Thursday, March 14, 2013
LAFAYETTE PARISH SCHOOL OFFICIALS ASKED THEIR SIX AREA LEGISLATORS TO HELP THEM AVERT A LOOMING FINANCIAL CRISIS. AT A LEGISLATIVE BREAKFAST YESTERDAY, THE SCHOOL OFFICIALS ASKED FOR AN INCREASE IN FUNDING FROM THE MINIMUM FOUNDATION PROGRAM, WHICH USED TO INCREASE ANNUALLY BY 2-POINT-7-5 PERCENT, BUT HAS REMAINED THE SAME FOR THE LAST FOUR YEARS. THEY ALSO ASKED FOR A REDUCTION IN UNFUNDED MANDATES, WHICH, THE SCHOOL DISTRICTíS CHIEF FINANCIAL OFFICER BILLY GUIDRY SAYS, COSTS THE SCHOOL SYSTEM ABOUT FOUR MILLION DOLLARS ANNUALLY. SUPERINTENDENT PAT COOPER TOLD THE LEGISLATORS THAT THEYíVE HAD GOOD SALES TAX REVENUES THAT SHOULD HELP THEM THIS YEAR, BUT AFTER THIS YEAR, THEY LOOK TO BE IN TROUBLE.
A STATE DISTRICT JUDGE IN BATON ROUGE HAS RULED THAT AN AIR PERMIT FOR THE GEORGIA GULF PLANT IN WESTLAKE SHOULD NOT RENEWED. MOSSVILLE ENVIRONMENTAL ACTION NOW, OR MEAN, FILED A LAWSUIT AFTER THE STATE DEPARTMENT OF ENVIROMENTAL QUALITY AGREED TO RENEW THE PERMIT LAST SEPTEMBER. THEY CONTEND THAT EMISSIONS FROM THE PLANT EXCEED HEALTHY LIMITS SET BY THE STATE. DOROTHY FELIX, THE PRESIDENT OF MEAN, SAYS THEY WILL NOW SUE THE D-E-Q FOR ISSUING THE PERMIT IN VIOLATION OF LOUISIANA CLEAN AIR STANDARDS.
ST. LANDRY PARISH DISTRICT ATTORNEY EARL TAYLOR SAYS HE WILL ONLY INVESTIGATE NEW ALLEGATIONS AGAINST ST. LANDRY PARISH SCHOOL BOARD MEMBER QUINCY RICHARD IF SOMEONE FILES A FORMAL COMPLAINT WITH HIS OFFICE. RICHARD PLED GUILTY IN 2004 TO FILING FALSE PUBLIC RECORDS, AND ACCORDING TO THE STATE CONSTITUTION, A CONVICTED FELON CAN ONLY RUN FOR PUBLIC OFFICE IF 15 YEARS HAVE PASSED SINCE THE COMPLETION OF THEIR SENTENCE OR IF THEY RECEIVE A GOVERNORíS PARDON. RICHARD SAYS HE HAD THE CHARGE EXPUNGED FROM HIS RECORD AND BELIEVED THAT CLEARED THE WAY FOR HIM TO RUN FOR THE SCHOOL BOARD. TAYLOR SAYS, IN HIS LEGAL OPINION, AN EXPUNGEMENT DOES NOT MEAN A CONVICTED FELON CAN RUN FOR OFFICE.
Lawmakers are bristling at pay raises handed out by Louisiana's statewide elected officials while the state struggles with continuing budget shortfalls and repeated cuts. Members of the House Appropriations Committee said they were angry and frustrated as they learned during Wednesday's budget hearing that Treasurer John Kennedy, Insurance Commissioner Jim Donelon, Agriculture Commissioner Mike Strain and Attorney General Buddy Caldwell have given salary bumps to various employees in their offices. Both Donelon and Strain said they gave across-the-board 4 percent merit raises to classified employees this year because they couldn't sign a civil service form attesting that they didn't have enough money. Republican Rep. John Schroder of Covington says it's wrong to give raises when the state had to make midyear budget cuts to services.
TWO PEOPLE ARE DEAD FOLLOWING A CRASH IN BROUSSARD.
STATE POLICE ARE INVESTIGATING A FATAL TWO VEHICLE CRASH ON HIGHWAY 26 WEST OF DERIDDER. TROOPERS SAY THE DRIVER OF AN S-U-V ATTEMPTED TO MAKE A U-TURN ON THE HIGHWAY AND WAS STRUCK ON THE PASSENGERíS SIDE BY A PICKUP TRUCK. THE DRIVER OF THE S-U-V WAS KILLED WHILE THE OTHER DRIVER SUFFERED MODERATE INJURIES. STATE POLICE SAY THE DRIVER WHO DIED WAS NOT WEARING HIS SEAT BELT.
A TUESDAY AFTERNOON TRAFFIC STOP IN CROWLEY LED TO THE ARREST OF TWO SUSPECTED DRUG DEALERS. WHEN NARCOTICS AGENTS WITH THE CROWLEY POLICE DEPARTMENT PULLED OVER A VEHICLE IN THE THREE HUNDRED BLOCK OF NORTH WESTERN AVENUE, A PASSENGER IDENTIFIED AS AKEEM ROSS FLED THE VEHICLE. CROWLEY POLICE CHIEF K-P GIBSON SAYS ILLEGAL NARCOTICS WERE FOUND IN PLAIN VIEW IN THE VEHICLE. THE DRIVER, CASEY DUGAR, WAS ARRESTED ON NUMEROUS DRUG VIOLATIONS AND AN ARREST WARRANT HAS BEEN ISSUED FOR ROSS, WHOSE LAST KNOWN ADDRESS WAS 817 NORTH AVENUE E IN CROWLEY.
Gov. Bobby Jindal may have decided Louisiana won't expand its Medicaid program, but state lawmakers don't appear so settled on the issue. Lawmakers got a crash course Wednesday on the details of the federal health care law, and the Senate and House Insurance committees are asking for more research and analysis.
Republican Sen. Dan "Blade" Morrish, chairman of the Senate committee, says he wants more details about the costs and benefits of an expansion. Morrish says the people of Louisiana deserve to know whether state leaders are making the right decision in refusing billions in federal health care funding.