At least one chamber of the Legislature believes that lawmakers, and not the Wildlife and Fisheries Commission, should have the ultimate oversight over the rule-making process that establishes hunting seasons, shrimping zones, fish quotas and other regulations. The Senate overwhelmingly approved such legislation this week by a 35-3 vote to transfer the authority. All of Acadiana’s senators lined up behind the swap.
The decision comes on the heels of an effort to abolish the commission by Sen. Rob Marionneaux, D-Livonia, who is also the sponsor of Senate Bill 308. Some lawmakers were concerned that his most recent initiative would do the same. “This bill doesn’t change anything in respect to the commission’s make-up,” Marionneaux told the Senate. “It just gives oversight to the natural resources committees in each chamber.”
Environmental lobbyists like Randy Lanctot, director of the Louisiana Wildlife Federation, was initially opposed to the proposal, but eventually came around when Marionneaux overhauled the proposal to make sure the commission maintained its emergency rule-making authority. Given the urgency of the situation along the coast, Marionneaux said during an earlier hearing that it was the only prudent thing to do. “The emergency rulemaking process is still in place so things like the spill in the Gulf can be addressed,” he said.
For example, the commission had opened special seasons along the coast to give commercial fishermen an opportunity to harvest their product before the spill impacts their industry to a greater degree. “So, in case of an emergency, there will be no impediment due to the passage of this legislation,” he promised senators.
Specifically, Marionneaux’s bill would give the House and Senate natural resources committee one month to weigh in on a non-emergency rule passed by the commission. “It gives us 30 days from the time we are emailed a summary report of the commission’s decision,” Marionneaux said. This includes hunting and fishing seasons, bag limits and other business routinely handled by the commission.
Sen. Nick Gautreaux, D-Abbeville, chairman of the Senate Natural Resources Committee, argued that lawmakers already do a good bit of constituent work when it comes to hunting and fishing issues, so it makes sense to move in this direction. “A lot of us get phone calls about hunting season and shrimp season,” Gautreaux said.
If adopted by the Legislature, the new law would go into effect on Aug. 15. SB 308 now moves to the Lower Chamber for further consideration and will likely be assigned to the House Natural Resources Committee. Moving forward, Marionneaux said the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries has no opposition to his legislation.
MAY 17 Here's a column from James Gill, this time in the Advocate. Gill, who has jumped ship from the Picayune, writes about the absurdity of dueling polls in this post. The numbers are so wildly different, it is obvious that both sides are "cooking the books," he writes. In particular, he looks at Sen. Mary Landrieu, and how her recent actions in DC have been received by those polled. Gill's acerbic, amusing prose is a welcome addition to a paper so conservative as to be occasionally lacking in personality.
MAY 17 Blogger Tom Aswell continues delivering bombshells about the state education department and Gov. Jindal's education "reform" efforts. In this post, he reports that students in the Shreveport area have been signed up for a charter school without their knowledge or consent. Most interesting to Aswell is how this Texas-based charter (with ties to GOP types) got the personal student information it has, if the students didn't give it.
MAY 17 This post by JR Ball in the Baton Rouge Business Report is an interesting tongue-in-cheek look at recent Baton Rouge economic development efforts. Among the items he examines is the idea that gaining a Costco makes BR a "world-class city." (Really? All you need is a different brand of Sam's? MK!) This effort, and other recent ones, are all built on the taxpayer's back, with tax zones, tax incentives and tax rebates, Ball writes.
MAY 17 Blogger CB Forgotston is critical of the legislature's reliance on a revenue-estimating committee's decision to include projected tax amnesty income in this year's forecast. That's a problem, CB posts, because the deadline for these people to pay their taxes is June 30, 2014. So when do you think these people who haven't paid taxes in years are going to pay their taxes? Surely not before June 30, and that means the money won't be there for this year's budget, he argues.
MAY 17 Here's an interesting blog out of California by a Hollywood writer, attorney and academic named Brian Alan Lane. He blogs about higher ed, and was a whistle-blower in a scandal over false credentials. In this post, he takes aim at LSU's new top dog, King Alexander. It's convoluted and a little confusing, but it sure makes Alexander a lot more interesting than he was yesterday.
MAY 17 Blogger Robert Mann writes about the LSU Board's refusal to allow Dr. Fred Cerise to testify before the legislature about Gov. Jindal's plan to close down all the state's charity hospitals and dump the poor on the private system. It's hard to imagine anyone more qualified than Cerise to testify about that, so why would anyone try to prevent him doing so? Mann thinks it is because the powers that be aren't interested in hearing any truth about the plan.
MAY 17 This post on the Louisiana Sinkhole Bugle, a blog that notes developments in the Bayou Corne and Jefferson Island salt domes, talks about a proposed expansion of the salt dome storage under Lake Peigneur in Iberia Parish. Residents are working against it for several reasons, including two biggies: the sinkhole disaster in Bayou Corne and the continuing, unexplained bubbling on the surface of the Lake.
MAY 17 NOLA police arrested more people Thursday accused of either being involved in the Mother's Day shooting or hiding the suspect afterward, this Gambit story reports. The NOLA police chief said he suspects the whole thing was gang-related and throws out a challenge to the gangs: he's got informants now, he says, and he knows a lot more than the gangs want him to know. The people who live in the neighborhoods terrorized by gangs are ready to talk, he says.
Is it a crime for citizens to photograph, video, or take notes of a police officer in the line of duty, or a right protected by the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution? Locally, such activity, as witnessed recently, will at the very least result in a night spent behind bars.
David Calhoun and Elizabeth “EB” Brooks are the first two employees of Lafayette Central Park Inc., the nonprofit charged with turning Lafayette Consolidated Government’s 100-acre Johnston Street Horse Farm property into a passive public park. Calhoun was named executive director, and Brooks is director of planning and design.
Episcopal School of Acadiana’s Dr. Joshua Caffery, chair of the school’s English Department, is headed to Washington, D.C., and the Library of Congress as the latest winner of the Alan Lomax Fellowship in Folklife Studies.