Louisiana News Briefs

By David Jacobs | The Center Square

Gov. Edwards will not back gas tax hike

Gov. John Bel Edwards says he will not support increasing the state’s gasoline tax this year.

Louisiana’s gas tax has been unchanged for more than 30 years and is among the lowest in the nation. Shawn Wilson, who leads the Department of Transportation and Development for the Edwards administration, says new revenue is needed to upgrade the state’s ailing infrastructure.

But during his monthly radio show, Edwards said he did not think a tax increase could get the necessary votes from two-thirds of the lawmakers in each chamber, citing the current state of the economy. The last push for a gas tax hike died in 2019, which was a state election year.

Three candidates seek open state House seat

Two Republicans and a Democrat are seeking an open Jefferson Parish-based seat in the state House of Representatives.

Eddie Connick and Laurie Schlegel, both Metairie Republicans, and River Ridge Democrat Raymond Delany Jr. have qualified for the race to represent District 82. The election will be held March 20, with a runoff in April if necessary.

The seat came open when Republican Charles Henry stepped down after only about a year in office. Henry has since joined law firm Adams and Reese as a senior government affairs advisor.

Disaster food benefits approved for six parishes

Residents of six parishes affected by Hurricane Zeta can apply for the Disaster Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program starting Monday, the Department of Children and Family Services announced.

The six parishes recently approved for federal Individual Assistance and DSNAP due to the late October storm are Jefferson, Lafourche, Orleans, Plaquemines, St. Bernard and Terrebonne.

DSNAP provides food assistance to eligible households who don’t receive regular SNAP benefits and who need help buying groceries due to lost income or damages following a disaster. Residents who received SNAP benefits in November are not eligible for DSNAP, while people who began to receive SNAP benefits after November may be, the department says.

LSU AgCenter: State farmers produce record sugar crop

With the grinding season nearly over, the 2020-2021 sugarcane crop looks to have set a record, the LSU AgCenter says.

“We’re going to produce almost 2 million tons of sugar,” AgCenter sugarcane specialist Kenneth Gravois said. “That’s a record for Louisiana.”

Gravois said dry weather set up good conditions for planting, which mostly was finished before Hurricane Laura made landfall in August. While hurricanes knocked cane down, the main variety farmers use is easier to harvest when lodged, he said.