BITS AND PIECES: WYNONNA, BRAD PAISLEY & MORE!
Wynonna returns to Dancing With The Stars tonight (Tuesday, May 21st) for the two-hour season finale, airing live on ABC at 9 p.m. ET. She will perform an opening dance number with all her fellow celebrity cast members and the pro and troupe dancers. Later in the program, she will sing "I Want To Know What Love Is." Wy said, "I said it while I was on the show, 'I'm a singer, not a dancer,' and now I'm looking forward to sharing my gift, seeing all my friends and having a blast, closing out this exciting chapter of my life."
More than 40 artists are confirmed to perform on the Bud Light Stage at Bridgestone Arena Plaza in Nashville during the 2013 CMA Music Festival, being held from June 6-9. The concerts are free and open to the public. Performers include Lauren Alaina, Bucky Covington, Emerson Drive, Krystal Keith, LoCash Cowboys, David Lee Murphy, Steel Magnolia, Pam Tillis with Lorrie Morgan, James Wesley and Chuck Wicks.
Little Big Town will world-premiere the video for their current single, "Your Side of the Bed," on Thursday (May 23rd) on ABC's Good Morning America. An exclusive CMA Music Festival Announcement will also take place in the 8:30 a.m. hour. The video was shot last month at the historic Tennessee Theater and The Oliver Hotel in Knoxville, Tennessee. The video can be viewed in its entirety exclusively on goodmorningamerica.com all day Thursday.
Brad Paisley performed during the ribbon-cutting ceremony at the brand new Music City Center in Nashville on Monday (May 20th) morning. The performance didn't go as smoothly has Brad had hoped, however. He totally forgot the words to his hit song, "Welcome To The Future."
JAKE OWEN SUFFERS WARDROBE MALFUNCTION DURING CONCERT
Jake Owen had to think fast when his pants split wide open while performing in Charleston, South Carolina on Friday (May 17th). The singer was bending down to say hello to a fan in the audience when the seams in his jeans came undone. He tried to cover himself by threading his white T-shirt through the open areas, which wound up looking a bit like a diaper.
After the show, Jake tweeted, "Charleston, SC will never be forgotten. My jeans ripped on stage tonight. Going commando=bad idea. Although, great breeze here. Coastal town."
He later had some more fun with the situation tweeting, "Tonight was totally "nuts" in Charleston" and "I really gave it my all tonight and let it all hang out."
KENNY CHESNEY DEBUTS NEW SINGLE, DUETS WITH ERIC CHURCH
Kenny Chesney played to more than 43,000 fans during his sold-out show at Miller Stadium in Milwaukee on Saturday (May 18th). The venue had not hosted a concert since 2010, so fans were more than ready to welcome Kenny and his special guests, Eric Church, Eli Young Band and Kacey Musgraves.
That newness inspired Kenny to debut the new single from his album, Life On A Rock, called "When I See This Bar," on which he was joined by Eric.
Kenny said, "'When I See This Bar' is the kind of song you have to have lived. Most people do, they just never step back and realize what all those lost nights, afternoon beers and friendships really mean. They make you who are, get you through tough things and get you laughing . . . Obviously, 'When I See This Bar' is important to me; I know Eric's been there, too, and knows that power of place, so it was great to get him up there."
Kenny also had the capacity crowd sing "Happy Birthday" to his good friend George Strait, who turned 60 this weekend. The superstar promised the crowd he would email a video of the serenade to "King George."
Kenny's No Shoes Nation tour rolls on to Raleigh, North Carolina on Thursday (May 23rd).
ORIGINAL 'AMERICAN IDOL' JUDGES SHOW TWITTER LOVE
Simon Cowell took a little trip down memory lane back to his American Idol days on Saturday (May 18th) which sparked a lovefest between the former judge and his fellow panelists Paula Abdul and Randy Jackson. This outpouring of emotion have longtime Idol fans hoping this could lead to a reunion in the near future.
STEPHEN COLBERT CALLS OUT THE CLASS OF 2013
University of Virginia's class of 2013 got called out by Stephen Colbert at their graduation ceremony on Saturday (May 18th) for being part of the self-obsessed "Me Me Me" generation. The Comedy Central host's commencement address was meant to be taken in jest but covered everything from abusing Adderall, to being the number one party school, and being part of a selfish generation.
Colbert said, "I don't know if you've seen it...this week's Time magazine called you lazy, entitled narcissists who are part of the Me Me Me Generation. So self-obsessed -- tweeting your Vines, hashtagging your Spotifys and Snapchatting your YOLOs -- your generation needs everything to be about you. And that's very upsetting to us baby boomers because self-absorption is kind of our thing."
The 49-year-old goes on to admit that the baby boomer generation has left a difficult road for the current generation but they should use their sense of entitlement to rise up to the challenge of going after what they want to achieve. AUDIO: STEPHEN COLBERT ON THE ME ME ME GENERATION
SETH MACFARLANE IS TOO BUSY FOR THE OSCARS: Seth Macfarlane revealed on Twitter on Monday (May 20th) that his busy schedule will prevent him from hosting the Oscars again. He wrote, "Traumatized critics exhale: I'm unable to do the Oscars again. Tried to make it work schedule-wise, but I need sleep. My suggestion for host is Joaquin Phoenix."
PARIS HILTON GET MOBBED AT CANNES: Paris Hilton and her boyfriend River Viiperi were fighting their way through crowds on Friday (May 17th) at Cannes when one female fan got a bit too close and was shoved out of the way by River. The fan didn't seem bothered by the situation as she kept following the couple hoping to get a picture with the socialite.
ANNA FARRIS FINDS CHRIS PRATT'S PARENTING SEXY: Anna Farris discussed being a mother to her eight-month-old son Jack to Us Weekly and revealed that she finds it sexy to watch her husband Chris Pratt take care of their child. She said, "He feeds the baby almost every morning so I can sleep in...It's very sexy to watch him be a dad!" Anna is about to start shooting the first season of her new CBS sitcom Mom.
COPS SWARM MISCHA BARTON'S HOUSE: O.C. star Mischa Barton got a surprise visit from police officers on Thursday (May 16th) who were reportedly called to her house after someone claimed to hear a woman screaming at that address. There was no such woman at Mischa's house but the cops later found the woman in question down the street.
