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Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards signs new ‘Blue Lives Matter’ hate crime law, nation's first

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards  (AP Photo/Melinda Deslatte)

Louisiana will become the first state in the country to treat attacks on police and firefighters as hate crimes and extend the same protections that are offered to people targeted for their race, gender or religion. Gov. John Bel Edwards on Thursday signed into law the so-called “Blue Lives Matter” legislation that has gripped national attention in… Continue reading →

Gov. John Bel Edwards' administration asks senators to reject House version of state budget entirely

Advocate staff file photo by BILL FEIG -- From left, Sen. W. Jay Luneau, D-Alexandria; Sen. Dale Erdey, R-Livingston; and  Sen. Eddie Lambert, R-Gonzales, chat in the Senate Revenue & Fiscal Affairs Committee as the legislature takes up taxing bills last week.

Gov. John Bel Edwards’ administration wants Senate budget leaders to scrap the state budget proposal the House spent weeks working on and start over on the budget that takes effect July 1. “We have a wholly unacceptable budget,” Commissioner of Administration Jay Dardenne told the Senate Finance Committee during a briefing Thursday. The Louisiana Legislature has… Continue reading →

Video: Capitol rally in honor of Southern student shot to death in April urges justice, end to violence

Advocate staff photo by BILL FEIG -- As Sen. Regina Barrow, D-Baton Rouge, second from left, watches, Jakaidyn Tillman, 13, gets a hug from Sen. Yvonne Dorsey-Colomb, D-Baton Rouge, center. Jakaidyn Tillman is the son of Theresa Tillman, the mother of Lashuntae Benton, one of the 19-year-old Southern University students killed in April, who organized the demonstration against gun violence and black-on-black violence on the State Capital steps Thursday morning May 26, 2016. From left clockwise, Ashanti Curtis, Regina Barrow, Yvonne Dorsey-Colomb, Jakaidyn Tillman, Miranda Morgan, Willie King III and Lydia Larce.

Theresa Tillman’s 19-year-old daughter, Lashuntae Benton, has remained a constant presence in her thoughts since the Southern University sophomore was fatally shot outside an off-campus party in April. “Every day, all day, every second,” Tillman said Thursday morning from the steps of the State Capitol, where a group of friends and relatives… Continue reading →

CVS and Walgreens to sell heroin overdose antidote without individual prescription in Louisiana

Photo provided by CVS -- A CVS pharmacist assembles naloxone kits. CVS announced Wednesday that it would be making naloxone, an antidote to overdoses from heroin and other opioid drugs, available in early June in Louisiana without an individual prescription. Health advocates say this should help stop overdoses in the state.

National pharmacy giant CVS said this week that naloxone — a quick-acting antidote to overdoses from heroin and other opioids — will be available without an individual prescription in all 132 of its Louisiana pharmacies by early June. The Rhode Island-based company said the move in Louisiana is part of an effort to broaden access to… Continue reading →

'You roll with us, or you get rolled over': New Orleans’ culture of killing on display at trial of accused ‘3NG’ gang leader

New Orleans officials look at mugshots of the 20 indicted 3NG gang members in 2013.

Washington “Big Wash” McCaskill was 11 or 12 when he started toting a gun around the streets of New Orleans, he told a jury this week. By 13, he stood 6 feet tall and netted $400 to $500 a day selling crack on the streets of Central City and Uptown, stashing the proceeds… Continue reading →

Shelter in place order lifted after Rubicon release in Geismar

Emergency authorities in Ascension Parish have lifted a shelter in place order around the Rubicon facility after the all-clear was given about 10:25 p.m. Thursday, parish sheriff’s deputies said. Lt. Col. Bobby Webre, sheriff’s chief of criminal operations, said Rubicon plant had an air… Continue reading →

Lafayette educator association says the state, not local districts, should fund state-approved charter schools

With the Lafayette Parish school system facing another year of budget deficits, the parish teacher organization on Thursday called on legislators to prohibit local dollars from funding state-approved charter schools. The Lafayette Parish Association of Educators called a news conference to bring attention to the funding issue, which has contributed to the school district’s… Continue reading →

