Louisiana news briefs
Houma police find car in bayou, body inside
HOUMA (AP) — Houma police say a 45-year-old woman was killed when the car she was driving crashed into Bayou Black.
Police said Leslie English was traveling west on Bayou Black Drive sometime after 11:30 p.m. Sunday when her car left the road, struck two trees and landed in the bayou.
About 11 a.m. Monday, police found English’s car overturned and submerged in the bayou. She was pronounced dead on the scene.
Police say English was not wearing a seat belt and alcohol is a suspected factor in the crash.
Jindal declares emergency
BATON ROUGE (AP) — Gov. Bobby Jindal has declared a state of emergency as another round of severe winter weather approaches northern Louisiana.
The declaration, announced Monday, will help in the deployment and staging of state assets to support northern parishes in responding in case of snow or ice. It’s in effect through March 11 unless terminated sooner.
The state also said it was closing state offices Tuesday in 19 northern parishes where sleet and snow are expected.
Affected are state offices in Avoyelles, Bienville, Caddo, Caldwell, Claiborne, East Carroll, Franklin, Grant, Jackson, Lincoln, Madison, Morehouse, Ouachita, Rapides, Richland, Union, Vernon, Webster, and West Carroll parishes.
La. to sell $500M in bonds
BATON ROUGE (AP) — Louisiana is getting ready to borrow nearly $500 million to replenish the fund that pays for state-backed construction projects.
The bond sales will be held Tuesday, with the results needing approval from the State Bond Commission before the borrowing deals are complete.
The plan involves selling $347 million in tax-exempt bonds and $149 million in taxable bonds to investors for upfront cash. The bond debt will be paid off over decades with interest.
Mansion shining red
BATON ROUGE (AP) — The Louisiana Governor’s Mansion is illuminated in red light this week to raise awareness about cardiovascular disease in women.
First lady Supriya Jindal announced Monday that the mansion is joining other buildings around the country in shining a red light, as part of the American Heart Association’s “Go Red for Women” campaign.
This is the sixth year the governor’s mansion has participated in the event.
Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States.
Southern students back Llorens
BATON ROUGE — State lawmakers, faculty and hundreds of students have rallied around Southern University Chancellor James Llorens after Southern’s Board of Supervisors voted 9-6 over the weekend not to renew his contract when it expires June 30.
Southern’s Faculty Senate held a meeting Monday to show their support of Llorens
The board voted down a recommendation from Southern System President Ronald Mason that would have extended Llorens’ contract for one year under the condition that the chancellor work with the system office to revamp how the Baton Rouge campus is run.
The move has been considered by many a continuation of Mason’s consolidation of administrative functions among Southern’s five campuses in New Orleans, Baton Rouge and Shreveport, which could cost people jobs.
Mother guilty in baby’s death
BATON ROUGE (AP) — A 30-year-old Baton Rouge woman avoided a possible life prison term by pleading guilty to manslaughter and cruelty charges in the death of her infant daughter, whose body was found in the back of a garbage truck in 2002.
JoAnn King, who was arrested in 2012 after DNA evidence linked her to the child, is expected to be sentenced March 10 to 12 years in prison under the terms of a plea agreement. She remains free on bond.
Monday’s plea agreement calls for King to receive a 12-year prison term on the manslaughter charge without benefit of probation, parole or suspension of sentence. After she is released from prison, she will be on supervised home incarceration for five years.
Pre-trial hearing set
in decapitation case
THIBODAUX (AP) — A Thibodaux man accused of killing and decapitating his son in 2011 is scheduled for a Friday pre-trial hearing that was rescheduled after last month’s ice storm.
Kristine Russell, Lafourche Parish assistant district attorney, said Jeremiah Wright’s competency now and at the time of the killing will be discussed during the hearing.
Wright is charged with the first-degree murder of his 7-year-old son, Jori Lirette. The boy’s severed head was found on Aug. 14, 2011, in the driveway of his home.
The 32-year-old Wright pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity but in November was found mentally fit to stand trial.
Lafourche sheriff plans
another appeal for jail tax
THIBODAUX (AP) — Just four months after rejecting a shift in property taxes to help pay for a new jail, Lafourche Parish voters could be considering a tax measure for a different jail proposal.
Sheriff Craig Webre and a committee of sheriff’s office staff members are preparing to propose a new tax for the construction and operation of a new jail.
Webre says the details of the tax are still being ironed out, but a final proposal should be ready in the next 30 days with hopes of getting it on the May 3 ballot.
The existing jail is in poor condition and suffers from chronic overcrowding.
A jail consultant has recommended the parish spend $25 million to replace it with a 540-bed facility.
Speaker asks for tax study
BATON ROUGE (AP) — House Speaker Chuck Kleckley is calling for a review of Louisiana’s tax structure, saying the state needs a stable, easy-to-understand system.
Kleckley announced the plans Friday, saying it’s been more than two decades since the last major review. He says LSU economist Jim Richardson, who serves on Louisiana’s income forecasting panel, is helping pull together an independent tax study group.
Lawmakers studied the billions of dollars in tax breaks on the books before the 2013 legislative session — an effort that generated few changes.
Meanwhile, Gov. Bobby Jindal sought a sweeping tax rewrite last year to eliminate state income taxes in exchange for higher sales taxes. He scrapped the proposal without a vote because of strong opposition.
The next legislative session set to deal with tax issues is in 2015.