WBRZ http://www.wbrz.com/ WBRZ Links Links en-us Copyright 2016, WBRZ. All Rights Reserved. Feed content is not avaialble for commercial use. () () Sat, 30 Apr 2016 05:04:49 GMT Synapse CMS 10 WBRZ http://www.wbrz.com/ 144 25 Interactive event allows children to experience big trucks up close http://www.wbrz.com/news/interactive-event-allows-children-to-experience-big-trucks-up-close/ http://www.wbrz.com/news/interactive-event-allows-children-to-experience-big-trucks-up-close/ Links Thu, 28 Apr 2016 3:47:32 PM WBRZ Staff Interactive event allows children to experience big trucks up close

BATON ROUGE - The Junior League of Baton Rouge has announced a unique, interactive event called “Touch A Truck” that will allow children to see, touch and explore their favorite big trucks, vehicles and heavy equipment.

They’ll also have a chance to meet the individuals who operate the equipment and get to hear from multiple community partners about topics like car seat safety, CPR and fire safety.

The event will be held at BREC’s Fairgrounds at Airline Highway Park on Apr. 30 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Those who are sensitive to noise can take advantage of what will be a “silent hour” from 9 to 10 a.m. when horns and sirens will be prohibited. Special events will happen at the top of each hour.

General admission tickets are $10. You can learn more and buy tickets by clicking here.


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La. sales, cigarette and alcohol tax hikes kick in Friday http://www.wbrz.com/news/la-sales-cigarette-and-alcohol-tax-hikes-kick-in-friday/ http://www.wbrz.com/news/la-sales-cigarette-and-alcohol-tax-hikes-kick-in-friday/ Links Wed, 30 Mar 2016 10:11:48 AM Melinda Deslatte La. sales, cigarette and alcohol tax hikes kick in Friday

BATON ROUGE - Smokers, drinkers, car renters and every shopper around Louisiana will be paying more for their purchases beginning Friday.
    
Tax hikes on cigarettes, alcohol and car rentals are among many tax changes that take hold April 1.
    
The biggest tax increase will hit nearly every person and business. The 1 percent increase in the state sales tax will boost Louisiana's average state and local sales tax rate to more than 10 percent, the highest in the nation, according to the Tax Foundation.
    
In addition, a long list of purchases usually free from state sales tax will temporarily lose some of those exemptions.

The owner of Pam's Capitol Corner Market in Baton Rouge, Pam Robertson says the tax increase will impact her profits. "I have to sale six cartons in order buy one carton clear" the store owner said.

The cigarette tax increase is expected to generate 46-millon dollars a year, to help the state reduce it's budget deficit and smokers are not happy with that cost being passed on to them.

Laura Borgelon of Baton Rouge is a smoker for 35-years and she said "We enjoy our cigartettes and it's going to put a strain on everyone who does smoke."  The $1.08 tax is still less than the average state tax accoss the country of $1.61 on a pack of cigarettes.

The cigarette tax isn't the only increase. Sales taxes increases by a penny on the dollar. Taxes will go up on alcohol as well. Lawmakers upped taxes in a special session last month in order to balance the state budget. It was almost one-billion dollars short for the current fiscal year and two billion short for next year.
    
Lawmakers passed the tax increases to help balance Louisiana's budget. They are estimated to raise $300 million by June 30 - and much more for next year's budget.

A breakdown of the taxes are below:

- Increasing the state sales tax from four cents to five cents; the extra penny remains in effect until June 30, 2018, in most cases, but expires on July 1, 2016, for manufacturing equipment and machinery
   
-  Most current exemptions and exclusions on the 4 percent state sales tax are eliminated; all exclusions will be restored by July 1, 2018

- An automobile rental tax, which had expired, is reinstated on gross proceeds at the rate of 2.5 percent (state) and 0.5 percent (local)
   
 - A hotel tax, with revenue flowing to local governments, is expanded to include residential locations such as houses, apartments and condominiums
    
- Sales made in Louisiana by dealers outside the state (such as over the Internet) are subject to the collection and remittance of sales and use tax
    
- The excise tax on cigarettes increases to $1.08
    
 The excise tax on alcoholic beverages increases to:

- Liquor - $0.80 per liter

- Sparkling wine - $0.55 per liter

- Still wines with 14-24 percent alcoholic volume - $0.35 per liter

- Still wines with more than 24 percent alcoholic volume - $0.55 per liter

- Malt beverages - $12.50 per barrel

- Low alcoholic content beverages - $12.50 per barrel


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Who can apply? FEMA Disaster Assistance FAQs http://www.wbrz.com/news/who-can-apply-fema-disaster-assistance-faqs/ http://www.wbrz.com/news/who-can-apply-fema-disaster-assistance-faqs/ Links Thu, 17 Mar 2016 5:40:40 PM WBRZ Staff Who can apply? FEMA Disaster Assistance FAQs

Who should apply for federal disaster assistance?
Louisiana homeowners, renters and business owners in disaster-designated parishes who sustained damage to their homes, vehicles, personal property, business or its inventory as a result of the ongoing severe storms and floods may apply for disaster assistance.

