Hunt seeking procurement manager for new mill

With next year's start-up of its new state-of-the-art mill in Urania, Hunt Forest Products LLC is looking to hire a procurement manager. Interested? Click on the link below to find out more. HUNT PROCUREMENT MANAGER

Senate sends tax bill to governor

BATON ROUGE — In a 33-6 vote Sunday, the Senate sent a sales tax bill to Gov. John Bel Edwards that could end the financial instability that has dominated discussions at the Capitol and led to seven special sessions since he took office in 2016. The bill, which represented a compromise Friday between Edwards and House Republicans, will extend 0.45 of a cent of sales tax that was scheduled to expire on July 1. That will lower the state’s portion of the sales tax to 4.45 percent from 5 percent now. But by not letting the full penny expire, it will raise $463 million to fully fund TOPS scholarships, higher education and state health services and reduce cuts in other areas. The extra 0.45 of a c

Loggers to get sales tax exemption but must apply

Not all of the temporary 1-percent sales tax will go away on July 1 as the Louisiana Legislature passed a 0.45-percent sales tax that begins with the new fiscal year. However, loggers will be happy tax exemptions that went away with the tax increase two years ago will be re-instated. Prior to the tax increase of 2016, logging companies were exempt from state sales tax for logging equipment, parts lubricants and service on logging equipment. Those exemptions return for loggers beginning July 1. “Without a concerted effort of legislators and the author of the bill agreeing to add the exemptions to HB10, we would have had to amend the bill on the floor and add the exemptions,” said state Rep. J

Winners, losers of proposed cuts

BATON ROUGE — A clearer picture emerged Thursday about the winners and losers in the most recent shuffling of how the Legislature would divide the revenue from extending four-tenths of a cent of sales tax. Republicans touted the four-tenths plan as a way to restore full funding to higher education, Go Grants, and district attorneys’ salaries while shaving one-tenth of a penny off a sales tax extension that Gov. John Bel Edwards proposed. But under that plan, TOPS scholarships would be cut by 10 percent, sheriffs would receive $11 million less than last year for housing state prisoners and other departments would be funded at standstill budget levels. “Tell me what you need, not what you want

House rejects governor's half-cent sales tax proposal

BATON ROUGE — The House on Thursday rejected a bill that would have extended a half-cent of sales tax that Gov. John Bel Edwards has said is needed to avoid significant budget cuts. The vote was 60-40 in favor of the bill, but it needed a two-thirds majority, or 70 votes, to pass. Thirty-six Democrats, 21 Republicans and three independents voted for the bill, and 38 Republicans and two Democrats voted against it. The vote came after a Republican bill to limit the sales tax extension to four-tenths of a cent was amended to half a cent. Democrats said they will continue to seek the higher amount, which many Republicans have opposed in an effort to shrink the size of state government. Another b

Third session is 'last chance' to solve budget problem

BATON ROUGE — Gov. John Bel Edwards chided a group of House Republicans Monday for having blocked efforts to raise revenue to avoid budget cuts at the opening of the third special legislative session this year. He also said this was the “last chance” to solve the problem. “Over the past several months, partisan politics have infested this building in a way we have never seen before,” Edwards said in an address to the Legislature. He added that “the constant mix of partisan angling” was “simply inexcusable.” Edwards, a Democrat, also took a shot at national conservative groups that have tried to rally Republicans to stop the Legislature from extending any portion of an extra penny of sales ta

LSU AgCenter has opening for assistant/associate extension agent

The Louisiana State University Agricultural Center (LSU AgCenter) seeks applicants for an Assistant/Associate Extension Agent position for natural resources of Northwest Louisiana. The agent’s office will be located in the Bossier Parish extension office in Benton, LA. The population of Bossier Parish is approximately 125,000. CLICK FOR MORE INFORMATION

Being labeled villain in Legislature 'worth it,' Seabaugh says

BATON ROUGE — When Republican Rep. Alan Seabaugh of Shreveport filibustered in the final minutes of the legislative session Monday, he was not sure whether a last-ditch effort to vote on a revenue-raising bill he deemed disastrous would have succeeded. But Seabaugh, who is one of about 20 House Republicans who have consistently voted against any tax increase, said in interviews that his maneuver to block the vote “was worth it,” even though it has placed him at the center of controversy over yet another failed legislative session. Seabaugh said he objected to how the Senate had tacked a half-cent sales tax extension onto a minor bill, saying he felt the measures were “unrelated” and that it

Education commissioner: 'Nothing has gotten better'

BATON ROUGE — Joseph Rallo, the state’s departing higher education leader, said Thursday that parents and students should “feel outraged” that lawmakers failed for a second time to raise enough revenue to fully fund TOPS and avoid significant cuts at universities. The Legislature passed a budget Monday that would slash funding for TOPS scholarships by 30 percent, or $85 million, and cut operating funds for universities, which had already declined substantially over the last decade, by $96 million. “I am leaving after three and half years, and nothing has gotten better. Nothing,” said Rallo, who was a top official at universities in Texas and Illinois before becoming Louisiana’s commissioner