WILL ARNETT QUITS SMOKING: Arrested Development star Will Arnett has revealed that he is following through on his 2013 New Year's resolution to quit smoking. The comedian said, "I quit smoking a few months ago...I started when I was 13 because it was cool, it was very cool. I smoked for the better part of 30 years and it sort of dawned on me...It's been my longtime companion...I tried to quit before and this time I really got it. I'm on the Nicorette gum...since the second week of January."
News For Tuesday 05/21/13
News for Tuesday 052113
By Dave Graichen
After tornadoes ripped through northwest Louisiana last week, the National Weather Service says the area could be faced with severe conditions once again today. State Climatologist Barry Keim says the front that produced destructive tornadoes in Oklahoma yesterday could spawn more twisters in north Louisiana today. Keim says there is a slight chance for severe weather in the northern third of the state, and a moderate chance for severe weather in the northwestern part of the state. He says Louisianians should take these forecasts seriously and be prepared for anything.
The state Senate Finance Committee on Monday advanced two proposed constitutional amendments that opponents said would protect more areas of the budget from cuts.
The propositions, contained in House Bills 532 and 533, would provide more financial stability for hospitals, nursing homes, intermediate care facilities and pharmacists through constitutionally protected funds. The committee voted 9-1 to approve the measures. The bills now move to the state Senate floor.
A proposal for Louisiana to tap into federal healthcare overhaul funds available for expanding Medicaid has been stalled in the state senate. The Finance Committee rejected the bill yesterday with all but one Republican voting against expansion. A similar proposal is slated for house action later this week.
Homeowners who use solar power and provide electricity for utility companies are watching a vote that is expected to take place at today's Public Service Commission meeting. Those solar customers are eligible for credits on their utility bill, but P-S-C member Clyde Holloway is proposing smaller credits for those homeowners. Holloway says the proposed change would level the playing field for those utility customers who don't have solar panels. Public Service Commissioner Foster Campbell opposes Holloway's attempt to change the rules with the solar program. Because he says they would be breaking its promise to solar customers.
Governor Jindal has ordered a review of Texas Brine's permits to operate in Louisiana. The Governor says has lost patience with the Houston company, for dragging its feet on property buyouts for residents near the 15-acre Bayou Corne sinkhole. However, Texas Brine is blaming their insurance carrier for the holdup in buying property near the sinkhole. Damage estimates from the massive hole in the ground are estimated at some 40-million dollars. Some folks living near the sinkhole have been evacuated for over nine months
The Senate Finance Committee quickly signed off Monday on multi-year, 4 percent pay raises for Louisiana clerks of court. Under House Bill 174, the clerks could opt for 4 percent pay raises in each of four years. The money to cover the raises would have to come from self-generated funds. State Rep. Jeff Arnold of New Orleans, said the raises are optional and would be the first opportunity in seven years for a pay increase.
The bill now heads to the state Senate floor.
A bid to give judges five years of annual pay raises easily received the backing Monday of the state Senate’s budget committee, after it was changed to require money for the salary hike to come from the annual judicial budget. Judges haven’t had a raise since 2010. The proposal now goes to the full Senate for debate.
The grand opening of the Margaritaville Resort in Bossier City has been set for the July 4th week. Officials say the entire event will include fireworks, live music and more. They are hoping Jimmy Buffett will be able to make an appearance at the grand opening and they say the expectation is high.
News For Monday 05/20/13
News for Monday 052013
By Dave Graichen
The Jindal administration has proposed privatization deals with eight LSU hospitals, but lawmakers have learned there's only enough money in next year's budget to fully fund three of them. Department of Health and Hospitals Undersecretary Jerry Phillips says they are aware of the problem and they believe there may be other funding
sources out there to get these deals done.
The state Senate settles in this week to begin its work with the proposed $24-billion budget for the fiscal year that starts in July. The House passed that bill out over a week ago. Lt. Governor Jay Dardenne, who is a veteran of the legislature, says he's pleased with how the House handled tax incentives for the film & TV industry. Dardenne says the budget bill passed by the House makes some cuts to the departments he oversees, tourism, culture, state parks and most museums but they are cuts he feels he can work with.
Business as usual? State ethics officials pushed a limited legislative agenda this year, but even that scaled-down approach got nowhere. No bills were filed, although Louisiana Ethics Board members says they sought legislative fixes from the Legislature’s leaders and from Gov. Bobby Jindal. Some of the measures that did get filed in the 2013 regular session of the Louisiana Legislature are contrary to the recommendations the Ethics Board had established. The Ethics Board asked for help with a handful of challenges it continues to encounter in enforcement of conflict of interest, nepotism and campaign finance laws. Some of the disputes have led to lawsuits and others concern about creating some big holes that could allow ethical misconduct.
A new report on poverty shows that the number of poor people living in the Baton Rouge suburbs increased by 31.8 percent from 2000 to 2011. But, the good news in the report is that 31.8 percent figure is less than half of the average percentage change reported for the nation’s largest cities. Nationally, the number of poor people living in suburban areas in the 100 largest cities went up 63.6 percent from 2000 to 2011, from just over 10 million to nearly 16.4 million.
The Calcasieu Parish Sheriff's office announces an arrest has been made in a murder that happened in 1962. Seventy-three-year-old Felix Vail was arrested in Canyon Lake, Texas and booked into the Calcasieu Parish jail last night. Investigators believe Vail killed his wife Mary Horton Vail, who was found dead in the Calcasieu
River. Felix claimed it was a boating accident. The Mississippi native is also a suspect in the deaths of a girlfriend and another wife.
Marksville police captured an inmate from the Avoyelles Parish Detention Center who was on the run. Authorities say 21-year-old Christopher Roy escaped while on work detail. He was found early Saturday morning at a home in Marksville. Roy has been in prison since November and he was scheduled for release in 2015.
Congratulations to Louisiana State Police Superintendent Col. Mike Edmonson. Who on Saturday received the Buford Pusser National Law Enforcement Award for his efforts to promote partnerships among local, state and federal law enforcement agencies. The award is given annually to “deserving officers who have exhibited both heroism and leadership in law enforcement.
