Gov. Kathleen Blanco is counting on Louisiana taxpayers to keep on smoking, drinking and gambling ' all for the betterment of Louisiana's teachers. Under Blanco's new proposal, the "sin tax" on cigarettes, alcohol and video poker could drum up as much as $120 million to fund raises for the state's teachers. The cigarette tax (an additional 50 cents per pack) could generate $88 million alone. The current Louisiana tax of 36 cents a pack is one of the lowest tobacco tax rates in the nation. The funds generated could account for at least $1,000 annual increases for Louisiana's teachers, as well as college professors and school support staffs. Blanco is expected to face challenges from the alcohol and gaming industries as well as teachers unions that have stated the pay raises aren't nearly enough. Both the Louisiana Federation of Teachers and the Louisiana Association of Educators are calling for pay raises of at least $2,000. ' RRF
THIBODEAUX PLEADS GUILTY
Former St. Martinville Councilwoman Pam Thibodeaux pled guilty last week to voter fraud ("Council Controversy," April 13). Thibodeaux had already resigned from her seat a week earlier amid pending federal charges of falsifying information on voter registration cards during the 2002 election. After her resignation ' and until a new election can be held to replace her seat ' Mayor Eric Martin appointed Dennis Paul Williams, a local artist and zydeco musician, to replace Thibodeaux. No sentencing date has been set, but Thibodeaux could face up to five years in prison on the charges. ' RRF
This past Saturday morning, in the back parking lot of the Cajundome along Congress Street, the Louisiana IceGators sold off the team's hockey equipment ' sticks, helmets and pads ' as well as the team's warm-up jersey's from the past season. The 10-year-old East Coast Hockey League team once broke attendance records with more than 11,000 fans attending games at the "frozen swamp." But early enthusiasm for the team waned throughout the years, and attendance numbers dwindled. At their last game, with more than 4,000 fans in attendance, the IceGators went out with a bang, with a 5-3 victory against the Texas Wildcatters, but the Gators missed the playoffs for the first time in the team's 10-year existence. ' RRF
Ernest J. Gaines, UL Lafayette's writer-in-residence emeritus, will give a reading on Saturday. Gaines, author of acclaimed novels such as A Gathering of Old Men and A Lesson Before Dying, will read from his forthcoming book, Mozart and Leadbelly: Stories and Essays, which is slated for publication by Alfred A. Knopf in October. (The book was compiled and edited by UL English professors Marcia Gaudet and Reggie Young.) The reading, part of the Deep South Festival of Writers Series on Music and Writing, will be held at the Paul and Lulu Hilliard University Art Museum on Saturday, April 23, at 3:30 p.m. For more information, call 482-2278 or visit www.louisiana.edu/uam. ' RRF
DEFENDING THE POOR
A recent Louisiana Supreme Court decision is making national headlines. National Public Radio recently examined how Louisiana provides a legal defense for its poor citizens on trial, and the Washington Post wrote: "Louisiana's system for funding indigent defense is perhaps the country's most bizarre. The bulk of money in each parish, or county, comes from court fees, in most cases local traffic enforcement. So some jurisdictions simply run out of money to pay attorneys." The state Supreme Court ruled that securing funds for defending the poor was not a judicial matter, but a legislative one, and that if there isn't enough money to provide a defense for the indigent, then it's unconstitutional to put them on trial. ' RRF
BAM'S NEW DIGS
As first reported in The Independent Weekly in 2004, Books-A-Million is constructing a $3.1 million store on a parcel of land at the corner of Ambassador Caffery Parkway and Kaliste Saloom Road. Tucked away in Lafayette's Acadiana Square Shopping Center (across from the Mall of Acadiana) since 1994, Books-A-Million plans to move into its new 18,000-square-foot building in late August, says Jeff Skipper, a spokesman for the Birmingham-based chain. The new store is roughly the same size as the existing one, according to Skipper. The bookstore is leasing the property from Weingarten Realty, which owns the Super Target shopping center. Within two years of Books-A-Million entering the Lafayette market, Barnes & Noble came to town with a free-standing 30,000 square foot store just across the street from its chief competitor. Though the new Books-A-Million is still smaller than Barnes & Noble, the prime spot gives Books optimal exposure in one of the busiest corridors in the city. "This site has been carefully selected in hopes of developing a convenient alternative for book lovers in Lafayette," Skipper says. "Lafayette is a competitive market, but its residents have long been supportive of Books-A-Million." The store will carry more than 1,000 titles and will feature a Joe Muggs CafÃ©, much like the existing location. ' LT
GIMME AN "L"
The Daily Advertiser added another embarrassing error to its hall of shame in its April 12 edition. In the lead sentence of a front-page story that day, the Advertiser wrote, "The fear of lawsuits from the American Civil Liberties Union has prompted the Boy Scouts of America to advise all pubic institutions â?¦" ' SJ
Business organizations opposed the proposal, saying it would lead to job losses and higher prices for goods and services.
