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News in Brief- May 19, 2019

News in Brief- May 19, 2019

Louisiana House to debate whether to abolish death penalty

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Debate over Louisiana's use of the death penalty is moving to the House floor.

The House criminal justice committee Tuesday voted 8-7 to send Rep. Terry Landry's legislation to abolish capital punishment to the full House for consideration.

Chances of passage in the conservative chamber, however, are slim. The Senate overwhelmingly rejected a similar proposal last month. Landry, a New Iberia Democrat and former state police superintendent, wants lawmakers to continue the debate. He's pursued the proposal unsuccessfully for several years.

The measure would abolish the death penalty for offenses committed starting in August.

Republicans on the committee opposed the proposal, while Democrats supported it, along with the committee's one independent. Two GOP lawmakers on the panel weren't present for the vote, absences that likely helped the bill narrowly edge forward.

Louisiana held its last execution in 2010.

The corrections department says it can't get lethal injection drugs because companies don't want their products associated with capital punishment. An effort to make the drug supplier information secret, aimed at restarting executions, also awaits debate on the House floor.

House Bill 215: www.legis.la.gov

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Affordable housing nonprofit celebrates ribbon cutting for new low-income housing

HOUMA, La -- New low-income rental homes for families in Terrebonne Parish will be available to the community thanks to $1.2 million in Affordable Housing Program (AHP) funds awarded by Synergy Bank and the Federal Home Loan Bank of Dallas.

Options for Independence, the nonprofit that received the grant, and bank and project representatives held a ribbon cutting ceremony Friday at 617 Hobson Street in Houma, the site of the first of 12 homes to be completed.

Options for Independence, which provides behavioral health services and resources for youth, families and communities, celebrated the initial groundbreaking for home construction in March.

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Lawmakers refuse to let Louisiana cities raise minimum wage

 

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Republican lawmakers in the Louisiana House have stalled a bid to give municipalities the authority to set their own minimum wage rates.

The proposal by Rep. Royce Duplessis, a New Orleans Democrat, aimed to work around repeated legislative defeats for boosting Louisiana's statewide minimum wage above the $7.25-per-hour federal level.

Duplessis sought to reverse a state law passed in 1997 that prohibited parishes and cities from setting local minimum wage rates. His bill also would allow local governing authorities to establish paid leave requirements for businesses.

But he couldn't gain traction for the local authority measure in the House labor committee. The panel voted 9-6 Thursday to shelve Duplessis' legislation. Republicans voted in a bloc against the bill, siding with business organizations that opposed it.

House Bill 422: www.legis.la.gov

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Coast Guard collecting oil at site of 14-year-old Gulf leak

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — The Coast Guard says a newly installed containment system is collecting oil at the site of a 14-year-old oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico.

A Coast Guard statement Thursday describes the installation of the subsea containment system as a "major milestone" in long-running efforts by the federal government to contain the leak.

Taylor Energy Co. ultimately is responsible for ending the leak at the site off Louisiana's coast where one of its oil platforms toppled during a 2004 hurricane.

In December, the New Orleans-based company sued, attempting to challenge a Coast Guard official's order to design and install a new system to capture and remove the crude before it forms slicks that often stretch for miles.

Coast Guard Capt. Kristi Luttrell says the chronic sheen has become "barely visible."

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B-52 bomber removed from 'boneyard' to return to service

TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) — A B-52H bomber built in the early 1960s and put into retirement in an U.S. Air Force "boneyard" in the Arizona desert over 10 years ago is returning to service.

A crew on Tuesday flew the plane nicknamed "Wise Guy" to Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana from Tucson where it had been in a sprawling aircraft storage area at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base.

Officials said it was the bomber's first flight since 2008 and only the second time that a B-52H has taken from the storage area and returned to service.

It took months of work to make the bomber airworthy again, and additional restoration work is required to put it back in service.

The bomber will replace one destroyed in a 2016 fire at a base in Guam.