A state lawmaker will look into whether legislation is needed to allow parents track their children with G-P-S devices while at school. Mandeville Representative Tim Burns says there's rules on the books against electronic devices in the classroom like phones, so legislation might be needed for parents to track their kids at school. Burns says he's asking the state legislature to approve a study resolution this year to get a better idea on what schools have to say about GPS devices in the classroom. He says they'll also look into the available technology and possibly propose legislation next year.
The Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services is seeking new foster families. The state currently has about two-thousand foster homes that serve four-thousand foster children. But D-C-F-S Secretary Suzy Sonnier (SAHN-yay) says they are in need of families willing to take large sibling groups or children with special needs. Sonnier says parents can learn more about becoming a foster parent by visiting the department of children and family services website. Sonnier says foster parents take in children who had to leave their family because of abuse or neglect. She says the goal is to eventually reunite those children with their birth parents, relatives or family members.
Whitney and Hancock banks, which operate some 250 full-service bank branches in Louisiana, Texas, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida are expected to close 40-45 area branches this year in all five states in which they operate, including Louisiana. The specific branches that will be closed — and how many employees might be laid off — will not be released until later. Most of the closings will occur Aug. 30 and all closings will be completed by year’s end.
Sports….After a record-breaking regular season, the second ranked LSU baseball team can focus on the postseason. The Tigers will begin play in the SEC Tournament in Hoover, Alabama on Wednesday. LSU will play Against the winner of Tuesday's game between 10th seeded Auburn and seventh seeded Alabama. The Tigers will need to win four games this week to win the SEC Tournament.
News For Friday 05/17/13
News for Friday 051713
By Dave Graichen
Governor Bobby Jindal declares a state of emergency in response to potential flooding along the Mississippi River. Flood warnings are posted along the river from Arkansas City, Arkansas to Baton Rouge. The National Weather Service says the main flooding concern is with those areas not protected by the main levee system.
State senators cracked open the Louisiana House’s version of the nearly $25 billion state spending plan Thursday and immediately raised questions. Members of the state Senate Finance Committee focused their concerns on a planned tax amnesty program, severance tax adjustments and the TOPS program. State Sen. Fred Mills characterized one piece of the plan that the House advanced as almost looking like a pay day loan, referring to a transaction in which someone gets immediate cash but eventually loses money on the deal. The committee will continue to look at the budget today.
Legislation prohibiting future teacher union employees from receiving state retirement benefits cleared the Louisiana House Thursday after fierce debate. House Bill 727 would not allow employees hired after Sept. 1 to belong to the Teachers’ Retirement System of Louisiana. State Rep. Herbert Dixon, D-Alexandria, denounced the proposal as a union busting measure. The House voted 57-40 in favor of the legislation, which now moves to the state Senate.
A bit of a scare yesterday in Alexandria. Police blocked off the streets surrounding the courthouse at about 10:20 a.m. after a suspicious package was found. Just after 2 p.m., Louisiana State Police bomb technicians and FBI agents determined what was in it. Police retrieved some electric hair clippers and two pocketknives. Sheriff William Hilton said in a news release. "In this day and time, you can never be too careful when something like this is found, especially in light of recent events.
One day after rejecting a public school $3.5 billion spending plan, lawmakers said Thursday, they will consider a slightly different version submitted by the BESE board.
The panel on Wednesday rejected BESE’s initial proposal in light of last week’s ruling by the state Supreme Court, which struck down how the state financed school vouchers. The money was first planned to come from the $3.5 billion. But later in the day BESE officials said the rejected proposal inadvertently included language never considered by the board. The corrected version included language aimed at keeping the resolution intact if the court tossed out the voucher funding method, which it did.
Lawmakers have given final legislative passage to a bill requiring public schools to formulate a crisis response plan with local lawmen, and rehearse that plan at least once a year. The bill, received no opposing votes on the Senate floor today. It's now headed to Governor Jindal's office, where he can either sign it, veto it or allow it to take effect without his signature.
Lafayette Republican Charles Boustany will be involved in a Congressional hearing today looking into the allegations that Internal Revenue Service targeted conservative groups that applied for tax-exempt status. Boustany says those responsible may have committed civil rights violations. Boustany is a member of the House Ways and Means Committee, which is holding today's hearing. Steven Miller, who resigned earlier this week as acting IRS Commissioner, is scheduled to testify.
There were no big winners in Wednesday night’s Powerball drawing so the estimated jackpot climbs to an estimated $550 million which is the 2nd largest of all time. The next Powerball drawing is Saturday night.. By the way, The Mega Millions drawing for tonight is also up there.. it’s at $190 million.
Louisiana State Police say a teenager who was not buckled up died in a Calcasieu Parish crash Thursday morning. Three teenage girls were in a car that allegedly ran a stop sign and crashed into another vehicle. All three teenagers were unrestrained in the crash. One died from her injuries, the other two are in critical condition.
New Orleans Police have arrested the brother of the man accused of opening fire on a crowd of people on Mother's Day, for his part in the shooting spree. Akein Scott was arrested Wednesday for 20 counts of attempted murder. His bail set at $10-million. Yesterday, the NOPD says brother Sean Scott will face the same charges. Four others have been arrested as well for harboring the suspects. Scott allegedly shot and
injured 20 people Sunday; three are still in critical condition.
The ban on social networking while driving bill passes 94-0 on the House Floor. The bill by Livingston Senator Dale Erdy would prohibiting drivers from using sites like Facebook, Twitter or Instagram on a mobile device while operating a motor vehicle.
The bill has to go back to the Senate for final passage.
A computer issue recently resulted in the disclosure of personal health information about 8,330 LSU Health Shreveport patients. Spokeswoman Meg Willett describes the release as unintentional and says those affected patients are being informed via notification letters sent out Wednesday. "No Social Security numbers, birthdates or financial account numbers were disclosed; so officials do not believe any financial information has been compromised.
The LSU Baseballers won game one of their three game series against Ole Miss last night with a 7 to 1 victory. Game two is tonight at 6:30. Tomorrow’s game is at 11:30 in the morning..
News For Thursday 05/16/13
News for Thursday 051613
By Dave Graichen
Residents in the city of Pineville could, in the not too distant future, have a chance to give a yea or a nay to the sale of alcohol in restaurants in the dry city. With a unanimous vote the House judiciary committee Wednesday morning sent Sen. Rick Gallot’s Senate Bill 116 to the House floor for a final vote.
