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.
The Board of Elementary and Secondary Education has stalled action on a $3.5 billion annual school funding formula due to state lawmakers by March 15.
The New Orleans Saints have yet to make it official as of this writing, but popular wide receiver Lance Moore has reportedly been cut by the team to free up salary-cap space on the roster.
While two medical marijuana bills are slated for the upcoming legislative session, what some Louisianans might not know is that the plant was approved for therapeutic use by state lawmakers in 1991.
The agenda is shaping up to be lighter than in previous years. But Jindal is term-limited, with fewer than two years remaining in office, and he saw his last big initiative — a proposed rewrite of Louisiana tax law — collapse without getting a vote in 2013.
Sharper has been held without bail because of an arrest warrant issued by Louisiana authorities accusing him and another man of raping two women.
Here's your daily look at late-breaking national and international news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about Friday, March 07, 2014:
Two Lafayette men have been revealed by police as the infamous duo behind a caper that shook our fair city to its core.
The Lafayette Parish School Board has received a second letter of demand related to last year’s insurance debacle, this time from Key Benefit Administrators claiming it’s owed $93,000 from the school system.
The Louisiana coastline is vanishing faster than mappers can keep track.
A bill that would have overridden local ordinances prohibiting public and private employers from discriminating against lesbian, gay and transgender people has been pulled within less than a week of being filed.
The panel that selects nominees for a controversial New Orleans area flood control board — a board that is suing more than 90 oil, gas and pipeline companies — is set to discuss legislation affecting its independence.
State prison officials cannot keep secret the seller and manufacturer of the two drugs purchased for executions at the Louisiana State Penitentiary, a federal judge ruled Wednesday.
State lawmakers will not appeal a judge's ruling that it was improper to use $3.7 million from a probation and parole officers' retirement fund to balance the state's operating budget.
Conservatives have been losing their minds over this satirical bit on the Colbert Report.
The Lafayette Parish School Board leaves a lot to be desired, but is scrapping the election process in favor of an appointed board the answer?
The House approved legislation Tuesday night to roll back a recently enacted overhaul of the federal flood insurance program, after homeowners in flood-prone areas complained about sharp premium increases.
The NFL has formally designated New Orleans' Jimmy Graham as a tight end for the purposes of his franchise tag value, which is now set at $7.05 million next season unless Graham and the Saints subsequently agree on a long-term deal.
A federal appeals panel ruled Monday that businesses don't have to prove that they were directly harmed by BP's 2010 Gulf Of Mexico oil spill to collect settlement payments.
The Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development has closed Interstate 10 from I-49 in Lafayette to Seigen Lane in Baton Rouge.
Jim Bernhard, who engineered the sale of The Shaw Group for $3 billion, recently has told several people involved in Democratic politics that he intends to run for governor in 2015.
A New Orleans levee board wants to hold the oil and gas industry accountable for decades of damage to our state’s coastline, but the Legislature may be poised to put the kibosh on the suit.
New standards curb elective induction
CVS stops tobacco sales
If an Acadia Parish fiddler misses a note while swatting a fly, will a St. Martinville accordionist learn “Ma ‘Tite Fille”?
(It's good, it's bad and it's just crazy)