Farm-to-school program bill sent to governor who supports it

Louisiana lawmakers have sent to the governor’s desk a bill to create a farm-to-school program that encourages locally-grown products in state public school cafeterias. With an 85-0 vote Thursday, the state House gave the Senate-supported measure final legislative passage. The bill by Sen. Francis Thompson, a Delhi Democrat, earned unanimous approval from each chamber. Gov. John… Continue reading →

Lawmakers back call for US constitutional convention

Louisiana is joining a call for the first U.S. constitutional convention since the nation’s founding, under legislation backed by state lawmakers. The House voted 62-36 Wednesday to support the call, giving Senate Concurrent Resolution 52 final passage. Less than 10 states have signed onto the effort, which requires 34 states to consent to the call. Even… Continue reading →

Report: Crimestoppers signs pop up seeking information in Thomas Rolfes' death

Billboards advertising the reward for information in Tulane graduate Thomas Rolfes' death have appeared on Claiborne Avenue. (Photo via WWL-TV)

With much still unknown almost a month after the death of Tulane graduate Thomas Rolfes, billboards advertising the $30,000 being offered have sprung up in the area of South Claiborne Avenue. In a report from WWL-TV, Rolfes' former roommate said the family and his fiancee haven't given up hope to find out what happened.… Continue reading →

Baton Rouge man accused of raping, providing drugs to 12-year-old girl

Antoine Addison, 25

Baton Rouge police arrested a 25-year-old man accused with another unidentified man of providing drugs to a then 12-year-old runaway girl and raping her at a Baton Rouge motel more than a year ago. The girl told detectives that a man, later identified by police as Antoine Addison, picked her up while she was hanging out in… Continue reading →

Baton Rouge man accused of making two young boys smoke marijuana

A 29-year-old Baton Rouge man accused of making his 8- and 10-year-old relatives smoke weed was arrested Wednesday on cruelty counts. Jason Louis Taylor, of 4929 McClelland Drive, rolled marijuana blunts and provided them to the young boys on several occasions, instructing the children to smoke it, a Baton Rouge police report says. The 8-year-old boy… Continue reading →

Robber yells out his name to victim during February armed robbery, police report; Denham Springs man arrested Wednesday

Robert Connor, 28

Baton Rouge police arrested a 28-year-old Denham Springs man who screamed his full name at a victim during a February armed robbery. Robert Connor stole the victim’s wallet at gunpoint in the 9900 block of Florida Boulevard on Feb. 4, telling the victim he’d just gotten out of jail, a Baton Rouge police report says.… Continue reading →

Designers to unveil plans for Evangeline Corridor Initiative Friday

Advocate staff photo by BRAD BOWIE -- Michael Costello, with the Sterling Grove Neighborhood Association, left, studies a map with A.J. McGee, a member of the Evangeline Corridor Initiative Team, during a charette on Wednesday at the Rosa Parks Center held to discuss ways to minimize the impact of the I-49 Corridor

A team that has been sketching and planning improvements for neighborhoods along the planned route of the Interstate 49 Connector will present their work Friday. The event, scheduled for 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at the Immaculate Heart of Mary School on 12th Street, caps off a week of intensive design meetings and public conversations… Continue reading →

'5 in 5' feat boosts LSU football's recruiting into top 5; see who's on Tigers' 'most wanted' list

LSU head coach Les Miles watches during their NCAA college football practice in Baton Rouge, La., Friday, Aug. 7, 2015. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert) ORG XMIT: NYOTK

Saahdiq Charles, a 6-foot-5, 315-pound offensive lineman living in Mississippi, sat behind a table facing a television camera and answering questions about his commitment to LSU. Why did you choose them? When did you decide? How does this feel? Charles answered those questions in a timely, polite manner. As the interview wound down with a local… Continue reading →

Battling low transfer rates, LSU and community college system announce transfer scholarship plan

Advocate staff photo by REBEKAH ALLEN -- Monty Sullivan, system president of Louisianas Community & Technical Colleges, left, and LSU System President F. King Alexander look on Thursday as Gov. John Bel Edwards signs an agreement Thursday that guarantees the most academically motivated community college students admission and a scholarship to LSU.

