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
With six of the LPSB’s nine members poised for Pat Cooper’s termination, a request was filed Tuesday for a fast-tracked hearing on the federal lawsuit calling for the disqualification of two board members from voting on the matter due to bias.
Louisiana's Republican Party has filed a complaint against Democratic U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu with the Senate's ethics committee about her use of private chartered planes.
An attorney signs up to run against LPSB's Mark Cockerham, and within a week a lawsuit is filed by a former LPSS employee in an attempt to disqualify him. Coincidence?
The Ragin’ Cajuns got off to a superb start Saturday night, and the Human Jukebox made the soaked season opener even sweeter for the third-largest crowd in Cajun Field history.
The Louisiana health department will follow a federal judge's order and refrain from immediately penalizing doctors who are trying to comply with a new abortion law that requires them to obtain admitting privileges at a local hospital, a spokeswoman said Monday.
While bogged down with qualifying candidates last month, Secretary of State Tom Schedler didn’t lose sight of the true endgame coming in November and December.
Tuesday's Blogs from the Bog!
Stoned driving a concern when pot is legal; Detroit's bankruptcy trial; speed trap scandal in Florida and more national and international news for Tuesday, September 02, 2014.
A federal jury found attorney Daniel Stanford guilty Friday afternoon on eight of 13 counts for his role in the Curious Goods conspiracy.
Lafayette City-Court Judge Francie Bouillion has served on the bench for two decades since winning a special election to replace Judge Kaliste Saloom when he retired in 1994.
The magazine's senior football writer also predicts a break-out year for Saints fourth-year running back Mark Ingram.
Gulf Coast ceremonies marking the ninth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina have begun.
The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries says there is little known about the effects of tiger prawns on indigenous Louisiana shrimp. But, officials say the reports they're seeking will help state biologists monitor the distribution of the prawns and determine the possible presence of spawning populations.
Baltimore Ravens coach John Harbaugh rested his regulars and watched with delight as Ray Rice's backups ground out 214 yards rushing in a 22-13 victory over the New Orleans Saints on Thursday night.
High-profile criminal defense attorney Daniel Stanford awaits his fate in the Curious Goods conspiracy trial.
The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries is set to put the kibosh on the legal ownership of monkeys trained to help the disabled, and the agency wants to know what you think.
A federal judge on Thursday asked lawyers battling over Louisiana's new, restrictive abortion law for an agreement that apparently could let clinics stay open — at least for a while — after the law takes effect Sept. 1.
An abortion rights organization wants a federal judge to block enforcement of Louisiana's new abortion law while its lawsuit to overturn the law makes its way through court.
Republican presidential prospects Ted Cruz and Bobby Jindal are planning to speak at an Iowa Christian conservative event in September.
The attention surrounding Victor White III has spiked with the release of last week’s autopsy report, which has raised a number of serious questions about the night of his death and has put the Iberia Parish Sheriff’s Office under an increased wave of scrutiny as more national media outlets are jumping on the story, most recently seen on MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show.
A group supporting taxpayer-funded private school tuition vouchers is appealing a federal judge's order that Louisiana must provide regular reports to federal officials on the state's voucher program.
The Discovery Channel has canceled reality TV star Will Hayden's popular "Sons of Guns" show after his arrest on an aggravated rape charge.
The LPSB will finally hear from the attorney it hired to investigate the superintendent at a special meeting Thursday at 4 p.m.
Authorities are investigating a report that a student there warned the principal of impending violence similar to that depicted in the movie "The Purge."
Saints cornerback Champ Bailey has played for more than a handful of playoff teams during a career that has seen him selected to 12 Pro Bowls.