Gov. Edwards Declares Emergency Exists for November Election in Louisiana

Cautions that Current Emergency Elections Plan is Not Sufficient to Protect Public Health

Gov. John Bel Edwards signed an executive order on Aug. 18 declaring that an emergency exists for Louisiana’s November election because of COVID-19, while also acknowledging that the current emergency election plan from the Secretary of State does not go far enough to protect public health.

The emergency declaration, which must be requested by the Secretary of State and granted by the Governor, allows the state to move forward with emergency plans to support the election and take into account health and safety issues that might affect voting.

Without the Governor’s approval, the Secretary of State’s plan cannot be implemented, even with Legislative approval. The Governor does not support the Secretary of State’s plan because it does not follow guidance from public health officials and does not provide for absentee mail-in voting options for people who are at high risk for suffering serious issues relating to COVID-19, those who have been exposed and are in quarantine and those who are caregivers for immunocompromised individuals.

Gov. Edwards said:

“I want to be crystal clear: you should not mistake me declaring an emergency for this election as approving of the Secretary of State’s election plan, because I do not. I believe that we need emergency procedures in place for this election. I do not believe the Secretary of State’s current plan goes far enough, because it does not take into account the seriousness of this global pandemic and the health and safety of the voters. Simply put: voting should not be a super spreader event.

The current plan includes no exemptions for people who are at high risk for getting ill from COVID or those who live with and care for these people. And, most seriously of all, it doesn’t offer an option for someone who has known exposure to COVID-19 and is in quarantine to vote by mail. So, people who have been advised by doctors not to leave their homes to avoid potentially exposing others would instead either have to not vote in the election or would have to go against the advice of public health experts and leave their homes.

This puts all of us at risk. From our poll workers to our voters, people must have the confidence that they can safely vote. We need to find a solution that works for the public health of our people and also for the health of our democracy. We had an election plan for the past two smaller elections that worked by expanding early voting but also allowing for an expansion of absentee mail in voting. That we wouldn’t continue this for November’s election – the highest profile one of the year – makes absolutely zero sense to me.”


13.9 Million Americans to Receive IRS Tax Refund Interest; Taxable Payments to Average $18

This week the Treasury Department and the Internal Revenue Service will send interest payments to about 13.9 million individual taxpayers who timely filed their 2019 federal income tax returns and are receiving refunds.

The interest payments, averaging about $18, will be made to individual taxpayers who filed a 2019 return by this year’s July 15 deadline and either received a refund in the past three months or will receive a refund. Most interest payments will be issued separately from tax refunds.

In most cases, taxpayers who received their refund by direct deposit will have their interest payment direct deposited in the same account. About 12 million of these payments will be direct deposited.

Everyone else will receive a check. A notation on the check − saying “INT Amount” − will identify it as a refund interest payment and indicate the interest amount.

By law, these interest payments are taxable and taxpayers who receive them must report the interest on the 2020 federal income tax return they file next year. In January 2021, the IRS will send a Form 1099-INT to anyone who receives interest totaling at least $10.

This provision is different from the long-standing 45-day rule, generally requiring the IRS to add interest to refunds on timely-filed refund claims issued more than 45 days after the return due date.

Instead, this year’s COVID-19-related July 15 due date is considered a disaster-related postponement of the filing deadline. Where a disaster-related postponement exists, the IRS is required, by law, to pay interest, calculated from the original April 15 filing deadline, as long as an individual files a 2019 federal income tax return by the postponed deadline − July 15, 2020, in this instance. This refund interest requirement only applies to individual income tax filers − businesses are not eligible.

Interest is paid at the legally prescribed rate that is adjusted quarterly. The rate for the second quarter ending June 30 was 5%, compounded daily. Effective July 1, the rate for the third quarter dropped to 3%, compounded daily.

Where the calculation period spans quarters, a blended rate applies, consisting of the number of days falling in each calendar quarter. No interest will be added to any refund issued before the original April 15 deadline.


State Police Issue School Bus Safety Guidelines

As many schools across Louisiana are beginning their new school year, Louisiana State Police would like to remind motorists, parents, and students to put safety at the forefront of their daily activities. Due to issues revolving around Covid-19, different school districts may choose to stagger times for students to arrive at school. Motorists need to drive with extra care and be mindful of school zone speed limits, children walking or biking to school, and school buses loading or unloading children. 

