AP-LA--Louisiana-News Digest,ADVISORY, LA

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Louisiana at 2 a.m. on Thursday.

Good morning, Louisiana editors.

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BATON ROUGE, La. — Louisiana's largest business lobbying group on Wednesday declared its opposition to Gov. Bobby Jindal's tax system rewrite because the plan would shift new tax costs to businesses. The announcement by the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry dealt a blow to the proposal that Jindal has pitched as a boost for state economic development, business creation and job growth. By Melinda Deslatte.


NEW ORLEANS — Anecdotal allegations of persistent racial profiling by New Orleans police punctuated a meeting of a City Council panel on Wednesday. At the meeting, local government watchdogs said better data collection is needed to make sure officers are no longer doing unconstitutional race-based stops and frisks. By Kevin McGill.


BATON ROUGE, La. — F. King Alexander, a college leader in California, was hired Wednesday to be LSU's next system president and chancellor of the flagship campus, a newly merged job that he'll start in July. The Board of Supervisors unanimously backed Alexander, president of California State University Long Beach, for the LSU job. Terms of his contract will be set at a future board meeting. By Melinda Deslatte.


BATON ROUGE, La. — The LSU Board of Supervisors agreed Wednesday to negotiate turning over the operations of university-run hospitals in Shreveport and Monroe to a nonprofit research foundation whose interim president sits on the LSU board. The board backed an arrangement that LSU officials expect to lead to the Biomedical Research Foundation of Northwest Louisiana taking over management of the LSU Health Sciences Center in Shreveport and E.A. Conway Medical Center in Monroe and their clinics. By Melinda Deslatte.


BATON ROUGE, La. — Louisiana's Department of Education has received 11,800 applications for state-funded private school tuition, with interest in the voucher program growing larger, Superintendent of Education John White said Wednesday. About 10,000 parents applied last year for their children to attend private and parochial schools with tax dollars, the first year the voucher program was statewide after being piloted in New Orleans.


(Information in the following story is from: The Times-Picayune,

GRETNA, La. — A former Louisiana lawmaker was booked into jail Wednesday on a theft charge stemming from allegations that his company failed to pay a subcontractor for work on a school's rebuilding project following Hurricane Katrina. Former state Rep. Sherman Copelin Jr. also was booked on a charge of misapplication of payment after surrendering to investigators, according to a spokesman for the Jefferson Parish Sheriff's Office.


BATON ROUGE, La. — Gov. Bobby Jindal's administration quietly released a new financial analysis that estimates the state could save as much as $368 million over 10 years by expanding Louisiana's Medicaid program under the federal health care law. The analysis was posted on the Department of Health and Hospitals' website this week with no fanfare. The department hasn't touted the findings, and they were mentioned only briefly and with little detail during a budget hearing in which lawmakers pushed for more information about the expansion and Jindal's refusal to participate in it. By Melinda Deslatte.


WASHINGTON — Republicans' search for a way back to presidential success is drawing a striking array of personalities and policy options, creating a wide-open self-reassessment of the party. GOP activists may need three full years to decide which candidate and which philosophy will serve them best in 2016. Rival factions are trying to tug the party left or right, toward pragmatism or defiance, toward small-government purity versus pride in the good that government can do. By Charles Babington.

AP Photos WX104-0307130045, WX105-0312131118.


LUTCHER — The St. James Parish School Board canceled its two remaining community meetings on the futures of Fifth Ward and Lutcher Elementary schools after officials decided to keep the schools open indefinitely. The School Board originally had scheduled meetings Monday at the St. James Parish Science and Math Academy and on April 9 at the school board office in Lutcher to discuss the possible closures. School Superintendent Alonzo Luce said the school board also planned to vote during its April 23 meeting on whether to shut down the schools, but that vote also has been scrubbed.


BAYOU CORNE — About 25 trees fell into the Assumption Parish sinkhole and officials say a new crack formed Monday night in a well pad south of the lake-like slurry hole. Experts working for the state Office of Conservation believe the collapse and cracked well pad are linked to now-calmed seismic events from late last week. Because of that connection, agency officials say the discovery did not halt work around the sinkhole. Parish officials also estimated Tuesday that the edge collapse probably bit off a quarter-acre from the formerly 13-acre sinkhole's southeastern edge. The sinkhole is located in swamps between the Bayou Corne and Grand Bayou communities and has required the continued evacuation of more than 350 people in those areas.


MONROE — The Monroe City Council made last-minute amendments to the proposed 2013 fiscal year budget against heavy opposition from Monroe Mayor Jamie Mayo and city administrators. The proposed $57.4 million budget was introduced during Tuesday's meeting and the council must take final action on April 9 before the beginning of the new fiscal year, which starts May 1. Dr. Ray Armstrong, who proposed the amendments to the budget, says money was shuffled around to provide better services to citizens. But Mayo and budget officer Curtis Heard said no communication took place about the proposed amendments with the administration and they have no clue how it will impact the city.


Editors: The following brief items moved Wednesday on AP's Louisiana wire and may be of interest for your Thursday editions.


(Information in the following story is from: WWL-TV,

NEW ORLEANS — Two suspects in the videotaped beating of a man outside a New Orleans bar will be transferred to adult court after a juvenile court judge agreed to upgraded charges requested by prosecutors. A 16-year-old and 15-year-old are now held on attempted second-degree murder charges. The Orleans Parish District Attorney's Office asked for the upgrade from the teenagers' previous charge of aggravated battery, which is not eligible for transfer to adult court.


