The state has approximately $150 million earmarked in its annual spending plan for seven separate hurricane evacuations. Some believe that number is on the high end and that Louisiana will not have to cover the cost of seven different evacuations. If that's the case, there's the potential for a pot of available money in the budget.
Dan Juneau, president of the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry, a prominent interest on the state level, wonders what might happen to those funds. "It will be interesting to see exactly how that large appropriation will be spent during the next budget year, and what constitutes 'emergencies' that are addressed with the money," Juneau says. If it goes unspent, then homeowners might have another beef. During the spring session, some lawmakers wanted to use the cash to offset homeowner policy increases, but the move was rejected. ' Jeremy Alford
BLANCO WANTS TO REDUCE STATE PAYROLL
Louisiana will begin offering its state workers an early retirement option next year in hopes that payroll costs, and the annual budget, will deflate accordingly. Gov. Kathleen Blanco signed the legislation last week, prompted largely by last fall's hurricanes. Hordes of state workers either lost the buildings where they once worked or lost everything else. Additionally, many are moving out of the state or are suffering from various ailments, says Democratic Chackbay Rep. Warren Triche, who sponsored the act.
The program will offer early retirement to members of the Louisiana State Employees' Retirement System who are at least 50 years old with 10 years of service. If a state employee decides to take advantage of the program, he or she will receive a retirement benefit equal to as much as 2 percent of their average compensation multiplied by the number of years of creditable service. Only one of every three positions left vacant by the program will be refilled, Triche says, unless the commissioner of administration and the head of the Department of State Civil Service decide to retain the post. The program would run from Jan. 1, 2007, through Dec. 31, 2008. Anticipated savings equal roughly $4 million. ' JA
HUNTERS VERSED IN GLOBAL WARMING
A recent survey by the National Wildlife Federation shows that hunters and fishermen are keenly aware of global warming. Based on the responses of licensed anglers, 76 percent agree that global warming is occurring, and the same percentage has observed changes in climate conditions where they live ' such as warmer and shorter winters, hotter summers, earlier spring and less snow.
Nationwide, approximately one out of every five voters is a sportsman, according to the NWF. In 2004, they voted 2-to-1 for President George Bush over Sen. John Kerry. They also identify themselves overwhelmingly as moderate to conservative in their political beliefs. "We are reaching a tipping point in this country where the vital sportsmen's constituency is adding its voice to those who recognize global warming is occurring, that it poses serious threats and that action must be taken to address it," says Larry Schweiger, president of the NWF. ' JA
CAN YOU HEAR ME NOW?
Even though the Legislature recently balked at certain efforts to improve emergency communications during hurricane conditions, Congress is poised to vote on an amendment that would expedite funding for first responders. Republican U.S. Sen. David Vitter inserted an amendment into the Communications, Consumers' Choice and Broadband Deployment Act that would release $1 billion for interoperability funding in September, rather than over the next four years as originally proposed.
"We haven't made much progress on interoperability since September 11, 2001, which was made clear again during Hurricane Katrina and Rita, when we had a complete breakdown in communications in the hardest hit areas," Vitter says. The bill is expected to move to the full U.S. Senate for a vote later this year. ' JA
NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC ON KATRINA
If you missed The National Geographic Channel's June 24 debut of its Katrina documentary Drowning New Orleans, set your Tivo or VCR for its next showing at 7 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 12. The hour-long film is a keeper worth saving for years to come, as it offers the clearest science-based analysis of post-Katrina flooding in New Orleans. Using computer-generated maps, interviews with first responders on the scene and chilling, previously unseen footage of the 17th Street Canal levee breach, Drowning New Orleans offers the most compelling video footage to date of the disaster ' and reaffirms that the Army Corps of Engineers' faulty levee-wall construction and the MR-GO canal deserves most of the blame for the tragedy. ' Scott Jordan
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.
Here's your daily look at late-breaking national and international news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about Tuesday, April 22, 2014:
Tuesday's Blogs from the Bog!
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.
State Rep. Stuart Bishop says he’s concerned with the quality of Capitol Lake, but when it comes to Louisiana’s coastline, this Lafayette Republican doesn't seem to give a damn.
Democrats sweating this year's elections may be hoping that the Obama administration's latest delay to the proposed Keystone XL pipeline takes a politically fraught issue off the table for the midterms.
Louisiana lawmakers are entering the second half of their three-month regular legislative session, which must end by June 2. Where some of the major issues stand:
Local and state agents Thursday night raided The Keg, the popular college bar located in the area known as The Strip, leading to the (at least) temporary closure of the venue.
Time and time again, the Lafayette Parish School Board shows an overwhelming tendency toward idiocy, but Wednesday night’s contentious discussion over Northside High School’s teen mother program tops the list of dumb discussions.
“The accomplishment of this goal within the next ten years is not only critical for the region to effectively compete with other regions for residents and businesses, but also to provide an amenity for everyone in Acadiana to enjoy.”
Education Superintendent John White says a continued push to try to keep Louisiana from using tests associated with the Common Core education standards are creating "a state of chaos" for public school teachers.
Gov. Bobby Jindal's plan to use $210 million in surplus and one-time money to help balance next year's budget received the backing Thursday of the State Bond Commission, support that was needed for the maneuver to work.
State wildlife and fisheries agents have arrested a 39-year-old man accused of stealing crawfish.
An East Feliciana Parish lawmaker has jettisoned his proposal to make it harder for a condemned prisoner to appeal a death sentence.
Senators advanced a proposal Wednesday that would let the governor remove New Orleans-area levee board members for violating what he considers to be public policy, despite concerns it would introduce political meddling into state flood protection.
The Lafayette City-Parish Council on Tuesday will vote on a resolution that if approved would clear the way for a December ballot proposition asking voters to approve a 1-cent sales tax parishwide to help fund the construction of a new terminal at Lafayette Regional Airport.
Just days before the fourth anniversary of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster and oil spill, the Coast Guard has moved cleanup of Louisiana's coast to a new phase, allowing BP to end its "active" efforts in the area.
Legislators still must leave their guns at the door of the Louisiana Capitol.