A school bus is designed to be the safest vehicle on the road, but the greatest risk to our school-age children is the loading and unloading of children at bus stops. As a reminder to motorists, all vehicular traffic must stop no less than 30 feet from a school bus when the bus’s stop signals are activated. A vehicle approaching a stopped school bus from the opposite direction does not have to stop when traffic is separated by a divided median.  However, drivers should always remain cautious of children boarding or exiting the bus.

Additionally, motorists are encouraged to remember that:

•Normal school zones are generally in effect on school days, Monday through Friday, from 7:00 a.m. – 9:00 a.m. in the morning and from 2:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. in the afternoon. Due to Covid-19, these times may vary depending on location. 

•Louisiana Law states that no person shall operate any wireless communication device while operating a motor vehicle during the posted hours within a school zone. School zones across Louisiana are hands-free zones, so put that cell phone down while driving

• School crossing guards have the authority to direct vehicles through intersections when traffic lights are red and to stop vehicles when the traffic lights are green. Motorists who are approaching school zones are urged to pay attention to the school crossing guards for hand instructions.

We wish everyone a Safe and Great 2020-2021 school year!


Remember This? Happy Birthday Mennie!

At about 9:30 p.m., July 27, 1975, 33-year-old bank teller Mennie Person was walking by a car dealership called Madison Cadillac when she spotted a unique, custom-made, Cadillac parked on the lot.  She and her husband, Troy, were Cadillac fans.  They owned a 1974 model and were familiar with the 1975 models, but this one was unlike anything she had ever seen.  She was not in the market to buy a new Cadillac, she and Troy were still paying on the one they had, but she just had to get a closer look.  What would it hurt? 

Mennie got closer to the car and noticed that one of the windows was lowered.  She stuck her head in and was admiring the car when someone walked up to her from out of the back parking lot.  The man asked her if she liked the Cadillac, and she said she liked it very much.  The man thanked her and said “That one’s mine, but I’ll buy you one.”  Mennie’s mouth fell open.  She said she and her husband already had a Cadillac and would not be able to pay for a second one.  He explained that he was paying for the car.  It was to be his gift to her.  Mennie was in shock.

The man gently took Mennie by the arm and escorted her to the back parking lot from which he came.  Dozens of brand-new shiny Cadillacs sat waiting for their new homes.  Mennie and the man looked at the different models for just a few minutes.  The man turned to Mennie and told her to “pick one out.”  Mennie was still in a state of shock.  Why would a man she had never met buy her a brand-new Cadillac.  The man patiently waited as Mennie selected a gold and white Cadillac Eldorado.  It listed for about $11,500, which, adjusted for inflation, is just under $50,000 in today’s money.  The man motioned for someone to bring him the keys.

Mennie, still in shock, made small talk with the man.  She thanked him several times and told him that the car was a wonderful birthday present.  Her birthday was just two days away.  Within just a few moments, the man handed Mennie the keys to her brand-new Cadillac and wished her a happy birthday.  The man assured her that all of the paperwork would be taken care of for her.  Since her birthday was coming up, the man handed her a check for an undisclosed amount “to buy some clothes to go with the car.” 

When Mennie mentioned again that she and her husband already owned a Cadillac, the man told her to keep it or to give it to her husband.  She could do whatever she wanted with either Cadillac.  As Mennie provided the necessary information to the dealership to have the vehicle titled in her name, she thought it was too good to be true.  If it was true, would anyone believe her? 

Mennie had never met the generous man who bought her a brand-new Cadillac of her choice, wrote her a check to buy new clothes to go with it, and wished her a happy birthday, but she certainly knew of him.  Everyone, it seemed, knew of him.  Mennie did not need to worry if anyone would believe her.  On her birthday, newspapers around the world shared the story of how Mennie just happened to be in the right place at the right time to receive the generosity of a king.  His name was Elvis Presley.              

For more real stories about real people with a twist, order your copy of “Remember This?” at Amazon.com or listen to his podcast “Brad Dison’s Remember This?”  Brad earned his master’s degree in the subject from Louisiana Tech University. He has written four history books and has been published in newspapers and scholarly journals. Keep up with Brad’s column through the Facebook group “Remember This? by Brad Dison.”

Sources:

  1. The Evening Sun (Baltimore, Maryland), July 29, 1975, p.2.
  2. Tucson Citizen, July 29, 1975, p.1.
  3. The Tennessean (Nashville, Tennessee), July 29, 1975, p.29.


Louisiana Dog Tests Positive for SARS-CoV-2

The Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry (LDAF) has received its first reported case of a SARS-CoV-2 positive dog in Louisiana. SARS-CoV-2 is the virus that causes COVID-19 in humans.

