Baton Rouge

Monday, August 7, 2017

Edwards, Landrieu, other officials inspect flood damage in Treme

Posted By on Mon, Aug 7, 2017 at 3:37 PM

Gov. John Bel Edwards, center, and Mayor Mitch Landrieu toured a flooding spot in Treme this afternoon.
  • Gov. John Bel Edwards, center, and Mayor Mitch Landrieu toured a flooding spot in Treme this afternoon.

Gov. John Bel Edwards, Mayor Mitch Landrieu, various state senators and representatives, along with a few City Councilmembers, stopped at Willie Mae's Scotch House in Treme this afternoon to discuss the weekend's flood.

Landrieu, who arrived in town this morning from Aspen, Colorado, where he was attending a security conference, toured the restaurant with owner Kerry Seaton Stewart and did a walk-through of a flooded apartment across the street, where a drum kit and a keyboard were among the things that seemed to have taken on water.

"You never know what Mother Nature is gonna throw at you," Edwards said, adding that the state was still assessing the situation to determine whether formal emergency aid would be requested. "We're not bashful about asking for assistance when it's needed," he added.

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Inaugural Flambeau Festival should scratch your Southern rock itch

Posted By on Mon, Aug 7, 2017 at 10:53 AM

Blackberry Smoke. - PHOTO BY ROB BLACKMAN
  • Blackberry Smoke.

Sam Hunt, Hank Williams Jr., Lynyrd Skynyrd and Blackberry Smoke are among the headliners at the inaugural Flambeau Festival, a melange of young country singers and Southern rockers coming to Ascension Fields at Lamar Dixon in Gonzales just outside Baton Rouge Oct. 7-8.

The festival will feature three stages of music: a mainstage for the big acts, a "Torch Stage" for rising country acts and the "Nashville Songwriter" stage, an acoustic tent for singer/songwriters. There also will be food and drink booths

Tickets start at $119 for the weekend package and are available now.

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Sunday, August 6, 2017

City and state officials announce meetings to address issues from Aug. 5 flood

Posted By on Sun, Aug 6, 2017 at 6:54 PM

A van drives through Mid-City floodwaters Aug. 5. - PHOTO BY KEVIN ALLMAN
  • A van drives through Mid-City floodwaters Aug. 5.

One day after a drenching flood that seemed to catch people, politicians, pumps and all of New Orleans by surprise, city and state officials announced investigations into municipal response, while Sewerage & Water Board president Cedric Grant insisted, "We are dealing with 8 to 10 inches of rain in three hours. It is not going to be able to pump that in an hour.”

Six members of the New Orleans City Council held a press conference this afternoon to announce a special council meeting for 1 p.m. Tuesday to "express their concerns and pose questions to the Sewerage and Water Board and appropriate City officials," according to a statement from the council.

City Councilwoman At-Large Stacy Head, who has been openly critical of catch basin and utility maintenance in recent weeks, was not at today's meeting and was said to be out of town. Mayor Mitch Landrieu is in Aspen, Colorado, for a security conference, according to Deputy Mayor Ryan Berni, and will be returning to the city Monday.

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Friday, August 4, 2017

John Bel Edwards' tactical pivot

Posted By on Fri, Aug 4, 2017 at 12:26 PM

Gov. John Bel Edwards.
  • Gov. John Bel Edwards.

Less than a month after throwing down a fiscal gauntlet to House Republican leaders, Gov. John Bel Edwards has tacked toward Louisiana business leaders in an effort to address the so-called “fiscal cliff” of 2018 — and possibly start a meaningful statewide conversation about long-term tax and budget reform.

That’s a significant — and tactical — pivot by the governor. The stakes are high, both fiscally and politically.

The “cliff” is approximately $1.2 billion in temporary taxes set to expire on June 30, 2018. If that money is not replaced, lawmakers (and Edwards) will have to slash the state budget — mostly in higher education and health care, but no services will be immune from cuts. For now, Edwards and House Republican leaders are stalemated over how to proceed.

On Tuesday (Aug. 8), Edwards will meet with about two dozen business leaders from across the state to discuss where to go from here. The governor has his sights set on a statewide listening tour, which could make Tuesday’s meeting the launch of a campaign for fiscal reform.

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Friday, July 21, 2017

Gov. Edwards calls conservatives' bluff

Posted By on Fri, Jul 21, 2017 at 1:39 PM

From left, House speaker Taylor Barras, Gov. John Bel Edwards and Senate president John Alario. - PHOTO BY SARAH GAMARD
  • From left, House speaker Taylor Barras, Gov. John Bel Edwards and Senate president John Alario.

