17:30 LRN Newscast March 29, 2016

Starting on April 1st, smokers will pay a $1.08 tax on a pack of cigarettes. A new tax brings the cost of a pack up 22 cents. Bill Bailey is the owner of Smoker’s Paradise in Pineville and he says smokers already get taxed an unfair amount. He says legislators continue to target the tobacco users because they are the minority…:
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It’s expected the 22 cent increase will generate 11 million dollars between April 1st and June 30th. The state tax on alcohol and the state sales tax will also increase by a penny on April 1st.

The chief financial officer for the state’s health department says the expansion of Medicaid would save the state 124-million dollars next fiscal year. Jeff Reynolds says that would help avoid some cuts as a result of a 750-million dollar revenue shortfall, but there’s still a concern about the future of privatized LSU hospitals.


Two bills on abortion will likely be heard Wednesday in the House Health and Welfare Committee. Emelie Gunn has more…

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A new poll shows Governor John Bel Edwards’ approval rating is at 52-percent. The poll was paid for by Rebuild Louisiana, which is a pro-Edwards organization. The poll also asked respondents about issues the governor is supporting in the regular session. It found nearly 90-percent of respondents favor equal pay for men and women. Additionally, 73-percent support raising the minimum wage from $7.25 to $8.50 an hour.