“Initially, it was believed pets could not get the disease, but the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) is now learning that animals can be infected,” said Commissioner Mike Strain, D.V.M.

According to the United State Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (USDA-APHIS), there is currently no evidence that pets play a significant role in spreading the virus. Based on the limited information available, the risk of animals spreading the virus to people is considered to be low. There is no justification in taking measures against companion animals that may compromise their welfare.

Strain added, “It appears that people with COVID-19 can spread the virus to animals during close contact. It is important for people with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 to avoid contact with pets and other animals to protect them from possible infection. At this time, routine testing of animals is not recommended.”

According to the CDC, in many cases, the pets do not get sick, but some have suffered mild signs of respiratory tract or gastrointestinal disease. A small number of pet cats and dogs have been reported to be infected with the virus in several countries, including the United States.

The CDC recommends that patients with COVID-19 who have pets follow these recommendations: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/animals/interim-guidance-managing-people-in-home-care-and-isolation-who-have-pets.html.

Strain also urged Louisiana domestic pet owners to not abandon or surrender their pets to animal control agencies if they are able to take care of them.

“If you are diagnosed with COVID-19, allow a family member or close friend to care for your pets. If no one is available, maintain a safe distance from your pet and frequently wash your hands before and after contact with your pet, their food and supplies,” said Strain. “Remember, in the event of any emergency, it is wise to have a pet plan as you would have a game plan for your family,” added Strain.

According to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPPA) rules, the LDAF cannot release any information that could identify the pet owner including where the dog is located.


Time to Act: Support the Logger Relief Package (HR 7690 and S.4233)

The American Loggers Council (ALC) and state logging associations are supporting bipartisan legislation in the U.S. Congress that provides economic relief to timber harvesters and timber haulers impacted by COVID-19.

PLEASE URGE YOUR FEDERAL REPRESENTATIVES TO APPROVE THESE MEASURES (HR 7690 AND S.4233) BY SUBMITTING YOUR LETTER TO CONGRESS NOW! (TAKES LESS THAN 5 MINS)

The ALC proposed the “Logger Relief Package” in May. Wood products manufacturers have reduced their consumption as a result of reduced or lost markets during the COVID-19 pandemic. The ripple effect has been a reduction in the amount of wood fiber being sourced from the forest by the small, family-owned logging and log trucking businesses.

Assuming the country’s economy reopens this summer, analysts predict it could take two years for log markets to recover. This amount of time will be a significant challenge for loggers and log truckers to survive and remain whole to continue their operations. Loggers and log truckers could go out of business and the entire value supply chain could be significantly disrupted as a result. With high operating costs, diminished markets and low returns on investments, logging capacity throughout the United States could be deeply reduced and new investments into the logging sector will be limited.

In order to sustain the supply chain, the Logger Relief Package would provide a grant program for those contractors that harvested or delivered wood to various mills across the country in 2019.

Contractors would be able to apply for a grant through the U.S. Department of Agriculture to assist them with their ability to continue business operations for the next twelve months while their markets attempt to recover, much like the assistance already given to other producers of agricultural commodities.

Funds could be used for business operating expenses such as equipment loan payments, maintenance costs, consumables such as fuel and oil expenses, required insurance payments and other fixed and variable costs not already covered in existing federal payment programs such as the Payroll Protection Program and other Pandemic Unemployment Assistance.

Reasons to take action to support the Logger Relief Package (HR 7690 and S.4233):

  • Timber is the second largest industry in Louisiana – a $15 billion dollar industry

  • Louisiana Loggers and Log haulers employee ~8000 people directly, not including indirect jobs (tires, parts, fuel, ect)

  • Timber is the largest agricultural product in the state and the only one to pay severance taxes, where 75% stay within the parish

  • Overall approximately 35-40% production has been lost

  • In Acadiana, the Hardwood markets have been decimated. Louisiana Loggers Association went from 26 Loggers to 4 this year.

  • Timber and Logging has been excluded from all other agricultural relief packages, yet we are the largest industry in agricultural.

  • In the US ~145k jobs with just logging and log hauling

  • The state is nearly 57% covered in timber, timber is a row crop in the state of Louisiana

PLEASE CLICK LINK BELOW TO SUBMIT YOUR LETTER TO CONGRESS. THE FORM IS LOCATED AT THE BOTTOM OF THE PAGE. THANKS TO OUR GOOD FRIENDS AT HEALTHY FORESTS HEALTHY COMMUNITIES, IT TAKES LESS THAN 5 MINUTES. CLICK HERE TO SUBMIT YOUR LETTER TO CONGRESS NOW!


