Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Sierra Club Delta Chapter Legislative Update June 7, 2011

This is our current update on bills which we are actively opposing or supporting. Your comments, suggestions and support are welcome.

Legislative Bills which we oppose:

HB 290 Burns – Repeals the Wild Louisiana Stamp. Pulled from first hearing, appears to be dead. This bill would have required bird watchers on State Wildlife Management Areas to obtain a hunting license instead of the currently offered Wild Louisiana Stamp.

HB 296 Greene – Diverts money held in the Artificial Reef Development Fund to other purposes. This bill has passed the House and is referred to Senate Finance Committee.

HB 321 Doerge – Sale of water from Lake Bistineau. This legislation would give local governments authority to sell water from Lake Bistineau, with LDWF in advisory role. Funds would go to LDWF for control of noxious plants and for other benefits to the lake. This is about providing water for hydrofracking for natural gas. All things being equal it may be preferable to use surface water rather than more limited groundwater for gas development. But the lack of comprehensive state policy on how to deal with water resources leaves openings for disposition of publicly owned water in ways that may not benefit residents of the State. The bill was amended in 1st committee and recommitted to House Natural Resources Committee. The bill's prospects are not good. It raises too many unanswered questions.

HB 563 Cortez – Would have removed the right of property owners to sue oil companies for damages to their property, and placed resolution of all such disputes into the State Dept of Natural Resources Office of Conservation. This bill was deferred (killed) in House Natural Resources and Environment Committee.

Bills we are supporting:

HB 70 Smith – Allows local authorities to purchase or lease hybrid or alternative fuel vehicles for previously exempted uses such as law enforcement and emergency vehicles. Bill has passed the house and awaits action by Senate Transportation Committee.

HB 212 Morris – Authorizes issuance of bonds for remediation of oilfield sites. Referred to House Ways and Means. Has not been heard by its first committee.

HB 219 Jones – Requires a minimum of 5% of the Atchafalaya Basin Conservation Fund be set aside to be used by the Department of Natural Resources for the purchase of land, or rights, or servitudes, specifically including conservation servitudes from willing sellers to improve water quality, access, or other projects consistent with the Atchafalaya Basin Master Plan. Passed House, referred to Senate Finance Committee.

HB 371 Tucker - Authorizes issuance of Brownfields Investor Tax Credit to eligible taxpayers. Passed H Ways and Means, up for vote on house floor.

HB 389 Connick - Provides that certain releases of medical claims relating to the BP oil spill are null and void. Passed House Civil Law, now goes to House floor vote.

HB 412 Lambert – Creates Louisiana Beverage Container Law. Killed in House Commerce Committee. This bill gets introduced every year and gets killed every time.

HB 436 Henderson – Levies a tax on transportation of natural gas through pipelines in La. The bill was killed in House Ways and Means. Foster Campbell, Public Utilities Commissioner has tried for years to get legislation like this passed. It gets killed every time by Oil & Gas industry.

HB 496 Barrow – Provides for campaign contribution disclosures by appointees to certain boards and commissions. Referred to House & Govt Affairs, still has not been heard by its first committee.

HB 513 Williams – Bicycle and pedestrian traffic on roadways. Passed House, referred to Sen Transportation Committee. Requires lights on bicycles at night and certain standards for walkways.

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. Passed House, referred to Senate Rev and Fiscal Affairs.

HB 615 Simon – Adds geothermal energy systems to systems eligible for wind or solar energy systems tax credit. Referred to House Ways and Means, still has not been heard by its first committee.

HB 622, 623 Jackson - Tax authority for ozone non-attainment areas. Pulled from committee by sponsor. Word is that other measures for funding of mass transit are being pursued.

HCR 48 (House Concurrent Resolution) Gisclair – Urges and requests the Dept. of Health and Hospitals to investigate any health conditions suffered by responders to the Transocean Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion and provide direction for the long-term health care of these individuals. Passed House, referred to Senate Health and Welfare Committee.

SB 40 Morrell - Authorizes DEQ to grant transferable credits for the investigation or remediation of hazardous waste "brownfields" sites. Passed Senate, referred to House Ways and Means Committee.

SB 70 Peterson – Repeals the La. Science Education Act which allows LA school science classes to treat creationism and intelligent design as credible alternative theories to evolution. Killed in Senate Education Committee. La Family Forum was a big opponent of this bill.

SB 97 Crowe – Oil Spill Prevention and Response Act (Requirement that dispersants be non-toxic). Passed Senate Environmental Quality, may be amended before Senate floor vote.

SB 133 Marionneaux – Applies La smokefree air act to bars and restaurants. Bill failed on Senate Floor. Big tobacco and casinos were against this one.

SB 184 Crowe – Seeks to eliminate filing deadlines until 2021 for lawsuits related to the BP oil spill. Referred to Senate Jud A, still has not been heard by its first committee.

SB 245 Willard-Lewis – State income tax credit for sales tax paid by homeowners when purchasing green materials. Referred to Senate Rev & Fiscal. Still not heard by first Committee.

SB 254 Willard-Lewis – Exempts sale of construction materials to the Make It Right Foundation from state and local sales tax. Passed Senate, referred to the House for committee assignment.

SB 255 Willard-Lewis – Grants a refundable residential energy efficiency tax credit for the qualified elderly. Passed Senate, referred to House Ways & Means Committee.

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