News & Resolutions

'05 Legislative Session Mostly Uneventful

July 1, 2005 12:00 AM

The 2005 Regular Session of the Louisiana Legislature adjourned on June 23, enacting a short and relatively light list of bills and resolutions affecting the interests of sportsmen and women, conservation and the environment.  The light agenda was expected, since, as required by the Louisiana Constitution, legislative sessions in odd-numbered years are limited to considering laws pertaining to fiscal matters, and, implementing a new constitutional provision for the first time this year, up to 5 additional bills per legislator on any subject matter as long as the legislation was filed timely and, if required, advertised prior to introduction.  Most legislators filed their quota of 5 extra bills, which made for a much more interesting session than if restricted to fiscal-only measures.

As often is the case, legislation that failed to pass was of more interest than bills that were finally adopted; and concurrent resolutions addressed issues of more "popular" concern than measures proposing to enact statutory law.  Probably the most important (to conservation) legislation of the '05 Session is a proposed constitutional amendment to dedicate the major portion of any revenue sharing by the federal government of offshore mineral revenue to coastal restoration.  Other good but less significant measures that were adopted: provide for the sale of motorboat registrations by boat dealers and other vendors certified by the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, prohibit the placement of permanent hunting stands on state land, provide for allocation of additional mineral revenues produced from state land to the Conservation Fund, expand tax incentives for businesses involved with the recycling of nonhazardous waste and the restoration of brownfield property, and increase the penalty for criminal violations of water pollution control laws.

Bills that failed, but will very likely receive attention next time around would have: established a "bounty" for the collection and recycling of switches containing mercury when vehicles are junked and salvaged, clarified the right of public access from the Mississippi River to Gassoway Lake in East Carroll Parish, and provided for a process for the landowner to clean up and restore contaminated oilfield sites on his property and receive reimbursement of the costs from the parties responsible for the mess.  Other failures of interest included a bill to create the crime of hunting trespass that would have made LDWF enforcement agents the primary responders to trespass complaints and a measure that would have allowed recreational fishing licenses to be valid for 365 days from the date of purchase.

Concurrent Resolutions of the House or Senate are frequently used to express the sense of the Legislature, get the attention of a government agency, draw attention to an issue, and sometimes to set the stage for future legislation or other action to address a problem or take advantage of an opportunity.  One such resolution that achieved its objective without having to finally pass was directed at the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission and the Commission's proposal to restrict the use of dogs for deer hunting in one of the deer hunting areas of the state (Area 6) based on the amount of land available to the hunters wishing to hunt with dogs.  The Commission rethought its proposal and agreed to sustain the same rules applied during the previous hunting season and establish a task force of deer hunters to review the rules for hunting deer with dogs and make recommendations to the Commission prior to the initiation of the process for setting the '06/'07 hunting season regulations.  A resolution was adopted providing guidance to the State Land Office in providing notification of its determinations of waterbottom ownership.  Another urged that cumulative impacts to marine resources be assessed prior to the licensing of any more LNG facilities proposing to use the open regassification system in offshore waters.  One of the more controversial resolutions asks Congress to direct the Corps of Engineers to cease using Section 10 of the Rivers and Harbors Act to regulate sustainable forestry operations in swamps when such operations have no impact on navigation.

Several new acts establish or modify the powers of reservoir commissions, and the state construction budget (HB 2 - Capital Outlay Bill) authorizes over $40 million in various funding priorities for various stages of reservoir development in the state.  This is a continuing and growing trend that has ramifications for water supply and fish and wildlife habitat that are not necessarily good.  Efforts during the session to include statutory language to prioritize state funding of reservoir development based on the extent to which a proposed reservoir would meet current and future water supply needs fell short.  This idea will likely receive attention in the months ahead.