Three more weeks

Governor John Bel Edwards said yesterday there has been some signs of early progress but not enough to make any change. Louisiana will remain in Phase Two with the mask mandate and other restrictions on the citizens of the state. Edwards will issue a new proclamation later this week…effective on Friday…extending the current situation for another 21 days.


Statement from U.S. Census Bureau Director Steven Dillingham: Delivering a Complete and Accurate 2020 Census Count

The U.S. Census Bureau continues to evaluate its operational plans to collect and process 2020 Census data. Today, we are announcing updates to our plan that will include enumerator awards and the hiring of more employees to accelerate the completion of data collection and apportionment counts by our statutory deadline of December 31, 2020, as required by law and directed by the Secretary of Commerce. The Census Bureau’s new plan reflects our continued commitment to conduct a complete count, provide accurate apportionment data, and protect the health and safety of the public and our workforce.

  • Complete Count: A robust field data collection operation will ensure we receive responses from households that have not yet self-responded to the 2020 Census.
    • We will improve the speed of our count without sacrificing completeness. As part of our revised plan, we will conduct additional training sessions and provide awards to enumerators in recognition of those who maximize hours worked. We will also keep phone and tablet computer devices for enumeration in use for the maximum time possible.
    • We will end field data collection by September 30, 2020. Self-response options will also close on that date to permit the commencement of data processing. Under this plan, the Census Bureau intends to meet a similar level of household responses as collected in prior censuses, including outreach to hard-to-count communities.
  • Accurate Data and Efficient Processing: Once we have the data from self-response and field data collection in our secure systems, we plan to review it for completeness and accuracy, streamline its processing, and prioritize apportionment counts to meet the statutory deadline. In addition, we plan to increase our staff to ensure operations are running at full capacity.
  • Flexible Design: Our operation remains adaptable and additional resources will help speed our work. The Census Bureau will continue to analyze data and key metrics from its field work to ensure that our operations are agile and on target for meeting our statutory delivery dates. Of course, we recognize that events can still occur that no one can control, such as additional complications from severe weather or other natural disasters. 
  • Health and Safety: We will continue to prioritize the health and safety of our workforce and the public. Our staff will continue to follow Federal, state, and local guidance, including providing appropriate safety trainings and personal protective equipment to field staff. 

The Census Bureau continues its work on meeting the requirements of Executive Order 13880 issued July 11, 2019 and the Presidential Memorandum issued July 21, 2020. A team of experts are examining methodologies and options to be employed for this purpose. The collection and use of pertinent administrative data continues.

We are committed to a complete and accurate 2020 Census. To date, 93 million households, nearly 63 percent of all households in the Nation, have responded to the 2020 Census. Building on our successful and innovative internet response option, the dedicated women and men of the Census Bureau, including our temporary workforce deploying in communities across the country in upcoming weeks, will work diligently to achieve an accurate count.

We appreciate the support of our hundreds of thousands of community-based, business, state, local and tribal partners contributing to these efforts across our Nation.  The 2020 Census belongs to us all. If you know someone who has not yet responded, please encourage them to do so today online at 2020census.gov, over the phone, or by mail.


Remember This? Archie’s Alter Ego

On January 18, 1904, Archibald “Archie” Leach was born into a lower middle-class family in Bristol, England.  His father, Elias James Leach worked as a heat press operator in a garment factory.  His mother, Elsie Maria Leach, worked as a seamstress.  His parents’ first son, John, died from tuberculosis meningitis, commonly called TB, four years before Archie was born.  His parents struggled to cope with John’s death, even after the birth of Archie.  Archie’s dad tried to drown his sadness with alcohol and became withdrawn from everyone, even Archie.  His mother often suffered with bouts of deep depression where she was unable to function.  When Archie’s mother was not suffering from depression, she clung to Archie.  She filled young Archie’s head with hopes and dreams of one day being rich and famous.                 

When Archie was nine years old, he returned home from school to find his mother missing.  He asked his father where his mother had gone.  His father simply and vaguely replied that she had gone on holiday.  His father gave no other details and Archie knew not to press the matter.  Every so often, Archie would ask his father when his mother would return.  Archie wondered if he was responsible for driving his mother away.  Finally, his father told Archie that his mother had died.  Archie was stunned.  There had been no funeral and no grieving family members to console him or his father.  No one mentioned her at all.  She was just gone.  Archie was crushed.

Archie was not what teachers would call a good student.  He often acted out and was indifferent to his studies.  He had mood swings and was what some people called prickly.  Archie later described his early childhood with a hint of pain.  He described “the paucity of my own youth.  It lacked many advantages.”  Like his father, he was vague and evasive about the details.

