Week in Review, April 12-16: Tragedy in the Gulf
NEW ORLEANS – On Friday, families were still anxiously waiting for news about crew members missing from a capsized oil industry vessel that flipped over Tuesday in hurricane-force winds and high seas about 8 miles (13 kilometers) off the coast of Louisiana, according to the Associated Press. “There is the potential they are still there, but we don’t know,” Coast Guard Petty Officer 2nd Class Jonathan Lally said Thursday. As of Friday afternoon, two bodies had been recovered, six people had been rescued and 11 were still missing. Houston-based Seacor Marine Holdings Inc. is the owner of the vessel, the Seacor Power.
Business vs. Business on Tax Reform
A Louisiana House committee advanced a possible constitutional amendment this week to create a single statewide entity to collect sales taxes. House Bill 199 is the session’s top priority for Republican House Speaker Clay Schexnayder, who is the bill’s author, and many business advocates. Louisiana is one of only three states without a centralized sales tax collector. Companies that do business in multiple jurisdictions have to deal with – and potentially be audited by – multiple collectors.
Meanwhile, legislative leaders are trying to overhaul the state’s tax structure by lowering the overall tax rates charged businesses and individuals in exchange for getting rid of many of the loopholes on the books. Economic development proponents say the changes will make it easier to attract new businesses to invest in the state. The only problem? Business lobbyists representing industries currently receiving tax breaks are fighting the efforts.
Children’s Hospital to Open ER in Metairie
Children’s Hospital announced plans to open an 11-bed pediatric emergency room in Metairie this September. Located at the corner of Clearview Parkway and Veterans Boulevard, the $4.4 million, 11,000-square-foot facility will serve children from birth through age 21 with emergency services as well as scheduled imaging tests, the hospital said in a new release. “Children’s Hospital is proud to bring specialized pediatric emergency care closer to home for families on the East bank of Jefferson Parish,” said Children’s Hospital president and CEO John R. Nickens IV in a release.
Vaccination Progress … and Setbacks
From the AP: More than 1 million people in Louisiana have completed their coronavirus vaccine series, about 22% of the state’s population, according to the latest health department data released Thursday. While officials hailed the benchmark, that vaccination rate remains far below the threshold that scientists say is needed to stop the uncontrolled spread of the COVID-19 disease caused by the coronavirus. … Meanwhile, Louisiana’s health department told the state’s vaccine providers Tuesday to stop administering the Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccine immediately, after federal officials announced they are investigating possible links between the one-shot vaccine and severe blood clots.
Broadway Shows Returning to the Saenger
Hancock Whitney Broadway in New Orleans has announced that performances are scheduled to return to the Saenger Theatre in November. The upcoming season, which will wrap up with the return of Hamilton in 2022, also includes Tootsie, Cats, Hadestown, Disney’s Frozen, Anastasia and Mean Girls. “We’re greatly optimistic about the return of Broadway to the city of New Orleans,” said David Skinner, general manager of the Saenger Theatre. “We are thankful to our patrons for their patience, flexibility and love of Broadway which has been an incredible support and inspiration during this extended intermission.”