Daily Report

This Morning's Headlines / Thu, September 18, 2014


LABI legislative scorecard 'All-Star Team' includes four BR lawmakers

The Louisiana Association of Business and Industry this morning released its annual scorecard of lawmakers' votes during the past session based on pro-business legislative issues that LABI lobbied on behalf of. This year's scorecard includes an evaluation of more than 45 votes on LABI priority issues for each member of the Louisiana House and Senate. A total of 31 lawmakers received an A grade from LABI, signifying they scored 90% or better on the scorecard and placing them on the association's "2014 All-Star Team." Those on the team from Baton Rouge are all Republicans: Sen. Dan Claitor and Reps. Stephen Carter, Barry Ivey and Erich Ponti. The Baton Rouge area legislators who scored between 75% and 90% on the scorecard are also all Republicans: Sen. Bodi White and Reps. John Berthelot, Clay Schexnayder, Kenneth Havard, Valarie Hodges and Sherman Mack. The average score for Louisiana representatives is 64.5% on this year's scorecard, while the average score for state senators is 68.5%. In a prepared statement, LABI President Stephen Waguespack says the scorecard "lets Louisiana's voters and businesses know if legislators voted in favor of job creation and a stronger economy, and provides voters with valuable information and direction in advance of the November election." See the complete LABI 2014 Legislative Scorecard, and access the LABI scorecards for each year dating back to 1999. —Steve Sanoski

LSU enrollment in BR eclipses 30,000 for first time since 2005

Aided by the third-largest freshman class since admission standards were implemented in 1988, this year's enrollment at the LSU flagship campus in Baton Rouge has surpassed 30,000 for the first time since 2005, the university announced this morning. This year's freshman class, at 5,655 students, helped push total enrollment in Baton Rouge to 30,451, which is a 2% increase over last year's enrollment figures. Freshman enrollment reached an all-time high of 5,725 in 2012. Across all LSU campuses statewide, enrollment this year increased 2.4% from last year to 44,246. The LSU at Alexandria campus saw its enrollment jump by 21%, which is the largest year-over-year increase since 1987. "More students are choosing to pursue their higher education opportunities at LSU," says LSU President F. King Alexander in a prepared statement. "Whether a student is in Shreveport, Alexandria, Eunice, Baton Rouge or New Orleans, they can be assured that they will be given the tools and resources to be successful in their chosen field, and we will do everything we can to make sure they finish with a degree and a great start to their career." Alexander says that LSU is increasingly attractive to students because tuition is affordable, meaning they accrue less debt, and data shows LSU graduates have higher starting salaries on average than their peers graduating from comparable universities. Check out the full 2014 enrollment report.

Publisher: Senseless murder of 7-year-old BR boy affects us all

In his latest column, Business Report Publisher Rolfe McCollister Jr. says it's vital for local officials to apprehend those responsible for the murder of 7-year-old Terrez Coleman last month. The Coleman family was on its way home from a family reunion at around 11 p.m. on Prescott Road when a bullet was fired into the vehicle that struck and killed Terrez. A reward has been offered to capture those responsible, but thus far an ongoing police investigation hasn't turned up any answers or suspects. McCollister says the shooter needs to be brought to justice not only for the Coleman family to find peace, but to assert that Baton Rouge as a community doesn't stand for such crimes. "I was moved to write about this incident because this tragic and senseless killing—which was so random and claimed an innocent victim who never hurt anyone—didn't happen in Los Angeles or Houston or Atlanta; it happened here," writes McCollister. "Baton Rouge is not exempt from such crime. And while we all worry about issues like education, jobs and traffic, I would think all of us would put the safety of our family at the top of the list. This is a quality-of-life issue that is paramount to your future—literally." Read the full column, in which McCollister also critiques President Obama's latest foriegn policy moves, congratulates District Attorney Hillar Moore on his success with the BRAVE crime reduction initiative and highlights LSU's improving national rankings. Send your comments to editors@businessreport.com.

