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 fight to clean up Lafayette Parish could get some added ammunition with two ordinances up for votes Tuesday by the City-Parish Council targeting litter-bugs.
By striking a deal to lessen the blow of health insurance changes on state workers, school employees and retirees, Gov. Bobby Jindal's administration lowered the volume of criticism but gave itself and local school boards a new budget headache.
With the airport tax coming up for a parishwide vote in about a week, the Broussard City Council and its mayor have come out in support of the proposal.
Protesters rallied peacefully in several Louisiana cities in the wake of the Missouri grand jury decision not to indict a police officer in the fatal shooting of Michal Brown.
US cities bidding on Olympics; Guard prevents more Ferguson riots; storm threatens travel and more national and international news for Wednesday, November 26, 2014.
Wednesday's Blogs from the Bog!
The U.S. rep billed LSU for work allegedly performed on the same days Congress voted on major legislation and held important committee hearings on energy and the ACA.
Abysmally low participation by the public has prompted the council to scuttle the 2014 survey with plans to simplify it and try again next year.
The village now says the ordinance will likely be overturned and authorities will more vigorously enforce existing leash laws.
Bill Cassidy cast an early ballot Tuesday, seeking to draw renewed attention to a race that has fallen off newspaper front pages and away from people's minds as they plan holiday meals and shopping schedules.
Battered all night by Baltimore's relentless pass rush, Drew Brees could feel his protection collapsing and Terrell Suggs getting ahold of him as he urgently unloaded a pass to the right flat toward tight end Jimmy Graham.
After a convincing defeat at the polls on Nov. 4, Earl “Nickey” Picard has decided to let bygones be bygones with his former right-hand man Brian Pope, announcing his support for his former employee’s runoff bid to become Lafayette’s next city marshal.
Saturday the athletic department did everything possible to ensure the 2014 Ragin’ Cajun seniors remembered fondly their last home game. Rain and lightning never arrived but turbulence did in the form of the Appalachian State Mountaineers.
Even stranger than the Republican Party’s decision to hold a “unity rally” earlier this month for Congressman Bill Cassidy in a Baton Rouge bar, Huey’s Bar, was the fact that the establishment was named after Louisiana’s most famous Democrat.
Bar Code is not a gay bar.
After failing to pass a medical marijuana bill last year, state Sen. Fred Mills, R-Parks, is telling supporters he will return in 2015 with legislation that focuses on different applications like oils and pills.
Voters, obviously, are not yet tuned into the 2015 ballot, despite the intriguing races it will host.
By now, the story of how longtime LSU coach Dale Brown discovered Shaquille O'Neal has been told many times: Brown happened upon a massive 13-year-old at an army base in Germany, stayed in touch with him and eventually became like a second father.
Fate simply wasn't ready to give the New Orleans Saints a break from longtime nemesis Steve Smith.
Lafayette Police have had a busy day.
Gov. Bobby Jindal's administration will use $130 million in patchwork financing from a tax amnesty program, insurance settlement, uninsured motorist penalties and other excess funds to close most of the state's midyear budget deficit.
Democratic U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu said she disagrees with President Barack Obama's actions on immigration, hoping the latest controversy doesn't worsen her campaign difficulties.
Gay-rights advocates challenging Louisiana's same-sex marriage ban announced Thursday that they have asked the U.S. Supreme Court to review their case before it is heard by a federal appeals court.
Thinking himself the “son of God,” the man charged with the 2013 killing of an officer of the Chitimacha Tribal Police will not stand trial following a ruling Thursday on his mental competency.
Either Saints coach Sean Payton doesn't want to tip Baltimore off as to who'll start in New Orleans' secondary on Monday night, or he really doesn't know yet.