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Revenue Estimating Conference OKs use of tax dollars raised by the Louisiana Legislature

Louisiana legislators raised $371.4 million in taxes and fees that can be used in state’s operating budget for the fiscal year that begins Friday, according to the panel that officially allows state government to use the money. But much of the money already is dedicated to specific uses, leaving only $126.2 million available for spending for everyday… Continue reading →

White, Asian, Hispanic students help boost enrollment at Louisiana’s historically black colleges

Photo By NAVILLE OUBRE / SU Office of Communications --  Southern University students Isis Francis, at left, a sophmore biology major from Lafayette, Louisiana and Lee Paige, a sophmore business major from Muskegon, Michigan, take advantage of the pleasant weather as they converse and eat lunch on the Bluff overlooking the Mississippi river on the campus of Southern University Wednesday afternoon.

SHREVEPORT (AP) — After years of decline, brought on by tougher admission standards and stringent requirements for student loans, enrollment at most historically black colleges and universities in Louisiana has risen modestly. Southern University saw a fall enrollment increase of 322 students in 2015. Last year, Grambling State University’s fall enrollment totaled 4,553 — an increase… Continue reading →

Lafayette arrest report for June 30

Arrests posted June 29, 2016, on the Lafayette Parish Sheriff’s website. LAMAR JAMES ALEXANDER: 38, of the 200 block of Byron Street, Lafayette. He was booked on three counts of warrant/bench warrant. JACOB BARFIELD: 19, homeless, Lafayette. He was booked on two counts of fugitive. JASON ROBERT BENNEHOOF: 39, of… Continue reading →

Kenner police: 2nd suspect identified in Raising Cane’s deadly robbery; 3rd suspect in custody

Taylor Friloux (Photo provided)

Update, 10:45 a.m. Thursday The second suspect arrested in a deadly armed robbery at a Raising Cane’s in Kenner is Mark Crocklen Jr., police said Thursday. At a news conference, Kenner police said both Crocklen and another suspect are in custody. Crocklen admitted the robbery at the Raising Cane’s on Williams Boulevard was planned, according to police, but said that… Continue reading →

Justice Dept.: Iberia Sheriff spews anti-Semitic remarks at prosecutor, threatens to shoot him between eyes

Advocate staff file photo by LESLIE WESTBROOK -- Iberia Parish Sheriff Louis Ackal leaves the federal courthouse following an arraignment on March 31, 2016, in Lafayette, La. Ackal and his second-in-command, Gerald Savoy, pleaded not guilty to civil rights and conspiracy charges Thursday during a federal court hearing.

Iberia Parish Sheriff Louis Ackal allegedly called one of the federal prosecutors in his pending civil rights case a “sorry son-of-a-bitch Jew bastard” and made comments about shooting him between his “g*******d Jewish eyes,” according to court documents filed Wednesday. The comments, which prosecutors said were made during secretly recorded conversations, were included in a… Continue reading →

Baton Rouge man infected by flesh-eating bacteria fighting for his life in Mississippi hospital

Photo provided by Erin Salhani -- Richard Empson, middle, of Baton Rouge is in a Mississippi intensive care unit after he contracted a flesh eating bacteria while on a vacationing trip to the state over the weekend. His son Ryan is at the left and daughter Katelyn at right.

A Baton Rouge man is fighting for his life in a Bay St. Louis hospital after contracting a flesh-eating bacteria while on a family vacation last weekend in Mississippi. Richard Empson, 69, was getting ready to leave Waveland, Mississippi, on Monday morning when he told family members he didn’t feel well enough to make… Continue reading →

Kenner police arrest former Raising Cane's employee in stabbing death of manager; 2 suspects still at large

Taylor Friloux (Photo provided)

The dangers lurking in the night were never far from Taylor Friloux’s mind when she closed the Raising Cane’s outlet she managed in Kenner, friends said. Friloux served on the restaurant chain’s district safety committee. Hours before she died, according to her boyfriend, she asked him to be there when she closed up shop. But just before… Continue reading →

In fresh black eye for La. film incentives, state inspector general finds overbilling in 2 programs about New Orleans Saints

Still from the Sean Payton Show produced by Horizon Entertainment.