La. median household income rose 1.2% through 2013, US Census data shows

New data from the U.S. Census Bureau's 2013 American Community Survey shows Louisiana and U.S. median household incomes increased between 2012 and 2013, while poverty rates were flat. In Louisiana, the data shows median household income rose 1.2% between 2012 and 2013, from $43,660 to $44,164. Data collected last year shows median income inside the Baton Rouge city limits was $38,321. Income inequality also grew between 2012 and 2013, though only very slightly. The number of Louisianans in poverty remained statistically unchanged during the span, falling only 0.1%, with 891,981 residents living below the poverty line in 2012, compared to 888,019 last year. The nationwide poverty rate was also unchanged during the span, plateauing after increasing for four consecutive years prior to 2011. About 3 million households participate in the survey annually. They answer questions about their income, employment, housing and other topics over a period of the past 12 months, which the Census Bureau uses to extrapolate data. Check out the Census Bureau's poverty report or its income report. —Kelly Connelly

Today's poll question: Did your household income increase over the past year?

Rainwater joining lobbying firm as senior consultant

Gov. Bobby Jindal's former chief of staff Paul Rainwater is joining the Cornerstone Government Affairs lobbying firm as a senior consultant, the Washington, D.C.-based firm announced this morning. Rainwater surprised many local political observers when he announced in February that he was stepping down as Jindal's chief of staff after more than six years in the administration. "We are especially pleased to add someone with the knowledge, relationships and work ethic that Paul has," says Cornerstone Managing Partner of State Government Relations Campbell Kaufman in a prepared statement. "His experience working in both the Jindal administration and Senator Landrieu's office will be invaluable to our existing client base and should be attractive to companies and organizations seeking representation in Baton Rouge and Washington, D.C." Rainwater, who served in senior positions for Sen. Mary Landrieu prior to joining the Jindal administration, will work in Cornerstone's Baton Rouge office. Cornerstone also has offices in Chicago; Austin, Texas; Houston; and Jackson, Mississippi. Prior to working with Landrieu and Jindal, Rainwater was executive director of the Louisiana Recovery Authority, and he also served as chief administrative officer of the City of Lake Charles between 2000 and 2006. —Steve Sanoski

'225 Weekender': Parking spots to be turned into 'parklets' for a day

Baton Rouge will take part in PARK(ing) Day, an annual global event where community members temporarily transform parking spaces into public places, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Friday. As 225 Weekender reports, the Center for Planning Excellence is partnering with several local businesses to create 16 "parklets" downtown and across the city. Parking spaces will be transformed into temporary public spaces to create the parklets. Organizers hope the event will call attention to the need for more urban open spaces. Among the places where parklets will pop up Friday are the Radio Bar parking lot at 3079 Government St., which will have a parklet open until 7 p.m. The Arts Council of Greater Baton Rouge will also host a parklet at 450 Laurel St., as will the Downtown Development District at 247 Florida St. There are more locations on Third, Laurel and Government streets. Get more details and find out about more upcoming events taking place in Baton Rouge in the new 225 Weekender e-newsletter.

News roundup: West Feliciana hires new economic development director … Report shows La. roads getting worse … LSU at odds with hospital manager over contracts

At the helm: Bettsie Norton has been hired to lead business development and expansion efforts in West Feliciana Parish as its new economic development director. Norton previously served as the confidential assistant to Louisiana Economic Development Secretary Stephen Moret for three years, in addition to leading policy and planning efforts for the Louisiana Community and Technical College System. Most recently, she served as a management consultant for the TJC Group, a business-consulting firm in Baton Rouge. She also currently serves as association manager for LIDEA, Louisiana's statewide economic development professional organization.

Road weary: The condition of Louisiana's state and federal highways maintained by the state deteriorated so much in the past two years that the state's overall national ranking dropped 16 slots, a study being released this morning shows. As The Shreveport TImes reports, the ranking from the Reason Foundation using data submitted by each state drops Louisiana from 24th to 40th in the nation in the condition of its state-maintained roadways and the use of funds allocated for highways. Read the full story.

Coming to terms: LSU has rejected financial proposals from the manager of its Shreveport and Monroe hospitals that would govern the sharing of computer services, utilities and security. University system health care adviser Jerry Phillips says the documents submitted by the Biomedical Research Foundation of Northwest Louisiana, known as BRF, were insufficient. "They didn't meet the terms that we thought we had agreed on," Phillips says. Though management of the north Louisiana hospitals shifted nearly a year ago, LSU and the research foundation have been unable to reach terms on various financial details of the contract. The Associated Press has the full story.

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