Associated Press

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Authorities say a man tracked to a hotel where he was with a runaway 14-year-old girl remains jailed on accusations of sexual contact with the teen.

 The Times-Picayune reports 34-year-old Malcom Baker was booked Monday on three counts of carnal knowledge of a juvenile. Jefferson Parish Sheriff's Office spokesman Col. John Fortunato says Baker was at a Terrytown hotel with the girl reported missing from New Orleans.

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The number of speeding tickets issued by the Florida Highway Patrol has dropped for three straight years as the agency deals with a shortage of troopers.

 Col. Gene Spaulding tells the Miami Herald the agency has lost 993 troopers - or about half of its workforce - to retirement or resignation since 2010. 

 Spaulding says the agency does what it can to provide public safety, patrolling areas that include Interstates 4, 75 and 95 in the nation's third most populated state that also doubles as a tourist destination.

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Authorities say a woman who dropped her purse inside a medical clinic caused an accidental gunshot that wounded a bystander.

 WAPT-TV reports that the woman on the fourth floor of the Lakeland Family Medicine Center in Jackson when she dropped the purse around 11 a.m. Thursday.

 Authorities said the gun fired, striking another person who has been hospitalized. The wounded person's condition wasn't immediately available.

 The station reports that the clinic is affiliated with the University of Mississippi Medical Center. 

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The leader of the Louisiana House says he doesn't expect lawmakers to pass tax hikes this session to fill a looming, mid-2018 budget gap. Instead, Republican House Speaker Taylor Barras believes a special legislative session is inevitable to address the shortfall.

A more than $1 billion budget hole is projected when temporary sales taxes passed by the Legislature expire on June 30, 2018. Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards wants lawmakers to pass tax measures to close the gap. 

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36-year-old Kevin Gray and 36-year-old Josekeitha White were booked Monday and charged with partnering with a craps dealer to swindle a value estimated between $500 and $5000 from Treasure Chest Casino. State Police say their alleged accomplice, 49-year-old Anthony Thompson, was arrested in February.

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A lawmaker fears Louisiana's domestic violence protections could be declared unconstitutional if his colleagues refuse to widen the safeguards to include same-sex couples.

  Rep. Patrick Connick wants to remove the requirement that a victim be of the opposite sex of the alleged offender to be considered a victim of domestic violence.  

 The Marrero Republican's bill narrowly passed the House, but fell six votes short Tuesday in the Senate. Seven senators were absent, including five Democrats   

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A Kansas food distributor has recalled nearly 100,000 pounds of precooked sausage products that might contain metal. 

The recall was announced Wednesday by Armour Eckrich Meats in Junction City. 

 

The Food Safety and Inspection Service says the recall includes more than 8,000 cases of 16.6 ounce packages of "Eckrich Smok-y Cheddar Breakfast sausage, Naturally Hardwood Smoked." The labels have the case or UPC code and a "27815 17984" with a use-by date of Aug. 17. The products also have the number "EST. 3JC" inside the USDA mark of inspection. 

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Abortion rights advocates say an abortion clinic in northwestern Louisiana has closed, leaving three other such clinics in the state.

 

Owners of Bossier City Medical Suite could not be reached for comment Tuesday. The phone number at the facility was no longer in service and the website was down. State business records show the company's officers are the same Texas-based principals of Causeway Medical Suite, a suburban New Orleans facility that closed last year.

 

 Authorities are trying to determine how a 17-month-old girl wound up in a road where she was struck and killed by a truck.

The girl was struck Monday afternoon in St. Tammany Parish, while the toddler was visiting her grandmother's home in the Slidell area.

St. Tammany Parish sheriff's Capt. Daniel Seuzeneau said investigators were not yet sure how the toddler wound up in the path of oncoming traffic.

After months of working through the federal bureaucracy, Louisiana has access to the $1.6 billion in federal aid earmarked by Congress for flood recovery.

Gov. John Bel Edwards' administration says the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, or HUD, officially released the dollars to the state Monday. Louisiana can now start withdrawing dollars to pay for recovery projects approved by HUD.

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