In the latest black eye for Louisiana’s troubled film subsidy program, the state’s inspector general released a report Wednesday that says a production company behind two programs about the New Orleans Saints bilked taxpayers out of at least $420,000 and possibly more than $1 million. The report from Inspector General… Continue reading →

AG opinion: Type 5 charters cannot expand beyond the failing public schools they took over

The state law that allows Louisiana to convert failing public schools into charter schools requires the new schools to mirror the ones they replace, both in grade configurations and attendance zones, says a recent opinion by the state attorney general. That’s not how the state’s Recovery School District operates. RSD oversees a handful of… Continue reading →

Baton Rouge Salvation Army to distribute bug screens in fight against Zika, other mosquito-borne illnesses

The Salvation Army in Baton Rouge is distributing 100 hanging insect screens so those without air conditioning can ward off mosquitoes and the diseases they carry, including West Nile and — potentially — the Zika virus. The Bug Off screens cover doorways and are being given away on a first-come, first-served basis beginning at 9 a.m.… Continue reading →

Three U.S. Senate candidates tell retailers their troubles with internet sales tax

Advocate Photo by MARK BALLARD  Three of the leading Republican candidates spoke Wednesday at forum hosted by trade associations representing small businesses. U.S. Rep. Charles Boustany, of Lafayette, stands at the podium. U.S Rep. John Fleming, of Minden, and State Treasurer John N. Kennedy, of Madisonville, await their turn.

The three leading Republican candidates for the U.S. Senate agreed Wednesday on most issues but parted slightly on whether Congress should tax internet sales — though none supported the concept outright. Congressmen Charles Boustany, of Lafayette, John Fleming, of Minden, and State Treasurer John Kennedy, of Madisonville, pretty much agreed that the Affordable Care Act,… Continue reading →

KATC-TV: Opelousas man convicted of first-degree murder in wife’s stabbing death; asked police if he “finished the job”

A St. Landry Parish jury deliberated for fewer than 20 minutes Wednesday before convicting an Opelousas man of first-degree murder in the 2013 stabbing death of his wife, KATC-TV reported. Hank Moran faces a mandatory life sentence in prison without the possibility of parole, probation or suspension of sentence when he’s sentenced at… Continue reading →

Last gambit to stop controversial well in St. Tammany fails at state Supreme Court

Advocate staff photo by SCOTT THRELKELD -- Drilling superintendent Billy Ray Patterson explains the drilling operation Monday, June 27, 2016 at Helis' oil-well site near Lakeshore High School in St. Tammany Parish.

Opponents of a controversial oil well in St. Tammany Parish were dealt a double — and possibly final — blow Wednesday when the state Supreme Court effectively ended the legal fight over the project and workers at the site began drilling the well. The first blow came when the Supreme Court notified attorneys for the parish and… Continue reading →

Defense lawyers argue Will Smith trial should not coincide with football season

FILE - This April 10, 2016, file photo provided by the Orleans Parish Sheriff's Office shows Cardell Hayes. Hayes, the suspect in the death of  Will Smith, said he shot in self-defense because he feared the retired New Orleans Saints star, although unarmed, was going for a gun as they argued over a car crash. "It was self-defense,"  Hayes can be heard telling detectives in a recording of an interview made hours after the shooting. The recording was played in court Friday, June 3, 2016.(Orleans Parish Sheriff's Office via AP, File) ORG XMIT: NY162

Attorneys for the man accused of murdering former Saints defensive lineman Will Smith argued Wednesday that starting his trial on Sept. 20 might bias a jury against him because it comes just after the start of the 2016 football season. Defense attorney John Fuller said the scheduled start of the murder trial falls between a Sept.… Continue reading →

Hospital leader: Freestanding emergency rooms not right fix for Baton Rouge’s health care concerns

Advocate staff photo by BILL FEIG -- Coletta Barrett, vice president of mission for Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center, makes a point while speaking at this weekÕs Rotary of Baton Rouge luncheon Wednesday afternoon June 29, 2016.

Freestanding emergency rooms aren’t capable of handling most life threatening emergencies and the problem of inequitable distribution of health care in Baton Rouge lies mostly with day-to-day care, a hospital administrator told a civic group Wednesday. Coletta Barrett, vice president of mission at Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center, delved into the controversial health… Continue reading →

Two suspected of DWI between Tuesday, Wednesday in East Baton Rouge Parish

Authorities arrested at least two people suspected of driving while intoxicated in East Baton Rouge Parish and booked them into Parish Prison between 12:30 p.m. Tuesday and 12:30 p.m. Wednesday, booking records show. Those booked and the counts against them: — Partin Dave, 21, 18736 Bienville Court, Prairieville, first-offense DWI, reckless operation, failure to maintain… Continue reading →

Source: Anthony Jennings in early stages of transfer to Cajuns, nothing official yet

Advocate staff photo by TRAVIS SPRADLING -- LSU offensive coordinator Cam Cameron and LSU quarterback Anthony Jennings (10) talks during warmups Saturday at Davis Wade Stadium in Starkville, Miss.

