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News in Brief- July 25, 2018

News in Brief- July 25, 2018

Louisiana's sales tax rate is second highest in the country

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Louisiana no longer has the highest average sales tax rate in the nation, but only barely.

Tennessee has narrowly edged out Louisiana for the top spot with an average state and local combined sales tax rate of 9.46 percent.

That's according to the latest data available from the nonpartisan, conservative Tax Foundation, which shows Louisiana falls a hair behind at 9.45 percent.

Louisiana previously had the top average combined rate, but the state sales tax slightly declined July 1.

Louisiana's state sales tax had been slated to decrease from 5 percent to 4 percent. But state lawmakers in their last special session renewed 0.45 percent of the expiring temporary tax to avert steep cuts to college campuses and government-financed programs.

The state's sales tax rate now is 4.45 percent.


Driver of car that plowed into Mardi Gras crowd released

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — A man who was inebriated when he drove into a crowd at a 2017 Mardi Gras parade, injuring at least 32 spectators, has been released from prison.

An attorney for 26-year-old Neilson Rizzuto tells news outlets that Rizzuto was freed Friday after serving 17 months of his five-year sentence.

In January, a judge sentenced Rizzuto to five years but suspended one year and gave him credit for 11 months already served.

Authorities say Rizzuto's early release came about through the judge's leniency and a state law that makes nonviolent offenders eligible for release after serving 35 percent of their sentence with good behavior.

Rizzuto was ordered to serve one year of probation and attend Alcoholic Anonymous as well as Mothers Against Drunk Driving meetings.


National rig count decreases by 8 to 1,046; Texas loses 5

HOUSTON (AP) — The number of rigs exploring for oil and natural gas in the U.S. decreased by eight this week to 1,046.

At this time a year ago there were 950 active rigs.

Houston oilfield services company Baker Hughes reported Friday that 858 rigs drilled for oil this week and 187 for gas. One was listed as miscellaneous.

Among major oil- and gas-producing states, New Mexico gained four rigs and Ohio and Wyoming each increased by one.

Texas lost five rigs, Oklahoma decreased by three, Louisiana lost two and Alaska, North Dakota and West Virginia each decreased by one.

Arkansas, California, Colorado, Pennsylvania and Utah were unchanged.

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


Louisiana job market slackens in June as jobless rate rises

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Louisiana's job market slackened in June, as unemployment rose and employer payrolls fell.

The state's jobless rate rose to 4.7 percent from 4.6 percent in May. It was the unemployment rate's third straight monthly increase, although it remained below the June 2017 rate of 5.2 percent.

The number of unemployed Louisianans rose by 4,000, topping 100,000 for the first time since September.

The separate employer payroll survey — which is many economists' top labor market indicator — fell slightly to 1.99 million. Payrolls remain 17,000 above year-ago levels, thanks to strong gains in early 2018.

June's U.S. unemployment rate rose to 4 percent from May's 3.8 percent.