How do I apply?
Survivors in the designated Louisiana parishes can register online at DisasterAssistance.gov or by calling 800-621-3361. Disaster survivors who are deaf, hard of hearing or have a speech disability and use a TTY, call 800-462-7585. If survivors use 711 or VRS (Video Relay Service) or require accommodations while visiting a center, call 800-621- 3362. All disaster recovery centers are accessible and equipped with tools to accommodate survivors who need disability-related communication aids.  

What kinds of assistance are available?
Disaster assistance may include grants to help pay for temporary housing, emergency home repairs, uninsured and underinsured personal property losses and medical, and dental and funeral expenses caused by the disaster, along with other serious disaster-related expenses.
The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) offers low-interest disaster loans to businesses of all sizes, private nonprofit organizations, homeowners and renters. These disaster loans cover uninsured and uncompensated losses and do not duplicate benefits of other agencies or organizations.

Am I eligible for disaster assistance if I already have insurance?
You should apply for assistance even if you have insurance because you may find that you have unmet needs after you receive your settlement. If you have not already contacted your insurance agent to file a claim, do so right away. Insurance is your main source for money to put your life back in order after a disaster. But insurance does not cover many expenses, so disaster programs may be able to help. You should not wait for your insurance settlement to apply for a low-interest disaster loan from the SBA.

I have applied. What happens next?
After you apply, FEMA will send you a copy of your application and a copy of "Help After a Disaster: Applicant's Guide to the Individuals and Households Program," which will answer many of your questions. This useful publication explains how FEMA's disaster assistance program works; describes additional kinds of help you may qualify for from other federal, state and voluntary agencies; and gives you many important tips on how best to make all these programs work for you. If your home or its contents are damaged and you are uninsured or underinsured, a FEMA inspector may contact you within about 10 days after you apply to schedule a time to meet with you at your damaged home. All inspectors carry photo ID that shows they are affiliated with the U.S. government.

What kinds of low-interest disaster loans does SBA offer and for how much?
If you're a homeowner, you may borrow up to $200,000 from SBA to repair or replace your primary residence. Homeowners and renters may borrow up to $40,000 to replace personal property. Businesses may borrow up to $2 million for any combination of property damage or economic injury. SBA offers low-interest working capital loans (called Economic Injury Disaster Loans) to small businesses, small businesses engaged in aquaculture and most private, nonprofit organizations of all sizes having difficulty meeting obligations as a result of the disaster.

FEMA's temporary housing assistance and grants that help pay for medical, dental and funeral expenses do not require individuals to apply for an SBA loan. However, homeowners or renters must complete and submit an SBA loan application to be eligible for assistance that covers personal property, vehicle repair or replacement, and moving and storage expenses.

Do I have to be a legal U.S. resident to receive Individual Assistance?
Yes. To be eligible for FEMA Individual Assistance grants you must be a U.S. citizen, non-citizen national or a qualified alien. A qualified alien generally includes individuals who are lawful permanent residents or those with refugee or asylum status. Qualified aliens include those permitted in the United States for at least one year for humanitarian purposes, those with conditional entry, those who are Cuban-Haitian entrants and those with petitions for relief based on battery or extreme cruelty by a family member. Check with an immigration expert if you have questions about your legal status.

Is there any assistance available for undocumented immigrants?
If you have a child living at home who is a U.S. citizen or a qualified alien, you may apply for Individual Assistance on that child's behalf and you may be eligible to receive Individual Assistance. You may also be eligible for various programs run by state, local or voluntary agencies. FEMA may provide undocumented, eligible immigrants with short-term, non-cash emergency aid.

How can I check the status of my case?
You may go online to www.DisasterAssistance.gov or call the toll-free FEMA Helpline at 800-621-3362 (FEMA) or (TTY) 1-800-462-7585.


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UPDATE: Some rivers to remain in flood stage until Thursday http://www.wbrz.com/news/update-some-rivers-to-remain-in-flood-stage-until-thursday/ http://www.wbrz.com/news/update-some-rivers-to-remain-in-flood-stage-until-thursday/ Links Sat, 12 Mar 2016 7:46:57 PM Kevin Dupuy; Meteorologist Robert Gauthreaux III UPDATE: Some rivers to remain in flood stage until Thursday

BATON ROUGE – Many river systems near the Capital City remain in major flood stage Sunday after thunderstorms brought record rainfall to the area this week. While the Tickfaw River has already crested, the Amite River is expected to rise in some areas until it crests as late as Tuesday

Officials in Ascension Parish say residents should expect more flooding before the Amite River crests Monday afternoon.

Below are river level forecasts from the National Weather Service: (Note: As with any weather forecast, this information is subject to change. Stay tuned to WBRZ News 2 for updates as more information becomes available).

The Comite River near Joor Road crested at 4:30 p.m. Saturday afternoon at 26.16 feet. The river will remain in minor flood stage until Monday afternoon. Subdivisions between the Comite River and Beaver Bayou are expected to have moderate flooding until Monday morning.