New Orleans Police late Wednesday arrested 19-year-old Akein Scott, the alleged gunman in a Mother’s Day shooting that injured 19 people Sunday. Four people remain hospitalized, three in critical condition and one in stable condition. Scott has a long criminal record.
A state Senate panel Wednesday rejected a $3.5 billion funding request for public schools, further muddling an already confused picture on how classrooms will be funded. The Senate Education Committee approved a resolution, without objection, that asks the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education to submit a new request in light of last week’s ruling by the state Supreme Court. The court’s 6-1 decision held that the state cannot use the Minimum Foundation Program, the key source of state aid for public schools, to also finance vouchers for some students to attend private and parochial schools. Gov. Bobby Jindal has said state aid for vouchers will continue but exactly how remains unclear.
Louisiana Education Superintendent John White said Wednesday that a court ruling throwing out funding vouchers through the public school funding formula will result in school systems receiving a $12 million refund for loss of the local shares contributed to vouchers. Local school officials have complained that the department was essentially using local funds to pay for vouchers because it deducted from each district's state allotment an amount equal to what local governments pay to educate students.
The $12 million is part of a $30 million payment that White said will have to be refunded to schools.
The state construction budget zipped through the Louisiana House Wednesday after millions of dollars were added for maintenance projects on public college and university campuses across the state. The House voted 100-0 in favor of advancing House Bill 2, the capital outlay budget, to the state Senate. House Bill 3, the spending engine for the construction budget, also cleared the House chamber.
Louisiana lawmakers learned yesterday they'll have an additional 155-million dollars to spend in the fiscal year budget that starts July 1st. It's the result of higher than expected individual income tax collections. The Senate finance committee will begin its examination of the House-approved budget next week.
The Louisiana Senate on Wednesday narrowly rejected an “Equal Pay for Women” law.
The Senate voted 19-18 for the measure, one vote shy of the 20 needed for passage.
A bill that would allow colleges and universities to impose a host of new fees onto students, including one that could cost up to $2,500 per semester for LSU’s digital media students, easily advanced in the Louisiana House Wednesday on an 80-18 vote.
Most of the discussion on the House floor centered on a provision within House Bill 671 that would allow public institutions around the state to charge a fee of up to $48 to help schools keep up with building maintenance.
An effort to delay implementing Gov. Bobby Jindal’s 401(k)-type pension plan for new state government hires is one step away from final legislative passage. The House Retirement Committee on Wednesday approved a Senate-passed resolution suspending the “cash balance” law until July 1, 2014. The law has been challenged in the Louisiana Supreme Court and an IRS ruling is pending that could prove costly. If the IRS decide Jindal’s fails to provide a benefit equal to Social Security, both the state and the employee would have to pay more. A state Senate panel passed a similar House-passed resolution. Now, all that’s needed is for either chamber to pass one of the instruments that would suspend the law until 2014. Suspension resolutions cannot be vetoed by the governor.
Legislation that would create a Department of Elderly Affairs in state government cleared the Louisiana House Wednesday. The House voted 102-0 in favor of House Bill 352 , Which would abolish the Office of Elderly Affairs within the governor’s office and create a new state department devoted to senior citizen issues, such as funding for councils on aging, senior centers and meals on wheels. The bill now moves to the state Senate.
Minden Congressman John Fleming is calling on Congress to audit the Internal Revenue Service, after alleged misconduct by the tax agency surfaced. Fleming says he's filing legislation this week; calling first for a Congressional audit of the IRS. Yesterday, President Obama announced he's accepted the resignation of acting IRS Commissioner Steven Miller, after it came to light the agency had targeted conservative groups for extra scrutiny in their applications for tax-exempt status.
The National Hurricane Center has released its list of names for Atlantic hurricanes and tropical storms this season. The list starts with Andrea, Barry, Chantal, Dorian, Erin and Fernand. One name we won't see again is Sandy. That name was retired after last year's east coast disaster.
The Louisiana House on Wednesday approved legislation aimed at protecting public employees from retaliation if they provide information requested by a legislator or legislative committee. The House voted 100-0 for House Bill 387, which is opposed by Gov. Bobby Jindal. Administration officials testified in committee that they found the bill was too broad and could have unintended consequences. State Rep. John Schroder, R-Mandeville the sponsor of the bill, said public employees could wage complaints with the Louisiana Board of Ethics, which would investigate and “offer its remedy.” The bill now moves to the Senate for consideration.
The U.S. Senate on Wednesday approved U.S. Sen. David Vitter’s waterway resources bill that is intended to expedite U.S. Army Corps of Engineers processes, set aside more dollars for river dredging and speed up flood-protection projects like southern Louisiana’s Morganza to the Gulf plan in Terrebonne Parish. The bipartisan Water Resources Development Act, sponsored by Vitter and U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer won out with an 83-14 vote. The legislation, a version of which has not passed Congress since 2007, next moves to the U.S. House for consideration, although House members are currently working on their own version of the bill.
The state Department of Ag and Forestry says Louisiana is at less risk for wildfires this year than other states who are dealing with serious drought conditions. The US Drought Monitor shows that as of last week, there were no drought conditions in 93% of the state.
The story of the case of a white family who was allegedly beat up by black suspects for "being in the wrong neighborhood" in Baton Rouge is receiving national attention -- and now BRPD says the FBI may step in. They say currently the incident does not meet the hate crime statute but federal laws could be different.
Legislation that would add an amendment to the state constitution that removes the mandatory retirement age for judges clears another committee. Currently the constitution states a judge cannot remain in office past the age of 70 unless they are severing a term. The proposed amendment by Ville Platte Senator Eric LaFleur has
already made it through the upper chamber and now heads to the House Floor for final passage. If passed, the matter would head to the voters for the November 4th, 2014 election.
The House Bill that would require dogs to be crated in truck beds on Interstates cleared Senate Transportation and now heads to full Senate for possible final legislative passage. Tthe primary purpose of the bill is to reduce the number of accidents caused by dogs who jump out of truck beds. The fine for violating the proposed law would be $150 plus $50 for each additional dog.
Today marks the beginning of the final three game series for the second- ranked LSU baseball team. The Tigers host the Ole Miss Rebels, with the team celebrating senior day this weekend.
