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News in Brief- April 7, 2019

News in Brief- April 7, 2019

Sears to set to open first batch of smaller stores

NEW YORK (AP) — After its journey through bankruptcy, Sears is getting ready to open its first batch of smaller stores focusing on appliances, mattresses and home services.

The first three stores called Sears Home & Life; Life will open on Memorial Day weekend and are a fraction of the size of the company's traditional stores.

The company also plans to ramp up TV advertising and is planning to extend its Kenmore brand beyond major appliances into kitchen accessories, plates and knives.

The new smaller stores will be located in Overland Park, Kansas; Lafayette, Louisiana; and Anchorage, Alaska. They range in size from about 10,000 to 15,000 square feet. The average Sears is about 155,000 square feet.

The moves come nearly two months after Sears Chairman Eddie Lampert bought the Hoffman Estates, Illinois-based company for $5.2 billion in a bankruptcy auction through an affiliate of his hedge fund. With the deal, Sears retained the Kenmore appliances and Diehard battery brands and continues to sell Craftsman tools through licensing partners. The company sold Craftsman tools to Black & Decker in 2017. Sears filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in October 2018.

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New Orleans police: Murders cut nearly in half over 2018

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — The New Orleans police department says the numbers of murders is down 46 percent compared to the same period last year.

In a news release Tuesday the department says there were 27 murders during the first quarter of 2019 and 50 murders during the same quarter last year.

The number of non-fatal shootings, armed robberies and simple robberies were all down as well, although those numbers were not as dramatic as the drop in murders.

Police Superintendent Shaun Ferguson says there's still work to be done but says police are making "substantial progress" in making the city safer.

The news release says New Orleans recorded 146 murders in 2018. That's the lowest number since 1971.

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Louisiana governor faces three-month blackout on fundraising

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards may be sitting on millions more in campaign donations than his Republican competitors. But he'll soon be hamstrung in soliciting donations for his re-election bid, unable to fundraise for three months.

The Democratic incumbent is limited by a law prohibiting a governor and lawmakers from seeking campaign contributions during the regular legislative session. That 60-day gathering starts Monday.

The fundraising ban on Louisiana's governor also extends 30 days beyond the session's end, while he's deciding whether to sign or veto bills.

His Republican opponents, U.S. Rep. Ralph Abraham and businessman Eddie Rispone, don't have similar restrictions.

Edwards has packed in fundraisers before session starts. And he's playing up the donation blackout in recent fundraising emails.

The next campaign finance reports are due April 15.

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Louisiana renting early-voting machines for fall election

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Louisiana's secretary of state told lawmakers Tuesday that he hopes to restart efforts to replace thousands of voting machines this summer, after the last effort was derailed by allegations of improper bid handling.

Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin, who oversees state elections, said the voting machine replacement work won't be complete for the fall election, so his office will spend $2 million renting temporary machines.

Ardoin told the House Appropriations Committee his office will rent early-voting machines for the October and November elections, when all of Louisiana's statewide and legislative positions are on the ballot. The office will use spare parts to make sure the decade-old Election Day voting machines are running properly.