News for Wednesday 050119
Compiled by Dave Graichen
Felicia Marie Nicole Smith, one of two Natchitoches Parish women accused in the burning death of a 6-month-old boy in July of last year, was granted a hearing to determine if there's enough evidence to proceed in her case after a judge cited the delay in appointing a public defender for her. Smith and Hanna Nicole Barker both face first-degree murder charges in the death of Levi Cole Ellerbe, who was Barker's son. The cases are being tried separately.
The Alexandria City Council last night voted 4 to 3 for a resolution of support for house bill 422, which would repeal the state's ban on local control of economic policies, specifically the minimum wage. The council chamber was filled with supporters of the resolution. The bill is currently in a House Chamber and Tuesday’s resolution won't change anything, but simply show support for the bill.
A Senate committee has approved legislation that would prohibit an abortion if a fetal heartbeat is detected. If Louisiana’s abortion ban proposal is signed by the governor, it would not take effect until the federal courts determine if a similar law in Mississippi is constitutional. The measure advances to the Senate floor after a five to two vote in a judiciary committee, and does not include an exception if the pregnancy was caused by rape or incest.
A constitutional amendment to abolish the death penalty in Louisiana passed a Senate committee on 4-2 vote. New Orleans Senator JP Morrell says if prosecutors seek the death penalty, the state has infinite resources to defend that decision compared to a person who is handed the sentence, and noted that outside groups have had to exonerate death row inmates who the state had failed to defend. Two DAs spoke in opposition.
A measure to legalize sports wagering in the state has survived a full Senate vote and is heading to the House. Bill sponsor, Metairie Senator Danny Martiny, says there’s already an active sports betting black market, and while the law may increase the overall amount of gaming in the state, it will contribute funding to early childhood education.
A Shreveport Democrat railed against vaccinations on the Senate floor during discussion of a bill that would allow adults to opt into a statewide immunization database. Senator John Milkovich checked off a list of reasons why he believes vaccinations may not be trustworthy, and could be poisonous to children. Republican US Senator Bill Cassidy, a doctor, spoke out against the claims, calling the research that linked vaccinations and autism “fake news” that’s responsible for the resurgence of measles nationwide.
It may just be a feel good piece of legislation, but the Louisiana House passes a bill that says banks with gun control policies cannot refuse to do business with companies involved in the manufacturing and selling of guns and ammunition. The House approved the measure on a 66-27 vote. The bill now heads to the Senate for more discussion.
Governor Edwards is confident tornado ravaged Ruston and Louisiana Tech will receive federal disaster recovery funds once damage assessments are complete, and an application for aid has been filed. State Fire Marshal Butch Browning reportedly has already identified at least 1,200 damaged structures, and Louisiana Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness spokesperson Mike Steele says they’re hoping to get started on the assessment process soon, but some areas still need to be checked for safety before the crews go out.
A former St. Landry Parish priest was sentenced to seven years in prison today and received three years probation. Michael Guidry pleaded guilty in March to giving a 16-year-old boy alcohol and then sexually molesting him. Guidry was a longtime leader of St. Peter Church in Morrow.
LSU football head coach Ed Orgeron says the team’s number one ranked 2020 recruiting class is evidence the team’s brand has gone national. 247Sports.com recruiting analyst Shea Dixon says the most remarkable part of the class is that 11 of the 14 commitments are from out of state. Alabama is close on LSU’s heels with the number two class. Elsewhere in the SEC you’ve got Florida at 5, Georgia at 11, Mississippi State at 13, and Auburn at 18, South Carolina at 25, and A&M at 26.