The Amite River near Denham Springs crested early Sunday morning at 36.09 ft. Sunday morning. The river will remain in moderate flood stage until Monday morning. The NWS predicts possible flooding around Clay Cut Bayou, Jones Creek and Honey Cut Bayou until Sunday evening. Also, areas in Denham Springs west of Florida Avenue will be subject to flooding until Sunday evening.

Downstream at Bayou Manchac, the Amite River is expected to reach major flood stage Monday night. The river is expected to crest at 16.5 ft. Monday morning. The Amite River will remain in major flood stage until Tuesday morning.

Near Port Vincent, the Amite River is expected to reach major flood stage Monday afternoon. The river is expected to crest at 12 ft. and will remain in major flood stage until Tuesday morning. Expect minor flooding to residential areas.

The Tickfaw River has crested, but is expected to remain in moderate flood stage at Holden until Monday morning. In Montpelier, the Tickfaw River is dropping dramatically is below flood stage.

Downstream at Holden, the Tickfaw River is crested just short of the record of 21 ft. set in 1983. The river will remain in moderate flood stage until Monday morning. Property in low areas along the river from I-12 to Parish Road 1036 will likely remain flooded until Monday morning.

In Robert, the Tangipahoa River has already crested at 25.54 ft. but will remain in major flood stage until Tuesdayevening.

The NWS forecasts that the Amite River will reach 7.0 ft. by Tuesday afternoon at French Settlement. It is possible that flooding could cause La. Hwy 16 to close near Port Vincent and the Louisiana Trace will be impassable. Note: At the time of writing, the National Weather Service forecast only extends until 1 p.m. Tuesday for the French Settlement area. Click here to see the updated NWS information. 

For more information, or data from locations not listed in this story, visit the National Weather Service Website by clicking here. 

This is a developing story. Stay tuned to WBRZ Weather online and on Facebook and Twitter for updates as new information becomes available. River stages will be updated through the evening on the WBRZ News 2 24-hour weather channel.


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Sandbags available, waterways closed to recreational boat traffic in Livingston Parish http://www.wbrz.com/news/sandbags-available-waterways-closed-to-recreational-boat-traffic-in-livingston-parish/ http://www.wbrz.com/news/sandbags-available-waterways-closed-to-recreational-boat-traffic-in-livingston-parish/ Links Thu, 10 Mar 2016 2:59:42 PM Brock Sues Sandbags available, waterways closed to recreational boat traffic in Livingston Parish

LIVINGSTON PARISH - Parish officials in Livingston say all waterways will be closed to recreational traffic starting Thursday at 3 p.m. until further as water levels are on the rise due to heavy rainfall.

Sandbags will be available to parish residents at the following locations:

Fire District 1 - Station #2
32401 Hwy 43
Albany

Fire District 2 - Station #1
32280 Terry St.
Springfield

Fire District 2 – Station #2 (Killian)
31447 Hwy 22
Springfield

Fire District 2 - Station #3 (Lizard Creek)
Hwy 1037
Springfield

Fire District 2 – Station #5 (Hutchinson)
25389 Hutchinson Rd.
Springfield

Fire District 3 - Station #1
930 Government St.
Denham Springs

Fire District 4 – Station #1
29758 South Palmetto Dr.
Walker

Fire District 4 – Station #3
34893 Hwy 1019
Watson

Fire District 4 – Station #9
9100 Hillion Hood Rd.
Denham Springs

Fire District 5 – Station #1
8098 Florida Blvd.
Denham Springs

Fire District 6 - Station #1
20550 Circle Dr.
Livingston

Fire District 7 –Station #1
19784 Hwy 42
Livingston

Fire District 7- Station #2
19354 Perrilloux Rd
Livingston

Fire District 8 – Station #1
15160 Hwy 16
French Settlement

Fire District 9 - Station #1
24564 Hwy 22
Maurepas

Fire District 9 - Station #2
20368 Hwy 22
Maurepas

Fire District 10 – Station #1
30928 Hwy 441
Holden

Fire District 11 – Station #1
33815 Hwy 43
Independence

Fire District 11- Station #2
31470 Horseshoe Rd North
Independence

Can back with this story for updates on further road closures in Livingston Parish as they are released.


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Area universities announce closures as severe storms move into BR http://www.wbrz.com/news/area-universities-announce-closures-as-severe-storms-move-into-br/ http://www.wbrz.com/news/area-universities-announce-closures-as-severe-storms-move-into-br/ Links Thu, 10 Mar 2016 2:15:16 PM Brock Sues Area universities announce closures as severe storms move into BR

BATON ROUGE - Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge Community College and Southern University have announced closures as severe weather impacts the southeastern part of the state.

LSU has announced all classes starting at 3 p.m. are canceled, and the university will close at 3:30 p.m Thursday. The university says Campus Transit and LSU Dining Halls will maintain their regular hours of operation, but all other campus offices will be closed. The LSU Ag Center offices will remain open, according to LSU administration.

