Louisiana news briefs
House backs ban on tanning beds for minors
BATON ROUGE (AP) — The House has agreed to prohibit anyone under the age of 18 in Louisiana from using a tanning bed.
New Orleans Rep. Helena Moreno, a Democrat, describes her bill as a cancer-prevention measure. She says it would lower risks of skin cancer associated with exposure to ultraviolet radiation from sunlight or tanning lamps and beds.
The House voted 97-1 for the proposal Wednesday, sending it to the Senate for debate.
The only lawmaker to oppose the bill was Rep. Richard Burford, a Republican from Stonewall, who says he disagrees with government telling parents how to raise their children.
At least five states ban the use of tanning beds for minors, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
HUD awards $37.6M to help preserve public housing
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has awarded $37.6 million to 102 Louisiana public housing authorities to make major large-scale improvements.
The grants, announced Wednesday, are provided through HUD’s Capital Fund Program, which provides annual funding to about 3,100 public housing authorities to build, repair, renovate and/or modernize the public housing in their communities.
The Housing Authority of New Orleans is getting the largest grant, $15 million. The Housing Authority of Monroe will receive $2.1 million, followed by the Housing Authority of East Baton Rouge, $1.4 million, the Housing Authority of Shreveport, $1.089 million, the Housing Authority of the City of Alexandria, $1.074 million, and the Housing Authority of Lake Charles at $1.048 million.
Teacher’s lawyer says
she committed no crime
BAKER (AP) — An attorney for a Baker Middle School teacher accused of assaulting an eighth-grade student last week says police violated her civil rights and should have never arrested her because she didn’t commit a crime.
Yigal Bander is representing teacher Deborah Anderson, who was handcuffed at school, placed in a patrol car and driven to the police station before she was transferred to parish prison and booked with simple battery.
Baker School Superintendent Ulysses Joseph and School Board President Dana Carpenter have said officers were too aggressive when they decided to book Anderson after she was accused by a 13-year-old student of pulling at his shirt for failing to tuck it in his pants.
Police Chief Mike Knaps says the case has been turned over to prosecutors.
Student data protection
bills stall in Legislature
BATON ROUGE (AP) — Lawmakers bogged down Wednesday over proposals that would limit how the state can store and share public school student data.
The issue is a flashpoint in the larger dispute over the state’s participation in tougher educational standards called the Common Core, particularly how online testing data will be used and shared with outside parties, including the federal government.
The House and Senate education committees debated bills that would add new privacy restrictions on student data in Louisiana. But both panels stalled the proposals to continue conversations about what limits to enact — and to determine what limits go too far.
Parents who oppose Common Core offered angry and sometimes tearful testimony about their concerns that the private details of their children’s grades, medical conditions and Social Security numbers could be leaked for others to see. They said the state education department hasn’t properly protected their children’s personal information.
State Superintendent of Education John White and leaders of other state agencies said too many data restrictions could jeopardize billions of dollars in federal funding and students’ abilities to get free college tuition through the state program called TOPS. Certain student data is used to determine eligibility for educational programs.
The Louisiana Office of Student Financial Assistance told the House Education Committee that not having access to certain types of student data could mean "TOPS comes to a standstill."
"I think it's important for people to understand there are truly unintended consequences by eliminating some of this data to be collected," said Rep. Patricia Smith, D-Baton Rouge.
accused of video voyeurism
LAFAYETTE — Police say a 57-year-old Lafayette man has been booked on one count of video voyeurism after a hidden camera was discovered at someone else’s home.
Lafayette Police Cpl. Paul Mouton says Michael Keith Hensgens was arrested by state police in Acadia Parish Tuesday.
Lafayette board approves interim legal counsel
LAFAYETTE (AP) — The Lafayette Parish School Board has officially named a private law firm as its interim legal counsel.
The board voted 6-3 Wednesday to award the temporary contract to Hammonds, Sills, Adkins and Guice.
The board previously voted to discontinue using the district attorney’s office.
Superintendent Pat Cooper said several times at the meeting that he will sign the contract for the firm, despite his concerns that the board has possibly violated state law and its own policies during the entire process.
Houma mother arrested after infant suffers head trauma
GIBSON (AP) — A Houma mother has been jailed after authorities say she admitted to violently shaking her newborn son, causing severe head trauma.
Tina Simpson, 19, of Houma, was booked on one count of attempted second-degree murder. It was not immediately known if she has an attorney.
The Terrebonne Parish Sheriff’s Office says Simpson shook and threw the 1-month-old infant multiple times in the air Tuesday. Deputies responded to a home in Gibson after someone reported the child was having a seizure.
Deputies say the infant was breathing, but not responsive. He was taken to Terrebonne General Medical Center where doctors determined he suffered from massive head trauma, including multiple skull fractures and extensive internal brain bleeding. The infant is currently in critical condition at a New Orleans hospital.
Man convicted of computer aided solicitation
MINDEN (AP) — A 23-year-old Springhill man could be looking at a lengthy prison sentence following his conviction 26th Judicial District Court for trying to arrange a sexual liaison with a juvenile.
Following a bench trial on Wednesday, Justin Green was found guilty by state District Judge John Robinson of computer solicitation of a minor. Green could be facing up to 20 years in prison at hard labor without benefit of parole, probation or suspension of sentence. He will also be required to register as a sex offender upon his release.
Assistant District Attorney Sherb Sentell said Green solicited the 12-year-old over the Internet and was on his way to meet the girl when officers made the arrest.
Green will be sentenced on April 25.