News For Wednesday 05/15/13
News for Wednesday 051513
By Dave Graichen
New Orleans Police say they are looking for 19-year-old Akein Scott who they say is a suspect in the mother's day parade shooting that injured 20 people. Three of the victims remain in critical condition after the brutal attack Sunday. Officials say Scott has been arrested many times in the past.
A Senate judiciary committee Tuesday approved a bill aimed at getting around possible future federal gun regulations, by creating a Louisiana-made firearms and ammunition classification. Under the Legislation, as long as the guns or ammo are manufactured within the state, they would not fall under the federally-regulated commerce clause. That bill has already passed the House. It now goes to the Senate floor for what could be final passage.
The Jindal administration’s budget does not contain $42 million in termination pay and unemployment costs for the 5,000-plus state employees losing jobs because of its privatization of LSU hospitals, according to a report issued Monday. The report also notes that there are another $26 million in annually reoccurring “legacy” costs to cover retiree health and life insurance. The legislative auditor’s report looked at various effects of the privatization of hospitals in Baton Rouge, New Orleans, Lafayette, Houma, Bogalusa and Lake Charles.
Today is the final day for Louisiana citizens to submit their 2012 state tax returns. Department of Revenue spokesperson Byron Henderson says they've processed 1.5 million state returns this year, after processing just over two-million the year before. Henderson says taxpayers who waited until today, should file electronically. Henderson says for those who still mail in their returns, the envelope must have today's date as the postmark. He says if a taxpayer needs more time to complete their 2012 state income tax return, they can request an extension to avoid late-filing penalties.
Tonight's Powerball jackpot is up to an estimated $360 million dollars which is the third largest in the game's history. The cash value of tonight's jackpot is a whopping $229.2
A Louisiana House committee refused Tuesday to advance legislation criminalizing sexual contact between psychotherapists and patients. State Rep. Dalton Honoré angered a woman by questioning whether legislation next would be filed to forbid a telephone repairman from dating a client.
Forging motor vehicle safety inspection stickers would be a crime under a House-backed bill approved Tuesday by a Senate committee. State Public Safety officials told the committee that bogus stickers are on the rise. The bill would levee a $5000 fine and up to 5 years in prison for a conviction of counterfeiting inspection stickers. Next stop: the full Senate for debate and vote.
The Greensburg man who pleaded guilty to driving drunk and killing seven people in a car crash had his prison sentence reduced from 80 years to 35 years today. The lawyer for Brett Gerald fired the motion and asked the judge to consider his client's "extreme remorse" and "lack of intent to cause harm."
The National Transportation Safety Board suggests lowering the allowable blood alcohol level from .08 percent to .05 percent for drivers. The NTSB's study indicates dropping the BAC could cut down on the nearly 10,000 drunk driving related deaths nationwide. Louisiana Highway Safety Commission Col John LeBlanc agrees. However, LeBlanc says the last time the NTSB made a recommendation to lower the BAC standard, it took 21 years for all 50 states to comply. Louisiana made the switch to .08 for drivers in September of 2003.
A bill that would protect a minor-aged girl's right to choose whether or not to have an abortion has been passed by the state House. The legislation provides for intervening between child and parent, if the girl wants to have her baby. The bills sponsor Denham Springs Rep. Valarie Hodges say it would make coercing a minor-age girl into having an abortion an act of child abuse.
A House committee has rejected a bill that would require legislative approval of large rate hikes for the state's property insurer of last resort, Louisiana Citizens. St. Mary Parish Senator Brett Allain's bill has already passed the Senate. In the House Insurance Committee, Insurance Commissioner Jim Donelon argued that, by law, Citizens' rates must remain at least 10% higher than the private market. He feels Allain's bill - requiring lawmaker approval of rate hikes of 25% or more - will undo that. The committee voted 9-4 against the bill, which kills it for the session.
A congressional effort to delay upcoming flood insurance rate increases for many thousands of Louisiana residents, and others nationwide, was defeated Tuesday by a single senator who threatened to bring this week’s U.S. Senate floor action to a screeching halt. The proposal, by Sen. Mary Landrieu, with the backing of Sen. David Vitter, R-La, was an amendment to Vitter’s water resources infrastructure bill. The amendment would have stalled premium increases of 20 percent or more annually for some residents in the National Flood Insurance Program. But Sen. Pat Toomey, a republican from Pennsylvania, used a procedural move to block all the proposed amendments to the bill from receiving votes, unless Landrieu withdrew her proposal. She did in order to avoid gridlock. Landrieu said afterward that she will file a standalone flood insurance bill that she will push to move quickly.
A state House panel Tuesday endorsed the creation of special courts to divert non-violent offenders with mental health problems into treatment programs instead of prisons. The Administration of Criminal Justice Committee, without objection, approved Senate Bill 71. The legislation would authorize district courts to create divisions that would deal with offenders who have mental health problems, much like there are drug courts today. The mental health courts would be established by rule by each district court. They would not be mandatory. The bill now heads to the House floor for debate.
Louisiana seafood industry leaders and state officials announce the official launch of the state's Seafood Certification program. The program is aimed at boosting confidence in the quality of seafood for retailers, restaurateurs and consumers by allowing easy recognition of products as being from Louisiana. Louisiana Seafood Promotion and Marketing Board director Ewell Smith says the state Department of Wildlife and Fisheries will have oversight. Television ads for "Louisiana Certified Seafood" are already on the air.
Wade Lohse is finally back in a Lafayette Parish jail and authorities don't expect he'll have a chance at freedom for quite some time. Lohse became Acadiana's Most Wanted after he walked out of his vehicular homicide trial in March.
The Dalai Lama will visit Louisiana this week. The Tibetan holy man will make public appearances in New Orleans Friday and Saturday, and will speak at Tulane University's commencement in the Superdome.
State Sen. Gary Smith and his wife went out of state to have their biological children born using a surrogate mom. On Monday, the Montz legislator got a House committee to advance legislation that would regulate the practice if other married couples want to do the same thing in Louisiana. The House Civil Law Committee voted 9-1 for the Senate-passed measure, which was opposed from both ends of the political spectrum. Gay rights advocates complained about exclusion and the Louisiana Family Forum and Louisiana Conference of Catholic Bishops objected on ethical and moral grounds. Senate Bill 162, which cleared the Senate 30-4, now moves to the House floor for debate.
