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Last day to register to vote

Saturday is the last day to register to vote in Louisiana’s Oct. 12 statewide election.

The deadline to register by mail or in person has passed. But registration still is open at the Secretary of State’s online portal.

Every statewide office will be on the ballot, along with contested seats in the legislature and on the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education. Some voters will have a chance to select a state Supreme Court justice or a district judge, and there is a race for city council in DeRidder.

All candidates for each office run against each other, regardless of party. If no candidate gets more than half of the votes, the top two will face each other in a November.

Early voting begins Sept. 28.

Candidates for governor to debate Monday

Less than a week after their first full-scale debate, the top three contenders to be Louisiana’s next governor will face off again Monday.

Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards, Republican Congressman Ralph Abraham and Republican businessman Eddie Rispone all are expected to participate in a candidate forum hosted by the Baton Rouge Press Club.

The forum will be held at noon at the Belle of Baton Rouge Hotel. The public is invited to attend, but only Press Club members and working media are allowed to ask questions.

Louisiana unemployment rate holds steady

Louisiana’s unemployment rate was 4.3 percent in August, the same as it was in July, according to preliminary estimates the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics released Friday. The national unemployment rate remained at 3.7 percent.

Gov. John Bel Edwards’ administration says the state has added private sector jobs for 18 straight months. The unemployment rate was 6.1 percent when he took office in 2016.

The BLS, using numbers that have been adjusted for seasonal job-market fluctuations, says Louisiana lost about 6,000 jobs between August 2018 and last month, although nonfarm employment increased by 1,000.

“Nonfarm” refers to all workers except those employed by farms, government, nonprofits and private households. The state lost about 3,000 government jobs year-over-year, the bureau said. 

Federal government announces Louisiana grants

The West Calcasieu Port in Sulphur will receive a $4.2 million grant from the Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration.

The grant, meant to fund port upgrades to boost economic activity and provide services during a hurricane, is expected to help create 400 jobs, officials said.

The grant comes out of $600 million Congress appropriated to the EDA last year for disaster relief and recovery as a result of hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria and other 2017 natural disasters under the Stafford Act.

U.S. Sen. John Kennedy says Louisiana will get $1.5 million from the U.S. Department of Transportation meant to ensure the safety of the state’s pipelines and roadways. 

Almost half of the funding focuses on protecting the public from pipeline and hazardous materials’ accidents through training, emergency plans and notification systems. Another $773,504 will go to LSU for the analysis of crash videos involving motor vehicles, Kennedy’s office says.

Staff Reporter

David Jacobs is a Baton Rouge-based award-winning journalist who has written about government, politics, business and culture in Louisiana for almost 15 years. He joined The Center Square in 2018.