La. lawmakers open hearings on $25B state budget
BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - A day after opening their annual legislative session, lawmakers have started work on the state's operating budget.
The House Appropriations Committee on Tuesday began combing through the spending recommendations of Gov. Bobby Jindal for the new fiscal year that begins July 1.
Meanwhile, the Senate Finance Committee got a crash course in how Jindal proposes steering $450 million in surplus cash and piecemeal funding to help pay for next year's ongoing expenses.
Jindal offered a $25 billion budget proposal that suggests new education and health care spending, pay raises for state workers and an incentive fund to encourage colleges to enhance their science, engineering and technology training.
Lawmakers likely will work on the budget until the final days of session, which must end by June 2.
WHOOPING CRANES SHOT-REWARD
Reward up to $20K in whooping crane shooting
BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - Information about the shooting of two endangered whooping cranes in Jefferson Davis Parish could be worth $20,000.
The Advocate reports the state Department of Wildlife and Fisheries announced the new reward Monday, pushing it up from the $15,000 offered last month for a tip leading to an arrest and conviction in the case.
Wildlife and Fisheries spokesman Adam Einck says two endangered whooping cranes were found shot on Feb. 7 in Jefferson Davis Parish near Compton and Radio Tower Roads north of Roanoke.
He says one of the birds was dead when discovered.
The other crane initially survived but later died at the LSU School of Veterinary Medicine, where it had been taken for treatment.
BAYOU LAFOURCHE CLEANING
Volunteers to clean Bayou Lafourche
HOUMA, La. (AP) - More than 1,000 people will spend this weekend picking up trash Saturday along Bayou Lafourche, the primary drinking-water source for Terrebonne and Lafourche.
It's Barataria-Terrebonne National Estuary Program's third annual Bayou Lafourche Clean Up.
Alma Robichaux (ROH'-bih-shoh), BTNEP's education coordinator, tells The Courier that Bayou Lafourche provides drinking water for 85 percent of Terrebonne and all of Lafourche. Despite the waterway's importance to the community, the bayou is often littered with trash.
Robichaux said the group has cleaned up more than 30 tons of garbage during the past two Clean Up efforts.
Tangipahoa officials battling litter, vandalism
AMITE, La. (AP) - There's a serious litter and vandalism problem in Tangipahoa Parish, with reports of tires thrown on roadsides, highway signs repeatedly stolen, and garbage dumped in private yards.
On Monday, The Advocate reports the Tangipahoa Parish Council agreed to join with Parish President Gordon Burgess's office and parish law enforcement agencies to try to find a solution, including using cameras to identify the culprits.
But even those who are caught, however, aren't always punished.
Justices of the peace and their constables are responsible for apprehending and punishing those who are caught littering. Director of Finance Jeff McKneely says the problem is offenders frequently ignore warrants.
LAFAYETTE CHARTER SCHOOL
Nonprofit seeks to start Lafayette charter school
LAFAYETTE, La. (AP) - A nonprofit group has submitted a charter school application to the Lafayette Parish School Board to open a career and technical high school in 2015.
The Advocate reports Kingdom Builder Community Development Corp. has proposed a high school for grades 9-12 in Lafayette Parish that provides students the opportunity to earn industry-based certification in high-demand, high-wage fields.
The concept of the school - Kingdom Collegiate Academy of Excellence - appears to be in line with the Louisiana Department of Education's emphasis on "Jump Start," a statewide revamp of career and technical education in high schools.
MOTHER'S DAY SHOOTINGS
Federal charges filed in Mother's Day shootings
NEW ORLEANS (AP) - Two brothers already facing state charges for a shooting spree that left 20 people hurt at a Mother's Day parade in 2013 have been indicted on federal charges - along with seven other people allegedly connected to the case.
U.S. Attorney Kenneth Polite's office said an indictment was unsealed Tuesday that charges 25-year-old Shawn Scott, 20-year-old Akein (ah-KEEN') Scott and seven others with violations of federal controlled substances and gun control acts. Polite says the indictment specifically charges Shawn and Akein Scott with firing their guns during the Mother's Day neighborhood "second-line" parade on May 12.
Prosecutors say the nine people indicted are members of the Frenchmen-Derbigny gang. They say the group conspired to possess and use firearms to further a cocaine and heroin operation.
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