Baton Rouge

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Dirty Dozen Brass Band to perform at Miss USA pageant

Posted By on Wed, May 28, 2014 at 1:24 PM

Members of the Dirty Dozen Brass Band at the Big Easy Awards.
  • Members of the Dirty Dozen Brass Band at the Big Easy Awards.

New Orleans' own Dirty Dozen Brass Band will be serenading the contestants at the 63rd annual Miss USA pageant, which will be held at the Baton Rouge River Center and aired Sunday night at 7 p.m. on NBC. The Dirty Dozen will be playing with Carencro musician Marc Broussard. creating what the Miss USA people call the "ultimate high energy mashup and Mardi Gras party on stage." Also performing: Florida Georgia Line and Nelly. 

Press materials for the production promise an extended three-hour format and give no clue as to when the Dirty Dozen might perform during the program, so if you're not into the whole tiaras-and-bathing-suits hoo-ha, you might want to wait for the inevitable YouTube. 

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Thursday, May 15, 2014

Vape no more: Louisiana minors to be banned from e-cigs

Posted By on Thu, May 15, 2014 at 12:45 PM

State Sen. Rick Gallots bill to prohibit e-cigs to minors heads to Gov. Bobby Jindal.
  • State Sen. Rick Gallot's bill to prohibit e-cigs to minors heads to Gov. Bobby Jindal.

Electronic cigarettes are steps away from being prohibited to minors in Louisiana. The currently unregulated industry of e-cigs was targeted by the state Legislature, with bills in the House and Senate for prohibiting their sale and distribution to people under 18.

Senate Bill 12 from state State Sen. Rick Gallot, D-Ruston, is the Senate version banning e-cig sales and a number of other alternative nicotine products to minors. Today, it passed the Senate 34-0 and heads to Gov. Bobby Jindal where it's expected to be signed into law. (On Tuesday, it received unanimous approval from the House with a 94-0 vote, and sailed through committees.) Louisiana will join several states, including Maryland, New Hampshire, New York and Pennsylvania, with similar legislation. Several other states are pending legislation this year.

Read more about e-cigs in Gambit's preview of the Legislature's tobacco battles.

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Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Louisiana Senate approves restrictive abortion bill

Posted By on Wed, May 14, 2014 at 5:30 PM

State Rep. Katrina Jackson, D-Monroe
  • State Rep. Katrina Jackson, D-Monroe

The Louisiana Legislature has passed a bill from state Rep. Katrina Jackson, D-Monroe, which would require doctors who provide abortions to have admitting privileges within 30 miles of a hospital. House Bill 388 passed the state House of Representatives in March and passed 34-3 today in the Senate. It now heads back to the House. It has the support of Gov. Bobby Jindal.

State Sen. J.P. Morrell, D-New Orleans, attempted to add an amendment that would remove the "arbitrary" 30-mile radius rule. In its place, doctors would have to receive admitting privileges to any hospital with an obstetrics and gynecology section. Morrell said he was concerned that the bill's 30-mile radius excludes many areas throughout the state where "there is no hospital within 30 miles, period," not only making procedures impossible, but could set a precedent for all specialized procedures. The amendment failed 3-34.

Sen. Karen Carter Peterson objected to the bill, calling it a "terrible bill" that "could seriously impede a woman’s ability to something legal in the state, not withstanding your position."

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Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Senate votes to keep Tony the Tiger at truck stop

Posted By on Tue, May 13, 2014 at 4:10 PM

After failing to pass Senate Bill 250 through the Louisiana Senate in April, State Sen. Rick Ward, R-Port Allen, reintroduced his bill to exempt big cat owners from a state law banning exotic pet ownership. This afternoon, SB 250 narrowly passed by a vote of 20-18. It now heads to the House.

State Sens. Troy Brown and Mack White were absent to vote last month. They voted in favor this afternoon. Sens. Danny Martiny, Gary Smith and Robert Kostelka, who voted against the bill in April, also voted in favor.