In an effort to boost Louisiana’s low transfer rate of community college students to universities, higher education officials announced a partnership on Thursday that guarantees the most academically motivated community college students admission and a scholarship to LSU. The award is called the Honors Promise, and it offers a $3,000-a-year LSU scholarship to community… Continue reading →

Video: New technology tracks crime, traffic reports in real time, to help Baton Rouge police coordinate response

Advocate staff photo by TRAVIS SPRADLING - Baton Rouge Police Dept. Sgt. Neal Noel, left, gestures while speaking on features of the new interactive digital mapping platform that consolidates various public safety-related data inputs, streams and analytics into one central map-based environment known as the Baton Rouge Public Safety Common Operational Platform, or PSCOP, at a press conference at BRPD headquarters, Thursday, May 26, 2016.  At right is Warren Kron, GIS (Geographic Information Systems) manager for the city of Baton Rouge. They say PSCOP will more quickly help direct officers to crimes scenes, monitor chases and respond to disasters.

Police, reporters and city officials huddled around a screen as dots and symbols appeared over a digital map of Baton Rouge representing officers’ movement and reports of crime and traffic crashes as they happened. During a Thursday morning news conference, officers and mappers showed off their new technology, which combines the parish’s geographical information system and… Continue reading →

Inmate flees work assignment, found 30 minutes later, Lafayette Sheriff’s Office reports

A Lafayette Parish inmate fled from his work crew assignment for about 30 minutes Thursday afternoon before deputies found him about a half-mile away, the Lafayette Parish Sheriff’s Office reported. The inmate, 21-year-old Wayne Angelle, has been in jail since April 30 on six counts of simple burglary and in lieu of $60,000 bail, according to… Continue reading →

Paychex adding 100 jobs in Baton Rouge

Paychex, which provides payroll, human relations and retirement services to 590,000 small and medium-sized business clients, is adding 100 jobs at its Baton Rouge office. The company said Thursday it will add the jobs at its office at 4334 S. Sherwood Forest Blvd. over the next five years. Currently, 60 people work at the… Continue reading →

Bill to mandate reciting of declaration shelved

To the shock of its sponsor, a bill that would require public school students to recite a passage from the Declaration of Independence has been shelved under pressure and likely is finished for the session. “I am just astonished,” said Rep. Valarie Hodges, R-Denham Springs, and author of the legislation, which she tabled Wednesday night amid controversy.… Continue reading →

‘This team’s special’: LSU baseball rallies past Florida, 5-3, in longest game in SEC tournament history

LSU's Jake Fraley (8) is called safe on a play at the plate, on a single by Kramer Robertson, as Florida catcher Mike Rivera tried to make the tag during the eighth inning of a Southeastern Conference baseball tournament game Wednesday, May 25, 2016, in Hoover, Ala. (Vasha Hunt/AL.com via AP)

. HOOVER, Ala. -- Neither Alex Lange nor A.J. Puk received what he deserved when LSU’s 14-inning, 5-3 win against Florida ended. They were rendered mere footnotes in the longest game in SEC Tournament history, one where those two pitched brilliantly enough to woo the Major League scouts who stayed nearly five hours to watch the… Continue reading →

Gov. John Bel Edwards' administration asks senators to reject House version of state budget entirely

Advocate staff file photo by BILL FEIG -- From left, Sen. W. Jay Luneau, D-Alexandria; Sen. Dale Erdey, R-Livingston; and  Sen. Eddie Lambert, R-Gonzales, chat in the Senate Revenue & Fiscal Affairs Committee as the legislature takes up taxing bills last week.

Gov. John Bel Edwards’ administration wants Senate budget leaders to scrap the state budget proposal the House spent weeks working on and start over on the budget that takes effect July 1. “We have a wholly unacceptable budget,” Commissioner of Administration Jay Dardenne told the Senate Finance Committee during a briefing Thursday. The Louisiana Legislature has… Continue reading →

Baton Rouge housing nonprofit receives $75,000 to rehabilitate properties

Urban Restoration Enhancement Corp., a Baton Rouge nonprofit that helps low- to moderate-income families buy homes, has been awarded $75,000 through the Greater New Orleans Fair Housing Action Center’s Baton Rouge Community Revitalization Fund. UREC will use the money for rehabilitating blighted and vacant homes in distressed north Baton Rouge neighborhoods. The nonprofit also will use… Continue reading →

