WBRZ http://www.wbrz.com/ WBRZ State News State News en-us Copyright 2014, WBRZ. All Rights Reserved. Feed content is not avaialble for commercial use. () () Mon, 24 Nov 2014 00:11:56 GMT Synapse CMS 10 WBRZ http://www.wbrz.com/ 144 25 Sheriff to state police: investigate inmate death http://www.wbrz.com/news/sheriff-to-state-police-investigate-inmate-death/ http://www.wbrz.com/news/sheriff-to-state-police-investigate-inmate-death/ State News Sun, 23 Nov 2014 2:13:09 PM JANET McCONNAUGHEY Sheriff to state police: investigate inmate death

NEW ORLEANS - The Orleans Parish sheriff has asked state police to investigate a jail death that the coroner says was homicide.

Col. Mike Edmonson, head of state police, says he will meet with Sheriff Marlin Gusman on Monday to decide what to do.

Authorities have said 40-year-old Willie Lee collapsed and died within 90 minutes of a fight with another inmate on March 23.

Orleans Parish Coroner Jeffrey Rouse said in a statement Thursday that Lee had a heart attack, but his death was homicide caused by a fight between inmates.

Gusman wrote to state police on Friday, saying his office is investigating Lee's death but he also wants an independent investigation by state police.

Edmonson emailed a copy of Gusman's letter to The Associated Press on Sunday.


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Deputy on security detail hurt by drunk driver http://www.wbrz.com/news/deputy-on-security-detail-hurt-by-drunk-driver/ http://www.wbrz.com/news/deputy-on-security-detail-hurt-by-drunk-driver/ State News Sat, 22 Nov 2014 2:37:51 PM Deputy on security detail hurt by drunk driver

METAIRIE, La. - A Jefferson Parish sheriff's deputy has been hospitalized after his vehicle was struck as he provided security for a film shoot in Metairie.

The sheriff's office says Deputy Sean Williams' police cruiser was hit about 2:20 a.m. Saturday.

Williams was working a detail and was seated in his car parked at an intersection when a car driven by 33-year-old Rachel Gremillion, of Metairie, hit the police car.

Williams suffered a broken right leg and cuts to the face and mouth. He's listed in stable condition at an area hospital.

Gremillion suffered a broken right ankle. After treatment, the sheriff's office says she was booked with DWI, negligent injury and reckless operation.


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Trial for accused Bourbon Street shooter delayed http://www.wbrz.com/news/trial-for-accused-bourbon-street-shooter-delayed/ http://www.wbrz.com/news/trial-for-accused-bourbon-street-shooter-delayed/ State News Sat, 22 Nov 2014 11:09:40 AM Trial for accused Bourbon Street shooter delayed

NEW ORLEANS - The trial of Trung Le, the only person arrested in this summer's mass shooting on Bourbon Street, has been continued until Feb. 23.

Le was scheduled to be tried Dec. 1 on one charge each of attempted murder and manslaughter.

Prosecutors moved Friday for a continuance, arguing that several of their witnesses wouldn't be able to travel from out of town in time for the trial.

Laura Rodrigue, the lead prosecutor for the case, said the state intends to call witnesses from as far as Australia to testify.

Gary Wainwright, one of Le's attorneys, said the continuance was an attempt by the District Attorney's Office to delay trying a weak case.


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Woman fatally shoots husband in domestic dispute http://www.wbrz.com/news/woman-fatally-shoots-husband-in-domestic-dispute/ http://www.wbrz.com/news/woman-fatally-shoots-husband-in-domestic-dispute/ State News Sat, 22 Nov 2014 11:05:22 AM Woman fatally shoots husband in domestic dispute

NEW ORLEANS - Police say a New Orleans woman fatally shot her husband after he allegedly tried to hit his family with his truck during a domestic dispute.

Officer Frank Robertson said Saturday that 50-year-old Steven Swanson died Friday at an area hospital shortly after being shot multiple times by his 40-year-old wife. Police responded shortly after 8 p.m. outside the couple's eastern New Orleans home.

