3:30 LRN Newscast April 1

The National Weather Service confirms that a massive tornado tore through Madison Parish Wednesday. Moving at 115 miles per hour and at an estimated 300 feet wide, NWS meteorologist Alan Campbell says the south side of Tallulah took most of the damage…:

CUT 12(12)      “…shingle loss.”

Among structures taking heavy damage, Tallulah Academy and its ball park.

A federal judge dismisses a lawsuit from a death row inmate challenging the constitutionality of Louisiana’s execution methods. Judge Shelly Dick ruled that since Louisiana is not able to obtain the drugs needed to carry out an execution, there was nothing to settle. Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry is glad this case was dismissed…:

CUT 06(09)      “…move forward.”

Louisiana’s last execution was in 2010.

 

A St. Landry parish teen will be tried as an adult for a New Year’s Eve 2021 murder. Sheriff Bobby Guidroz says Michael Zachary was indicted this week for killing 38-year-old Keith Joseph. Zachary reportedly admitted to deputies he was the one who pulled the trigger.

LSU’s Kim Mulkey has won her third AP Coach of the Year award; placing her among an elite few. David Grubb has more…:

CUT 02(33)      “…David Grubb.”

4:30 LRN Newscast March 31

A state law that sought to prevent the labeling of food products such as “tofu burgers” and “cauliflower rice,” is ruled unconstitutional by a federal judge in Baton Rouge. Jeff Palermo has the story…:

Cut 01  (31)      “…Jeff Palermo.”

Believe it or not, cattle rustling is still a thing. Now called “theft of livestock”, it can be a big problem for ranchers. A Texas man is under arrest today for stealing livestock from an Allen Parish rancher. Muldoon, Texas resident Saxon Beck is accused of taking over 25 head of cattle without paying for them. His bond has not been set.

 

An Alexandria man is charged with 100 counts of first-degree rape. Rapides Parish Sheriff’s Office spokesperson Tommy Carnline says law enforcement in Florida tipped off local authorities of 38-year-old Israel Williams’ possible sex trafficking of a juvenile with local connections. Carnline says multiple agencies are assisting with the on-going investigation…:

CUT 04(04)      “…make some more arrests.”

Williams is also charged with molestation of a juvenile under 13 years of age. He’s being held on a $5.4 million bond.

Gasoline prices are dropping, but not by much. Right now the statewide average price of regular is $3.99. Louisiana AAA fuel guy Don Redman says it’s been a rough few weeks for consumers, and the immediate future of pump prices is hard to predict…:

CUT 10(12)      “…the market.”

3:30 LRN Newscast March 31

Let’s start with the price you pay for gasoline. The statewide average for regular gas is now at $3.99. For comparison is was $4.16 not so long ago…$3.37 a month ago and $2.68 one year ago. Louisiana AAA’s Don Redman says the Russian invasion of Ukraine made an already bad situation much worse, and where fuel costs go hinges on Russia for now…:

CUT 12  (09)        “…those prices back down.”

He advises you try to budget for $4-a-gallon gas for the spring & summer.

The U.S. Highway 11 Bridge – connecting Slidell to eastern New Orleans by cutting across a part of Lake Ponchartrain – reopened today, after being closed for over 4 years for rebuilding. DOTD spokesman Chris Welty says the span reopens just in time for hurricane season…:

CUT 15  (12)        “…and Orleans Parish.

The bridge had been closed since 2018.

 

A federal judge in Baton Rouge has ruled the state’s 2019 truth in labeling law as unconstitutional. The Louisiana Legislature passed the law in an effort to prevent food companies from labeling a veggie burger as a “tofu burger,” because it doesn’t contain meat or “cauliflower rice,” when it’s broccoli, not rice. Ag Commissioner Mike Strain says the state will appeal the ruling…:

CUT 09(10)      “…defending the law.”

But Vice President of Policy at the Good Foods Institute Jessica Almy says consumers are not confusing by these products and the law was an attempt to control buying behavior…:

CUT 08(08)      “…in Louisiana supermarkets.”

Just one day after lawmakers voted to override the governor’s veto of a congressional district map passed in February, a coalition of civil rights groups is suing to block it. The suit alleges the map violates the Voting Rights Act by denying one-third Black congressional representation in a state that has one-third Black voters.

2:30 LRN Newscast March 31

An Alexandria man is behind bars; accused of 100 counts of rape. Rapides Parish Sheriff’s spokesman Tommy Carnline says 38-year-old Israel Williams was arrested last weekend, after getting a tip from Florida lawmen on Williams’ alleged sex trafficking of a minor…:

CUT 03  (11)        “…sexual-related crimes.”