The university will open on Friday. All classes and university offices will be operating at normal business hours, according to the University. The University Laboratory School and the LSU Child Care Center will also be open and operate under normal hours..

BRCC announced it will close at 3 p.m. Thursday, and will remain closed on Friday. The college says it may be open on Saturday, but they have yet to make a final decision.

Southern University System campuses in Baton Rouge, including SUBR, SU Ag Center and the SU Law Center, announced they would also close at 3 p.m. Thursday and remain closed on Friday and Saturday due to inclement weather. All classes and activities are canceled.

Southeastern Louisiana University and Our Lady of the Lake College announced that classes will be canceled and the university will also close at 3:30 p.m. Thursday and will remain closed through Friday. 

Check back with this story for further updates about Friday closures.


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New app for smartphones allows citizens to request city services http://www.wbrz.com/news/new-app-for-smartphones-allows-citizens-to-request-city-services/ http://www.wbrz.com/news/new-app-for-smartphones-allows-citizens-to-request-city-services/ Links Wed, 9 Mar 2016 1:33:54 PM Alicia Serrano New app for smartphones allows citizens to request city services

BATON ROUGE - Baton Rouge Mayor Melvin “Kip” Holden announced the launch of a new web and smartphone app that aims to provide easy-to-use tools so residents can request government services and report issues in real-time.

The app, called Red Stick 311, allows users to create online accounts to request and then keep track of the status of service requests. Residents can even upload relevant images to go with those requests.

GPS-enabled location services attached to user requests provide an easy way for crews to be dispatched directly to the location of the problem. Crews will be able to leverage the app to save time by coordinating request dispatch with ongoing work based on the location data.

“We live in a world that runs on technology, and because of this, there is an expectation for all devices, platforms, and applications to keep pace,” Mayor Holden said.

The Mayor said the app is a step toward changing the way government has traditionally interacted with its citizens. It also represent the City-Parish's commitment to keeping up evolving technological trends, according to Holden.

Residents can continue to request services or report issues by dialing 311, but officials are encouraging residents to use the new apps.

“Our team at Information Services has been hard at work over the past several years to identify ways in which we can more easily connect citizens to government services, and engage residents in the daily operations of our City-Parish government in meaningful ways,”  Eric Romero, Interim Director of Information Services, said.

Whether it is reporting a pothole and drainage issues or allowing participation in signal studies, the Mayor's Office says they are excited to provide yet another way for residents to interact with government.

As a part of the launch, the City-Parish has also developed a citizen self-help knowledge base that is accessible on the Red Stick 311 home page at 311.brla.gov. The knowledge base will be updated on a regular basis to ensure citizens have access to common information needs that impact their daily lives.

Red Stick 311 is live and available online and in the App Store and Google Play Store as a free download.


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Ascension Parish readies sandbag stations ahead of possible flooding http://www.wbrz.com/news/ascension-parish-readies-sandbag-stations-ahead-of-possible-flooding/ http://www.wbrz.com/news/ascension-parish-readies-sandbag-stations-ahead-of-possible-flooding/ Links Mon, 7 Mar 2016 2:41:35 PM Alicia Serrano Ascension Parish readies sandbag stations ahead of possible flooding

GONZALES - Ascension Parish President Kenny Matassa said Monday that parish drainage, public works and emergency management departments are ready and monitoring weather forecasts for the immediate area in anticipation of predicted stormy weather for later this week.

“Our departments are poised and ready should the need arise," Matassa said. "We will also be providing pre-filled sandbags at various locations throughout the parish."

Bill Roux, director of East Ascension Gravity Drainage District #1, said that pumping systems are being checked to make sure they are at "optimal performance."

"We are fueling up and getting all our portable pumps in place for problem areas. This is a standard operating procedure before any storm," said Roux.

Parish Public Works Director Joey Tureau says his staff is also prepared should storms pass through the area.

"We'll have staff on standby and we'll monitor areas of concern," Tureau said. "We'll be operating as we always do in emergency scenarios."

Emergency Management Director Rick Webre said prefilled sandbags are still available for the public.  Webre said the locations are not locked and the public may help themselves to the sandbags if needed.

Below are the locations:

Prairieville Fire Department  
14517 LA-73, Prairieville, LA 70769

5th Ward Fire Department
39110 LA-22, Darrow, LA 70725

7th District Fire Department Station 71
13432 Roddy Rd, Gonzales, LA 70737

Amant Fire Department
44465 Stringer Bridge Rd, St. Amant, LA 70774

Ascension Parish DPW West
725 Church Street, Donaldsonville, LA  70346

Geismar Fire Department
12171 La. 73, Geismar, LA 70734


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Who could pay? A look at tax bills approved by lawmakers http://www.wbrz.com/news/who-could-pay-a-look-at-tax-bills-approved-by-lawmakers/ http://www.wbrz.com/news/who-could-pay-a-look-at-tax-bills-approved-by-lawmakers/ Links Sat, 5 Mar 2016 3:02:55 PM APNewsNow Who could pay? A look at tax bills approved by lawmakers

BATON ROUGE - Lawmakers in the state House and Senate have supported varying measures to change Louisiana's tax laws. Only a few have made it to final passage in a special legislative session that must end Wednesday.