Sens. Dan Claitor, Yvonne Dorsey-Lacomb and Dan Morrish voted for the measure last month but voted against it today. Sen. Ben Nevers, who voted against the bill last month, was absent today.

The law would apply to Michael Sandlin, who owns the 13-year-old Siberian-Bengal tiger named Tony, who has lived at Tiger Truck Stop in Grosse Tete for more than a decade. The law would come up against the Louisiana Supreme Court's rejection of Sandlin's petition in October 2013 to review the 1st Circuit Court of Appeal's ruling that Tony can't live at the truck stop.

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Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Louisiana medical marijuana bill dies in committee

Posted By on Wed, Apr 30, 2014 at 3:02 PM


Medical marijuana has been on Louisiana's books since 1991, allowing doctors to prescribe pot to certain patients. But federal law and no state infrastructure for dispensing and regulating marijuana effectively neuters that law, though it remains on the books.

Today, the Senate Committee on Health and Welfare voted to defer Senate Bill 541 from state Sen. Fred Mills, R-Breaux Bridge. That bill deletes the current law and replaces it with a comprehensive means of regulating the prescription of marijuana, including creating a Therapeutic Marijuana Utilization Review Board and coordinating authorities with the state's Dept. of Agriculture and Forestry, the Louisiana Board of Pharmacy and the Louisiana Board of Medical Examiners. The committee voted 6-2 against the bill. (Sens. Bret Allain, Sherri Buffington, Dan Claitor, Dale Erdey, Elbert Guillory and Ben Nevers voted to defer the bill; Mills and Sen. Yvonne Dorsey-Colomb voted against the motion.)

In January, Gov. Bobby Jindal said he would be open to medical marijuana "if there is a legitimate medical need" and under "very strict supervision." That month, the Louisiana House Committee on Administration of Criminal Justice met with doctors, criminal justice organizations and reform advocates to discuss the "feasibility and effectiveness" of legalizing weed. Legislature filed several marijuana bills that tackle health and criminal justice reforms. Last week, however, a bill to reduce penalties for marijuana possession was also killed in committee.

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Monday, April 28, 2014

Bill to keep Tony the Tiger at truck stop fails in Senate

Posted By on Mon, Apr 28, 2014 at 5:55 PM

The Louisiana Senate failed to pass Senate Bill 250 from State Sen. Rick Ward, R-Port Allen, which aimed to exempt certain big-cat owners from a state law banning exotic pet ownership. The law would apply to Michael Sandlin, who owns the 13-year-old Siberian-Bengal tiger named Tony, who has lived at Tiger Truck Stop in Grosse Tete for more than a decade.

The bill passed the Senate's Committee on Natural Resources April 15. The committee amended the bill to remove an exemption for people who hold a USDA Class C exhibitor's license, a license which Sandlin possesses. Today, the Senate voted 18-19 against the measure. Ward's bill attempted to undercut a 2006 state law banning private ownership of exotic pets by exempting those permit holders.

Attempts to remove Tony from the truck stop have been ongoing for years. More recently, the Louisiana Supreme Court rejected Sandlin's petition in October 2013 to review the 1st Circuit Court of Appeal's ruling that Tony can't live at the truck stop. In 2011, the Animal Legal Defense Fund sued the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries for unlawfully issuing a permit to Sandlin to keep Tony, and in April 2013, the 1st Circuit Court of Appeal held that Sandlin can't keep Tony, nor can he keep that permit.

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Y@ Speak: #JazzFest, week one

Posted By on Mon, Apr 28, 2014 at 12:30 PM

If you're reading this, you survived the Krewe of Chad Bachelor Party Massacre of 2014, in which many recycling bins were tumbled and fists were bumped. Elsewhere, this year's Jazz Fest kicked into gear as @BeingNOLA went with weeklong Phish programming, Jason Isbell got hustled and had a couple get engaged, Solange hung out with empanadas and Glen David Andrews, and we learn one woman's Jazz Fest "cleansing" ritual.

