Louisiana News Briefs

By David Jacobs | The Center Square

Qualifying set for open seats in state and U.S. House

Qualifying for Louisiana’s March 20 election, which includes open seats in the U.S. House of Representatives and the state House along with municipal elections, will be held Wednesday (Jan. 20) through Friday (Jan. 22), Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin said.

Louisiana’s congressional delegation now has two open seats. District 2, which is centered in New Orleans and stretches into Baton Rouge, opened up when Cedric Richmond stepped down to take a role in President-elect Joe Biden’s administration. Luke Letlow in December was elected to represent District 5, which includes much of northeast and central Louisiana, but died from COVID-19 complications days before he was to be sworn in.

The special election to fill the open District 82 seat in the state House of Representatives also will be held March 20. Qualifying for that race will be held Jan. 25-27. State Rep. Charles Henry stepped down only a year after taking office, saying he wanted to spend more time with his family.

State-backed property insurer sheds policies despite record-breaking hurricane season

Louisiana Citizens Property Insurance Corp., the state-sponsored insurer of last resort, continues to shed policies even in the face of the most active hurricane season on record, Insurance Commissioner Jim Donelon said Friday.

During its annual “depopulation” process, Citizens opens its book of business and offers to transfer policies to the private market. Moving policies to private insurers results in lower premiums for policyholders and reduces the chances that all property insurance consumers across the state could face assessments if Citizens exceeds its ability to pay claims in a future storm, Donelon said. 

“Despite the multiple hurricanes that hit the Louisiana coast last year, Citizens is in a great place to weather these financial storms and continue to support private sector competition in the property insurance marketplace,” he said.

Company that turns mining waste into fuel investing $40 million in Louisiana

Arq, a London-based company that recycles mining waste into fuel, will spend up to $40 million to develop an industrial facility in St. Rose, state and company officials announced Friday.

The company is expected to employ 12 people with an average annual salary of $52,000 plus benefits. Louisiana Economic Development estimates the project also will result in 31 new indirect jobs.

The site will transform discarded mining materials into a blending component for oil products used by the power-generation and marine industries, helping the users reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.

“Arq’s St. Rose facility is an important investment and milestone in our company’s ambitions to make a transformative impact in the energy industry,” CEO Julian McIntyre said. “The Arq Fuel we produce at St. Rose and blend into liquid fuels is responsibly sourced transition fuel, which is providing a lower-cost bridge to a cleaner future.

Disaster food benefits approved for Allen and Iberia parishes

The Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services received federal approval Thursday to begin virtual Disaster Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program operations for Allen and Iberia parishes because of damages caused by Hurricane Delta, the department announced Friday.

The DSNAP application window for these parishes will be open from Tuesday, Jan. 19, through Friday, Jan. 22.

Allen and Iberia parishes recently were approved for individual assistance after damage assessments showed significant storm damage that had not been identified at the time of the state’s prior requests for major disaster declaration following the early October storm.

COVID-19 assistance available for agriculture producers

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is providing additional financial assistance for agricultural producers through the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program, Commissioner of Agriculture and Forestry Mike Strain said Friday.

In May, the USDA announced up to $16 billion in direct payments to farmers and ranchers who suffered losses. Another $14 billion was added to the program in September.

Updates to the program include expanding eligibility for some agricultural producers and commodities. Producers of swine, broilers, laying hens, chicken eggs and turkeys could receive up to 80 percent of their revenue loss if enough money is available. Producers of pullets and turfgrass sod are also eligible for CFAP payments.