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Louisiana House GOP urged to pick leader without Democrats

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — U.S. Sen. John Kennedy and Attorney General Jeff Landry are calling on Republican lawmakers in Louisiana's state House to settle who will be their next speaker without involving Democrats. The two top Republican leaders sent the GOP House members a letter suggesting Democrats shouldn't have a say in the House's top leadership job for the new four-year term. Kennedy and Landry are co-chairman of a PAC that raised money to support conservative GOP candidates and helped elect several House members. Republicans hold 68 of the 105 House seats. The vote for new legislative leaders will be Jan. 13 as the new term starts.


1 arrested, 1 sought in holiday gunfire that wounded 12

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Police in New Orleans say one arrest has been made in connection with a Thanksgiving weekend gunfight that injured 12 people. And the police chief says a second suspect is being sought.  Both suspects were traced to St. Mary Parish in south-central Louisiana, where the arrest was made Tuesday. At a news conference, chief Shaun Ferguson said the shooting occurred Dec. 1 when two St. Mary Parish men with an ongoing feud encountered each other in New Orleans. The resulting gunfire occurred amid crowds in town for the annual Bayou Classic college football game.


Free hepatitis C screenings at 10 Louisiana Walmart stores

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Louisiana is broadening its efforts to combat hepatitis C in hopes of largely eliminating the deadly viral infection. The health department announced Tuesday that 10 Walmart locations around Louisiana will offer free screenings for the liver-damaging disease. Walmart will offer the no-cost hepatitis C screenings every Wednesday from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. until Feb. 1 at the pharmacies in stores located in Vivian, Ville Platte, New Iberia, Raceland, Oak Grove, Amite, Monroe, Denham Springs, Opelousas and Morgan City. The screenings involve a finger-stick test. If the testing detects hepatitis C virus antibodies, people will be referred to their primary care doctors or a local health provider for further testing and treatment.


Man, 72, dies in Louisiana house fire

WISNER, La. (AP) — Louisiana authorities have identified the victim of a fatal weekend fire.A news release from the state fire marshal and the Franklin Parish coroner says the victim was 72-year-old Ronald H. Bixler of Wisner. The fire was reported at 6:30 a.m. Sunday. Authorities say responding firefighters went inside the home and found Bixler on the living room floor next to his overturned walker. He died later at a hospital. The cause of the fire was under investigation. The release said investigators were looking into whether the home's electrical wiring or the victim's use of a space heater might have caused the blaze.


Mayor pleads no contest to corruption charges

CLINTON, La. (AP) — The former mayor of a Louisiana town has pleaded no contest to charges related  to malfeasance and inappropriately leasing SUVs. Former Clinton Mayor Lori Bell entered the plea Monday and gave up rights to a trial. Prosecutors agreed to reduce Bell's malfeasance charge to a public finance misdemeanor. The court decided Bell couldn't seek re-election, must submit to one year of probation, and must pay a compulsory fee of $500. Bell was accused of leasing four SUVs for about $200,000 without the town board's permission. Bell resigned in November after a tumultuous term that has seen her arrested multiple times on malfeasance charges. She was elected in 2012.


Auto shop owner accused of hammer attack on suspected thief

GRETNA, La. (AP) — Authorities in Louisiana say an auto shop owner kidnapped a man he suspected of stealing tools from his business, beat the man and smashed both of his hands with a hammer. The Jefferson Parish Sheriff's Office says 37-year-old Chad Baxter saw someone on surveillance video last month who was stealing from his shop. Officials say Baxter tracked down 39-year-old Dorian Lewis on Thursday. The man says Baxter forced him into a vehicle at gunpoint. Officials say Baxter allegedly beat Lewis in the back of his auto shop. Both men have been arrested. It's unclear whether they had attorneys who could speak for them.


Unlucky for some: Man charged with rigging 10K bingo game

MONROE, La. (AP) — The luck has ran out for a Louisiana man allegedly caught rigging bingo games to win more than $10,000. A Monroe Police arrest warrant says 43-year-old John Cook was recorded on video at a bingo hall manipulating a “Bonanza Bingo” game by handpicking the winning balls he wanted to play. The warrant says Cook did this four times and won thousands for three people, including his sister. Winners were captured giving him money afterward. Cook was booked Friday into the Ouachita Parish jail on charges of felony theft and failing to appear multiple times following his June 29 arrest.


Louisiana high court's new name honors late chief justice

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Louisiana's Supreme Court building now bears the name of the late Chief Justice Pascal Calogero Jr. Calogero was the longest serving justice in the court's history. He served on the Supreme Court for 36 years, including 18 as chief justice. He retired in 2008 and died last year. The Legislature voted in June to name the French Quarter building that houses the high court after Calogero. The current justices and other dignitaries gathered Tuesday at the building for a naming ceremony on Tuesday afternoon.