Here's a look of what some of the proposals would do and where they stand:

SALES TAX HIKE (House Bill 62)

Increase Louisiana's 4-cent sales tax by another penny on every dollar spent, starting April 1, without many of the exemptions allowed on the other four pennies of the tax.

Revenue raised: $215 million for this year's budget and $883 million annually.

Status: House passed with Oct. 1, 2017, expiration date. Senate passed with April 1, 2021, expiration date. Final version must be reconciled.

___

CIGARETTE TAXES (House Bills 14)

Boost the cigarette tax from 86 cents per pack to $1.08, starting April 1.

Revenue raised: $11 million for this year's budget and $46 million annually.

Status: Passed, sent to the governor.

___

AIRBNB TAX (House Bill 59)

Charge a state sales tax on hotel rooms booked through short-term rental sites like Airbnb.

Revenue raised: Uncertain.

Status: Both the House and Senate have passed the bill. Final version must be reconciled.

___

CAR RENTAL TAX (House Bill 39)

Reinstate a 2.5 percent state car rental tax that expired four years ago, starting April 1.

Revenue raised: $800,000 for this year's budget and $5 million for the state annually.

Status: Both the House and Senate have passed the bill. Final version must be reconciled.

___

PHONE TAX (House Bill 72)

Renew the state telecommunications tax that expires April 1.

Revenue raised: $900,000 for this year's budget and $3.4 million annually.

Status: Both the House and Senate have passed the bill. Final version must be reconciled.

___

STADIUM TAX (Senate Bill 22)

Allow sales taxes to be charged at certain events at Louisiana domed stadiums and baseball facilities starting April 1, like music concerts, not for athletic events.

Revenue raised: Uncertain, with some money earmarked for the Louisiana School for Math, Science and the Arts and the New Orleans Center for the Creative Arts.

Status: Senate passed the bill. Awaits decision by the House.

___

ALCOHOL TAXES

Increase the rates charged on liquor, wine and beer, starting April 1.

Revenue raised: $7 million for this year's budget and $25 million annually.

Status: House rejected, could come up again.

___

ONLINE SALES TAX (House Bill 30)

Provide a method for collecting state sales tax from online retailers.

Revenue raised: Uncertain.

Status: Passed, sent to the governor.

___

CORPORATE FRANCHISE TAX (House Bill 19)

Charge corporate franchise tax on more businesses, starting Jan. 1, 2017.

Revenue raised: $10 million in the 2016-17 budget year, $89 million in 2017-18 and $94 million after that.

Status: House passed the bill. Awaits decision by the Senate.

___

TAX COLLECTION (House Bills 18, 28 and 43)

Cap the amount a vendor can receive as compensation for timely filing and payment of state sales taxes, starting April 1.

Revenue raised: $2 million for this year's budget and $8 million annually.

Status: House passed the bill. Awaits decision by the Senate.

Reduce the discount rate a business receives for timely filing and payment of state alcohol taxes, starting April 1.

Revenue raised: $280,000 for this year's budget and $1.1 million annually.

Status: House passed the bill. Awaits decision by the Senate.

Reduce the discount rate for tobacco dealers for expenses related to tax collection, starting April 1.

Revenue raised: $275,000 in state general fund for this year's budget and $1.1 million for state general fund annually.

Status: Passed, sent to the governor.

___

BUSINESS TAX BREAKS (House Bills 55 and 87)

Change what businesses can deduct from their income for tax purposes.

Revenue raised: Uncertain.

Status: House passed the bill. Awaits decision by the Senate.

Lessen a tax break given to insurance companies.

Revenue raised: $8 million in the 2016-17 and 2017-18 budget years.

Status: House passed the bill. Awaits decision by the Senate.

___

Revenue estimates source: Legislative Fiscal Office.


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Who could pay? A look at tax bills advancing with lawmakers http://www.wbrz.com/news/who-could-pay-a-look-at-tax-bills-advancing-with-lawmakers/ http://www.wbrz.com/news/who-could-pay-a-look-at-tax-bills-advancing-with-lawmakers/ Links Thu, 3 Mar 2016 10:18:41 AM APnewsNow Who could pay? A look at tax bills advancing with lawmakers

BATON ROUGE - Lawmakers in the House and Senate have supported varying measures to change Louisiana's tax laws. None has made it to final passage so far, with less than a week remaining in the special legislative session.

Here's a look of what some of the proposals would do and where they stand:

SALES TAX HIKE (House Bill 62)

Increase Louisiana's 4-cent sales tax by another penny on every dollar spent, starting April 1, without many of the exemptions allowed on the other four pennies of the tax.

Revenue raised: $215 million for this year's budget and $883 million annually.

Status: House passed with Oct. 1, 2017, expiration date. Senate passed with April 1, 2021, expiration date. Final version must be reconciled.

