Monday, May 30, 2011

Legislative Update, May 30, 2011

Sierra Club Delta Chapter

This update highlights in readable form some bills of general interest that Sierra Club is watching. It includes updated status of bills that we have listed previously, and some not included before. We are also following other bills not listed here for their potential impact on the environment and public health.

HB 70 by Jane Smith expands the authority of political subdivisions (parish, municipality, and any other unit of local government, including a school board and a special district) to purchase or lease “hybrid or alternative fuel vehicles.” They had the authority as provided in existing law but this new law extends the authority to include emergency vehicles and those vehicles used by law enforcement agencies. Passed the House, referred to Senate Transportation Committee.

HB 219 (Jones) Allows funds in the Atchafalaya Basin Conservation Fund to be used to purchase, from willing sellers, land in the Atchafalaya Basin. Passed house by unanimous vote, referred to Senate Finance Committee.

HB 595 (Labruzzo) retains current tax credits for installation of residential solar and wind systems but adds that the state tax credit shall be in addition to any federal grant earned for the same system. This minor tweak will help to maintain Louisiana’s lead as one of the most generous of states when it comes to incentives for installation of solar and wind systems on new or existing homes and apartments. This bill has passed the house and has been referred to Senate Committee on Senate Revenue and Fiscal Affairs.

HCR 48 (Gisclair) is a House Resolution that Asks the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals to conduct investigations into health effects of the oil spill, subsequent cleanup and how residents should act to protect their long-term health." Such resolutions do not carry much weight but it would show recognition by the legislature that serious health problems caused by BP may exist and deserve investigation. Passed by the House, referred to Sen Cmte on Health and Welfare.

SB 70 (Karen Carter Peterson) Repeals the Louisiana Science Education Act. The Science Education Act is the one that requires LA school science classes to treat creationism and intelligent design as credible alternative theories to evolution. That law is an embarrassment to the state of Louisiana and should be repealed. This bill was deferred (killed) in Sen Education Committee.

Two good bills from Senator A.G. Crowe of Slidell deserve our support. First is SB 97, the Oil Spill Response Act that would require any dispersants to be listed on the National Oil and Hazardous Substances Pollution Contingency Plan, and would require dispersants to be non-toxic and have a substantiated endpoint of carbon dioxide and water. This legislation would have force only in state waters. This bill comes up for hearing on May 31 in Senate Committee on Environmental Quality.

The second good bill from Senator Crowe is SB 184 which seeks to open up the time period for claims against BP such that “any right, claim, cause or action which would have expired during the time period of April 20, 2010 through September 30, 2011 shall lapse on November 1, 2021.” The principle of opening up restrictive time periods for claims against BP is one we can agree with. This bill has not been heard by its first committee.

A good one by Senator Willard-Lewis is SB 245 that provides a state income tax credit for sales tax paid by homeowners when purchasing green materials for residential home building or remodeling. This could encourage green building by offset of the higher cost of such materials. This bill has not been heard by its first committee.

Another one by Senator Willard-Lewis, SB 247 creates the crime of “illegal disposal of waste” (including toxic waste) and sets penalties for illegal dumping of waste. It turns out this bill is all about who gets to collect revenue from junk cars confiscated in New Orleans. This bill was voluntarily deferred because of administrative problems that came to light in hearing. The bill will be heard again in Sen Judiciary C.

Other bills of interest are:

HB 513 (Williams) Provides relative to bicycle and pedestrian traffic on roadways. Clarifies right of way of pedestrians and requires nighttime lighting front and rear for bicycles. Passed House, referred to Sen Transportation Committee.

HB 615 (Simon) Adds geothermal energy systems to systems eligible for the wind or solar energy systems tax credit. This bill has not been heard by its first committee.

HB 622 and 623 (Jackson) Allow additional forms of taxation to support mass transit in ozone non-attainment areas. These bills have not been heard by committee.

SB 133 (Marionneaux) Provides relative to the Louisiana Smokefree Air Act. This legislation would ban smoking in any restaurant or bar. Passed Sen Committee on Health & Welfare, awaiting Sen floor vote.

SB 255 (Willard-Lewis) Grants a refundable "residential energy efficiency tax credit for the qualified elderly" Passed Sen Rev and Fiscal Affairs, awaiting Sen floor vote.

You can follow these and other legislative bills at

We encourage you to voice your opinion and/or organize call ins to state legislators. Feel free to contact me at if you have questions, comments or suggestions.

Woody Martin, Chair
Sierra Club Delta Chapter

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