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
Louisiana fell one spot in an annual national ranking of child well-being that looks at poverty, education and health access.
A federal judge has decided he doesn't need to hear more arguments in the case of a gay couple who want a Louisiana marriage license.
Saints again bring playoff aspirations into 2014 campaign.
New details in the case against the man arrested for last week’s bomb threat and bank robbery has surfaced, including a MidSouth Bank surveillance video showing the alleged suspect attempt an early-morning bank robbery.
Wednesday's Blogs from the Bog!
Michael Sam focuses on making the team; Christians flee Mosul; Kerry at work in Middle East and more national and international news for Wednesdays, July 23, 2014.
Parents and teachers who support the Common Core education standards sued Gov. Bobby Jindal Tuesday over his actions against the multi-state standards, accusing him of illegally meddling in education policy.
An arrest was announced this morning in connection with last week’s bomb scare at UL Lafayette.
Attorneys, judges and others interviewed by LaPolitics expect 15 to 20 district judge races this year.
"I feel like I'm under siege," an attorney said recently over drinks at Galatoire's Bistro in Baton Rouge. "We all do. Every time I turn around somebody wants a check. District attorney races. The judges. They're killing us."
As a requirement for running for Congress in the 6th District, former Gov. Edwin Edwards has filed his financial disclosure statement with the U.S. House showing his income in 2013 totaling $242,787.
Unlike those swindled by Bernie Madoff, the victims of Texas businessman Robert Allen Stanford’s Ponzi scheme won’t be getting any relief from the Securities Investor Protection Corp.’s emergency fund after a recent appellate court ruling.
The legal challenge is part of a continuing struggle over Common Core, which has become controversial since the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education adopted the standards in 2010.
The lone Democrat to announce he's running for governor, state Rep. John Bel Edwards, criticized Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal's budgeting tactics as "running the state like a big Ponzi scheme."
State police have arrested a 42-year-old Kaplan man in the July 7 hit and run fatality crash that killed a bicyclist on Louisiana Highway 92 near Milton.
Republican U.S. Rep. Bill Cassidy has picked up support for his U.S. Senate campaign from a former GOP competitor.
Lisa Hargis Smith lived a mysterious life as seen with her death earlier this month and its impact on the community of those who knew her, whether as a star student in Lafayette High’s class of ‘69, or later as a woman struggling with homelessness and mental illness.
Attorney Valerie Gotch Garrett will announce on Tuesday that she plans to run for the Division E seat of the 15th Judicial District Court.
Back in 2012, three Baton Rouge attorneys came to the aid of several disgruntled police officers with a high-profile lawsuit against the Lafayette Police chief and a number of higher-ups in city-parish government, but in a federal courtroom Thursday, their claims of conspiracy coupled with a lack of evidence backfired and the case was dismissed.
Gov. Bobby Jindal's administration intends to rework how it pays the private managed care networks that provide health services to two-thirds of Louisiana's Medicaid patients.
Gov. Bobby Jindal's administration is raising health insurance rates and cutting benefits for state employees and retirees, to keep their insurance program solvent.
Local, state and federal law enforcement officials spent much of Thursday reviewing their reaction to this week’s bomb threat, which led to the closure and evacuation of UL Lafayette and Girard Park, and a massive search Wednesday for two alleged explosive devices.
"We're not in a better place from the policy perspective than we were two weeks ago," says Education Superintendent John White, commenting on Thursday's face-to-face meeting with Gov. Bobby Jindal to discuss their dispute over Common Core.
Gov. Bobby Jindal appears to remain unmoved by offers of a compromise on procuring testing materials tied to the Common Core based on a terse statement his office released following a meeting Thursday with Superintendent John White.
Wednesday's Senate vote on contraception legislation is the latest example of Democrats' win-by-losing strategy, which forces Republicans to vote on sensitive matters that might rile women this fall.