In a sign that the GOP is rallying around Rep. Bill Cassidy as its choice for the 2014 Senate race, all of the Republicans in the state’s congressional delegation are supporting Cassidy at a June fundraiser in Washington. The Republicans want a one-on-one race between Cassidy and incumbent Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La. The invitation for June 11 fundraiser at the National Republican Senatorial Committee headquarters in Washington suggests minimum donations of $500 and touts “special guests” in Sen. David Vitter, and Reps. Rodney Alexander of Quitman, Charles Boustany, of Lafayette; John Fleming of Minden; and Steve Scalise of Jefferson.
News For Thursday 05/09/13
News for Thursday 050913
By Dave Graichen
The Louisiana House of Representatives is scheduled to vote today on a 24-billion dollar budget for next fiscal year. Many lawmakers do not like the governor's budget because of the use of one-time dollars, but insiders say the votes are not there for an alternative plan that would reduce state tax credits as a way to raise revenues. A group of republican lawmakers known as "fiscal hawks" were working with democrats on a proposed budget that the Jindal administration criticized as a tax increase on businesses. But that plan fell apart when the governor put pressure on republican legislators.
Senator David Vitter has introduced legislation to end the free cell phone program for the poor. The Senator says the Lifeline Program, introduced in 1984, was originally about expanding land line phone service to rural areas and low income households--at a relatively low cost to taxpayers. But, the Lifeline Program has somehow become a dispensary of free cell phones that currently costs taxpayers over $2-billion a year.
According to a new survey, Louisiana is the second best state in the nation to retire. The study by Bankrate.com says besides jazz and beignets, our state offers retirees an excellent combination of low taxes and balmy weather. Analyst Chris Kahn says people like to retire in places where it's warm. Kahn says popular places with warm weather, beaches and other major attractions are great places to visit, but they don't make good places to retire due to overall tax rates and high cost of living.
The House Health and Welfare Committee has approved a bill to tap into federal dollars available to expand Medicaid coverage to more of Louisiana's working poor. Testifying before the panel, former state Health and Hospitals Secretary David Hood says the state should take the federal money. Also testifying on the bill, acting Health and Hospitals head Kathy Kliebert who says the expansion will eventually become unsustainable. The Jindal Administration has resisted the Medicaid expansion. The committee passed the measure by a close 10-9 vote, sending it to the House floor.
A bill to increase student fees at LSU advances in House Education today. The bill by Baton Rouge Representative Franklin Foil would implement a $60 a year fee to go towards campus maintenance projects. If passed it would go into effect this fall and could top out at $300 a year by fall of 2017. It now heads to the House floor.
A USA Today report shows LSU's athletic department took in 114 million dollars in revenues in 2012 which is the seventh highest figure among public universities. LSU Associate athletics director Herb Vincent says the report is accurate and the study also shows LSU's athletic department is one of the few in the country that does not rely on subsidies. Ticket sales, contributions and right licensing help make up the
revenue totals. Vincent says LSU expects to see its revenue numbers continue to grow with the launch of the SEC Television Network in August 2014.
The House has passed West Monroe Rep. Frank Hoffman's bill to prohibit smoking within 25 feet of state-owned buildings. Hoffman amended his bill to make it apply only to office buildings, the Capitol and nothing else. Hoffman's legislation passed the House by 84-11 vote. It now goes to the Senate for committee review in that chamber.
A Senate committee has approved a House-passed bill that would place criminal penalties on anyone who makes public information on Louisiana's holders of concealed weapon carry permits. That bill now goes to the full Senate, where it will be up for final passage.
The "I'm a Cajun" license plate bill has made it another step further. The legislation by State Senator Fred Mills that would start offering the specialty plate passes the Senate and now heads to the House for further consideration.
An Abbeville man has been indicted on a second-degree murder charge in the death of his girlfriend's 3-month-old daughter. Police say 25-year-old Shane Jude Vincent was arrested without incident. Vincent was also charged with tampering with evidence in the death of Jayla Broussard last November.
Federal regulators are investigating whether workers at the Shaw Modular Solutions facility in Lake Charles, which supplies parts to nuclear plants, broke quality control rules and falsified records. CB&I, which acquired the facility’s owner, Baton Rouge-based Shaw Group, in February, said it is cooperating in the probe and has turned over all the requested documents.
The Louisiana House on Wednesday voted 99-0 to allow public high school students with disabilities to avoid taking the ACT and other standardized tests.
State Rep. John Bel Edwards, D-Amite and sponsor of the plan, said the exclusion would apply to students who are not pursuing a high school diploma and who have an exceptionality listed in state law. The proposal does not cover gifted and talented students. The legislation, which next faces action in the state Senate, is the latest move aimed at revamping rules of the state Department of Education.
A state Senate-passed bill that would spell out details of a 2012 law to overhaul early childhood education in Louisiana cleared the House Education Committee on Wednesday. The measure, Senate Bill 130, next faces action on the Louisiana House floor. Last year’s law calls for early learning performance guidelines for those from zero to age 3 and academic standards for 3- and 4-year-olds. In addition, pre-kindergarten centers and schools will get letter grades, and state aid will be linked to how the centers perform. The changes take effect in the 2015-16 school year.
The number three LSU baseball team is in College Station, Texas, preparing for a three-game series that starts tonight against the Texas A-and-M Aggies. Head coach Paul Mainieri says he's excited about the opportunity to play on the road in a new environment and in front of a raucous crowd. You can hear all three games of that series on 970 KSYL.
News For Wednesday 05/08/13
News for Wednesday 050813
By Dave Graichen
The state Supreme Court has ruled the funding mechanism for Louisiana's private school tuition vouchers program violates the state Constitution. The High Court ruled that using dollars from the so-called Minimum Foundation Program, the fund for public school funding to pay the vouchers goes against the language of the Constitution. Seemingly un-phased, Governor Jindal said he can get the millions needed to fund the vouchers in house bill #1, the state’s overall budget, before it makes final passage. That budget is already over a billion dollars in the red.
Details emerge on what's contained in the Louisiana House's proposed budget for the fiscal year that starts July 1st. A coalition of Democrats and Republican "Fiscal Hawks" proposes to reduce state tax credits by 15 percent as a way to fund critical services. The Governor's Office says the plan will increase taxes on business and manufacturing by over a billion dollars over 4 years, and will severely damage the state's burgeoning film and electronic media industries.
A state judge has imposed a 9pm curfew on LSU running back Jeremy Hill. Under the judge's order, Hill must stay off the streets between 9 at night and 6 in the morning, and must stay away from bars. It's all conditions of Hill's probation for a fight on April 27th at a Tigerland bar. Hill was already on probation for his January conviction for carnal knowledge of a juvenile.
Shreveport Police say a high school student is under arrest for bringing a handgun on a school campus. Police say the 17-year-old Fair Park High School student was taken into custody after authorities found a .22 caliber handgun in his backpack.
Dozens of people from Louisiana are listed as missing, so does the amazing tale of three women who were found in Cleveland Monday give more families hope? State Police Captain Doug Cain says it's important they work with parents of missing children to keep hope alive, but also not give them false hope. He says human trafficking cases seem to be on the rise. The website for The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children lists 32 kids, with pictures, as currently missing from
Louisiana -- some for decades.
A House bill that would allow off-duty cops and concealed carry permit holders to bring their guns into eating establishments has been killed in a Senate Committee. The bill is sponsored by Haughton Representative Henry Burns, who explains his original intent was to allow officers to eat at restaurants that serve liquor without leaving their weapon in the car. Burns says he may bring the original intent of his bill back as an amendment to other legislation.
It's already passed the Senate, and now a bill to ban social networking while driving has cleared another legislative hurdle. The House Transportation Committee approved Livingston Senator Dale Erdey's bill, which makes posting to Facebook Twitter or Instagram from behind the wheel punishable with fines and possible jail time. Next stop the House floor, where it's expected to win final passage.
A solar energy tax credit would be phased out by 2020 under a bill approved in the Louisiana House on Tuesday. The House voted 95-1 for the measure which sponsor state Rep. Erich Ponti said is backed by the industry. Under House Bill 705, the tax credit would drop 35 percent in 2016 and then go away entirely by 2020. The credit cost Louisiana $24 million in 2012. The bill now moves to the state Senate.
News For Tuesday 05/07/13
News for Tuesday 050713
By Dave Graichen
The House Ways and Means committee advances several bills to the House floor that limit the amount of tax breaks Louisiana doles out. These measures will be used in a budget deal House members are working to approve later this week. One bill heading to the House floor will cut tax credit programs by 5-percent, raising state
revenues by an estimated 47-million dollars. Governor Jindal held a press conference after the committee meeting say what the state reps were doing was sneaky and he believes all they want to do is raise taxes.
An audit on Louisiana's food stamps program shows about two-million dollars in benefits went to ineligible residents, including prisoners. Legislative Auditor Daryl Purpera says one-point-one million dollars in food stamp benefits went to over 17-hundred incarcerated participants during fiscal years 2011 and 2012. The audit also shows that about 300 participants spent 100-percent of their benefits at a single retailer. Purpera says it's an indication the food stamp recipient used their benefit card to possibly by liquor or tobacco. Something not allowed under the program.
The House has passed a bill that will exempt Louisiana-based gun manufacturers from federal gun regulations. The bill, by Metairie Rep. Joe Lopinto, provides for a license for in-state made firearms and that the making and selling of said guns is not subject to federal laws. The measure passed by a wide margin.
A House bill that would loosen restrictions on who can carry a gun into a restaurant that sells alcohol will be heard in a Senate committee today. The legislation by Haughton representative Henry Burns was originally written to allow off-duty police officers into bars and restaurants. Burns believes his bill was amended to include ALL permit holders in a effort by opponents to kill it, but that backfired and it passed. It
also passed on the House Floor despite confusion over who the bill applied to.
In an effort to help traditional retailers and financially strapped state and local governments, the US Senate Monday passed a bill that would allow for the charging of state sales taxes on most purchases made over the internet. The Senate passed the bill by a vote of 69-27, getting support from Republicans and Democrats alike. But opposition from some conservatives who view it as a tax increase will make it a tougher sell in the House. President Barack Obama has expressed his support.
Louisiana judges would no longer be subject to a mandatory age 70 retirement under a proposition endorsed Monday evening by the state Senate.The Senate voted 33-2 for a proposed constitutional amendment contained in Senate Bill 5 , which now moves to the House for debate. The proposition must receive a two-thirds vote of each legislative chamber before it goes to voters at the next statewide election which is in 2014.
Gas prices continue to slide in Louisiana. The current statewide average for a gallon of regular is $3.27 which is down a penny from yesterday. Some analysts from the American Automobile Association say it's very possible prices could be $3 a gallon by the time summer rolls around. A year ago at this time the price was $3.63.
A proposal to help state road and bridge funding keep pace with inflation was rejected in a House committee Monday. The bill would have indexed the gasoline tax to the Consumer Price Index.
A state audit shows that more than 44 percent of the Louisiana students who received scholarships from the state's TOPS program over a seven-year period had their awards canceled for one reason or another. The audit says the state spent $165 million in TOPS awards for the more than 42,000 students whose awards were eventually canceled. In response, TOPS administrators said more than 80 percent of money paid for TOPS awards went to students who completed the program. And they said most of the canceled awards were lost by students who failed to maintain enough credit hours but still had good grades.
The Iberia Parish Sheriff's office is investigating the death of a 3-year-old child. Capt Ryan Turner says no charges have been filed in the death of the child because cause of death has not yet been determined. However he says they did arrest the four adults that were in the home that day after drugs were found during the investigation.
A 16-year Baton Rouge boy was killed when the car he was a passenger in ran off I-10 in Ascension Parish and crashed into a line of trees. The non-licensed 16-year-old driver and two other passengers in the vehicle were wearing seatbelts at the time of the wreck and suffered only minor injuries. An investigation continues.
Legislation that would prohibit drivers from posting on their Facebook or tweeting while driving moves one step closer to final legislative approval. Livingston Senator Dale Erdey says his bill calls for a fine of up to 175-dollars for the first offense,
500-dollars for subsequent violations. The bill now heads to the House Floor, it's already been approved by the Senate.
