WRKF News

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Coastal Protection
5:00 am
Thu August 15, 2013

Lawmakers Poke Holes in Flood Protection Board Lawsuit

Taxpayers may be on the hook for hundreds of thousands of dollars if the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority-East has to withdraw its lawsuit against oil and gas companies.

SLFPA-E met opposition from the legislature’s Joint Transportation Committee Wednesday, as the committee gathered information from the authority on the suit, also hearing opposing testimony from Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority head Garret Graves.

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Culture
8:23 am
Tue August 13, 2013

Responding to Disasters Gives Couple Perspective in Retirement

Clay and Kathy Smilie stand in front of the Emergency Response Vehicle.
WRKF

When most people retire they take up golf, join a local book club, or simply sleep in more. But Clay and Kathy Smilie spend their time in disaster zones as Red Cross Volunteers.


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Politics
8:17 pm
Fri August 9, 2013

GOHSEP, Guard Adjust After $15M of Ice Wasted

Bags of ice ordered for Hurricane Isaac melting in a Lacombe, La. warehouse.
Credit Louisiana Inspector General

As Hurricane Isaac was bearing down on Louisiana last August, the Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness bought 773 truckloads of bagged ice from Pelican Ice in Kenner for $17.4 million.

Only $2.4 million worth actually got distributed by the Louisiana National Guard to the public.

Some was given away for free to restaurants and other private businesses. One retailer even repackaged and sold some.

Nearly half of the ice was allowed to melt in an un-refrigerated warehouse in Lacombe.

Last week, the state Inspector General issued a scathing report about the blunder.

GOHSEP spokesman Mike Steele and the Guard’s public affairs officer Lt. Col. Michael Kazmierzak say they have revised supplier contracts and improved tracking to prevent so much ice from going to waste again.


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Environment
4:00 pm
Thu August 8, 2013

ProPublica: FEMA Flood Maps Fraught with Error

A new FEMA flood map of Burnet County, Texas has mistakenly placed the house marked 501 shown here in a high-risk flood area.
Credit Burnet County Environmental Services Department via ProPublica

The Federal Emergency Management Agency has issued new preliminary flood maps.

Louisiana’s delegation in Washington, D.C. is griping over FEMA’s disregard of local flood protection measures when it drew them.

Meanwhile, unless Congress succeeds in passing a delay, federal flood insurance rates are set to go up dramatically as soon as October. Many in Louisiana are facing increases of 20 percent or more.

And, as ProPublica reporter Theo Meyer has found, some may end up paying for insurance they don’t need.

Read the ProPublica article: Using Outdated Data, FEMA Is Wrongly Placing Homeowners in Flood Zones

Share your story: Tell ProPublica About Flood Map Problems Where You Live

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The Affordable Care Act
6:00 am
Tue August 6, 2013

Medicaid Expansion Proponents Urge Small Businesses To Get Educated While They Can

Bertha Bethley holds the bag of many medicines she must give to her cerebral palsy patient at precise times of the day.
Credit WRKF

Last month the Obama Administration pushed back the employee mandate under the Affordable Care Act by one year. Employers with 50 or more full-time workers now have until 2015 to either provide their workers with health insurance or face a penalty.

In states that are expanding Medicaid as part of the the new health law’s roll-out, businesses have more flexibility in deciding how to make sure their workers are covered. And though Louisiana is not participating, proponents of expanding Medicaid in the state see the delay of the employer mandate as a chance to rally some small business support.

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Education
4:08 pm
Thu August 1, 2013

Recalibrating Teacher Evaluations Tops New Union President's To-Do List

LAE President Debbie Meaux (right) standing with her predecessor Joyce Haynes at a rally.
Credit Louisiana Association of Educators

Many teachers are frustrated with the new evaluation system, Compass, which was introduced in public schools across the state this year.

"What we want is a more common-sense approach to this evaluation problem," said Debbie Meaux, new president of the Louisiana Association of Educators (LAE), who assumed the role July 15.

She's calling for the state to slow the timeline for the implementation of Compass.

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Politics
8:50 am
Sat July 27, 2013

Louisiana's First Elected Congresswoman Dies at 97

Lindy Boggs
Credit Lindy Boggs

Former Rep. Lindy Boggs of Louisiana, who used the soft-spoken grace of a plantation lady to fight for civil rights during nearly 18 years in Congress, has died. She was 97.

Her daughter, ABC News journalist Cokie Roberts, says her mother died Saturday of natural causes at her home in Chevy Chase, Md.

Boggs' years in Congress started with a special election in 1973 to finish the term of her husband, Hale, whose plane disappeared over Alaska six months earlier. Between them, they served a half-century in the House.

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Citizens with Developmental Disabilities
4:49 pm
Thu July 25, 2013

DHH Secretary: Disability Services Still A Priority, Despite Funding Veto

Dept. of Health and Hospitals Secretary Kathy Kliebert
Credit Louisiana Dept. of Health and Hospitals

At the close of the recent legislative session, Gov. Bobby Jindal vetoed additional funding to pay for services for the developmentally disabled.

Two weeks ago, an effort to override the veto failed.

The $3.9 million would have covered a partial year of comprehensive at-home disability services for an additional 200 people through what are called "New Opportunity Waivers".

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Education
5:01 pm
Wed July 17, 2013

With Mandate, Thousands More Take College Entrance Exam

11,000 more students who graduated from Louisiana public high schools this year took the ACT, compared to the class of 2012.

About a third of those did well enough to enter college without having to take remedial courses and well enough to get TOPS tuition scholarships.

Sen. Conrad Appel, who supported a policy mandating the ACT, said Wednesday it will lead to opportunities for better employment and help break the cycle of poverty.

“3,600 kids in Louisiana for the first time recognize that the only obstacle to their success was in their own head," he said.

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FEMA Flood Maps
12:18 pm
Tue July 16, 2013

US Senate Committee Reconsiders Flood Insurance Hikes

Louisianians may find solace from impending increases in flood insurance rates as Sen. Mary Landrieu’s bill to prevent those hikes heads to the Senate Appropriations Committee for consideration at its Thursday meeting.

Landrieu chairs the Homeland Security Subcommittee of Appropriations, which passed the bill to the larger body Tuesday.

The measures are included in the Homeland Security Appropriations bill for next fiscal year. Called the Strengthen, Modernize and Reform the National Flood Insurance Program, or SMART NFIP, the bill would postpone parts of last year’s Biggert-Waters Act.

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