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
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)
Can state lawmakers find the nerve — and the votes — to neuter payday lenders?
A calm demeanor has served Gerald Boudreaux well — in his career, passion for sports and in life. And it could be just what his district needs in the state Senate.
Acadiana Catholics* react to Francis
The circumstances surrounding the Jan. 26 fire of the 18,000-square-foot home on Verot School Road seemed strange, but what's even more bizarre is the back-story behind owner Ralph Wadleigh.
Choice cuts from Acadiana's news media for Friday, Feb. 28, 2014: