Louisiana News Briefs

By David Jacobs | The Center Square

Tuesday last day to request absentee ballot for Saturday’s election

The deadline to request an absentee ballot for Saturday’s election is 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, Louisiana Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin said.

Requests can be made online at voterportal.sos.la.gov or in person at the parish registrar of voters office. Voters who have requested but not yet received an absentee ballot can check their absentee ballot status at the same website.

The deadline to return a completed ballot is 4:30 p.m. Friday. Completed ballots can be returned to the parish registrar of voters by mail or in person by the voter or by a voter’s immediate family member. Should a voter be unable to meet an absentee ballot deadline, they still can vote in person on election day.

Two open seats in Congress, another in the Louisiana Legislature and a spot on the Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education are at stake, and many voters will consider local tax propositions. Residents of 20 parishes will vote in multiparish and local elections, 23 parishes have only multiparish elections, 10 parishes will hold only local races and 11 have no elections, according to the secretary of state’s office.

State Supreme Court: Jury trials may resume April 1

The Louisiana Supreme Court’s COVID-19 jury trial moratorium ends March 31, clearing the way to begin holding jury trials again “with observance of safety protocols, including strict social distancing and mask mandates,” the court said.

The Supreme Court has worked with medical experts to develop best practices for resuming jury trials and shared those protocols with judges, Chief Justice John Weimer said.

“In the past year, courts have used video technology to conduct certain legal proceedings virtually; in the current phase, with the introduction of vaccine options, it is prudent to the judicial process that we adopt practices that allow us to serve the public in person,” Weimer said.

LED touts Louisiana Grammy, Oscar recognition

State economic development officials are celebrating the fact that six Louisiana acts won Grammy Awards on Sunday in categories ranging from jazz to blues and gospel. Sixteen Louisiana acts were nominated for 23 Grammy Awards, Louisiana Economic Development said.

Four Academy Award nominations were announced Monday for two Louisiana-made motion pictures, and four additional Oscar nominations went to Louisiana-based artists for other projects.

“One Night in Miami,” which filmed in LaPlace, New Orleans and Thibodaux, picked up three Academy Award nominations. The production reported $13.9 million in Louisiana spending, including $4.5 million in Louisiana resident payroll, LED said. “Greyhound,” the World War II drama filmed in Baton Rouge aboard the USS Kidd and at Celtic Studios, was nominated for Best Sound after spending more than $31.6 million in Louisiana, including $6.34 million in Louisiana resident payroll.

Louisiana subsidizes film and music production, which benefits communities where the spending takes place and supports the state’s cultural economy, supporters said. The programs can be controversial when state finances are tight, particularly the film industry incentive program, which can cost up to $180 million in a fiscal year.

Blue Cross hosts vaccine conversations

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana has planned two online vaccine forums for Wednesday.

The health insurer will host “Direct from the Doctors: Vaccine Conversation Part II” at noon and “A Candid Conversation About the COVID-19 Vaccine with 100 Black Men” at 6 p.m. Both are Facebook Live events and will be broadcast via the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana Facebook page

Blue Cross Medical Directors Dr. Emily Vincent and Dr. Tracy Lemelle will host the noon event. Paula Shepherd, who leads the African American Employee Resource Group at Blue Cross, and Dr. Max Madhere, a physician and executive member of 100 Black Men – Baton Rouge, will discuss the impacts of the COVID-19 vaccine in Black, Hispanic and minority communities starting at 6 p.m.