Ethanol turned out to be one of the most volatile topics of the Legislative session, and it took a last minute compromise between The House and Senate to move forward an ethanol-blended gas mandate in Louisiana. Two weeks ago, Gov. Kathleen Blanco signed a bill requiring Louisiana gas stations to sell gasoline blended with 2 percent ethanol once state manufacturing plants have the capacity to annually produce at least 50 million gallons of the fuel. The law was nearly derailed by a House "safety valve" amendment that would have only allowed the ethanol blend to be sold if the price of a gallon of ethanol was within 10 cents of a gallon of gasoline.
It took intense pressure from Agriculture Commissioner Bob Odom ' champion of the 2 percent mandate as a boon for Louisiana farmers that grow the corn and sugar feedstock for ethanol ' to broker a compromise in the Senate. The resolution creates a committee comprised of representatives from the Louisiana Farm Bureau Federation, the Louisiana Oil Marketers and Convenience Store Association and the state university system to monitor the price of regular gas and Louisiana-produced ethanol. Once the average wholesale price of a gallon of Louisiana-manufactured ethanol, less any federal alcohol fuel tax credit, is equal to or below the average price of a gallon of regular unleaded gas in Louisiana for a period of not less than 60 days, the mandate permanently goes into effect. "Once it triggers, that's it," explains Louisiana Farm Bureau spokesman Jim Monroe. "It never rolls back. Once this group certifies that, they go away never to meet again. The mandate is in force, and we go on from there." At press time, Blanco was expected to sign the bill into law. ' Mary Tutwiler
In what could be a sign of upcoming economic initiatives in Lafayette, the Lafayette City-Parish Council has introduced ordinances to set up two Tax Incremental Financing districts to spur commercial development in the city.Â TIF districts use projected sales tax revenue from a designated commercial area to borrow money for infrastructure improvements.
Lafayette plans to dedicate a new 1-cent local sales tax in each proposed district toward setting up two new retail centers. The state also will be asked to match with 1 cent from existing state sales taxes in each district.Â Unlike controversial TIF districts that triedÂ to use taxÂ revenue for private infrastructure (like a Bass Pro Shop complex in Livingston Parish), Lafayette's TIF proposals would only fund public improvementsÂ for the districts.Â
The Lafayette Economic Development Authority and the Durel administration are pushing the districts as a way to speed up development and reel in two major commercial projects in north Lafayette, along Interstate 10. One districtÂ at the intersectionÂ ofÂ I-10 and Louisiana Avenue is the site of aÂ planned retailÂ center from Covington-based Stirling Properties, with a Super Target as its anchor. The other proposed district, along the I-10, I-49 intersection, is where preliminary plans are being explored for a new "lifestyle center" by California-based development company O&S Holdings. The lifestyle center concept is a concentrated "new urban" development that combines retail shopping with entertainment venues and residential space.Â
City planners are also working on proposals to use TIF districts as a means to fund a Johnston Street facelift and the Ambassador Caffery South extension to U.S. Highway 90.Â ' Nathan Stubbs
FROM THE BOTTOM UP
Calcasieu Lake is commonly referred to as Big Lake, both for its size and the large redfish and speckled trout commonly caught in its waters. Big Lake's water has returned to normal and fishing continues to improve, but debris from Hurricane Rita has created a hazard for boaters. The lake's shallow bottom is littered with appliances, sunken boats, residential structures, industrial debris and floating vegetative clumps. On Saturday, June 24, state agencies are calling for volunteers to help mark underwater hazards with PVC pipe for removal. Any small debris that can safely be removed will be brought to shore, and boaters are asked to map the location of any marine hazards they find. NOAA will then post that information online as soon as the maps are completed. Volunteers are meeting at 8 a.m. at Calcasieu Point Landing in Lake Charles to register. For more information, call Tim Osborn at (337) 291-2111. ' MT
Phoenix flooding stuns residents; Gaza truce talks collapse, NFL vets defy age label and more national and international news for Wednesday, August 20, 2014.
Wednesday's Blogs from the Bog!
Visualize Lafayette’s next great thing from 3,000 feet.
A Baton Rouge judge issued a temporary restraining order Monday against enforcing a law that prohibits anyone 70 or older from running for justice of the peace or constable.
Gov. Bobby Jindal believes the last-minute passage of a pension hike for his state police superintendent, Col. Mike Edmonson, was improperly handled, according to the governor's office.
As the courts hash out the attempts to preserve and shelve Common Core in Louisiana, a group of six state lawmakers are planning an Aug. 22 trip to Oklahoma to meet with their counterparts and strategize for the 2015 regular session.
While hopes are high for turnout this fall, a new report from the Center for the Study of the American Electorate suggests that Louisiana's midterm face-offs may amount to nothing special in terms of votes cast.
The attorney hired by the Lafayette Parish School Board for a special investigation of Superintendent Pat Cooper has submitted his final report, though it may be another week before the findings are made public.
The Tea Party of Louisiana is calling Sen. David Vitter a “turncoat” for his newfound embrace of Common Core educational standards.
An annual report evaluating Gov. Bobby Jindal's privatization of Medicaid lacked important financial information and presented rosy performance reviews not corroborated by data, according to a review released Monday.
Lafayette attorney Michelle Meaux-Breaux has announced her plans to seek the Division E seat for judge in the 15th Judicial District.
A card-carrying member of Lafayette’s “tribe,” Milton “Spider” Guidry died over the weekend. IND music writer Nick Pittman remembers the character and the man.
As tensions continue to escalate in Ferguson, Mo., between law enforcement and residents protesting the shooting death of a local teen by police, we’re reminded of the peculiar circumstances surrounding the in-custody death earlier this year of a New Iberia man.
A group of teachers and parents who support Common Core is asking a state judge to invalidate Gov. Bobby Jindal's actions against the multi-state education standards.
Drew Brees walked up to the line of scrimmage early Sunday, taking a snap during the New Orleans Saints' pre-practice walk-through.
A state judge Friday refused a temporary injunction sought against state education officials in an effort to block implementation of the Common Core education standards in Louisiana.
UL was the consensus pick in a coaches' preseason poll to win the league, and experience has a lot to do with that.
The price tag has nearly doubled for Gov. Bobby Jindal's hiring of an outside consulting firm to recommend new ways to balance the state budget.
U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu is under scrutiny for billing private chartered planes to her Senate office when she used the flights to attend campaign fundraisers.
Many people found not guilty by reason of insanity are being held in Louisiana jails, where they cannot get the treatment they need, according to a lawsuit filed Thursday.
In a just-released audio recording, City Prosecutor Gary Haynes claims Mike Harson had direct dealings with the alleged mastermind behind the bribery scheme in the DA’s office.
C-P councilmen sponsor a resolution in support of the notion that one should subscribe to Tea Party ideas about civics before being allowed to seek public office.
Russel Honoré, the retired U.S. Army general known for his role in restoring order to New Orleans in the wake of Hurricane Katrina and most recently for his involvement in the Green Army movement to stop environmental abuses of Louisiana, has now weighed in on the police response to protestors in Ferguson, Mo.
More than three dozen restaurants, bars, convenience stores and supermarkets in Lafayette Parish are facing fines in connection with the state office of Alcohol and Tobacco Control’s 2014 “Summer Crackdown.”
The grim news, delivered to the joint legislative budget committee, barely raised eyebrows at the committee hearing, after more than six years of such disappointing financial forecasts.