state’s flagship university.  That search, conducted largely in secret, yielded F. King Alexander, president of Cal State University in Long Beach, California, as the sole finalist for LSU’s top post. In recently announcing Alexander as the sole finalist for LSU’s presidency, search committee chairman Blake Chatelain said LSU officials identified 100 people, narrowed that list to 35 active candidates, then cut the list to six or seven people, some of whom were interviewed face to face.


Rep. Bill Cassidy on Monday touted raising more than $500,000 in campaign funds thus far this year, although he still trails the war chest of his potential election opponent, incumbent Sen. Mary Landrieu. Cassidy has not yet announced he will challenge Landrieu, D-La., next year, but he is already pushing his fundraising totals about two weeks before they are publicly released by the Federal Election Commission.


A whistleblower who sued Shaw Environment & Infrastructure Inc. of Baton Rouge for alleged retaliation has been awarded more than $3.4 million by a federal court jury in Anchorage, Alaska. Paul Blakeslee was 71 when he wrote corporate parent Shaw Group headquarters in Baton Rouge on Sept. 19, 2008, that a Shaw project manager in Alaska had defrauded both Shaw and the federal government by having millions of dollars in equipment leased at above-market rates from a firm in which the manager held an interest. Seventeen days later, the Shaw project manager informed Blakeslee that his position had been eliminated. Shaw officials and attorneys denied the retaliation allegation at trial last month.


In  sports  there's  a  couple of big Louisiana stories today. LSU's Mason Katz has for the second  time  in  three  weeks been named the Collegiate  Baseball  National PLayer of the Week and  SEC Player of the  week. Also former Louisiana Tech star quarterback  Luke  McCown has signed a one year deal with the Saints.


The No. 2 LSU Baseball team --- now 26-2 overall, 8-1 in the SEC and  off to the best start since 1986 --- will face Alcorn State at The Box  tonight. You can hear that game on Talkradio 970 KSYL beginning at 6.








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