Investigators say Swanson and his wife were arguing and the man refused to let her leave. She told police that as she and her children moved to get into her car, Swanson "tried to hit them with his truck." She says she then pulled a gun and fired at him in self-defense.

No arrests have been made. The incident remains under investigation.


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Job cuts, fund sweep used to close budget gap http://www.wbrz.com/news/job-cuts-fund-sweep-used-to-close-budget-gap/ http://www.wbrz.com/news/job-cuts-fund-sweep-used-to-close-budget-gap/ State News Fri, 21 Nov 2014 1:06:41 AM Russell Jones, Hunter Robinson Job cuts, fund sweep used to close budget gap

BATON ROUGE - Governor Bobby Jindal's administration plans to use a combination of hiring freezes, open position cuts and extra funds such as TOPS money to fill a $180 million gap in the state's budget.

Commissioner of Administration Kristy Nichols said the plan reduces costs across state agencies while protecting critical services and higher education, which is especially vulnerable to cuts due to recent constitutional protections passed by voters.

"We worked closely with state agencies to create a responsible plan that balances the state budget without raising taxes and without affecting critical services," Nichols told lawmakers Friday at a budget hearing.

The administration's plan would eliminate 167 open state jobs, saving $12.17 million. Nichols said most of those jobs were administrative positions not essential for critical services. The bulk of the gap would be covered by $130.4 million taken up in a funding sweep. Such "sweeps" lump together unused money allocated for other programs, which in this case includes $30.2 million from this year's tax amnesty program, $4.9 million from the TOPS scholarship program, and others.

The mid-year gap came after Louisiana's income estimating panel dropped their revenue forecast last week due to lower severance taxes and mineral royalties from dropping oil prices, combined with weak growth in personal income taxes.

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A more detailed breakdown, courtesy of the Associated Press.

DEFICIT WAS CLOSED WITH:

-Fund sweeps, patchwork dollars added: $131.8 million.

-Spending freeze on nonessential travel and supplies: $10.9 million.

-Elimination of vacant jobs: $12.2 million.

-Contract cuts: $6.2 million.

-Other individual cuts to agencies: $18.4 million.

___

DOLLARS ADDED:

-$32 million from tax amnesty program.

-$12 million from insurance settlement related to Hurricane Gustav damage.

-$15 million in unspent money from increased penalties and fees charged to uninsured motorists, approved by lawmakers earlier this year.

-$47 million in unbudgeted fees and self-generated revenue from state agencies and FEMA payments.

-$24.3 million from unspent balances in a half dozen state funds.

-$1.6 million from state property sales.

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BIGGEST CUTS:

-Division of Administration, $3.1 million.

-Coastal Restoration and Protection, $947,698.

-Department of Military Affairs, $359,000.

-Department of Veterans Affairs, $240,000.

-Department of Agriculture and Forestry, $208,316.

-Department of Insurance, $232,771.

-Department of Economic Development, $2.1 million.

-Department of Transportation and Development, $8.2 million.

-Department of Corrections, $336,780.

-Office of Juvenile Justice, $2 million.

-Department of Health and Hospitals, $5.5 million.

-Department of Children and Family Services, $964,980.

-Department of Natural Resources, $714,902.

-Department of Revenue, $2.1 million.

-Department of Environmental Quality, $2.1 million.

-Louisiana Workforce Commission, $2.2 million.

-Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, $2 million.

-Department of Education, $6.3 million.

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167 VACANT JOBS ELIMINATED:

-Division of Administration: 24

-Coastal Restoration and Protection: 2

-Department of Military Affairs: 5

-Louisiana Public Defender Board: 1

-Louisiana Commission on Law Enforcement: 1

-Department of Agriculture and Forestry: 5

-Department of Insurance: 6

-Department of Economic Development: 1

-Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism: 7

-Department of Transportation and Development: 9

-Department of Corrections: 6

-Office of Juvenile Justice: 10

-Department of Health and Hospitals: 47

-Department of Natural Resources: 5

-Department of Environmental Quality: 10

-Louisiana Workforce Commission: 13

-Louisiana Educational Television Authority: 1

-Department of Education: 14


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Woman: Rape at Mardi Gras ignored by detectives http://www.wbrz.com/news/woman-rape-at-mardi-gras-ignored-by-detectives/ http://www.wbrz.com/news/woman-rape-at-mardi-gras-ignored-by-detectives/ State News Fri, 21 Nov 2014 2:14:03 PM Cain Burdeau Woman: Rape at Mardi Gras ignored by detectives

NEW ORLEANS - A woman says she was raped in New Orleans during Mardi Gras festivities in a case among scores that the city's police department failed to properly investigate.

