Written by Jeremy Alford
Wednesday, 7 April 2010
Randy Lanctot, executive director over at the Louisiana Wildlife Federation, is already tracking more than 100 bills and approximately 11 resolutions. And the regular session doesn’t come to a close until June 21. But Lanctot, who can be an excitable guy when he wants, isn’t sweating the workload. So far, he says, this session is relatively mild as regards his sacred trinity: conservation, natural resources and the environment.
The first wave of bills is already in the pipeline, but another wave is coming before the end of the month. “Since each legislator can introduce five more, plus an unlimited number of resolutions, I expect another 720 bills to be filed between now and April 20 and hundreds of resolutions,” Lanctot says.
LWF, which was created in 1940, will post and update them regularly at www.lawildlifefed.org. While that process won’t be as burdensome, it doesn’t mean there aren’t a few fireworks in store this session. “However, it’s not always the number of bills that keep you busy; it’s the stinkers,” Lanctot says.
Sen. Norby Chabert, D-Houma, the newest member of the Senate Natural Resources Committee and son of a longtime state senator, says Lanctot’s assessment is on point. “In lean budget years like this, small things can become a big deal, and I think we’re going to see that with one bill that would ban the bowfishing of redfish,” says Chabert. “That already has the ire of a lot of folks, and I think we’re going to see a major showdown this session on that issue this year.”
Senate Bill 53 by Sen. Dan Claitor, R-Baton Rouge, would ban the taking of redfish by bow and arrow or by skin divers using spearing equipment. Recreational fishermen, coastal advocates and charter captains are already mounting a campaign to oppose the bill.
The debate should also bring to the table the Coastal Conservation Association, a recreational fishing lobby that has a reputation for packing the Capitol hallways with hundreds of activists if the issue is right. “It’s shaping up to be one of the more controversial bills that we’ll probably handle,” says House Natural Resources Chairman Gordon Dove, R-Houma.
Gov. Bobby Jindal, meanwhile, is making good on a vow to commercial shrimpers and harvesters this session: He’s urging lawmakers to use $800,000 in conservation money to help the shrimp industry create a certification program for wild-caught product. But it’s not just a one-time request. The governor wants to make sure the revenues are available on an annual basis.
Alaska and many other coastal states already have similar seafood programs on their books, and supporters here hope the Louisiana program will create new marketing strategies for fishermen and processors.
It’s a rare treat from this cash-strapped session, especially since the state’s projected budget shortfall over the next two years is expected to surpass $3 billion. While several state agencies have been working on such a program for years, the recently-created Louisiana Shrimp Task Force has helped fast-track the effort.
Jindal created the task force last year after a rally brought hundreds of protestors to the steps of the state Capitol, just as dockside prices seemed to be bottoming out. The governor’s support, in many ways part of a 2009 promise delivered, is critical for the proposed legislation.
There are a slew of others bills up for debate that would prohibit the use of laser sights for hunting, expand the speckled trout season, permit the state to close more areas, allow the heads of sharks to be removed while in a boat, define the property lines of solid waste facilities, assert firearm rights, refigure portions of the oilfield restoration program and authorize the use of gill nets in Iberville Parish.
For Lanctot, some of the most important bills to watch this session are those that will seek to siphon money from funds dedicated to the sacred trinity issues, especially the dedicated funds that are bolstered by user fees.
There is also a set of bills from Sen. Rob Marionneaux, D-Maringouin, that would essentially strip the Wildlife and Fisheries Commission of its regulatory authority and hand it over to lawmakers. That’s what they call a game changer. It’s an ambitious idea that makes the commission a sort of prey and Marionneaux’s supporters a pack of hunters. It’s the perfect theme for a session where some folks are trying to blend into the foliage and others are looking for a kill.
Should new parents be required by law to attend special classes before being permitted to raise their child? It’s an idea state Rep. Regina Barrow, D-Baton Rouge, is seriously considering.
The agenda for Wednesday’s meeting of the Lafayette Parish School Board tells it all: The board has lost sight of its elected purpose.
A public Mass will be held Thursday in New Orleans for artist George Rodrigue, who died Saturday of cancer at age 69.
Eight former employees of The Times-Picayune have sued the newspaper and parent Advance Publications Inc., alleging their layoffs violated a longstanding "job security pledge" and age discrimination laws.
Gov. Bobby Jindal's administration hasn't done an independent performance review of its $363 million privatization contract for mental health and addictive disorder treatment services.
"Whether it's the tackle position, whether it's a player on defense ... we're going to look closely at what our options are and what gives us the best chance."
Get to Cajun Field today and show your bowl-bound pride
Here's your daily look at late-breaking national and international news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about Tuesday, December 17, 2013:
In the end, edge to Tulane, but the 12th man could be the deciding factor.
Says ATC Commissioner Troy Hebert, “Obviously, they are not responsible enough to have the privilege of selling alcohol. This blatant disregard of the law will not be tolerated.”
Louisiana's Department of Education isn't properly monitoring the state's voucher program to make sure students are placed in private schools that demonstrate student achievement and success, according to an audit released Monday.
Five members of the Lafayette Parish School Board are facing potential fines of as much as $1,400 for excessive absences from board meetings in 2013.
Acadiana (14-1) broke the state championship record for points and rushing yards, rolling up 670 yards. Photo by Buddy Delahoussaye
The artist who chronicled Cajun life and later found fame with his enigmatic “Blue Dog” images died Saturday in Houston after a long battle with cancer.
Screaming Eagles break record for most points scored. Photo by Buddy Delahoussaye
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The board is scheduled to vote Friday on proposals from Alleva to make 150 different changes to prices for tickets and parking across university sports events.
It took a unanimous vote of the Youngsville Council to compel the mayor to pay some $7,500 in bills to a few vendors used by the city’s PD.
America is lost, says state Sen. Elbert Guillory, and that’s the reason he’ll be running for Lieutenant Gov. come 2015.
The Louisiana Supreme Court has punted on its first chance to decide whether a new state constitutional provision declaring gun possession a fundamental right could void a long list of criminal statutes that regulate firearms.
New Orleans' offense, which ranks sixth in the NFL, isn't helping many of its skill players pile up Pro Bowl-type stats. Rather, the approach of coach Sean Payton and quarterback Drew Brees has enabled a wide range of play-makers to emerge periodically with high-production outings.
An ordinance phasing out a rebate businesses receive for collecting and remitting sales taxes is tabled, but it doesn’t solve the vexing issue of government revenue.
As part of a national undertaking known by industry insiders as the “Butterfly Project,” a rebranded version of The Daily Advertiser is set to launch with Sunday’s edition of the Gannett-owned paper.
Louisiana moved up a slot to 48th in the ranking of healthy states — once again, thank God for Mississippi! — so all this frettin’ about Gov. Bobby Jindal’s refusal to expand Medicaid per Obamacare ... fuggidaboutit! We don’t need Medicaid no more!
The Denham Springs woman who placed Christmas lights in the shape of a butter finger on her roof in a display of anger directed at neighbors has doubled the trouble for the 2013 holiday season.