As always, the Louisiana Wildlife Federation provides comprehensive monitoring of the legislative session each year and publishes a listing of those measures pertaining to natural resource conservation, environmental quality and outdoor recreation that finally passed.  That listing follows.  Details on funding of the agencies and programs that have an impact on and are of interest to sportsmen and women and conservationists that are contained in the Appropriations and Capital Outlay Bills are included.  The full text of legislation is available from the Legislatur'e website:

House Bills and Resolutions

HB 1 (Act 16) by Alario.  APPROPRIATIONS.  Governor's executive budget - $55,396,763 ($24,120,276 general fund [GF]), 123 positions; Dept of Agriculture & Forestry - $96,149,528 ($31,673,563 GF), 819 positions; Office of State Parks - $24,396,604 ($22,534,894 GF), 410 positions; Dept. of Natural Resources: Atchafalaya Basin Program - $761,678 GF, 4 positions; Office of Coastal Restoration & Management - $68,702,644, 148 positions; Dept. of Environmental Quality - $149,273,100 ($7,099,513 GF), 1,044 positions; Department of Wildlife & Fisheries - $91,094,779, ($200,000 GF), 797 positions / 260 Enforcement Division ($20,817,055), 216 Office of Wildlife ($34,035,219), 226 Office of Fisheries ($22,346,081).

HB 2 (Act 26) by Hammet.  CAPITAL OUTLAY.  Provides for the capital spending of state government; includes $39,525,000 in Priority 1 (P1), $8,325,000 in Priority 2 (P2), $2,237,500 in Priority 3 (P3), $2,237,500 in Priority 4 (P4) and 31,325,000 in Priority 5 (P5) bond funding for various acquisition, planning and construction projects (AP&C) for parks and other facilities administered by the Office of State Parks; $825,000 in P1, $575,000 in P2, $1,250,000 in P3, $1,250,000 in P4 and $1,325,000 in P5 bond funding for AP&C for the Washington Parish Reservoir; $100,000 in P1, $400,000 in P2, $1,000,000 in P5 bond funding for AP&C for the Castor Creek-Little River Reservoir in LaSalle Parish; $500,000 direct GF, $1,500,000 in P1, $500,000 P2, $1,000,000 P5 bond funding for AP&C for the Poverty Point Reservoir in Richland Parish; $250,000 P2 and $500,000 in P5 for AP&C for the New Morehouse Reservoir; $400,000 in P1, $100,000 in P2, $200,000 in P5 bond funding for AP&C for the Ouachita Water Supply Reservoir; $800,000 in P1, 500,000 in P2, $1,000,000 in P5 bond funding for AP&C for the Allen Parish Reservoir; $1,415,000 in P1, $500,000 in P2, $3,900,000 in P3, $4,000,000 in P4 and $500,000 in P5 bond funding for AP&C for the Bayou Duchene Reservoir in Caldwell Parish; $200,000 in P2, $9,900,000 in P3, $9,900,000 in P4 bond funding for AP&C for the Chalk Hills Reservoir in Catahoula Parish; $4,500,000 in P1, $1,500,000 in P2, $5,987,500 in P3, $5,987,500 in P4 and $4,500,000 in P5 bond funding for the Atchafalaya Basin Protection and Enhancement Program; $7,500,000 in P5 bond funding and $500,000 in state duck stamp funding, $500,000 in Rockefeller Funds and $1,500,000 in Wildlife Habitat & Natural Heritage Trust funds for wildlife habitat acquisition by the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries.

HB 123 (Act 40) by Downs and Gallot.  LINCOLN PARISH RESERVOIR.  Establishes the Lincoln Parish Reservoir Authority within DOTD as an agency of the State of Louisiana with the authority to develop one or more reservoirs in Lincoln Parish along with various related developments for recreation, retirement, soil and water conservation, water supply and sanitary treatment and economic development.  Authorizes the Authority to take land by expropriation and to own, manage and sell the water impounded by the reservoir(s).  Establishes a 7-member reservoir commission appointed by the governor with broad regulatory authority over activities that might impact the developments of the Authority.

HB 124 (Act 195) by Wooten, et al.  SHRIMPING GEAR FEES/TRADE PETITION.  For the 2005/'06 license year, requires an additional recreational shrimping gear fee of $10 for residents and $15 for nonresidents to be deposited to the Shrimp Trade Petition Account, and an additional $15 for resident and $60 for nonresident commercial shrimping gear licenses, also to be deposited to this account.

HB 197 (Act 202)  by Dove.  COASTAL PASSES STABILIZATION.  Establishes a Coastal Passes Stabilization & Restoration Program within the Department of Natural Resources and a fund in the State Treasury to stabilize coastal passes on a priority basis per the nomination of coastal parishes and further requires that coastal pass stabilization be a component of coastal restoration projects where public bids are held for project contracts, consistent with the state's coastal restoration program.

