The Associated Press

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Debit Card Refunds
9:24 am
Wed May 9, 2012

House: Debit Card Tax Refunds Should Be Optional

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — House lawmakers have decided Louisiana taxpayers shouldn't be required to get their tax refunds on debit cards if they don't use direct deposit.

The House unanimously agreed Tuesday to a proposal by Jonesboro Rep. Jim Fannin that would allow people to continue to get a paper check if they don't want the debit card.

Louisiana's revenue department has replaced refund checks with pre-paid Chase Visa cards for taxpayers who don't get their refunds through direct deposit, as a way to save money.

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Tugs-Inspections
9:20 am
Wed May 9, 2012

Coast Guard Steps Up Inspections of Towboats

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — A new round of inspections of towboats and tugs is starting in July as part of a nationwide push by the Coast Guard to improve the safety of the nation's rivers and harbors.

Since a 2008 collision and oil spill near New Orleans involving an improperly licensed towboat captain, the Coast Guard has begun inspecting work boats across the nation.

So far, the Coast Guard says it has inspected 2,887 towing vessels that volunteered to be inspected in the 26 states that fall under the Coast Guard's Eighth District, which is headquartered in New Orleans.

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Education
9:59 am
Tue May 8, 2012

Jindal Signs Private School Tuition Tax Break

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Gov. Bobby Jindal has signed into law a bill that creates a new tax break program that will give rebates for donations to voucher programs that allow students to attend private schools.

Jindal says it will give children in failing public schools more opportunities to get an improved education. He signed the measure Monday.

The tax break begins with the 2013-14 school year.

Louisiana Budget: Colleges
9:54 am
Tue May 8, 2012

Budget Proposes $71M in Cuts to Louisiana Colleges

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Louisiana's public colleges are facing cuts of at least $71 million in next year's budget proposal, as it awaits debate on the House floor this week.

Commissioner of Higher Education Jim Purcell said Monday that college leaders will be pushing a bill to allow the schools to raise fees on students to cover the gap.

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Orleans Recreation
9:50 am
Tue May 8, 2012

Foundation Makes Donation to New Orleans Recreation Group

The fundraising arm of the recreation department for the city of New Orleans is about to get a donation from a foundation that was started by one of the city's best-known Carnival krewes.

A news release from the mayor's office says the Pro Bono Publico Foundation was set to announce its planned donation Tuesday afternoon. The donation is to be dedicated to youth programs at the city's Taylor Playground in the Hoffman Triangle neighborhood.

The Pro Bono Publico Foundation grew out of a rebuilding project that the Rex organization began after Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

Bounties-Hargrove
9:44 am
Tue May 8, 2012

Hargrove's Declaration Says He Followed Orders

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Former Saints defensive lineman Anthony Hargove has described how he was told by ex-Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams and current Saints assistant head coach Joe Vitt to deny the existence of a bounty program to NFL investigators. In a sworn statement, Hargrove acknowledges that he acted on instructions to "play dumb" if asked whether he was aware of bounties being placed on players.

Bounties-Players
9:35 am
Tue May 8, 2012

Vilma Appeals Suspension in Saints Bounty Case

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — New Orleans Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma has appealed his season-long suspension under the NFL's bounty investigation. Vilma was one of four players given suspensions of various lengths in the NFL's bounty probe.

Jazz Fest
10:07 am
Mon May 7, 2012

Tradition and Sunshine Close Out Jazz Fest

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — The Neville Brothers carried on the tradition of closing out the big stage at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival. The Funky Meters, regulars at the fest since 1989, were back, and festival creator George Wein were scheduled to play with an all-star cast at the Preservation Hall and Friends 50th Anniversary Celebration.

That was Sunday's big nod to tradition.

The closing day lineup also included Bonnie Raitt, the Foo Fighters and the Rebirth Brass Band as part of the more than 60 groups performing on 11 stages.

I-12 Body
10:01 am
Mon May 7, 2012

Body of Unidentified Female Found Near Covington

COVINGTON, La. (AP) — St. Tammany Parish authorities are working to identify a woman's body found along Interstate 12.

The body was discovered Sunday afternoon near Covington.

WWL TV reports (http://bit.ly/Jb5uxp ) the identity of the body is unknown, but officials with the St. Tammany coroner's office said the body is that of a female.

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Hurricane Tax Holiday
9:55 am
Mon May 7, 2012

Hurricane Sales Tax Holiday Set for May 26-27

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Stocking up on flashlights, batteries and other items to get ready for hurricane season this summer? You might want to wait until May 26 and 27, when the state holds a sales tax holiday for hurricane preparedness items.

That weekend, Louisiana residents won't have to pay the 4 percent state sales tax on a list of items like flashlights and candles, weather radios, waterproof sheeting, gas or diesel fuel tanks, batteries and chargers and storm shutter devices. The sales tax holiday exempts the first $1,500 of the purchase price.

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