In 1932, Archie invented an alter ego.  Archie said in later life, “I pretended to be somebody I wanted to be, and I finally became that person.  Or he became me.  Or we met at some point.  It’s a relationship.”  Through lots of practice, he somewhat Americanized his British accent.  He had always dressed nicely, at his mother’s insistence, but now he dressed impeccably.  He mastered etiquette and manners.  He was kind, polite, and courteous.  Now, his alter ego just needed a good name.  After some consideration, Archie chose the first name for his alter ego from a part he had once played in a stage production, and the last name from a list of one syllable last names prepared by a movie studio.  Pretty soon, people all over the world knew and loved Archie’s alter ego.

In about 1938, several years after Archie had created his alter ego, he learned that his mother had not died as his father had told him.  Archie’s mother had not gone on holiday.  She was overcome by clinical depression and Archie’s father had had her committed to a local mental institution.  To his surprise, Archie learned that his mother was still in the mental institution.  Archie found and reunited with his mother.  He later said of their meeting, “I was known to most of the world by sight and by name, yet not to my mother.”  By the time of their reunion, Archie’s alter ego had achieved fame and fortune, the dream his mother had filled him with when he was a child. 

Archie and his mother remained close for the rest of her life.  Once, while Archie and his mother were driving somewhere, she looked over at his graying hair.  She remarked that he should start dying his hair.  “Why?” he asked.  “You should.” She replied.  “It makes me look so old.”  She was 89 years old at the time.  Archie and his mother joined together in laughter.

In his 80s, some two decades after he had retired from acting, one reporter described Archie’s alter ego as having “thick, snow-white hair, lilting, affected accent, twinkling brown eyes, dimpled chin and a tan face that should be carved on Mount Rushmore.  He is terminally debonair, utterly witty, and smoother than a Brandy Alexander.”  Another reporter described Archie’s alter ego as “immortal—an ideal of sophistication…forever.” 

On November 29, 1986, Archibald Leach died from a stroke while preparing for a theater appearance.  Archie’s alter ego starred in many notable pictures including “His Girl Friday,” “The Philadelphia Story,” and the Alfred Hitchcock classic “North by Northwest.”  Archie was nominated for two academy awards but never won.  In 1970, the Academy of Motion Pictures presented him with an honorary Oscar for “his unique mastery of the art of screen acting.”  Women adored, and men wanted to be, not Archibald “Archie” Leach.  Everyone, including Archie, preferred his alter ego…Cary Grant.

For more real stories about real people with a twist, preorder your copy of “Remember This?” at www.BradDison.com or listen to his podcast “Brad Dison’s Remember This?”  Brad earned his master’s degree in the subject from Louisiana Tech University. He has written four history books and has been published in newspapers and scholarly journals. Keep up with Brad’s column through the Facebook group “Remember This? by Brad Dison.”

Sources:

  1. The Greenville News, December 27, 1983, p.13.
  2. The Democrat and Chronicle (Rochester, New York), January 27, 1984, p.4.
  3. The Springfield News-Leader, December 1, 1986, p.17.
  4. YouTube.com. “Cary Grant: The Leading Man | the Hollywood Collection.” Accessed July 30, 2020. https://youtu.be/AhLR1SXjDmY.


Former Grant Parish Sheriff’s Deputy Arrested for Second Degree Rape

Grant Parish – In late July 2020, the Louisiana State Police Bureau of Investigations (LSP BOI) was contacted by the Grant Parish Sheriff’s Office (GPSO) to investigate a complaint of an alleged rape involving one of their deputies. The alleged offense occurred while the former deputy was off-duty and not acting in an official capacity. The former deputy was identified as 23-year-old Bobby Aaron Dykes of Dry Prong.

After receiving the investigative request from GPSO, LSP investigators immediately began conducting interviews and gathering evidence. As a result of the investigation and information obtained, LSP investigators obtained an arrest warrant for Dykes. He was arrested earlier today for one count of second degree rape and was booked into the Grant Parish Detention Center.

The Grant Parish Sheriff’s Office assisted LSP BOI with the investigation. There is no further information available at this time. Questions related to Dykes’ employment status and work history should be directed to GPSO.

The Louisiana State Police online reporting system is available to the public to report suspicious or criminal activity through a convenient and secure reporting form that is submitted to the appropriate investigators. Citizens can access the form by visiting http://lsp.org/ and clicking the Suspicious Activity link.