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Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards sworn in for a second term

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards has been sworn in for his second term. The 53-year-old Democrat spoke in the rain on the steps of the Louisiana Capitol, pleading for bipartisanship and an end to the partisan rancor and dysfunction of Washington. The state House and Senate were seated earlier Monday and elected their leaders: Republican Page Cortez as Senate president and Republican Clay Schexnayder as House speaker. Six other statewide elected officials took their oaths of office as well. The day's ceremonies have been overshadowed by the college football national championship between LSU and Clemson in New Orleans, which sidelined the traditional black-tie inaugural ball.


Democrats decide Louisiana House speaker as new term begins

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Though Republicans hold the majority in the Louisiana House, it was Democrats who determined the chamber's top job. Democrats voted as a bloc Monday for Republican Clay Schexnayder to be the new House speaker. Their support, combined with nearly two dozen Republicans, pushed the car repair business owner from Ascension Parish to a 60-45 victory on the first day of the new legislative term. Schexnayder defeated Republican Sherman Mack, the Livingston Parish lawmaker favored by Attorney General Jeff Landry, U.S. Sen. John Kennedy and a majority of House Republicans. Senators unanimously and quickly chose Republican Page Cortez, of Lafayette, to be their next president.


Louisiana regulators consider denying hazardous waste permit

COLFAX, La. (AP) — Louisiana regulators have filed their intent to deny a permit to a company that burns explosive material unless it pursues more environmentally sound practices. News outlets report Clean Harbors has burned materials including propellant for car air bags and solid rocket fuel at its Grant Parish facility since 1985. But residents and environmental advocates have increasingly complained of ailments and environmental concerns. The state's Environmental Quality Department issued its notice Jan. 3 and has granted a 45-day public comment period ahead of making a final renewal decision in February. Clean Harbors says it intends to present officials with a plan that would address the concerns.


Dismissed: Lawsuit over compulsory bar association dues

NEW ORELANS (AP) — A federal court is rejecting a claim that Louisiana lawyers are unconstitutionally required to join and pay dues to the state bar association. A New Orleans attorney claimed in a lawsuit filed last year that the requirement violates attorneys' freedom of speech and association rights. But a federal judge on Monday cited Supreme Court precedents in dismissing the claim. The judge says the Supreme Court already has upheld such arrangements.


Fees, gator hunts proposed for US wildlife refuges in SE LA

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has proposed fees for using wildlife refuges in southeast Louisiana. The agency also is considering allowing alligator hunts on some. Project leader Neil Lalonde says the permits would raise about $80,000 a year and the hunts about $40,000 a year. The user fees would be $20 for an annual pass, or $5 for a one-day pass. One pass would cover five national wildlife refuges in the New Orleans area and farther east. Another would cover three refuges a bit farther west. The lottery alligator hunt at six refuges would be administered by the state.


Trump cheered loudly at college football title game

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — President Donald Trump turned sports fan for an evening as he attended the College Football Playoff championship game Monday between No. 1 Louisiana State University and No. 3 Clemson. The president and first lady walked onto the field shortly before the game for the singing of the National Anthem. Fans from both teams cheered him loudly. Some greeted him with cheers of “USA, USA." Others chanted “four more years." Trump has routinely sparred with professional athletes during his two years in office. College football has managed to avoid such political controversies.


Law enforcement teamwork credited for decrease in crime

NATCHEZ, Miss. (AP) — A law enforcement partnership is being credited as helping decrease homicides and violent crimes in a Mississippi city. The Natchez Democrat reports the city's police chief says there were three homicides in 2019 compared to a dozen the year before. A U.S. attorney says the city's officers teamed up with multiple agencies for a program designed to decrease violent crime. The police chief says the city also took part in a community-based crime camera system. Nearly 120 cameras have recently been installed in the city. He says there was a pay increase to help recruit and retain officers.


Apartment complex building destroyed by fire in Louisiana

MANY, La. (AP) — The fire marshal's office in Louisiana is investigating a fire that destroyed a building at an apartment complex. Photos obtained by KSLA-TV show heavy damage at Apollo Plaza Apartments in the town of Many. The fire erupted Sunday afternoon. No injuries were reported. A fire chief says it took dozens of firefighters nearly two hours to get the flames under control. A person who answered the phone at the apartment complex declined to answer questions. Community members are making an effort on social media to help out those impacted by the fire.