SHREVEPORT — Two Shreveport men will be spending the next six decades behind bars following their sentencing for second-degree murder in Caddo Parish District Court. Joshua D. Brooks and Paul Anthony Jones, both 20, were sentenced this week by Judge Joseph Bleich to 60 years in prison at hard labor without benefit of parole for the April 2009 shooting death of 15-year-old Terrell Savore.


BATON ROUGE — East Baton Rouge Parish sheriff's deputies have arrested a 24-year-old man accused in a Jan. 5 beating of another man who died two months later from his injuries. Deputies booked Shedrick Demond Lobrano into East Baton Rouge Parish Prison on Monday on a count each of second-degree murder and fugitive from justice.


SHREVEPORT — Caddo Parish sheriff's deputies say a teacher at Woodlawn High School has been booked into the Caddo Correctional Center on obscenity. Sheriff Steve Prator says Michael D. Parsons was overseeing in-school suspension at the high school on Feb. 13 where he allegedly showed an obscene photo to a 19-year-old female in the class. Prator says the picture was on Parsons' cellphone.


HOUMA — Terrebonne Parish is looking to turn the one-way bridge connecting Westside Boulevard to Main Street into a four-lane, two-way bridge. Councilman Greg Hood says the state-owned bridge has been a nuisance for motorists for some time. The parish council approved Hood's proposal Monday night, which would allow the parish to purchase additional land needed to connect the bridge on both sides.


LAFAYETTE — The Lafayette Police Department has been awarded national accreditation following a two-year effort to bring policies in line with more than 450 law enforcement standards. Police Chief Jim Craft says his department is now accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies.


MANDEVILLE — Mandeville Mayor Donald Villere wants the city to purchase property near the lakefront for public parking in an area that has developed into a popular restaurant district. An ordinance authorizing the mayor to purchase the 20,474 square-foot lot is on Thursday night's city council agenda.


GRETNA — Six Mardi Gras krewes have been fined from $100 to $2,500 for violating Jefferson Parish's parade ordinance during Carnival 2013. According to public records released Tuesday, most of the infractions involved unmasked riders and smoking on floats, although two krewes were cited for having too few marching bands.


ZACHARY — Zachary police assisting state child welfare case workers in an investigation discovered an illegal methamphetamine lab. After officers entered the home and found methamphetamines and materials used in making crystal meth, Chief David McDavid says officers arrested three people.


NEW ORLEANS — A Louisiana appeal court has set a May 16 hearing for arguments over a judge's ruling that thousands of New Orleans school employees were wrongfully fired after Hurricane Katrina shut down the city and its schools in 2005. At issue before the 4th Circuit Court of Appeal is a ruling handed down last June by state Judge Ethel Simms Julien in New Orleans.



NEW ORLEANS — IBM expects to employ 800 people within four years at a service center to be built in Baton Rouge, Gov. Bobby Jindal and IBM Senior Vice President Colleen Arnold said. The center will develop and maintain software for U.S. clients. The office building is expected to be finished in spring 2015. During construction, IBM, of Armonk, N.Y., will lease space at the Essen Centre office complex in Baton Rouge, officials said Wednesday. By Janet McConnaughey.


CHEYENNE, Wyo. — The U.S. Department of Interior is cutting federal mineral payments to 35 states by about $110 million this fiscal year as part of the automatic federal spending cuts that started this month. Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead announced this week that his state faces the biggest cut — at least $53 million over the next five months. Wyoming is the nation's leading coal-producing state and last year received nearly $1 billion in federal mineral payments. By Ben Neary.

AP Photos RPMG101-0325132356.


BATON ROUGE — About 3,000 Louisiana taxpayers have been notified that they won't receive a tax credit on their flex fuel vehicles. An emergency ruling allowing the vehicles to participate in the alternative fuel credit was rescinded last year. According to the Louisiana Department of Revenue, denial letters for alternative fuel credits were sent between February and March for tax returns that were in limbo after Gov. Bobby Jindal rescinded an April 30 ruling by former revenue Secretary Cynthia Bridges to include the flex fuel vehicles. A 2009 alternative fuel law created the credit to encourage people to convert vehicles to be able to burn alternative fuel and was spurred by Louisiana's abundant natural gas supplies. Bridges ruling expanded eligible vehicles to include flex fuel automobiles.



NEW ORLEANS — The Los Angeles Clippers look to bounce back from an overtime loss at Dallas when they visit New Orleans on Wednesday night. The Hornets, Chris Paul's former team, have long been out of playoff contention, yet have won three straight, including Monday's upset that ended Denver's 15-game winning streak. By Brett Martel. With AP Photos.


BERKELEY, Calif. — There is no need for Lindsay Gottlieb to mention the Final Four every day. Sure, it's on the minds of every one of her California players now that they are two victories from that elusive program first and a trip to the Big Easy. By Janie McCauley.

AP Photos TXMO113-0325132129, TXMO102-0325132022, TXMO114-0325132207, TXMO111-0325132102, TXMO110-0325132112, TXMO106-0325131950.


Two of the most dominant programs in the Football Championship Subdivision are moving up to Football Bowl Subdivision. Georgia Southern and Appalachian State announced in separate press conferences on their campuses Wednesday their athletic programs are leaving the Southern Conference to join the Sun Belt Conference in 2014. By Steve Reed.



NEW ORLEANS — Revolutionary has been made the 3-1 favorite in a full field of 14 for Saturday's $1 million Louisiana Derby at the Fair Grounds. The 3-year-old colt trained by Todd Pletcher drew the No. 3 post position Wednesday. Winner of the Withers Stakes, Revolutionary will be ridden by Javier Castellano.

— The Associated Press, New Orleans

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