By Ian Simpson
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The District of Columbia will take a step closer toward decriminalizing marijuana on Wednesday with a move that will make smoking a joint in the U.S. capital a violation comparable to a parking ticket.
With Washington arresting people for pot possession at a higher rate than any state, a city council panel is set to mark up a bill that would reduce penalties for possessing less than an ounce (28 grams) of marijuana to a fine as little as $25.
The state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education tentatively approved a brief set of directives Tuesday on how to allocate more than $3.5 billion of state money. The vote came thanks to a consensus over Course Choice, an innovative program that lets students take some courses outside their regular school on the public dime.
The vote was 8-1, with Carolyn Hill of Baton Rouge opposed and Connie Bradford and Walter Lee absent. Lee will face a grand jury this week in an investigation of whether he committed a crime by double-billing BESE and his former employer, DeSoto Parish, for expenses.
The Kenner City Council on Thursday approved the demolitionof a home at 3715 E. Louisiana State Drive.
Code Enforcement Director AimeeVallot, in her first appearance before the council, said the city has been maintainingthe abandoned property for "several years." Vallot, whose hiring was announcedearlier in the day, said roof shingles are missing, exposing the property to the weather, and that the rear sliding glass door had been pried open. Attempts during the past two months to reach the owner, Juan Fernandez, have been unsuccessful, Vallot said.
Councilman Kent Denapolis said, "This is one of those piecesof property that just must come down," and that the city is targetingapproximately 70 troubled properties for demolition.
"Kenner is going to be tough on these properties," Denapolissaid.
BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) -- The LSU Board of Supervisors has approved a boost in sports ticket and parking prices as requested by Athletic Director Joe Alleva.
A strong majority of board members voted Friday in favor of the proposals from Alleva to make 150 changes to prices for tickets and parking at university sports events. That includes a price hike for the 2014 football season and for the 2015 baseball season.
The changes are estimated to raise about $2.3 million in the current budget year and grow to $4 million a year later. Alleva says his department needs the money to keep up with rising costs for salaries, benefits, travel and athlete scholarships.
The department also stands to gain millions in new revenue from a new TV contract slated to begin next year.