The department is reeling from a city inspector general's report that found five detectives mishandled more than 1,000 sex crimes and child abuse cases between 2011 and 2013.

Standing in front of a police station, the woman, accompanied by her husband and high-profile lawyer Gloria Allred, described being raped by a security guard at a New Orleans hotel this year. She says one of the five detectives now under investigation closed her case after determining the sex was consensual.

The Associated Press does not identify alleged victims of sexual assault and is not naming the woman, who is from Texas.


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Landrieu splits with Obama on immigration action http://www.wbrz.com/news/landrieu-splits-with-obama-on-immigration-action/ http://www.wbrz.com/news/landrieu-splits-with-obama-on-immigration-action/ State News Fri, 21 Nov 2014 2:05:21 PM Melinda Deslatte Landrieu splits with Obama on immigration action

BATON ROUGE - Democratic U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu said she disagrees with President Barack Obama's actions on immigration, hoping the latest controversy doesn't worsen her campaign difficulties.

By executive order, Obama extended legal protection to keep nearly 5 million people living in the U.S. illegally from deportation. Landrieu said while she understood frustration with the "broken immigration system," Obama shouldn't have taken unilateral action.

But Republicans on Friday were using Obama's announcement as another point of attack against Landrieu. They see the immigration debate as a way to needle Landrieu and help Republican Bill Cassidy heading into the final stretch before the Dec. 6 runoff election.

State Republican Party Chairman Roger Villere described Cassidy as "a necessary check" on the president in contrast with Landrieu, who Villere called a "rubber stamp" for Obama.


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Court won't reinstate 'Angola 3' inmate conviction http://www.wbrz.com/news/court-won-t-re-instate-angola-3-inmate-conviction/ http://www.wbrz.com/news/court-won-t-re-instate-angola-3-inmate-conviction/ State News Fri, 21 Nov 2014 12:50:03 PM APNewsNow Court won't reinstate 'Angola 3' inmate conviction

NEW ORLEANS - A federal appeals court has refused to reinstate the second-degree murder conviction of longtime state prison inmate Albert Woodfox in the 1972 stabbing death of a guard.

Woodfox has long maintained his innocence in the killing. He is one of the state inmates known as the "Angola Three" due to his long stretches in solitary confinement at the state prison in Angola.

The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals on Thursday upheld a lower court ruling that Woodfox's 1993 indictment was tainted by racial discrimination in the grand jury foreman selection process.

Friday afternoon, Attorney General Buddy Caldwell said the decision in no way exonerates Woodfox. He said attorneys were still studying the opinion to determine their next action. He added that his office remains committed to seeing Woodfox's conviction upheld.


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Worker in deadly Gulf blast was cleaning equipment http://www.wbrz.com/news/worker-in-deadly-gulf-blast-was-cleaning-equipment/ http://www.wbrz.com/news/worker-in-deadly-gulf-blast-was-cleaning-equipment/ State News Fri, 21 Nov 2014 10:23:15 AM APNewsNow Worker in deadly Gulf blast was cleaning equipment

NEW ORLEANS - A drilling company says a worker killed in an offshore explosion was cleaning a piece of equipment during routine maintenance at its oil-and-gas platform in the Gulf of Mexico.

Houston-based Fieldwood Energy LLC says another worker suffered "visible injury" and two other workers reported ringing in their ears. The company says the three injured workers have been released from the hospital.