HB 238 (Act 206) by St. Germain.  LIFETIME LICENSE ENDOWMENT.  Adjusts the amount of the Lifetime Hunting/Fishing License fees that are deposited in the Conservation Fund from $50 per license to 50% of the fee; further authorizes the investment of up to 35% of the Lifetime License Endowment Fund in the same manner allowed for the Rockefeller Wildlife Refuge Trust Fund with respect to investment in securities.

HB 245 (Act 172) by Powell.  CRAB PROMOTION & TRAP CLEANUP.  Establishes the Derelict Crab Trap Removal Program Account (DCTRPA) in the Conservation Fund and a Crab Promotion and Marketing Account (CPMA) in the Seafood Promotion and Marketing Fund and increases the gear fee on recreational crab traps by $5 per 10 traps for residents and by $20 for nonresidents to be deposited in the DCTRPA; increases the commercial crab trap gear fee by $10 for residents and $40 for nonresidents and allocates $5 to the DCTRPA and $5 to the CPMA from the resident fee increase and $20 to the DCTRPA and $20 to the CPMA from the nonresident fee increase.

HB 249 (Act 473) by Frith.  CAMERON PARISH/WASTE DISPOSAL.  Authorizes Cameron Parish to regulate the siting of waste storage and disposal facilities in the parish.

HB 313 (Act 214) by Hammett.  LAKE ST. JOHN DISTRICT.  Creates the Lake St. John Recreation Water and Conservation District between Hwys. 568 and 569 in Concordia Parish.

HB 331 (Act 219) by Hill.  FUR & ALLIGATOR COUNCIL.  Adjusts the membership of the Fur & Alligator Advisory Council to include 2 additional members engaged in the alligator farming business.

HB 340 (Act 21) by Damico.  DEQ HOUSEKEEPING.  Specifies and clarifies some functions within different divisions of the Dept. of Environmental Quality.

HB 388 (Act 225) by Fannin and Sen Kostelka.  GROUNDWATER.  Regarding the groundwater protection program, establishes a category of "area of groundwater concern" for situations where the sustainability of an aquifer is not being maintained and a category of "critical area of groundwater concern" where restrictions on withdrawals must be applied to maintain the sustainability of the groundwater source.  Deletes the category of "Critical Groundwater Area."

HB 428 (Act 481) by Pierre.  WIND ENERGY.  Authorizes the State Mineral Board in conjunction with the Secretary of the Dept. of Natural Resources to lease state lands and waterbottoms for the production of wind energy.  Further provides that any royalties, bonuses and other state income from such production be dedicated to the Wetlands Conservation and Restoration Fund (25%) and state General Fund and that rules be promulgated by the DNR to determine the conditions and requirements of such leases.

HB 475 (Act 183) by St. Germain. BRETON SOUND SHRIMPING.  Revises the coordinates for the description of the shrimp trawling line in Breton and Chandeleur Sounds.

HB 477 (Act 184) by Dove.  VESSEL MOORING.  Prohibits game and fish commissions and political subdivisions from regulating the mooring or movement of commercial industrial vessels on navigable waters.

HB 494 (Act 371) by St. Germain.  RECREATIONAL NETS.  Adjusts the demarcation line above which recreational wire and hoop nets may be used.

HB 515 (Act 89) by Pierre.  MINERAL LEASE/CONSERVATION FUND.  Requires the collection of an additional $5 per acre from mineral lessees on state lands to be deposited in the Conservation Fund for the operation of the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries.

HB 552 (Act 91) by St. Germain.  ENERGY CONSERVATION.  Amends the Commercial Building Energy Conservation Code.

HB 587 (Act 438) by Odinet.  FISH EXCLUDER DEVICE/OYSTER LEASE.  Authorizes the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries to permit the use of fish excluder devices (FED) by qualified oyster lease holders for designated periods during the year, subject to specified limitations; further specifies procedures for filing claims with the Oyster Lease Damage Evaluation Board.