Williams is also charged with molestation of a juvenile under 13. A judge set his bail at over $5-million.

Following more than three years of work, and at a cost of more than $28-million, the US 11 Bridge – connecting Orleans with St. Tammany Parish – reopened to traffic today. Department of Transportation and Development spokesperson Chris Welty says the project was extensive…:

CUT 14(12)      “…two drawbridges.”

Just in time for hurricane season; the bridge will be helpful should New Orleans need to evacuate.

 

Gasoline prices are in a slight decline. The state wide average price of regular now at just under $4-a-gallon. By way of comparison it was $2.68 a year ago. Louisiana AAA fuel analyst Don Redman says President Biden’s announcement he would again tap into the federal Strategic Petroleum Reserve will really have very little actual effect on pump prices…:

CUT 11(10)      “…no. Not that much.”

He advises we all continue to budget for gas at $4 for the next few months.

The National Weather Service is inspecting the site of a suspected EF-1 tornado strike yesterday in Sabine Parish, at the southern end of Toledo Bend Reservoir. Nearly a dozen homes and camps sustained serious damage, but no one is reported hurt. Early reports estimate the twister packed 110 miles-an-hour winds and was on the ground for nearly two miles.

3:30 LRN Newscast March 30

The Louisiana House and Senate have each voted to override Governor John Bel Edwards’ vetoes of congressional district maps passed last month in a special session. Edwards objected to the maps failure to create a second majority Black congressional voting district. The Senate’s override passed by a 27-to-11 vote. Monroe Democrat Senator Katrina Jackson says, because a third of Louisiana’s voters are Black, a third of the six districts should reflect that…:

CUT 14(09)      “…one member in Congress.”

But Slidell Republican Senator Sharon Hewitt says it’s not quite that simple…:

CUT 15(14)      “…in the population.”

The maps will eventually wind up in federal court.

 

As a line of strong thunderstorms moves across Louisiana, please keep an ear or eye to weather information sources for updates on possible damaging winds, hail, heavy showers and even tornados. We have an unconfirmed report of a twister touching down in Richland Parish this afternoon. More are possible, so try to be prepared if you can.

The State Fire Marshal’s Office issues an open burn safety warning after four individuals were killed in separate burns that got out of control. Brooke Thorington explains..:

CUT 02(33)      “…Brooke Thorington.”

4:30 LRN Newscast March 30

Senator Bill Cassidy tells Politico he’s considering a run for governor in 2023. Jeff Palermo has the story…:

CUT 01(30)      “…Jeff Palermo.”

Today’s strong storm system has caused widespread power outages all across the state. Entergy reports over 25-thousand homes and businesses lost power. Damage reports are coming in from all across northern Louisiana. In Lincoln Parish, a suspected tornado caused trees to fall on homes and other structures. No twisters have been confirmed as of this hour.

 

More on the weather situation, Nation Weather Service Shreveport forecaster Matt Duplantis says before the line of severe weather moves through, secure loose items outdoors and know where the safest areas of your home are…:

CUT 11(12)      “…in some location.”

Tornado watches are posted for large portions of the state into the evening hours.

The state legislature has voted to override Governor Edwards’ vetoes of congressional district maps they passed in a February special session. Edwards objected because the maps create no second majority-Black district. The House vote was 72-to-21; the Senate’s 27-to-11. Mr. Edwards says it’s disappointing but not surprising. This is the first time state lawmakers have overturned a governor’s veto since the Buddy Roemer years.

2:30 LRN Newscast March 30

A tornado warning is out for Franklin, Richland. West Carroll and Morehouse parishes – until 2:45, as a line of severe thunderstorms moves slowly through the state. National Weather Service meteorologist Matthew Duplantis says Southeast Louisiana should stay on alert for heavy rains, tornados and damaging heavy winds that should last well into the night…:

CUT 10(12)      “…southeast Louisiana.”

A large part of the rest of the state is under a tornado watch until early evening.

The state House and Senate have both voted to override Governor John Bel Edwards’ veto of congressional they passed in February. Edwards rejected the maps for offering no second majority-minority voting district, to reflect the state’s racial makeup. The house voted 72-31 to override the veto. In the Senate, the override passed by a 12-vote margin. Democrat New Orleans Senator Karen Carter Peterson was upset…:

CUT 13(13)      “…and what’s right.”

 

U.S. Senator Bill Cassidy tells Politico he’s considering running for governor in 2023. U.L.-Lafayette political science professor Pearson Cross says Cassidy’s popularity with his base suffered when he voted to convict President Trump in his impeachment. However, he’s also worked to bring home a lot of federal disaster aid and more. Cross says one way to win more voters back would be to vote against the White House’s Supreme Court nominee…:

CUT 05(11)      “…their documents.”

