News for Wednesday 050317
By Dave Graichen
The Washington Post reports the U.S. Department of Justice will not charge the two Baton Rouge Police officers who were involved in the shooting death of Alton Sterling last July. Legal analyst Tim Meche says the D-O-J’s ruling is consistent with the opinion of many lawyers he’s spoken with. Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry can still investigate this case to see if state charges apply. No word as to whether or not he will do so.
Potential" new evidence prompted the continuation of a hearing set for Tuesday in the Norris Greenhouse Jr. case, which in turn led to an agreement to move his trial to Oct. 2. The 25 year old Greenhouse faces charges of second-degree and attempted second-degree murder in the November 2015 shooting of 6-year-old Jeremy Mardis and the serious wounding of his father, Christopher Few. Greenhouse's fellow Marksville Ward 2 deputy marshal on that night, Derrick Stafford, was tried on the same charges in March before a jury found him guilty of manslaughter and attempted manslaughter. Now word yet as to what the Potential" new evidence may be.
An unrestrained teenager died after a crash in St. Landry Parish after hitting a cow that was standing in the road. State Police Sgt. Jared Sandifer says the female victim is identified as 16-year-old Adrian Johnson of Washington. Johnson was not wearing a seatbelt and was pronounced dead at the scene.
Leaders of state agencies are urging lawmakers not to cut their budgets, as the spending plan heading to the House floor is $237 million less than the governor’s budget proposal. The Louisiana Department of Health is facing a $235 million cut. Secretary Rebekah Gee says that means programs like school-based health centers, Zika defenses, and in-patient psychiatric treatment would be eliminated. The Department of Children and Family Services would see a $19 million reduction and $11 million would be cut from the Department of Corrections.
Three bills that seek to reduce Louisiana’s highest-in-the-nation incarceration rate were approved by a Senate committee Tuesday. The proposed laws would shorten sentences for some non-violent offenders and expand opportunities for probation and parole. Governor Edwards says changes are needed, because the state is spending too much money on its prison population.
Also at the capitol yesterday, The House Governmental Affairs committee approved a bill that would make it easier to recall elected officials in larger voting districts. That same panel also approved the calling of a constitutional convention to make changes to Louisiana’s constitution where it deals with money issues.
Democratic New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu has been named a potential 2020 presidential contender by a New York Times Report. Political analyst Clancy Dubos says it’s too early to guess who could be on the ballot. He says Landrieu could be influential in the party but doesn’t have name recognition outside of the Bayou State.
The number of high school students here in Louisiana completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid is the highest in the state’s history. Assistant Superintendent for the Office of Student Opportunity Ken Bradford says students are already at a 51-percent completion rate and the deadline to fill out the form is still two months away. The national average for completion is 55-percent.
A bill to be heard in the House Labor Committee today would protect employees from retaliation for talking about their wages. Opposition is expected to come from the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry.
A memorial fund has been set up for the family of the Ouachita Parish Sheriff’s Deputy who died while on-duty in a crash over the weekend. Deputy Justin Beard will be laid to rest on Thursday at Mt. Vernon Baptist Church in West Monroe. Anyone who wants to help out his wife and three children can do so at any Ouachita Independent Bank location.