Edwards-backed bill to curb how charter schools are OK'd wins final approval

In a rare public schools win for Gov. John Bel Edwards, a bill that would nullify one method for launching charter schools won final legislative approval Thursday. The measure, Senate Bill 260, cleared the House 78-12. It now goes to Edwards, who made the legislation part of his legislative package. Other key measures backed by… Continue reading →

Lafayette arrest report for May 26

Arrests posted May 25, 2016, on the Lafayette Parish Sheriff’s website. RYAN ARCENEAUX: 45, of the 200 block of Teurlings Drive, Lafayette. He was booked on hold for St. Martin Parish and two counts of warrant/bench warrant. SHEA ARCENEAUX: 23, of the 3500 block of Olivier Road, Jeanerette. He was booked on misdemeanor… Continue reading →

Donald Trump reaches number of delegates needed to clinch GOP nomination for president

FILE - In this May 24, 2016 file photo, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks at a campaign event in Albuquerque, N.M. According to an AP count: Trump has reached the number of delegates needed to clinch the Republican nomination for president. Trump, the only remaining GOP candidate left in the race, will go on to accept the nomination at the party's national convention in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley, File)

WASHINGTON (AP) — Donald Trump on Thursday reached the number of delegates needed to clinch the Republican nomination for president, completing an unlikely rise that has upended the political landscape and sets the stage for a bitter fall campaign. Trump was put over the top in the Associated Press delegate count by a small number of the party's unbound delegates who… Continue reading →

AgCenter researchers round up facts on best grass-fed beef breed for Louisiana

Louisiana cattle producers trying to lasso a piece of the grass-fed beef stampede could soon get a hand from LSU AgCenter researchers. The researchers are using a $479,880 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture grant to figure out which breed is best for Louisiana when it comes to producing grass-fed beef. The scientists are also looking… Continue reading →

Baton Rouge police: Man in custody after forcing woman into vehicle, taking her to home

. Update, noon Thursday: The man taken into custody Thursday has been identified as Frederick Harris, 41, of 4874 Longfellow Drive. Harris has been charged with second-degree kidnapping, domestic abuse battery, simple criminal damage to property and simple assault. Original story: A man is in custody after police say he forced a woman into a vehicle… Continue reading →

Dickey’s Barbecue Pit planning store in Baton Rouge, along with seven others along I-10 corridor

The Baton Rouge barbecue market could soon add another competitor. Dickey’s Barbecue Pit, which has 550 locations in 43 states, has partnered with Lake Charles-based Marshland Foods LLC to open eight stores along the Interstate 10 corridor, including one in Baton Rouge. Dickey’s franchisee Marshland will open its first Dickey’s in Lake Charles, with two… Continue reading →

Bill to give attorney general budget autonomy put on hold, may not get vote

Advocate staff photo by TRAVIS SPRADLING -- Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry speaks, answering questions from House members, Thursday, May 12, 2016 at the State Capitol. After a nearly three-hour debate and testimony from, the House voted 69-26 to advance a bill that would fund the Attorney General's Office separately from the rest of the state budget.

Legislation that would have given Louisiana’s Attorney General autonomy to decide how to spend the money appropriated to his agency was set aside late Wednesday night and may not get a vote for the rest of the legislative session. Metairie Republican Rep. Cameron Henry, who as chairman of the House Appropriations Committee has his name… Continue reading →

Nate Cain resigns from Avoyelles Correctional Center amidst probes; attorney cites health issues as reason

Advocate staff photo by TRAVIS SPRADLING --  Entrance to Avoyelles Correctional Center in Cottonport.

Nate Cain, the eldest son of former Angola warden Burl Cain and the leader of a Cottonport prison that’s come under investigation, stepped down Tuesday, the state corrections department said Wednesday. Nate Cain’s departure follows the retirements of two other top officials at the Avoyelles Correctional Center -- one involving his wife, Tonia -- in addition… Continue reading →

'Somebody just dropped the ball': Bomb threat response criticized in Louisiana State Police report

Advocate Staff Photo by PATRICK DENNIS -- Emergency vehicles stand by the State Capitol during a bomb scare on May 16.

The Louisiana Legislature’s safety officials failed to follow proper procedures in what turned out to be a confused evacuation of the State Capitol after last week’s bomb threat, according to a Louisiana State Police investigation. “This common protocol for bomb threats was not followed,” reported the State Police in a document obtained by The Advocate… Continue reading →