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.
Here's your daily look at late-breaking national and international news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about Friday, April 18, 2014:
Friday's Blogs from the Bog!
Time and time again, the Lafayette Parish School Board shows an overwhelming tendency toward idiocy, but Wednesday night’s contentious discussion over Northside High School’s teen mother program tops the list of dumb discussions.
“The accomplishment of this goal within the next ten years is not only critical for the region to effectively compete with other regions for residents and businesses, but also to provide an amenity for everyone in Acadiana to enjoy.”
Education Superintendent John White says a continued push to try to keep Louisiana from using tests associated with the Common Core education standards are creating "a state of chaos" for public school teachers.
Gov. Bobby Jindal's plan to use $210 million in surplus and one-time money to help balance next year's budget received the backing Thursday of the State Bond Commission, support that was needed for the maneuver to work.
State wildlife and fisheries agents have arrested a 39-year-old man accused of stealing crawfish.
An East Feliciana Parish lawmaker has jettisoned his proposal to make it harder for a condemned prisoner to appeal a death sentence.
Senators advanced a proposal Wednesday that would let the governor remove New Orleans-area levee board members for violating what he considers to be public policy, despite concerns it would introduce political meddling into state flood protection.
The Lafayette City-Parish Council on Tuesday will vote on a resolution that if approved would clear the way for a December ballot proposition asking voters to approve a 1-cent sales tax parishwide to help fund the construction of a new terminal at Lafayette Regional Airport.
Just days before the fourth anniversary of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster and oil spill, the Coast Guard has moved cleanup of Louisiana's coast to a new phase, allowing BP to end its "active" efforts in the area.
Legislators still must leave their guns at the door of the Louisiana Capitol.
Sen. Fred Mills may have an "R" behind his name, but his actions in the Louisiana Legislature transcend the established boundaries of his party.
The Louisiana House overwhelmingly rejected a repeal of the state's unconstitutional anti-sodomy law Tuesday.
The Louisiana Senate sided with Gov. Bobby Jindal and the oil industry Tuesday, agreeing to void a lawsuit that a south Louisiana flood board filed against more than 90 oil and gas companies for coastal damage.
Acadian rep notifies would-be supporters that an April 25 fundraiser for the embattled U.S. rep won’t go on as planned.
While it isn’t all too unusual for public bodies to have hired security present during meetings, the LPSB’s push to do so is arguably a response to the antics of one board member.
“I’m running. Why would I be raising all this money? Just to have to return it to people?”
With incumbent U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu watching from afar, and with a united Democratic Party in her corner, the fight to get the GOP officially behind Congressman Bill Cassidy is gaining just as much momentum as it is hushed controversy.
15th Judicial District Judge Durwood Conque has announced that he will not seek re-election after 27 years on the bench.
The controversial standardized tests are set to be used in third-grade through eighth-grade public school classrooms next year.
The Louisiana Senate has agreed to prohibit unmanned aircraft from flying over chemical plants, water treatment systems, telecommunications networks and other items considered "critical infrastructure" in Louisiana.
It didn’t take long for KATC TV 3 to jump all over the news of a dead body found in Girard Park, but in its rush to produce headlines, the local TV station got sloppy.
An unholy trinity of civil-society upheavalers whose first names are not Conner, Tanner or Logan are facing charges in Eunice.
Now that lawmakers have shot down efforts to cap annual interest rates for payday loans, supporters for stricter regulations of the storefront lenders are rallying behind another strategy.