HB 596 (Act 93) by Fannin.  JACKSON PARISH RESERVOIR.  Creates the Jackson Parish Dugdemona Watershed Authority and board of commissioners for the purpose of developing one or more reservoirs in Jackson Parish for conservation, recreation, economic development, water supply; provides the Authority with broad powers, including expropriation of private property and sale of water.

HB 617 (Act 95) by Kennard.  POVERTY POINT RESERVOIR/NETS.  Prohibits the use of recreational hoop and wire fishing nets, slat traps, trotlines and yo-yos in Poverty Point Reservoir.

HB 701 (Act 259) by Boudoin.  HUNTING/STATE LANDS.  Prohibits permanent hunting stands on state lands and requires that stands on state lands be removed after sunset each day.

HB 717 (Act 72) by McDonald.  BAYOU DISIARD.  Creates the Bayou Disiard Lake Restoration Commission to restore the management and protection of the waters of Bayou Disiard Lake in Monroe; provides for broad powers of the Commission including taxing and expropriation authority and regulation of water use and essentially any activity within and adjacent to the lake.

HB 752 (Act 102) by Dartez, et al.  SHRIMPING LAW VIOLATIONS.  Adjusts the penalties for violation of the laws pertaining to commercial and recreational shrimping.

HCR 18 by Fauchaux, et al.  MAUREPAS WMA/STATE PARK.  Urges the Louisiana Office of State Parks in cooperation with the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries to study the feasibility of establishing a state park in the Maurepas Swamp Wildlife Management Area.

HCR 51 by Damico.  MERCURY.  Urges the Department of Environmental Quality to engage industry, the public and other agencies to develop a mercury action plan to protect public health and to abate mercury contamination in the environment.

HCR 64 by Badon.  SOLID WASTE.  Urges the Department of Environmental Quality to strictly enforce the laws and rules requiring the proper storage and disposal of construction and demolition debris and waste.

HCR 84 by Dove, et al.  HOUMA CANAL.  Urges Congress to approve funding for the deepening of the Houma Navigation Canal to 20 feet and to utilize the dredged material for bank stabilization and coastal restoration.

HCR 85 by Jack Smith.  WILD CRAWFISH TASK FORCE.  Establishes within the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries the Wild-Caught Crawfish Task Force to advise the LDWF pertaining to the management, marketing, and development of the wild-caught crawfish industry in Louisiana.

HCR 100 by Baldone.  DUCK SHOOTING.  Urges the Louisiana Waterfowl Study Commission to examine the possibility of permitting the establishment of shooting preserves for the taking of pen-raised mallards south of I-10/12 similar to what is allowed north of this boundary.

HCR 101 by Thompson & Baldone.  DUCK BREEDING/RELEASE PROGRAM.  Authorizes and requests the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries to sponsor a pilot program to study the breeding and release of waterfowl in Louisiana.

HCR 132 by Fannin.  WATER CONSERVATION EDUCATION.  Urges the DNR Office of Conservation and Groundwater Resources Commission to develop a model public water conservation education program.

HCR 174 by Odinet, et al.  ESA/OYSTERS.   Urges the U. S. Dept. of Commerce not to list the American oyster as an endangered species under the Endangered Species Act.

HCR 204 by Frith.  OFFSHORE MINERAL ROYALTIES.  Memorializes Congress to enable Louisiana to receive a fair share of the revenue collected by the federal government generated by the leasing of mineral rights and the production of minerals off the Louisiana coast.

Senate Bills & Resolutions 

SB 21 (Act 106) by Nick Gautreaux.  WHITE LAKE ADVISORY BOARD.  Creates an additional seat on the White Lake Advisory Board to be filled by appointment of the Governor of a person who is a resident of Ward 8 in Vermilion Parish.

SB 34 (Act 318) by McPherson.  RECYCLING INCENTIVES.  Expands the application of tax incentives for the purchase of equipment or services used for the recycling of nonhazardous waste.

SB 47 (Act 320) by Barham.  MOREHOUSE LAKE COMMISSION.  Expands the authority of the Morehouse Parish Lake Commission and requires that any land acquired by expropriation and subsequently sold by the commission be first offered for sale to the person the property was expropriated from at the same price paid by the commission for the property.