A big number are expected to run for governor because Governor Edwards has reached his term limit.

Saints veteran safety Malcolm Jenkins is retiring, after 13 seasons in the NFL. Jenkins has won two Super Bowl rings; one with the Saints and one with the Philadelphia Eagles. Jenkins says he is “grateful” for the opportunities.

4:30 LRN Newscast March 29

Look out for another severe weather system that will move across our state with a cold front tomorrow. State Climatologist Barry Keim says we should all be weather-aware Wednesday…:

CUT 06(10)      “…that storm approaches”

Just a week ago, a similar storm system spawned a killer tornado in St. Bernard Parish.

The Louisiana House approves a bill that gives an adoptee access to their birth certificate once they reach the age of 24. Rosepine Representative Charles Owen, who’s adopted himself, says adults have the right to all their own records. But Thibodaux Rep. Bryan Fontenot feels the birth mom should be advised and asked consent for the now-grown child to contact her…:

CUT 05(11)      “…right to their documents”

It passed 76-21 and moves now to the Senate.

 

The Livingston Parish city of Denham Springs is cracking down on massage parlors and the prostitution that often comes with them. The city council this week approved a new ordinance banning them from being open all night, and requiring a clear list of legit massage services – from which they cannot deviate. Several massage parlors in Denham and nearby Baton Rouge have been busted for human trafficking in recent months.

The 2022 New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival returns to the Fair Grounds Race Course one month from day and the times for when the various musical performers will take the stage were released today. Headliners for this year’s Jazz Fest include the Who, Stevie Nicks, Willie Nelson, and Jimmy Buffet. Senior Vice President of New Orleans and Company Walt Leger says they are expecting a great festival…:

CUT 14(11)      “…Heritage Festival.”

The Foo Fighters were scheduled to play at Jazz Fest on May 1st. But the rock band has canceled all upcoming concert dates after the sudden death of their drummer, Taylor Hawkins, last week.

3:30 LRN Newscast March 29

There’s another threat of severe weather tomorrow from a cold front that will sweep across Louisiana. The Storm Prediction Center puts Monroe, Alexandria, the Delta Parishes, Baton Rouge, and Hammond under a four out of five risk for severe weather. State Climatologist Barry Keim says this storm system is similar to the one that hit the state last week spawning a deadly tornado in St. Bernard Parish…:

CUT 08(08)      “…certainly at risk.”

Try to be prepared.

New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival starts one month from today, after having missed the last two years because of the pandemic. At a press event to announce the stage schedules, Lisa Alexis with the mayor’s office says hotels rooms are filling up fast…:

CUT 13(10)      “…that revenue.”

Headliners this year include the Who, Stevie Nicks, Willie Nelson, and Jimmy Buffet.

 

It’s “new year; same struggle” for a bill to fine drivers for holding a phone behind the wheel. David Grubb has more…:

CUT 02(34)      “…David Grubb.”

Members of the Senate Finance Committee grilled state Civil Service Commission leaders about hefty pay raises for its top three officials, while refusing any increases for rank & file employees. One received 11 raises in just three years; effectively DOUBLING her annual salary to over $120-k. No one any higher-up in state government knew anything about the raises.

2:30 LRN Newscast March 29

At the Capitol, the House postpones floor vote on a bill to ban use of a handheld cellphone while driving. Breaux Bridge Republican Mike Huval sponsors the bill and says it will make driving safer. But amite Democrat Republican Robby Carter worries it will unfairly burden poor people. He presses Huval on questions he feels the bill doesn’t address…:

CUT 10  (12)        “…can’t answer that.”

Carter was concerned that hands-free tech is not as readily available as many might think. Huval agreed to withdraw the bill for some editing, then bring it back later in the session.

New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival is just a few weeks away; returning to the Fairgrounds for the first time since 2019. The stage schedules were released today. Governor John Bel Edwards says, after it was canceled twice by the pandemic, he’s glad to see it back…:

CUT 12  (09)        “…myself.”

 

A bill to allow an adult adoptee access to their original birth records passes in the House, on a 76-21 vote. Brooke Thorington has more on what this would mean for them…:

CUT 01(33)      “…Brooke Thorington.”

From the “Things Smart People Don’t Do” file: a Houma woman is behind bars for allegedly stealing a car and driving it to Grant Parish … to bail her boyfriend out of jail. 21-year-old Alaina Cole reportedly admitted to officials at the Grant Parish prison the car was NOT hers. She charged with possession of stolen things. The car was recovered unharmed.