Budget cuts would force release of 10,000 inmates, Corrections head says

BATON ROUGE — The head of the state Corrections Department said his agency would have to release 10,000 inmates starting July 1 if the Legislature does not raise more revenue by then. Jimmy Le Blanc, the secretary of the Department of Public Safety and Corrections, said the agency could not weather the $75 million in cuts apportioned to it by the Legislature on Monday without sharply reducing the inmate population or furloughing some of its staff. He said the department would not release violent offenders or inmates convicted of sex crimes. But sheriffs and officials in various parts of the state have already expressed concern about criminal-justice reforms in 2017 that have led to the accel

Edwards talks expected cuts following second special session

BATON ROUGE — Gov. John Bel Edwards on Wednesday outlined cuts to higher education, criminal justice and assistance to needy families in a budget passed by the Legislature and made a pitch for renewing a half-penny of sales taxes to avert most of them. He made the comments in his first public appearance since he sharply criticized House leaders at a news conference minutes after the dramatic conclusion of a special session Monday night. Lawmakers passed a budget that would have funded the programs if there were enough revenue, but efforts to pass a revenue bill collapsed in the House. Edwards struck a more optimistic tone Wednesday about raising revenue and funding the programs in an expecte

Democrats fuming at state GOP

BATON ROUGE — Emotions were raw Monday night as the special session collapsed after the the Legislature was unable to raise major revenue to fund the state’s budget priorities. In the final minutes of the session, an attempt to reconsider a bill that would have increased revenue by $504 million was blocked by Rep. Alan Seabaugh, R-Shreveport, who acknowledged that he stayed at the microphone to use up the remaining time allotted for the session. Democrats and several Republicans blamed the collapse on both Seabaugh for running out the clock in the final moments and Lance Harris, R-Alexandria and the chairman of the Republican Legislative Delegation, for holding onto his bill that would have

Bienville Parish man arrested for timber theft

A Saline man is accused of timber theft, according to the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry. Wayne Durbin, 66, of Bienville Parish, was arrested on two counts of timber theft, according to the LDAF's press release, after enforcement agents investigated two complaints filed in April. The alleged thefts involved timber harvested from 439 acres in Bienville Parish. "During a four-month investigation, Durbin admitted cutting the timber and not paying the two landowners for the timber he harvested," said LDAF Commissioner Mike Strain. Strain said the value of the timber harvested is estimated at $64,273. Durbin was arrested May 29 and released on $100,000 bond. If convicted, Durbin

Foundation: Louisiana residents pay low state taxes

BATON ROUGE — As lawmakers battle over raising more revenue, it is worth keeping in mind that Louisiana residents pay some of the lowest state taxes in the country, tax and budget analysts say. The Tax Foundation, an independent tax policy research organization, estimated this year that Louisiana and Alaska had the earliest “Tax Freedom Day” of any states — April 4. That’s the date, the group says, by which the residents of a state have collectively earned enough money to cover all their federal, state and local taxes for the year, and it provides a rough measure for comparing the tax burdens among the states. New York residents did not hit their tax freedom day until May 14. The foundation

Tit-for-tat when senators appear before House panel

BATON ROUGE — It was payback time in a House committee on Thursday. After Senate Democrats chastised Republican leader Rep. Lance Harris of Alexandria on Wednesday over a bill that raised less revenue than the governor says is needed, a Republican-led House committee on Thursday grilled two of those Democrats and rejected or deferred bills they had proposed. The House Ways and Means Committee put off a bill by Sen. Jay Luneau, D-Alexandria, and voted down two bills by Sen. Jean-Paul Morrell, D-New Orleans, the chair of the Senate Revenue and Fiscal Affairs Committee, adding to the tensions between the chambers as they rush to see if they can agree on revenue and budget bills before the speci

Drax seeking procurement forester

Drax Biomass has an opening for a procurement forester to be based in the Olla area. A B.S. degree in Forestry from an institution accredited by the Society of American Foresters is required. Click Job Description button below to find out more or click the Apply button to apply for the job. JOB DESCRIPTION APPLY FOR PROCUREMENT FORESTER

Senate panel questions budget passed in House

BATON ROUGE — The Senate Finance Committee on Friday questioned a Republican budget passed by the House that would fully fund hospitals for the poor but slash funding for other health programs by $116 million. Including federal matching dollars, the total cuts to Louisiana Department of Health would amount to over half a billion dollars, compromising mental health services and substance abuse treatment programs when temporary revenue measures expire on July 1. “We can’t continue to cut and appropriately meet the needs of the people of this state,” said Health Secretary Rebecca Gee. The hearing illustrated the continuing divide between House Republicans, who are focused on cutting the size of

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