Nation in brief: Panel pushes gas tax increase
As government struggles to find ways to fund highway improvements, a congressionally created commission on Thursday called for a 10-cent-a-gallon increase in the federal gas tax, while proposing that the country move to a system of charging motorists for how much they drive.
The idea of a tax increase likely would face strong resistance from lawmakers seeking re-election and consumers already reeling in a tough economy. And President Barack Obama’s administration last week gave a cold shoulder to any mileage-based tax – which would require placing tracking devices in vehicles, a concept critics decry as an invasion of privacy.
Still, the recommendation will be part of an important debate as Congress prepares to write a massive highway bill: how to pay for maintenance and traffic- easing road construction when the current 18.4-cent-per-gallon federal gas tax no longer provides sufficient funding.
Police say woman traded kids for bird
A Louisiana woman is accused of trading two young children in her care for a pet cockatoo and $175 cash from a couple who had been trying for years to have their own child, authorities said Thursday.
Donna Greenwell, 53, a long-haul trucker with an arrest record from Pitkin, is charged with aggravated kidnapping, along with would-be adoptive parents Paul J. Romero, 46, and Brandy Lynn Romero, 27, of Evangeline Parish.
“The Romeros had good intentions from what we see,” said Keith Dupre, a detective with the Evangeline Parish Sheriff’s Office. “They really wanted to take care of the kids.”
The transaction for the 5-year-old boy and the 4-year-old girl was negotiated by phone after Greenwell spotted a flier posted at a livestock barn selling a cockatoo for $1,500 and called the Romeros on Feb. 18, Dupre said.
Authorities believe Greenwell began caring for the children about a year ago at the mother’s request. Greenwell “stated that the mother was having a hard time and asked her to baby-sit. She said one month led to two months and two months led to a year,” Dupre said.
The children’s father was questioned and has expressed interest in getting custody of the children. The mother is believed to be in Texas.
From wire reports