Louisiana cellphone bills will be increasing later this year. Governor John Bel Edwards announced last week that he has signed a bill into law enacting a new 4.5-cent monthly tax on cellphones. The money will pay for technology assistance and services for people who are deaf or hard of hearing. Current law imposes a 5-cent monthly tax on landline phones, with the money deposited into the Telecommunications for the Deaf Fund. The bill will drop that rate to 4.5 cents a month but expand the tax to wireless services. The tax change, by Representative Patricia Smith of Baton Rouge, goes into effect on October 1. The new tax will raise an estimated $4.7 million annually.
Governor John Bel Edwards has signed a bill to allow Louisiana's colleges and universities to continue to set and raise their own student fees. The schools' governing boards have had fee-hiking ability, but it was set to expire on June 30. Governor Edwards signed the bill Tuesday that continues the authority to set and modify fees until mid-2020. The four college management boards will have to report their fee changes each year to state lawmakers, under a new law sponsored by Representative Chris Broadwater, of Hammond. Several higher education leaders have said they may raise some fees for the upcoming 2017-18 school year, even though they will escape budget cuts for the first time in nearly a decade.
A Georgetown woman who was arrested three times last year after deputies found her with counterfeit bills during a traffic stop has pleaded guilty in federal court. 20 year-old Gena Marie Armstrong pleaded guilty last week in Alexandria to one count of manufacturing counterfeit U.S. securities. She is set to be sentenced to up to 20 years in prison on September 13. In her guilty plea, Armstrong admitted that she bought a copy machine and paper on March 29, 2016, from an Alexandria business. While in a vehicle "driven by a friend," she made copies of a $20 bill. In addition to the prison term, Armstrong also faces three years of supervised release and a $250,000 fine.
A crash involving two vehicles killed a man from Olla late Monday morning. State Police responded to the crash around 11:15 a.m., which occurred on LA Hwy 8 in the Fishville community. The crash involved a 2012 Lexus E35, driven by 29 year-old Nick B. Harris and a 2008 Kenworth 18 wheeler, driven by 55 year-old Timothy H. Armstrong of Georgetown. The Lexus was eastbound on LA Hwy 8 when Harris lost control and crossed the centerline in a curve. The Lexus collided with the westbound Kenworth, which was loaded with logs. Armstrong was wearing a seat belt and received moderate injuries. He was transported to Rapides Regional for treatment. Harris was wearing a seatbelt, but was pronounced dead. The crash remains under investigation.
A significant number of jobs were added by employers in nine states last month, and unemployment rates in four states fell to record lows. The Labor Department says the states with the largest percentage gains in jobs were Alaska, Alabama and Louisiana. The nation's capital, Washington D.C., recorded an even larger gain. Overall, the figures suggest that steady, if slower, hiring this year is improving the job market in many states. Florida added nearly 30,000 jobs last month, the most of any state, followed by New York with nearly 28,000 and North Carolina with almost 19,000. Arkansas' unemployment rate dropped to 3.4 percent in May, a record low. Mississippi, Oregon and Washington state also reported record lows, all dating back to 1976.
Louisiana's Democratic governor and Republican legislative leaders united parties to overhaul the state's notoriously harsh approach to the sentencing and rehabilitation of criminals. Governor John Bel Edwards signed 10 bills on Thursday that he said make up the "most extensive, complete package of criminal justice reform" in the state's history. The governor says the reforms should enable Louisiana to relinquish its unwanted status as the "incarceration capital of the world." The new laws expand probation and parole opportunities and shrink sentences, mainly for non-violent offenders. They also ease financial burdens inmates face upon release. Lawmakers hope these and other changes will make it less likely that ex-offenders will return to lives of crime.
Winn Parish Sheriff's Department Arrest Report:
On Friday, June 16, the Winn Parish Sheriff's Department arrested Daniel Cox, of Tullos. Cox was charged with theft and probation violation. On Saturday, June 17, deputies arrested Makaiwa Edwards, of West Monroe, for possession of marijuana and failure to appear. Also arrested on June 17 was Darian Hurst, of Jenerette, for possession of a Schedule I CDS, driving under suspension, and improper lane use, and Dexter Sapp, of Winnfield, for possession of a Schedule II CDS, driving under suspension, and three counts of failure to appear. On Sunday, June 18, Eddie Gibson, of Winnfield, was arrested for DWI and driving left of center. On Tuesday, June 20, deputies arrested Amanda Jacobs-Hintley, of Sikes, for unauthorized use of a motor vehicle, criminal mischief, and possession of a Schedule I CDS.
The Winn Parish School Board will hold a special meeting Monday, June 26, at 5:00 p.m. in the Winn Parish School Board office. Items of business include financial policies, the TIPS Resolution, and the revised final consolidated budget for 2016 through 2017. The School Board will also hold committee meetings Monday at 5:00 p.m. The Personnel and Salary committee will go over staffing for the 2017 through 2018 school year.LifeShare Blood Center will hold a blood drive Tuesday, June 27, at Wal Mart in Jonesboro from 1:00 p.m. until 4:30 p.m. There will also be a blood drive at Natchitoches Regional Medical Center on June 27 from 9:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. Congressman Ralph Abraham has announced satellite office hours for Central Louisiana parishes. Office hours for Winn Parish will be in the Winn Parish Police Jury meeting room at 119 West Main Street, from 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. on the second Tuesday of every month. Constituents are encouraged to visit the staff during these hours if they need help with any federal agency. Staff members are also available during business hours at the Central Louisiana District Office in Alexandria, which can be reached at 318-445-0818.
The next meeting of the Louisiana Crime Victims Reparations Board will be on Tuesday, July 11, at 9:00 a.m., at the Louisiana Commission on Law Enforcement Office, at 602 North Fifth Street in Baton Rouge. The public is invited to attend this meeting, and assistance will be provided to those who need special accommodations in order to attend this meeting. For more information, persons may call 225.342.1500