LAFAYETTE — Former LSU quarterback Anthony Jennings is in the early stages of seeking a transfer to Louisiana-Lafayette, but nothing official is yet in place according to a source familiar with the situation. The Cajuns are still actively recruiting Jennings, and conversations have taken place regarding Jennings’ potential course work as a graduate student with the Cajuns.… Continue reading →

Area ‘no longer risk,’ mandatory evacuation orders lifted around Bayou Corne sinkhole, officials say

Photo provided by WGBH -- The Bayou Corne sinkhole. (file photo)

Nearly four years after the Bayou Corne sinkhole appeared, Assumption Parish emergency officials on Wednesday eliminated all mandatory evacuation orders around the swampland hole but have not given a full all-clear for the small part of the largely vacated community where people still live. The move is the latest, most significant dialing back of parish evacuation… Continue reading →

Louisiana Supreme Court suspends two district court judges for misconduct, one for a year

Judge James Best, left, and Judge J. Robin Free

The 18th Judicial District Court will likely lose two of its judges — who together have spent more than 40 years on the bench — following rulings handed down Wednesday from the Louisiana Supreme Court over their misconduct. The state’s highest court has ordered Judge J. Robin Free be removed from the bench for one year… Continue reading →

Edwards urges higher ed officials not to raise tuition

Advocate staff photo by TRAVIS SPRADLING -- Gov. John Bel Edwards, left, is greeted by LSU President F. King Alexander, center, inside the Claiborne Building before Edwards spoke Wednesday, June 29, 2016 at the meeting of the Board of Regents, which is finalizing its budgets for the fiscal year that begins Friday. Behind them are, left to right, Lisa Vosper, Associate Commissioner for Workforce Education and Training at the Louisiana Board of Regents, Division of Administration Communication Manager Cody Wells and Division of Administration Commissioner Jay Dardenne.

Gov. John Bel Edwards called Wednesday on Louisiana’s colleges and universities to resist raising tuition for the upcoming school year. Edwards argued that amid the tumult of one of the state’s greatest budget shortfalls in state history, higher education institutions emerged virtually unscathed and should in turn respond by giving students a break on tuition hikes.… Continue reading →

Defense lawyers argue Will Smith trial should not coincide with football season

FILE - This April 10, 2016, file photo provided by the Orleans Parish Sheriff's Office shows Cardell Hayes. Hayes, the suspect in the death of  Will Smith, said he shot in self-defense because he feared the retired New Orleans Saints star, although unarmed, was going for a gun as they argued over a car crash. "It was self-defense,"  Hayes can be heard telling detectives in a recording of an interview made hours after the shooting. The recording was played in court Friday, June 3, 2016.(Orleans Parish Sheriff's Office via AP, File) ORG XMIT: NY162

Attorneys for the man accused of murdering former Saints defensive lineman Will Smith argued Wednesday that starting his trial on Sept. 20 might bias a jury against him because it comes just after the start of the 2016 football season. Defense attorney John Fuller said the scheduled start of the murder trial falls between a Sept.… Continue reading →

Ascension surge lifts Baton Rouge-area home sales nearly 12 percent in May

Advocate staff photo by BILL FEIG -- A home is being wired that is under construction at Parker Place Estates in Ascension Parish. Ascension, which has had a tight inventory of homes for sale, saw a 30 percent surge in sales in May through the Greater Baton Rouge Association of Realtors’ Multiple Listing Service.