___

AIRBNB TAX (House Bill 59)

Charge a state sales tax on hotel rooms booked through short-term rental sites like Airbnb.

Revenue raised: Uncertain.

Status: Both the House and Senate have passed the bill, with modest differences. Final version must be reconciled.

___

CAR RENTAL TAX (House Bill 39)

Reinstate a 2.5 percent state car rental tax that expired four years ago, starting April 1.

Revenue raised: $800,000 for this year's budget and $5 million for the state annually.

Status: House passed the bill. It awaits debate on the Senate floor.

___

PHONE TAX (House Bill 72)

Renew the state telecommunications tax that expires April 1.

Revenue raised: $900,000 for this year's budget and $3.4 million annually.

Status: House passed the bill. It awaits debate on the Senate floor.

___

STADIUM TAX (Senate Bill 22)

Allow sales taxes to be charged at certain events at Louisiana domed stadiums and baseball facilities starting April 1, like music concerts, not for athletic events.

Revenue raised: Uncertain, with some money earmarked for the Louisiana School for Math, Science and the Arts and the New Orleans Center for the Creative Arts.

Status: Senate passed the bill. It awaits debate in a House committee.

___

SIN TAXES (House Bills 14 and 27)

Boost the cigarette tax from 86 cents per pack to $1.08 and the tax rates charged on liquor, wine and beer, starting April 1.

Revenue raised: Cigarette tax would raise $16 million for this year's budget and $46 million annually. Alcohol taxes would raise $9 million for this year's budget and $28 million annually.

Status: Both bills have stalled, awaiting debate on the House floor.

___

ONLINE SALES TAX (House Bill 30)

Provide a method for collecting state sales tax from online retailers.

Revenue raised: Uncertain.

Status: Both the House and Senate have passed the bill, with modest differences. Final version must be reconciled.

___

SALES TAX COLLECTION (House Bill 43)

Cap the amount a vendor collecting sales tax on behalf of Louisiana can receive as compensation for turning over the payment, starting April 1.

Revenue raised: $2 million for this year's budget and $8 million annually.

Status: House passed the bill. It awaits debate on the Senate floor.

___

ADVANCED PAYMENT OF SALES TAX (House Bill 54)

Change the payment schedule for businesses to submit sales taxes they collect.

Revenue raised: $75 million for this year's budget.

Status: House passed the bill. It awaits debate on the Senate floor.

___

BUSINESS TAX DEDUCTIONS (House Bill 55)

Change what businesses can deduct from their income for tax purposes.

Revenue raised: Uncertain.

Status: House passed the bill. It awaits debate on the Senate floor.

___

INSURANCE COMPANY TAX BREAK (House Bill 87)

Lessen a decades-old tax break given to insurance companies.

Revenue raised: $8.3 million in the 2016-17 budget year and $8.6 million for 2017-18.

Status: House passed the bill. It awaits debate in a Senate committee.

___

Source of revenue estimates: Legislative Fiscal Office.


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The Inner Wheel Club to host 2016 Attic Trash & Treasure Sale http://www.wbrz.com/news/the-inner-wheel-club-to-host-2016-attic-trash-and-treasure-sale/ http://www.wbrz.com/news/the-inner-wheel-club-to-host-2016-attic-trash-and-treasure-sale/ Links Fri, 26 Feb 2016 6:32:40 PM Brock Sues The Inner Wheel Club to host 2016 Attic Trash & Treasure Sale

BATON ROUGE - The Inner Wheel of Baton Rouge is prepped to host their 2016 Attic Trash & Treasure Sale next weekend.

The sale will take place on Mar. 4, 5 and 6 in the old Mervyn’s at the Cortana Mall. Sale hours are as follows:

- Friday, Mar. 4: 7:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
- Saturday, Mar. 5: 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
- Sunday, Mar. 6: 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

All items are half-price on Sunday. Admission is free. Credit cards are accepted.


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Audit sounds the alarm on serious code violations at Southern http://www.wbrz.com/news/audit-sounds-the-alarm-on-serious-code-violations-at-southern/ http://www.wbrz.com/news/audit-sounds-the-alarm-on-serious-code-violations-at-southern/ Links Mon, 22 Feb 2016 11:55:27 AM Trey Schmaltz Audit sounds the alarm on serious code violations at Southern

BATON ROUGE - Infrastructure issues abound in a state audit that highlights a growing problem at Southern University.

Among the most serious problems found in the audit made public Monday morning, are a lack of fire alarm systems at two buildings on campus: John B. Cade Library and laboratory building A.O. Williams. Both buildings are on fire watch - where someone must walk the hallways each hour looking for smoke or fire. The audit found the library has not had a working fire alarm since July 2004. The system at A.O. Williams is deficient, auditors reported. Deficiencies began in February 2015. However, for five months, the fire watch was not conducted properly.

Other buildings are in disrepair - 33 of the 140 buildings on campus were built prior to 1968 and many are not maintained. Nineteen, the auditors said, were vacant.

"Safety deficiencies and potentially hazardous conditions exist on the SUBR campus," auditors wrote.