SB 187 (Act 511) by Dupre.  COASTAL RESTORATION.  Proposed constitutional amendment dedicating the first $600 million annually of any new offshore mineral royalties allocated to the state by the federal government to the Wetlands Conservation and Restoration Fund for use in coastal wetland conservation and restoration projects and infrastructure rehabilitation directly related to coastal wetland losses.

SB 188 (Act 299) by Fontenot.  WATER POLLUTION.  Increases the penalties for violation of the Louisiana Pollution Discharge Elimination System.

SB 195 (Act 300) by Dupre.  COASTAL RESTORATION.  Enabling legislation for the constitutional amendment proposed by SB 187.

SB 224 (Act 133) by Hollis.  MOTORBOAT REGISTRATION.  Authorizes and describes the procedure for the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries to contract with third party issuing agents (special certificate agent) for motorboat registration and sale of commercial fishing licenses.

SB 235 (Act 116) by Ullo, et al.  AIRBOATS.  Authorizes Jefferson Parish and municipalities within the parish to regulate the use of airboats within the parish.

SB 278 (Act 307) by Nevers.  WASHINGTON PARISH RESERVOIR.  Limits the authorization for reservoir development in Washington Parish to a single location rather than the possibility of multiple reservoirs; limits the authority of the Washington Parish Reservoir District and Board of Commissioners; provides procedure for relocation of residents impacted by reservoir development in lieu of compensation; limits expropriation powers of the reservoir district to those properties that would be flooded by the reservoir at high pool stage and rights-of-way needed to provide necessary ingress to and egress from the reservoir; requires that any property expropriated and not flooded or used for right of ways be offered for sale to the prior owner at the same price the property was expropriated for; revises the composition and procedure for selecting the reservoir district board of commissioners.

SB 322 (Act 156) by Fontenot.  BROWNFIELD TAX CREDIT.  Sets up a program to provide tax incentives for the restoration of qualified brownfields.

SCR 2 by Hines. BAYOU BOEUF.  Creates the Bayou Boeuf Advisory Committee to study the uses of Bayou Boeuf and the feasibility of establishing a Bayou Boeuf freshwater district.

SCR 4 by Amedee.  BAYOU MANCHAC.  Directs a joint legislative committee to study the solutions to flooding along bayous Manchac and Fountain in Ascension Parish, E. Baton Rouge and Iberville Parishes.

SCR 6 by Schedler.  COMPUTER RECYCLING.  Urges the House and Senate Environment Committees to study and make recommendations regarding the disposal and recycling of electronic equipment.

SCR 44 by Amedee.  MAUREPAS WMA/STATE PARK.  Similar to HCR 18.

SCR 49 by Dupre.  COASTAL RESTORATION.  Approves the 2005-2006 Coastal Wetlands Conservation and Restoration Plan adopted by the Wetlands Conservation and Restoration Authority.

SCR 53 by Fontenot.  ELECTRONIC WASTE.  Urges the Department of Environmental Quality to develop a strategy for the proper management of electronic discards (computers, monitors, printers, TVs, etc.) including recovery of components and reduction of landfilling and incineration of electronic waste.

SCR 66 by Nevers.  PEARL RIVER NAVIGATION CANAL CLOSURE.  Memorializes Congress to permit the continued public use of the West Pearl Navigation Canal and the public boat launching and access facilities maintained by the U. S. Army, Corps of Engineers, all that are scheduled to be closed by June 30, 2005, until agreements with local government organizations can be secured to maintain long-term public access to and use of the WPNC.

SCR 71 by Mike Smith.  LOGGING REGULATION/CORPS OF ENGINEERS.   Memorializes Congress to direct the U. S. Army, Corps of Engineers to cease using Section 10 of the Rivers and Harbors Act to stop sustainable forestry practices that have no actual impact on navigation; excepts the parishes of Terrebonne, LaFourche and St. Charles from the request.

SCR 111 by McPherson.  STATE LANDS/WATERBOTTOMS DETERMINATION.  Urges the State Land Office to follow a procedure of public notice of preliminary ownership determinations prior to issuing final determinations.

SCR 117 by Boasso.  OFFSHORE LNG PROCESSING FACILITIES.   Memorializes Congress to direct the Maritime Administration to require that the environmental impacts of offshore LNG facilities be fully assessed and considered before licensing, particularly with respect to the cumulative impacts of open rack vaporizing systems on marine resources.

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