A surge of home sales in Ascension Parish helped lift metro Baton Rouge’s May tally by 11.7 percent. There were 996 homes sold in the nine-parish metro area, according to figures released Wednesday by the Greater Baton Rouge Association of Realtors’ Multiple Listing Service. That compares with 892 MLS sales during May 2015. Continue reading →

Baker council requires diapers for horses to keep city streets manure-free

Baker is not horsing around when it comes to clean streets. The City Council on Tuesday passed an ordinance requiring horses “in parades, for crowd control, or in trail rides or for any other event” to wear “dung bags,” or horse diapers. While riding a horse within the city limits is usually not legal, Mayor Harold… Continue reading →

Public school changes will be topic of statewide forums

State education leaders announced Wednesday they will be holding public forums across Louisiana to come up with revised school policies that comply with a new federal law. The revisions have to meet the guidelines of the federal Every Student Succeeds Act, or ESSA, which replaced the previous law known as No Child Left Behind.… Continue reading →

PSC Chairman Clyde Holloway says he may not run for reelection this fall

Advocate staff photo by ELIOT KAMENITZ -- Louisiana Public Service Commission Chairman Clyde Holloway, left, talks with Phillip R. May, president and CEO of Entergy Louisiana, LLC and Entergy Gulf States Louisiana, LLC,  at January 2015 opening ceremonies of Ninemile 6 facility in Westwego.

The state’s top utility regulator, Louisiana Public Service Commission Chairman Clyde Holloway, said in a prepared statement Wednesday morning that he may not seek reelection this fall. The 72-year-old former Republican congressman joined the PSC in 2009. He runs a plant nursery near his home in Forest Hill and injured his knee earlier this year. “I… Continue reading →

Baton Rouge man busted trying to sell party drugs at bar, Washington Parish deputies say

Pokeyto Kendre Peters, 30

Washington Parish sheriff’s deputies arrested a Baton Rouge man allegedly trying to sell party drugs at a Bogalusa bar early Wednesday morning. Pokeyto Kendre Peters, 30, of South Harrells Ferry Road, was attempting to sell ecstasy inside the Pub Lounge in Bogalusa, prompting complaints to the authorities, said Chief Deputy Mike Haley, of the Washington Parish Sheriff’s… Continue reading →

Lafayette arrest report for June 29

Arrests posted June 28, 2016, on the Lafayette Parish Sheriff’s website. DANIEL JAMES ANGELLE: 37, of the 100 block of Springfield Drive, Carencro. He was booked on aggravated battery and two counts of fugitive. KRISTA D. ARCENEAUX: 26, of the 700 block of Lance Street, Sulphur. She was booked on two counts of… Continue reading →

Marksville man who lost son to police gunfire might have been suicidal, lawyer for deputy says

Booking photo of Derrick Stafford, Avoyelles Parish Jail.

MARKSVILLE — A man wounded last year in a barrage of bullets that killed his young son was drunk, on drugs and possibly suicidal when two city marshals opened fire after a car chase, an attorney for one of the officers said in court Wednesday. Jonathan Goins, an attorney for former deputy marshal Derrick… Continue reading →

Medicaid expansion will provide more treatment to convicts, cancer patients, HIV sufferers

Thousands of Louisiana residents who don’t have health care coverage will start getting no-cost insurance Friday when the state’s new Medicaid expansion program takes effect. But several of the broad impacts — on populations that range from convicts serving time in prison to poor mothers who typically would lose coverage shortly after their children are born —… Continue reading →

Burning Cheetos and motion detectors: Louisiana teachers getting hands-on math and science training

Advocate staff photo by BILL FEIG -- In biology, from left, Rhonda Matthews, E. Iberville High School, Jonathan Simmons, W. Feliciana High School, and Hope Lubbert, Cohen College Prep, make and use different shapes showing larger is not always better. About 450 teachers, some local, from several other states, learn how to do Òinteractive, hands-on lessons in math, biology, chemistry and EnglishÓ as part of teacher training overseen by the Dallas-based National Math Science Initiative and funding by ExxonMobil. The training occurred at Woodlawn High School Tuesday morning June 28, 2016. They measured and recorded heat released from a burning cheeto (chemistry), extracted DNA from strawberries (biology) and used motion detectors to explore rate of change (math).

If you see lot more Cheetos, flaming Cheetos no less, in your local public high school this year, you can credit Hope Lozano. This chemistry teacher from Austin, Texas, is holding court this week at Woodlawn High School in Baton Rouge. She is among several teachers sharing favorite lessons with about 450 fellow teachers during four… Continue reading →

Life sentence for Henry Montgomery in murder of East Baton Rouge deputy to be reconsidered

Henry Montgomery

The Louisiana Supreme Court on Tuesday sent the case of a 70-year-old inmate serving life without parole for the 1963 murder of an East Baton Rouge sheriff’s deputy back to district court for resentencing, five months after the U.S. Supreme Court declared that inmates convicted of murders committed as teens deserve a chance at release. Tuesday’s ruling also… Continue reading →