In addition to fire safety violations, buildings are plagued with sewer malfunctions and some do not meet the Americans with Disabilities Act - a law that requires buildings be accessible for people who are handicapped.

Auditors said for years SUBR has asked for money to make repairs, but due to state budget cuts rarely gets enough to do anything. In both fiscal years 2014 and 2015, university officials asked for $21.7 million but only received $4.8 million.

"SUBR has received limited funding for repairs and maintenance," auditors wrote.

Southern agreed. In its response, it said funding is the paramount issue as to why buildings are not maintained. However, the university said it feels it is doing the best it can with dealing with the problems.

You can CLICK HERE to view the full report.

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Treasurer: State revenues increased 3 percent for January http://www.wbrz.com/news/treasurer-state-revenues-increased-3-percent-for-january/ http://www.wbrz.com/news/treasurer-state-revenues-increased-3-percent-for-january/ Links Mon, 15 Feb 2016 11:43:00 AM Brock Sues Treasurer: State revenues increased 3 percent for January

BATON ROUGE - The State Department of the Treasury says reports indicate total revenue for January 2016 saw a three percent increase over December of last year.

Sales tax, severance tax and corporation/franchise tax receipts are down from last year in the 2015-16 fiscal year, but individual income tax revenue is up slightly.

December saw total state revenue down by 15 percent, while state revenues improved three percent.

You can click here to dive into the numbers for yourself in the full report.


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Early voting registration at EBR Registrar of Voters sees steady turnout http://www.wbrz.com/news/early-voting-registration-at-ebr-registrar-of-voters-sees-steady-turnout/ http://www.wbrz.com/news/early-voting-registration-at-ebr-registrar-of-voters-sees-steady-turnout/ Links Wed, 3 Feb 2016 3:33:05 PM Brock Sues Early voting registration at EBR Registrar of Voters sees steady turnout

BATON ROUGE - Voters in East Baton Rouge Parish turned out at the Registrar of Voters Offices throughout the day Wednesday as it was the last day for residents to register to vote in the state's upcoming presidential primary.

Only registered Republicans and Democrats will be able to cast their ballot for the candidates representing their party when voting day for the primary arrives in March.

"We have a little flurry of business at the last minute. So we've been having some people to come in to register a little bit more than usual. A lot of people reigster to vote online these days, so we've been getting about 300 a day online for the last several days," Steve Raborn of the East Baton Rouge Registrar of Voters said.

Voters had until 4:30 p.m. Wednesday to register when the office in East Baton Rouge Parish shut its doors. If you didn't make the deadline, take heart as you have until midnight to complete the registration online.

Online registration is available at www.geauxvote.com through the Secretary of State's Office.

Voters will cast their ballots on March 5th. The presidential primary is a closed election, meaning voters must vote for a candidate representing their party.


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Local health providers address Zika concern http://www.wbrz.com/news/local-health-providers-address-zika-concern/ http://www.wbrz.com/news/local-health-providers-address-zika-concern/ Links Tue, 2 Feb 2016 5:47:43 PM Natalia Verdina Local health providers address Zika concern

BATON ROUGE - Local health providers say their phones have been ringing off the hook as word about the Zika virus spreads.

"We have gotten a lot of questions from our clients, pregnant women and families in Baton Rouge regarding the Zika virus," said Dana Brewer, a certified nurse and midwife.

World health experts say the Zika virus is a mosquito-borne disease that poses serious consequences for pregnant women.

If infected, the baby's brain may not fully develop.

"The number one concern is for pregnant women who have traveled abroad, mostly to South and Central America," said Breuer.

Symptoms include red eye, fever and other flu-like symptoms.

United Blood Services asks that anyone who has traveled to affected regions not donate blood for at least 28 days upon return.

Most people who have contracted the disease recover fairly quickly and do not need to be hospitalized. For more information from the Centers for Disease Control, click here.


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New round of public meetings to study I-10 corridor http://www.wbrz.com/news/new-round-of-public-meetings-to-study-i-10-corridor/ http://www.wbrz.com/news/new-round-of-public-meetings-to-study-i-10-corridor/ Links Fri, 29 Jan 2016 10:44:31 AM Russell Jones New round of public meetings to study I-10 corridor

BATON ROUGE - The state Department of Transportation and Development scheduled another series of public meetings to discuss possible ways to solve traffic jams along the I-10 corridor in Baton Rouge.

The meetings will specifically look at the section of I-10 stretching from Essen Lane to LA 415 in Port Allen. That stretch of highway frequently backs up whenever wrecks occur, since it is the only high-speed route across the Mississippi River and through the city-parish toward New Orleans.

DOTD said they want to present new options to improve that corridor and get the public's input on the issues facing drivers.

Traffic officials already held one series of public meetings in August and September to look at that stretch of I-10. Information from those meetings can be found on the DOTD I-10 Project website.

