New license plate supports ALS foundation

BATON ROUGE — A House committee approved a bill to allow Louisiana residents buy Team Gleason Foundation license plates to help a former New Orleans Saints player in his fight against ALS. Steve Gleason, one of the most beloved players in Saints history, was a safety from 2000 to 2008 and was diagnosed with ALS, also called Lou Gehrig’s disease, in 2011. He and his wife established the Team Gleason Foundation shortly after that to inspire and show other ALS patients they “can not only live but thrive.” Most Saints fans recall his blocked punt against the Atlanta Falcons, which helped lead the Saints to victory, on the night the Superdome reopened after Hurricane Katrina. Gleason has taken th

Survey: La. OK with sports betting, pot possession

BATON ROUGE — Majorities of Louisiana residents support legalizing gambling on professional sports and possession of a small amount of marijuana for recreational use while opposing stricter gun laws, according to an LSU survey released Thursday. The Legislature is expected this spring to consider legalizing sports gambling. Statewide, 59 percent of survey respondents support the idea while only 35 percent oppose it. There is virtually no difference in opinions on the issue between Republicans and Democrats. The distinctions lie among the age groups. More than 70 percent of respondents from ages 18 through 49 support sports betting. However, support drops to 53 percent among adults age 50 to

Higher ed officials ask for more money

BATON ROUGE — Higher education leaders called on legislators this week to increase funding for state colleges in next year’s budget. The budget bill, proposed by House Appropriations Committee Chairman Cameron Henry, R-Metairie, would maintain current funding for colleges, but fall about $12 million short of fully financing the popular TOPS scholarship program. That version of the budget did not include the $119 million of additional state revenue projected by the Revenue Estimating Conference earlier that day. So lawmakers will have more money at their disposal and will face pressure from parents and students to avoid cuts to the scholarship program. Louisiana lags behind most states in re-

Making $50,000 - $100,000 and on Medicaid

BATON ROUGE — The Louisiana Department of Health acknowledged Tuesday that 1,672 people had received Medicaid coverage even though they earned at least $100,000 in 2017. Department officials said that nearly all of them had since been stripped from the rolls. An additional 8,474 people were enrolled in Medicaid even though the Louisiana Department of Revenue later found that they had reported incomes of $50,000 to $100,000 on their 2017 tax returns. Jen Steele, the state Medicaid director, said that 3,550 of those people are no longer enrolled, and 540 have supplied wage data supporting their current eligibility. She said the other 4,384 cases remain under review. The data about these cases

Reward offered for information on timber fire

The Louisiana Forestry Association is offering a reward of up to $2,000 for information that leads to the arrest and conviction of the person or people who set fire to hundreds of acres of pine timber in St. Tammany Parish. “Right now, it is uncertain whether the fire was intentionally set or whether it was an act of negligence,” said LDAF Commissioner Mike Strain. “We’d like to speak with anyone who may have information regarding this incident.” The fire that consumed almost 300 acres owned by Weyerhaeuser was reported about 11:30 a.m. Wednesday, April 3. It happened on John Bennett Road off of Louisiana Highway 36 East in Abita Springs. Thirteen Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Fore

2019 session kicks off

BATON ROUGE — Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards presented a hopeful State of the State address Monday at the Capitol to open the 2019 legislative session. Edwards’ tone stood in contrast to the last few sessions in which lawmakers fought extensively over how to solve state budget problems. Edwards, a Democrat who is campaigning for re-election, pointed to how the state’s $2 billion deficit has turned into a surplus and said his top priority this year is pay raises for teachers. He is seeking $1,000 pay raises for public school teachers and $500 raises for school support personnel. “Our teachers deserve more,” Edwards said, urging lawmakers to “step up” for teachers across the state. Edwards al

Remain aware of invasive species

Invasive species are a threat to agriculture, that's why U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue declared April as National Invasive Plant, Pest and Disease Awareness Month. “Invasive pests attack trees, plants and agriculture," Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry Commissioner Mike Strain said in press release. "The damage can be severe and eradication efforts are costly.” According to the press release, pests hide inside plants, fruits, vegetables and firewood and can spread when these things are moved to different locations. These pets also can be inadvertently spread by people when they travel. Strain offers these tips to prevent the spread of invasive species: • Remove eg

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