Fieldwood says the worker who was killed Thursday was cleaning a piece of equipment that separates oil from water liquids when an "isolated pressure event" occurred. The company says the victim was employed by the Louisiana company Turnkey Cleaning Services, which specializes in cleaning offshore facilities.

The explosion happened on the Echo Platform, which is about 12 miles offshore near the mouth of the Mississippi River.


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5 family members killed on 'dream trip' to Disney http://www.wbrz.com/news/5-family-members-killed-on-dream-trip-to-disney/ http://www.wbrz.com/news/5-family-members-killed-on-dream-trip-to-disney/ State News Fri, 21 Nov 2014 8:36:52 AM Cain Burdeau 5 family members killed on 'dream trip' to Disney

NEW ORLEANS - Michael and Trudi Hardman had always talked about taking their six children to Disney World, and just a week before Thanksgiving, it seemed their "dream trip" was to be a reality.

But just a little more than three hours after they took to the road Wednesday night, their SUV veered off a highway and rolled over in Louisiana, killing the couple and three of the kids. Michael Hardman's brother Timothy Hardman said the driver and two passengers were injured, one critically.

Police believe the couple's 16-year-old son apparently fell asleep behind the wheel of the SUV during the drive from Terrell, Texas, to Orlando, Florida.

State police spokesman Michael Reichardt says the driver was cited with careless operation, which is a misdemeanor.

Timothy Hardman says going to Disney World was his brother's family's "dream trip."


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What to know as early voting starts Saturday http://www.wbrz.com/news/what-to-know-as-early-voting-starts-saturday/ http://www.wbrz.com/news/what-to-know-as-early-voting-starts-saturday/ State News Fri, 21 Nov 2014 8:29:19 AM Melinda Deslatte What to know as early voting starts Saturday

BATON ROUGE - Early voting opens Saturday for any of Louisiana's 2.9 million registered voters seeking to cast their ballots in advance of Louisiana's December runoff.

The Dec. 6 election will settle the hotly-contested U.S. Senate race between Democratic incumbent Mary Landrieu and Republican challenger Bill Cassidy, along with U.S. House races in the Baton Rouge area and in northeast Louisiana.

Local competitions for mayors, district attorneys, judgeships and school board seats also are on the ballot.

Secretary of State Tom Schedler is encouraging people to vote early if they can.

Early voting runs from Saturday through Nov. 29, from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. each day at the parish registrar of voters' office and other select locations. But all locations will be closed on Sunday, Thanksgiving day and the Friday after Thanksgiving.

For more, visit the WBRZ Election Center.


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Dept. of Education proposes new child care rules http://www.wbrz.com/news/dept-of-education-proposes-new-child-care-rules/ http://www.wbrz.com/news/dept-of-education-proposes-new-child-care-rules/ State News Fri, 21 Nov 2014 8:10:07 AM Brock Sues Dept. of Education proposes new child care rules

BATON ROUGE - The Louisiana Department of Education has proposed a new set of rules for child care centers as part of the state's effort to overhaul its pre-K system.

According to the agency, the rules changes are intended to give educators more time to focus on child development and learning.

A Thursday news release from Superintendent of Education John White said the proposed regulations will also serve to ensure that preschool children are cared for and taught by qualified, competent and trustworthy individuals while health and safety requirements are maintained.

The revised rules are set to be reviewed by the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education during its next meeting on Dec. 2-3.

Regulators hope that the changes to the guidelines for pre-K institutions will fix issues with a 2012 state law that critics claimed left the system with standards that were too widely varied and resulted in uneven quality of care and education at child care centers throughout the state.

 


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Weekends with Whitney: Leeville is Sinking http://www.wbrz.com/news/weekends-with-whitney-leeville-is-sinking/ http://www.wbrz.com/news/weekends-with-whitney-leeville-is-sinking/ State News Fri, 21 Nov 2014 4:26:45 AM Whitney Vann & Hunter Robinson Weekends with Whitney: Leeville is Sinking

LEEVILLE - Along the Louisiana coast, the once-thriving fishing town of Leeville is sinking.

Leeville boasts some of the best fishing in the state inshore among the marshes, but coastal erosion has left nearly two-thirds of it underwater. One woman is trying to save what is left.