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Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Marijuana possession bill killed in Louisiana Senate committee

Posted By on Tue, Apr 22, 2014 at 1:41 PM

After heated debate, a bill from state Sen. J.P. Morrell, D-New Orleans, to reduce penalties for marijuana possession was killed in a Louisiana Senate judiciary committee this afternoon.

Senate Bill 323 would make possession of marijuana a misdemeanor in any offense with a fine of up to $100 and/or imprisonment for up to six months. The committee attempted to add an amendment, however, that essentially stripped all of Morrell's bill to make possession of no more than one ounce of marijuana a misdemeanor for the first offense only, with other offenses remaining felonies. The bill would be exactly as current law with the exception of a first offense, a move that would have given the committee a better chance of passing the bill. But committee members voted 4-3 against that amendment.

Ironically, throughout testimony, several speakers and legislators admitted to smoking marijuana. Sen. Yvonne Dorsey-Colomb (who voted in favor of the amendment) said she has never smoked nor drank alcohol, while Sen. Robert Adley, R-Benton, admitted to smoking and inhaling. John DeRosier, district attorney of Calcasieu parish, said he was "downwind from several marijuana cigarettes from time to time."

"What this bill seeks to do is have a more compassionate outlook on how we interact with people who get caught with less than an ounce of marijuana," Morrell said in his closing statements before the votes.

Adley, who co-authored the bill, said, "This committee had an opportunity to reduce what you wanted to do dramatically. We’re not even willing to do that. Clearly it’s not going to pass in the fashion it’s in. I want the world to understand what happened here. .... People aren’t even willing to reduce to an ounce or less to protect the civil rights violated every day because the punishment does not fit the crime."

The committee voted 4-3 to defer the bill.

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Monday, April 21, 2014

Y@ Speak: high holy days

Posted By on Mon, Apr 21, 2014 at 12:41 PM

As Louisiana's state book inches closer to being the Bible — or rather, "the Holy Bible" — and the fogs of Easter 4/20 lift to reveal the harsh sunlight of Jazz Fest, Y@ Speak looks back at a week of hipsters, gutterpunks and fancy private streets, as well as the end of the inaugural season of New Orleans Pelicans basketball.

Also: mark your calendars for #twitterprom. The second-ever Y@ Speak Awards are coming at you Monday, June 2. Stay tuned for nomination information.

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Friday, April 18, 2014

Dissing the Constitution

Posted By on Fri, Apr 18, 2014 at 10:17 AM


The next time you hear a Louisiana legislator praise or cite the U.S. Constitution, keep in mind recent and ongoing antics in Baton Rouge. The state House of Representatives this week refused to remove laws from the books that had already been declared unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court, and it is poised to enact a brand-new law that is sure to suffer the same fate.

House Bill 12 by State Rep. Pat Smith, D-Baton Rouge, would have removed from the state’s criminal code our archaic sodomy laws, which were declared unconstitutional nearly a decade ago. The U.S. Supreme Court in 2003 struck down a similar Texas sodomy statute, and two years later the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals dealt the same fate to Louisiana’s sodomy statute. Nevertheless, Louisiana’s sodomy laws (effectively criminalizing consensual oral and anal sex) remain on the books, despite the fact they cannot be enforced. A House committee had approved Smith’s bill and sent it to a vote of the full House, but it went down in flames on a lopsided 27-66 vote April 15.

The chief opponents to removing the unconstitutional language were, of course, the Louisiana Family Forum and those legislators who are perpetually under its spell. “We’re not here to rubber stamp the Supreme Court,” said state Rep. Valarie Hodges, R-Denham Springs — as if the Louisiana Legislature had the authority to affirm or overrule a case decided by the nation’s highest court. Kudos to local legislators who had the sense — and the courage — to vote for Smith’s legislation: Reps. Jeff Arnold, Austin Badon, Wesley Bishop, Jared Brossett, Walt Leger III, Helena Moreno and Ebony Woodruff. Unfortunately, they could not carry the day, and Louisiana was the object of another round of embarrassing national headlines.

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