News For Monday 05/06/13
News for Monday 050613
By Dave Graichen
Boise Incorporated will invest 111-million dollars to upgrade its paper mill in Deridder. The governor's office says the expansion will retain 440 existing jobs and create 54 new direct jobs. Deridder Mayor Ron Roberts says Boise plans to convert an old newsprint machine, so that it will be able to produce cardboard for
packaging. Roberts says Boise's investment, which will also create an estimated
600 construction jobs, is the biggest ever by a private employer in Beauregard Parish.
The man who escaped from the Natchitoches Detention Center Thursday was captured by US Marshals Friday evening. 29-year-old Derrick Evans was a trustee serving time for attempted manslaughter when he turned up missing while working at the jail's farm. Authorities say Evans was discovered in Jackson, Mississippi so he now sits in a jail there until he can be extradited back to Louisiana.
Discussions on the proposed state budget continued over the weekend and more details could be released today. Lake Charles Representative Brett Geymann says the state House wants to vote on a spending plan that has bipartisan support and prevents the midyear budget cuts that have occurred during the Jindal administration. Geymann says their budget proposal will call for spending cuts, while also suspending certain tax exemptions.
The 2013 legislative session has reached the halfway point. Council for a Better of Louisiana President Barry Erwin says the session started with a discussion on phasing out the state income tax. But Erwin says that idea was quickly shot down, so the focus in the Louisiana House has been on the proposed budget for next fiscal year. As far as other legislation goes, not one bill has passed the entire legislative process during the first 4 weeks of the session.
Legislation that would protect parents from FALSE child abuse claims will be debated on the Senate floor today. Jennings Senator Blade Moorish says he decided to file this bill after an innocent Iota family was investigated by the Department of Children and Family Services in the death of their baby. Moorish says Amanda and Jerry Spaetgens' baby died of SIDS, but since one doctor reported suspected abuse, DCFS protocol removed the other children from the home while they conducted an investigation. Moorish says his bill would establish a "level of risk" that DCFS would use when determining abuse.
The House Way & Means Committee is scheduled today to debate a proposal to help state road and bridge funding keep pace with inflation. Ken Perret, with the Louisiana Good Roads and Transportation Association, says the bill would index the state's 20 cent gasoline tax – dedicated to highways - to the Consumer Price Index. The state has a multi-billion dollar backlog of road and bridge repair and replacement projects, with too little cash to get them started. Perret says - if passed - House Bill 675, sponsored by Plaquemine Rep. Karen St. Germain, would likely raise the gas tax by just under a penny in its first year. The governor has said he will veto any bill that would raise taxes.
Third ranked LSU has another nice winning streak going as they head into the final two weeks of the regular season. The Tigers rebounded from a series loss to South Carolina by sweeping Florida this past weekend. The Fighting Tigers will get back on the diamond Thursday night when they begin a three-game series at Texas A-and-M.
News For Friday 05/04/13
News for Friday 050213
By Dave Graichen
What is up with the weather? Over the next couple of days, Louisiana is expected to set new records for low temperatures. State climatologist Barry Keim says these chilly temperatures are the result of a late Spring cold air mass.
Next week, Louisiana's House of Representatives will debate the 24-billion dollar state operating budget for the fiscal year that goes into effect July 1st. Thursday, House Speaker Chuck Kleckley gave a strong indication the House will vote on a spending plan that does not include the patchwork financing recommended by Governor
Jindal. Kleckley told lawmakers Thursday that a reworked proposed budget could be unveiled on Monday. It's been reported the House is working on a budget that would
contain spending cuts, while also reducing or eliminating certain tax breaks to raise revenue.
Former Governor Edwin Edwards spoke for about seven minutes on the Senate floor Wednesday then received a standing ovation from members. The expectant father reminisced about working with the legislature during his four terms in office and told Senators that never more than now does Louisiana need leaders who are willing to
set aside personal interests.
Officials in 63 of Louisiana’s 70 school districts have submitted new salary schedules that will reward teachers for effectiveness and other areas, the state Department of Education announced Thursday. The new pay plans stem from a 2012 state law aimed in part at giving local school officials more flexibility in how educators are paid. The law has been declared unconstitutional by a 19th Judicial District Court, in Baton Rouge, but remains in effect while attorneys for the state appeal.
The Southeastern Conference along with its primary television rights provider, ESPN, announced the start of the SEC network which will televise more than one-thousand events each year. The network will broadcast 24-7 starting in August 2014. Commissioner Mike Slive says the SEC Network will televise three
SEC football games each week. The new network will also televise 75 college baseball games a year.
A West Monroe newspaper reports the sponsor of a controversial bill that would allow optometrists to perform eye surgeries is withdrawing the bill from consideration. Rep. Frank Hoffman's bill met fierce opposition from ophthalmologists, who feel eye surgeries should only be done by medical doctors. Optometrists are not MDs. Hoffman told the Ouachita Citizen he's reconsidered the wisdom of the bill.
A bill to allow voters to decide if they want traffic cameras in their area was killed in a House committee Thursday today. Bill sponsor Jeff Arnold says his bill would prohibit using the cams to levy fines unless voters approved them. Opposition came from representatives of local governments, who say the cams reduce accidents and generate revenue. The committee rejected Arnold's bill by a 5-to-10 vote.
In a meeting that went into the evening hours, the Senate Education Committee once again rejected an effort to repeal Louisiana's Science Education act, which allows discussion of alternate theories to mainstream science. Chief among them the theory of Intelligent Design creation of the universe--as opposed to the Big Bang. Critics, like New Orleans Senator Karen Peterson says the 2008 law is nothing less than sneaking religion into public school classrooms through the back door. The committee deferred the bill--ending its progress for another year.
A proposal to increase certain fees the Secretary of State can collect failed to pass in the state House Thursday. House Bill 430 sponsored by state Rep. Walt Leger, D-New Orleans, got a favorable vote — 48 to 35 — but failed to meet the 53 vote majority to advance out of the House. The law would have authorized the Secretary of State to raise fees for filing and recording articles of incorporation for businesses from $60 to $75 among other fee increases.
An 82-year-old Jennings woman jumped to her death off the U.S. 90 Mermentau River Bridge Thursday morning. Deputies recovered the body of Irene Jeanise a short time later.