An attempt to repeal a six-year-old law that permits public school science teachers to use material outside a classroom's adopted textbook has been rejected by the Senate Education Committee.
New York Times poll shows Obama, Jindal have identical approval and disapproval ratings in the state.
OK, so they’re bentgrass, the type used on golf course greens. But grass is grass.
The Senate Finance Committee approved the bill Wednesday, despite opponents who argued it would shut down the storefront lenders.
A measure to allow the state to implement its own, less stringent plan for limiting carbon dioxide emissions unanimously passed the Senate.
FDA to regulate e-cigarettes, Jodie Foster gets married, Vermont to require labels on genetically-modified food, and more news for today, April 24, 2014.
Thursday's Blogs from the Bog!
A push to expand Louisiana's Medicaid program as allowed under the federal health care has been overwhelmingly rejected by the Senate health committee.
Louisiana welfare recipients would be prohibited in state law from spending the federal assistance at lingerie shops, tattoo parlors, nail salons and jewelry stores, under a bill that received the support Wednesday of a House committee.
Senators will consider whether to prohibit private businesses in Louisiana from paying unequal wages to employees of different genders for the same job.
Rep. Joel Robideaux has delayed bill hearings and said unless a compromise can be reached, he won't bring up the legislation this session.
Once again, Lafayette Parish School Board President Hunter Beasley is focused on an issue that has nothing to do with the educational well-being of our public school children.
After exhausting his appeals all the way to the state Supreme Court, the owner of the Tiger Truck Stop in Grosse Tete has no legal remedy left save one: do an end run around the high court via a bill that would grandfather his “right” to keep a 550-pound tiger enclosed in a pin at his roadside business.
Louisiana poet Darrell Bourque has won the 2014 Louisiana Writer Award, given annually to recognize outstanding contributions to Louisiana's literary and intellectual life.
Drivers would have to secure dogs riding in truck beds while on interstate highways, if the Senate agrees to a bill backed by the House.
An effort to prohibit employers from discriminating based on sexual orientation or gender identity was shelved Tuesday for the legislative session.
Louisiana won't lessen its penalties for marijuana possession, keeping laws on the books that allow people to be jailed up to 20 years for repeat offenses of having the drug in hand.
“This is one of the oldest divides that exists, and that divide is about the haves and the have-nots.”
It took a few weeks for the pitfalls to emerge in the governor’s $25 billion budget, but the time of judgment has finally arrived.
With pressure continuing to build for him to resign, Congressman Vance McAllister announced plans recently to remain secluded during the Easter break, but the Swartz Republican has said he’ll be back on the Hill casting votes and attending committee meetings when the congressional recess ends April 28.
A bid to limit the use of unmanned aircraft on private property in Louisiana stalled Monday in the Louisiana Senate.
A Shreveport lawmaker said Monday he's scrapping his proposal to name the Bible as Louisiana's official state book.
Attorney hopes fellow lawyers will join him in urging the D.A. to step aside and allow a competent, ethical challenger to take over the scandal-ridden office.
An official with the Louisiana Department of Education was arrested on a range of charges Friday after allegedly breaking into a home and brandishing a knife.