The public meetings are set for the following times and locations:

Monday, February 22, 2016
6:00 pm - 8:00 pm
McKinley Middle Magnet School
1550 Eddie Robinson Sr. Drive
Baton Rouge, LA 70802

Tuesday, February 23, 2016
6:00 pm - 8:00 pm
Addis Community Center
7520 Highway 1 South
Addis, LA 70710

Thursday, February 25, 2016
6:00 pm - 8:00 pm
Baton Rouge Marriott
5500 Hilton Avenue
Baton Rouge, LA 70808


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BR Blues Festival releases 2016 lineup http://www.wbrz.com/news/br-blues-festival-releases-2016-lineup/ http://www.wbrz.com/news/br-blues-festival-releases-2016-lineup/ Links Thu, 28 Jan 2016 2:58:37 PM Russell Jones BR Blues Festival releases 2016 lineup

BATON ROUGE - Blues players from across the globe will jam in early April for the 22nd Baton Rouge Blues Festival.

Organizers with the Baton Rouge Blues Foundation said the free festival will include internationally-recognized performers as well as local blues legends.

Ten of the performers have previously appeared at the festival, including Kenny Neal, James 'Chicken Scratch' Johnson, Henry Gray, The Rakers, Honeyvibe, OMT, Henry Turner Jr. and Flavor, Baton Rouge Music Studios, Lighthouse Singers and Cliff & Company. The BR Blues Foundation says this will be Gray's 18th performance at the festival.

Though the festival is free, people can purchase an All-Weekend Experience Pass for $125 to get complimentary food and drinks, private bars and bathrooms, and exclusive viewing areas for VIP ticket holders at the Swamp Blues and Foundation stages.

The festival is set for April 9 from 11 a.m. to 10:30 p.m, and April 10 from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. More information on the festival, tickets and its performers can be found on the Baton Rouge Blues Festival website.


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Salvation Army extends shelter hours http://www.wbrz.com/news/salvation-army-extends-shelter-hours/ http://www.wbrz.com/news/salvation-army-extends-shelter-hours/ Links Fri, 22 Jan 2016 6:25:56 PM Kevin Dupuy Salvation Army extends shelter hours

BATON ROUGE – With harsh winter weather blowing into Baton Rouge over the weekend, the Baton Rouge Salvation Army announced that the shelter on Airline Hwy will have extended hours Friday.

Captain Brett Meredith said the shelter located at 7361 Airline Hwy. opened at 4 p.m. and residents will be able to stay until 10 a.m. Saturday.

Meredith said that no one will be turned away into freezing conditions.

“We want to be there to assist those who may be the most venerable in our community as we face these freezing temperatures,” Meredith said.


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JazzFest lineup for 2016 includes Pearl Jam, Snoop Dogg http://www.wbrz.com/news/jazzfest-lineup-for-2016-includes-pearl-jam-snoop-dogg/ http://www.wbrz.com/news/jazzfest-lineup-for-2016-includes-pearl-jam-snoop-dogg/ Links Tue, 19 Jan 2016 11:29:41 AM Russell Jones JazzFest lineup for 2016 includes Pearl Jam, Snoop Dogg

NEW ORLEANS - Stevie Wonder, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Pearl Jam and Snoop Dogg are among the performers joining the crowd in New Orleans for the 2016 JazzFest.

Organizers released the full lineup for the New Orleans Jazz And Heritage Festival, which runs on consecutive weekends starting Apr. 22 and ending May 1.

The show starts Friday, Apr. 22, with Steely Dan, Janelle Monae, Michael McDonald and Gov't Mule. The headliners for Saturday include Pearl Jam, Van Morrison and Maxwell. The first weekend finishes with Red Hot Chili Peppers, Nick Jonas and Julio Iglesais.

The second weekend features Elvis Costello and the Imposters. Paul Simon and My Morning Jacket will be the two main acts Friday, Apr. 29. Saturday's headliners include Stevie Wonder, Snoop Dogg and Beck, while the festival concludes on May 1 with Neil Young, Trombone Shorty and Bonnie Raitt.

Also released Tuesday was the official festival poster, "House of Swing", which portrays musician Ellis Marsalis as well as his sons Branford, Wynton, Delfeayo and Jason.

Ticket information for JazzFest can be found by clicking here.


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Edwards transition committee releases tax recommendations report http://www.wbrz.com/news/edwards-transition-committee-releases-tax-recommendations-report/ http://www.wbrz.com/news/edwards-transition-committee-releases-tax-recommendations-report/ Links Fri, 15 Jan 2016 3:24:20 PM Brock Sues Edwards transition committee releases tax recommendations report

BATON ROUGE - Governor John Bel Edward’s Transition Committee on Fiscal Matters released a report containing tax recommendations for the state going forward on Friday.

The transition committee spent three days putting together a plan that contains 10 guiding principles and provided options for the incoming administration to take into account. The report covers revenue-raising measures, both new and existing, and seeks to outline a plan for taxation as the Edwards administration takes over.

A range of revenue options are included in the report which range from the reduction of the state’s income-tax rates across the board to the establishment of a flat corporate tax rate.

You can read the full report on the Office of the Governor’s website.


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