The U.S. Congress received mixed reactions from Louisiana agricultural groups last week after it narrowly passed the Central American Free Trade Agreement. The House ratified CAFTA, which immediately goes into effect, by a two-vote margin in a late session last Wednesday night.
In Louisiana, U.S. Reps. William Jefferson, Rodney Alexander, Jim McCrery and Richard Baker voted for the trade agreement, while Reps. Charles Boustany, Charlie Melancon and Bobby Jindal remained steadfast opponents of CAFTA.
The trade deal between the United States, five Central American countries, and the Dominican Republic has been a contentious issue in Louisiana ("Sticky Situation," Feb. 16), with some of the state's principal farm groups trying to reconcile their opposing positions. The Louisiana Farm Bureau and the Thibodaux-based American Sugar Cane League were both adamant opponents of the plan due to provisions that allow for a gradual increase in cheap, imported Central American sugar. The state's rice mills, however, strongly supported CAFTA because it provides lower, more stable tariffs on their exports to the six countries.
Sugar industry representatives have said that while the added sugar imports expected under CAFTA may not immediately put domestic sugar farmers out of business, if the trade policies set forth in NAFTA and now CAFTA continue to spread, it could ultimately jeopardize an industry that dates back 225 years in Louisiana.
Prior to the vote, Rep. Charlie Melancon, former president of the American Sugar Cane League,Â was granted one minute to speak during the House floor debate. Melancon ended his brief speech by saying, "I do not see any benefits for workers, for sugar people. We have given away textiles. We have given away steel. We have given away fruits and vegetables. Now let us just go ahead and give away everything and be dependent on every other country for our food and our defense."
Architect Gene Sellers gave a dire forecast last week to the building committee for the new south Lafayette public library branch. Because construction costs shot up 25 percent in the past three years since the library was first planned, Sellers said the building, if bid out today, would be at least $330,000 over its $6.5 million budget. The projections are forcing the committee to consider some significant changes to the new branch.
Lafayette Public Library Director Sona Dombourian says one feature the committee is likely to consider cutting or scaling down is a planned 100-seat auditorium wired for laptop computer use, estimated to cost more than $350,000. Dombourian says they are also looking at getting private donations from individuals or businesses that may want to sponsor the auditorium. The new library branch, to be located on a six-acre site at the corner of Johnston Street and Duhon Road Extension, is still on schedule to be bid for construction in early 2006.
Local and state agents Thursday night raided The Keg, the popular college bar located in the area known as The Strip, leading to the (at least) temporary closure of the venue.
Here's your daily look at late-breaking national and international news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about Friday, April 18, 2014:
Friday's Blogs from the Bog!
Time and time again, the Lafayette Parish School Board shows an overwhelming tendency toward idiocy, but Wednesday night’s contentious discussion over Northside High School’s teen mother program tops the list of dumb discussions.
“The accomplishment of this goal within the next ten years is not only critical for the region to effectively compete with other regions for residents and businesses, but also to provide an amenity for everyone in Acadiana to enjoy.”
Education Superintendent John White says a continued push to try to keep Louisiana from using tests associated with the Common Core education standards are creating "a state of chaos" for public school teachers.
Gov. Bobby Jindal's plan to use $210 million in surplus and one-time money to help balance next year's budget received the backing Thursday of the State Bond Commission, support that was needed for the maneuver to work.
State wildlife and fisheries agents have arrested a 39-year-old man accused of stealing crawfish.
An East Feliciana Parish lawmaker has jettisoned his proposal to make it harder for a condemned prisoner to appeal a death sentence.
Senators advanced a proposal Wednesday that would let the governor remove New Orleans-area levee board members for violating what he considers to be public policy, despite concerns it would introduce political meddling into state flood protection.
The Lafayette City-Parish Council on Tuesday will vote on a resolution that if approved would clear the way for a December ballot proposition asking voters to approve a 1-cent sales tax parishwide to help fund the construction of a new terminal at Lafayette Regional Airport.
Just days before the fourth anniversary of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster and oil spill, the Coast Guard has moved cleanup of Louisiana's coast to a new phase, allowing BP to end its "active" efforts in the area.
Legislators still must leave their guns at the door of the Louisiana Capitol.
Sen. Fred Mills may have an "R" behind his name, but his actions in the Louisiana Legislature transcend the established boundaries of his party.
The Louisiana House overwhelmingly rejected a repeal of the state's unconstitutional anti-sodomy law Tuesday.
The Louisiana Senate sided with Gov. Bobby Jindal and the oil industry Tuesday, agreeing to void a lawsuit that a south Louisiana flood board filed against more than 90 oil and gas companies for coastal damage.
Acadian rep notifies would-be supporters that an April 25 fundraiser for the embattled U.S. rep won’t go on as planned.
While it isn’t all too unusual for public bodies to have hired security present during meetings, the LPSB’s push to do so is arguably a response to the antics of one board member.
“I’m running. Why would I be raising all this money? Just to have to return it to people?”
With incumbent U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu watching from afar, and with a united Democratic Party in her corner, the fight to get the GOP officially behind Congressman Bill Cassidy is gaining just as much momentum as it is hushed controversy.
15th Judicial District Judge Durwood Conque has announced that he will not seek re-election after 27 years on the bench.
The controversial standardized tests are set to be used in third-grade through eighth-grade public school classrooms next year.
The Louisiana Senate has agreed to prohibit unmanned aircraft from flying over chemical plants, water treatment systems, telecommunications networks and other items considered "critical infrastructure" in Louisiana.
It didn’t take long for KATC TV 3 to jump all over the news of a dead body found in Girard Park, but in its rush to produce headlines, the local TV station got sloppy.
An unholy trinity of civil-society upheavalers whose first names are not Conner, Tanner or Logan are facing charges in Eunice.