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News in Brief- January 14, 2018

News in Brief- January 14, 2018

US rig count down by 5 to 924

HOUSTON (AP) — The number of rigs exploring for oil and natural gas in the U.S. declined by five this week to 924.

That exceeds the 665 rigs that were active this time a year ago.

Houston oilfield services company Baker Hughes reported on Friday that 742 rigs were drilling for oil and 182 for natural gas this week.

Among oil- and gas-producing states, Wyoming gained two rigs and New Mexico and Texas each gained one.

Louisiana lost six rigs, Oklahoma declined by two and North Dakota lost one. Alaska, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Utah and West Virginia were unchanged.

The U.S. rig count peaked at 4,530 in 1981. It bottomed out in May of 2016 at 404.

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LDWF to transition to new recreational license sales system 

BATON ROUGE - The Louisiana Department of Wildlife & Fisheries is currently transitioning to a new recreational hunting/fishing license sales system.

A few dates to be aware of during the transition are:

- Jan. 30 – Jan. 31: All license sales will be temporarily down for system maintenance.

- Feb. 1 – April 1: License sales will be available through Internet sales (pc, smart phone, mobile device and laptop) at www.wlf.la.gov and LDWF headquarters, regional offices (Monroe, Opelousas, Lake Charles & Alexandria). Retail locations will not sell licenses while installation of new equipment and employee training is implemented.

- April 2: Retail vendor license sales will resume.

If anyone needs to purchase a license from a retailer before April 2, LDWF recommends that you make your purchase before January 30, 2018.

The new system is expected to enhance the purchase process for customers.

If assistance is needed with your online purchase please contact the 24 hour help desk beginning on February 2 at 888-362-5393.

For other licensing questions call the license office at 225-765-2887 or 225-765-2898, Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

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Senator proposes award redesign for Louisiana TOPS program

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — The Louisiana lawmaker leading a study of the state's TOPS free college tuition program is recommending a rewrite of how awards are doled out to students.

Sen. Dan "Blade" Morrish, a Jennings Republican, wants to lessen the amount of tuition covered for students who reach the basic award for a four-year college, to give them a flat $4,000 payment for the year.

He's proposing to increase payments to higher-performing students.

Morrish offered the idea Thursday to a legislative task force reviewing the TOPS program amid cost concerns. The task force will determine at another meeting whether to recommend Morrish's proposal to state lawmakers.

The suggestion would require a change in state law, and it wouldn't impact students currently receiving TOPS awards. It's estimated to save about $20 million a year.

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Louisiana governor considering work requirements in Medicaid

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Louisiana is developing a proposal to impose work requirements on certain adult Medicaid recipients, as the Trump administration announced it will allow states to enact such provisions.

Gov. John Bel Edwards said this week that his administration is "actively working" on the concept, which would require federal approval to be enacted.

The Democratic governor said he wants the work requirements to be "reasonable," impacting only able-bodied adult Medicaid recipients, with exceptions for people in school or educational training programs.

Edwards said Louisiana has hired a consulting firm that helped develop a Medicaid work requirement proposal for Kentucky, which is awaiting a federal decision.

The Trump administration Thursday offered a roadmap for states seeking federal backing for waivers imposing the work requirements on the low-income adults in the Medicaid program.

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Pilot crashed personal aircraft into canal

HOUMA, La. (AP) — Officials say a pilot who crashed his personal aircraft into a canal has been hospitalized in Louisiana.

The Courier of Houma reported Thursday that the pilot crashed the aircraft into a canal near the Leon Theriot Floodgate south of Golden Meadow.

Lafourche Parish Fire District 3 training officer Jordan Collins says the aircraft was in the canal for five minutes, and the pilot went underwater for some time.

Officials say the pilot reported difficulty breathing and chest pain.

Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Lynn Lunsford says the aircraft was not registered. He says registration and a pilot's license are not required for ultralight aircraft.

Information from: The Courier, http://www.houmatoday.com

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Louisiana tried to woo auto plant with $500M in incentives

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Louisiana offered a $500 million incentive package in its unsuccessful bid to land a $1.6 billion joint Toyota-Mazda automobile plant that chose Alabama instead.

Alabama's offer to win the plant, which is expected to employ about 4,000 people, was valued at around $380 million.

But the Advocate reports that Louisiana Economic Development Secretary Don Pierson says that estimate didn't include the value of local property tax breaks or donated land in Alabama for the site.

Pierson says Alabama's incentive package was comparable to Louisiana's offer.

He suggested Alabama's concentration of existing automotive industry infrastructure likely gave the state a stronger selling point to project leaders. But he says his agency will "re-examine the strategic investments in training and infrastructure that Louisiana needs to be a player in this industry."

Information from: The Advocate, http://theadvocate.com