"Everyone is just sitting around and watching it erode," Janet Rhodus told News 2's Whitney Vann.

Three years ago, Rhodus started Launch Leevile, a non-profit dedicated to save the sinking town.

"No one else was doing it, and I couldn't stand to see it any longer," she explains. "So I'm going to try and do what I can."

Janet reached out to Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne, who agreed to do what he could to help save it.

"We named Leeville a Cultural District," Dardenne says. "There's grant money to help that no one went after until Janet did."

Watch the video for more information, and be sure to tune in to Weekends with Whitney, Sundays at 6:30 a.m.

 


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Following deadly Gulf blast, survivors released from hospital http://www.wbrz.com/news/following-deadly-gulf-blast-survivors-released-from-hospital/ http://www.wbrz.com/news/following-deadly-gulf-blast-survivors-released-from-hospital/ State News Thu, 20 Nov 2014 7:15:39 PM Trey Schmaltz Following deadly Gulf blast, survivors released from hospital

VENICE- A platform exploded in the Gulf of Mexico Thursday afternoon, killing a worker federal regulatory officials said hours after the explosion.

Fieldwood Energy reported the incident at its Echo Platform around 3 p.m. Fieldwood is an offshore oil and gas operator. The platform was located in an area called West Delta, southwest of the mouth of the Mississippi River.

The Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) is responding to the explosion.

One person died and three others were injured. The injured were treated at West Jefferson Medical Center and released shortly before 11 p.m. Thursday.

The platform was not in production at the time of the explosion, BSEE said. Damage was limited to the explosion area and there was no pollution.

The Coast Guard is responding.

Check back for updates.
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Follow the publisher of this post on Twitter: @treyschmaltz

 


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Man killed by officer on Centenary College campus http://www.wbrz.com/news/man-killed-by-officer-on-centenary-college-campus/ http://www.wbrz.com/news/man-killed-by-officer-on-centenary-college-campus/ State News Thu, 20 Nov 2014 4:44:32 PM APNewsNow Man killed by officer on Centenary College campus

SHREVEPORT - Shreveport police continued their investigation Friday into death of a man who pulled a gun on two Centenary College of Louisiana public safety officers.

Cpl. Marcus Hines says the unidentified man struggled Thursday evening with the two officers while being escorted off the campus. He says the man pulled out a gun and was shot by one of the school's police officers.

Hines says shooting happened in front of the college's library. College officers say the man was exhibiting "peculiar behavior."

Hines says there's no indication the man is a student or connected to the college.

The identities of the officers involved and of the man shot have not been released.

Sadie Wallace, a 19-year-old Centenary junior, told The Times earlier in the afternoon she spoke to the man believed to be the one shot. She described him as a white male in his 40s or 50s with dirty blonde hair. He approached her asking where the school's chaplain was, she said.

"He looked very on edge, antsy," Wallace said.

Another Centenary student, Nathan Hooper, 20, said he bumped into the man sometime before the shooting. The man looked "scraggly" and was wearing a jacket with camouflage print and also asked after the chaplain, Hooper said.


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Supreme Court asked to look at La. marriage ban http://www.wbrz.com/news/supreme-court-asked-to-look-at-la-marriage-ban/ http://www.wbrz.com/news/supreme-court-asked-to-look-at-la-marriage-ban/ State News Thu, 20 Nov 2014 1:36:28 PM Kevin McGill Supreme Court asked to look at La. marriage ban

NEW ORLEANS - Gay-rights advocates challenging Louisiana's same-sex marriage ban want the U.S. Supreme Court to review their case before it is heard by a federal appeals court.

In September, a federal judge in New Orleans upheld Louisiana's ban.

An appeal of that ruling is tentatively set to be argued in January at the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans.

However, lawyers for gay rights groups on Thursday said they have asked the Supreme Court to take the rare step of reviewing Louisiana's case ahead of those arguments.

The high court already is being asked to consider an Ohio-based appeals court ruling upholding gay marriage bans. A lawyer in the Louisiana case says reviewing the state's case as well would provide the justices with a broader array of legal arguments.