If you talk to conservative state lawmakers and business leaders in Louisiana, they’ll tell you there’s no “appetite” for fiscal reform. They all know what fiscal reform looks like, they just don’t see a way to get from where Louisiana is today to where it needs to be in the future, or even next year.

Gov. John Bel Edwards blames House Republicans, who have blunted his efforts to raise taxes. In fairness, the governor also balked at reforms proposed last November by a nonpartisan task force that studied tax policy for almost a year. Instead of backing the task force’s recommendations, Edwards floated an idea that struck many as coming out of left field: a commercial activity tax, or CAT. That idea went nowhere fast.
On the other hand, the GOP-led House failed to offer a reasonable alternative of its own, other than significant cuts this year and draconian cuts next year. Edwards and the Senate, which generally sides with the governor on fiscal issues, tamped down the House plan this year — but Louisiana’s long-range prospects remain untenable.

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Wednesday, July 12, 2017

#FightLikeJulie: Social media goes pink in support of Julie Stokes' breast cancer fight

Posted By on Wed, Jul 12, 2017 at 1:48 PM


Last week, state Rep. Julie Stokes, R-Kenner, announced she would not be running for state treasurer, as she had previously announced, due to a diagnosis of breast cancer. Today her colleagues in the state legislature, as well as supporters and well-wishers around Louisiana, wore pink and sent photos and good thoughts to Stokes on Twitter using the #FightLikeJulie hashtag.
Take a look:

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Thursday, July 6, 2017

Rep. Julie Stokes announces breast cancer diagnosis, will not run for state treasurer

Posted By on Thu, Jul 6, 2017 at 3:37 PM

Rep. Julie Stokes, R-Kenner, testifies during the 2017 special legislative session on the House floor. - PHOTO BY SARAH GAMARD
  • Rep. Julie Stokes, R-Kenner, testifies during the 2017 special legislative session on the House floor.

State Rep. Julie Stokes, R-Kenner, who announced her intent to run for state treasurer earlier this year, has sent a letter to friends and supporters revealing she has been diagnosed with breast cancer and will not run.

"My team of doctors has determined that I will begin at least 5 months of chemotherapy treatment," Stokes wrote. "So, instead of running a race to help get our state’s fiscal house in order, I will focus on fighting and winning my battle against cancer and spending quality time with my loving family who mean the world to me."

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Thursday, June 22, 2017

Editorial: 'Smart on crime' one of the successes of the 2017 Louisiana legislative session

Posted By on Thu, Jun 22, 2017 at 2:41 PM

State Rep. Joe Marino, I-Gretna (right). - SARAH GAMARD | MANSHIP SCHOOL NEWS SERVICE
  • State Rep. Joe Marino, I-Gretna (right).
The 2017 regular legislative session has been widely — and rightly — criticized for its failure to produce long-term fiscal reform. Yet, despite lawmakers’ failure to work together on fiscal issues, they showed true bipartisanship in succeeding on another, equally important front: criminal justice reform. The long-term impact of that success cannot be overstated.

After decades of pretending to be “tough on crime,” lawmakers finally enacted policies that reflect what enlightened law enforcement leaders have known all along: we cannot jail our way to safety. Spurred by objective data from the Pew Charitable Trust, a yearlong study by the bipartisan Louisiana Justice Reinvestment Task Force, and critical support from conservative as well as progressive voices across the state, lawmakers passed a package of 10 bills that significantly overhaul Louisiana’s sentencing, probation, parole and re-entry laws.

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Monday, June 19, 2017

Y@ Speak: thoughts and prayers edition

Posted By on Mon, Jun 19, 2017 at 6:25 PM

Twitter reacts to the shooting of U.S. Rep. Steve Scalise, the Louisiana Legislature closes out the very special limited edition ultra-rare super exclusive session, and New Orleans endures chin straps, cement, and Sidney Torres.

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Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Louisiana House approves state operating budget, sends it to Senate

Posted By on Wed, Jun 14, 2017 at 6:05 PM

  • The Louisiana State Capitol.

The Louisiana House approved the newest version of the state operating budget Wednesday and moved it to the Senate on a 56-46 vote. The approved budget appropriates all forecasted revenue, but instructs state agencies to refrain from spending a combined $60 million as a precaution against midyear shortfalls.

The House Bill 1 plan that left the Appropriations Committee Tuesday would have appropriated $100 million less than the total revenue projection, creating a budget surplus. If the projections were accurate, the money could be appropriated in next year’s regular session through a supplemental bill.

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