Louisiana News

Stories and interviews from across the state.

Public Defender Board Reaches Fund Distribution Compromise

Apr 30, 2018
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The Louisiana Public Defender Board has reached a compromise on a new plan intended to more fairly distribute state funds used to pay lawyers who represent indigent defendants.

The Advocate quotes State Public Defender James T. Dixon Jr. in a Saturday report as saying the plan should prevent the state's  42 district public defenders offices from failing. But, he says any plan would have "winners and losers" because there is not enough money.

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The Louisiana Red Cross is joining a national push to install hundreds of thousands of smoke detectors in homes around the country. “Sound the Alarm” will see Red Cross volunteers visiting homes to install alarms, and educate families on fire safety. Greater New York Regional CEO Josh Lockwood says its been a wildly successful program so far.

 

Lockwood says despite big publicity pushes, reinforcing the importance of fire safety, many homes still lack a working smoke detector.

 

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There’s only two months left in the fiscal year, and doubts are growing as to whether a spending plan for next budget year can be approved in the current regular session. A 648-million dollar budget gap is forcing lawmakers to consider deep cuts in state spending. LaPolitics.com Publisher Jeremy Alford says we’re approaching uncharted waters.

 

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A Senate-approved bill that would double, and in some cases, increased tenfold the fines associated with soliciting prostitutes passed a House committee nine to six. The bill would not change the current penalty of up to six months in jail for soliciting. Sponsor Franklinton Senator Beth Mizel says it attacks human trafficking at its root.

 

Mizel says, "We can lessen the demand for trafficking; we can partially solve our problem."

 

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A political analyst says embattled Secretary of State Tom Schedler might not be able to stay in office much longer as the sexual harassment allegations against him will not go away. Bernie Pinsonat says published emails showing sexual advances by Schedler towards an employee could lead to his resignation.

 

Pinsonat says, "The revelation of the emails will be the end of his political career... It's a matter of time before he resigns."

 

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Concerns are being raised about a House bill that includes an application for funding a Boy Scouts project, but did not include an application for a girl scouts project. Girl Scouts Louisiana East spokesperson Mary-Patricia Wray says neither project is guaranteed to be funded, but allowing both applications to be considered would send a message of equality.

 

The Girl Scouts are seeking funding for a project that would prevent a lake in Tangipahoa from spilling into the Tangipahoa River. Wray says the lake is a valuable part of the community.

 

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A woman is under arrest for allegedly stealing a horse, and selling it for 1,000 dollars cash on the internet. 27-year-old Sarah Broussard of Scott was booked into the Lafayette Parish Jail on the charge of Theft of Property valued over 500 dollars. Ag Commisioner Mike Strain says the purchaser had no clue the horse was stolen.

 

The horse was being housed in Lafayette Parish, while its owner lived elsewhere. Strain says the owner had no clue the horse had been swiped.

 

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Louisiana now ranks second in the nation with the highest hit and run rate of fatal crashes per capita, according to a new survey from the AAA foundation. The national study concluded there is a hit and run fatality every minute in the nation. Don Redman is with AAA.

 

Redman says the report found most victims of fatal hit and run crashes are pedestrians and bicyclists.

 

Redman says there are two big factors on why Louisiana ranks second in the nation for fatal hit and run crashes.

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A domestic violence firearms bill cleared a House panel that further restricts possession of a gun by someone who is under a protective order. Currently its prohibited for an abuser to have a weapon, this bill prohibits among other things carrying a concealed weapon. Mariah Wineski is the executive director of the Louisiana Coalition Against Domestic Violence.

 

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A partnership between coastal advocates and private business is leading to the planting of 35,000 bald cypress in Terrebonne Parish Wetlands. Senior adviser to the Americas Wetlands Foundation Sidney Coffee says its part of a string of smaller projects.

 

Coffee says, "These are transitional projects that can help hold the line on salt water intrusion while the state's larger projects come online."

The trees have been grown to tolerate salt water, and Coffee says they have an additional layer included to protect them from a notorious menace.

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