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La. tax amnesty program estimates raising $169M http://www.wbrz.com/news/la-tax-amnesty-program-estimates-raising-169m/ http://www.wbrz.com/news/la-tax-amnesty-program-estimates-raising-169m/ State News Thu, 20 Nov 2014 12:53:20 PM Melinda Deslatte La. tax amnesty program estimates raising $169M

BATON ROUGE - Louisiana's latest amnesty program for delinquent taxpayers is expected to bring in $169 million. That's more than lawmakers included in this year's budget, but not enough to close a midyear deficit that has emerged since then.

The Department of Revenue announced the tax amnesty program's projected haul Thursday, saying it processed more than 41,000 applications and settlements.

Of the $169 million, $27 million will stay with the revenue department, while the remaining $142 million will be available for Louisiana's budget.

More than $100 million of that was already spent in the budget year that ends June 30.

A little less than $40 million is left to help the state close its midyear budget deficit. But that's not nearly enough to close a gap pegged at $171 million.


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Natchitoches teacher arrested for sending student nude photos http://www.wbrz.com/news/natchitoches-teacher-arrested-for-sending-student-nude-photos/ http://www.wbrz.com/news/natchitoches-teacher-arrested-for-sending-student-nude-photos/ State News Thu, 20 Nov 2014 12:13:15 PM Natchitoches teacher arrested for sending student nude photos

NATCHITOCHES- A Natchitoches Central High School teacher is free on $2,000 bond following her arrest for sending nude photos to a 17-year-old student.

Police arrested 27-year-old Nickol Smith after the city's High Tech Crime Unit found the pictures in the cell phones for her and the boy.

Police say a concerned citizen tipped them of the alleged incident.

Smith was booked with one count of prohibited sexual conduct between an educator and student. If convicted, she faces up to six months in prison and a $1,000 fine.

Her status at the school was not known.


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Man charged with 40 counts of child porn http://www.wbrz.com/news/man-charged-with-40-counts-of-child-porn-66957/ http://www.wbrz.com/news/man-charged-with-40-counts-of-child-porn-66957/ State News Thu, 20 Nov 2014 10:26:08 AM Russell Jones Man charged with 40 counts of child porn

NEW ORLEANS - A joint investigation involving the Louisiana Attorney General's Office and other agencies led to the arrest of a New Orleans man on 31 charges of child pornography.

Investigators charged 21-year-old Evan Bradford Wednesday with 30 counts of possession and a single count of distributing child porn.

The AG's Office said their Cyber Crime Unit along with state, parish, and federal authorities conducted the investigation which led to Bradford's arrest.

"My office continues to coordinate with law enforcement agencies statewide and use the best technology available to catch online predators and other internet based criminals," said Attorney General Buddy Caldwell.

Bradford was booked into the Orleans Parish Jail without incident. He could face up to 20 years in prison for each child porn charge, if convicted.

 


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Dismissal sought of Jindal's anti-Common Core suit http://www.wbrz.com/news/dismissal-sought-of-jindal-s-anti-common-core-suit/ http://www.wbrz.com/news/dismissal-sought-of-jindal-s-anti-common-core-suit/ State News Thu, 20 Nov 2014 9:53:22 AM Melinda Deslatte Dismissal sought of Jindal's anti-Common Core suit

BATON ROUGE - An Obama administration lawyer told a federal judge that Louisiana's decision to use the Common Core education standards was voluntary, not coerced by the federal government.

Attorney Caroline Lewis Wolverton asked U.S. District Judge Shelly Dick on Thursday to throw out Gov. Bobby Jindal's lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Education.

Jindal's lawsuit accuses the department of manipulating $4.3 billion in federal grant money and policy waivers to force states to adopt the multistate Common Core standards in English and math. Jindal lawyer Jimmy Faircloth says that violates the state sovereignty clause in the Constitution and federal law.

Dick didn't immediately rule after Thursday's hearing on the dismissal request. She called the issue "particularly complex" and said she wanted more time to consider it. A ruling is expected in December.


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