The following archived news items are listed by date. For even older articles, scroll to the bottom of the page and select postings by month and year.
2006 Legislative Session Report
The 2006 Regular Session of the Louisiana Legislature was low on volume of legislation introduced, compared to the usual general legislative session fare. A little over 2,000 bills and 600 resolutions of all types were introduced by the 105 representatives and 39 senators. LWF tracked about 10 percent of these that were in some way related to conservation, the environment or outdoor recreation. A quarter to a third of these were finally adopted, many of which are described here.
Noteworthy for not passing was HB 1105 which proposed to establish a program within the Department of Natural Resources (LDNR) for the acquisition of forests strategic to the protection of the Louisiana coast. It got caught up in a misunderstanding with the Department of Agriculture and Forestry (LDAF) over language to recognize LDAF's role in assuring the beneficial use of forest resources while providing for the appropriate leadership role of LDNR in coastal protection and restoration. Time expired before the differences, more imagined than substantive, could be worked out.
Other notable failures were related to new fees for LDWF programs: HB 1052 which proposed to require that all motorized boats and vessels that are of model year or manufactured/built in 2001 or later (except for those vessels with a certificate of documentation from the US Coast Guard) be titled by the state under the authority of the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries for a fee of $18.50; HB 1053 that would have authorized Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission to promulgate increases to hunting, fishing, motorboat and all other fees charged by the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries and LWFC based on the Consumer Price Index for urban consumers, provided that no individual fee increase can exceed the amount of the fee in effect on July 1, 2006 by more than 100%; and HB 1054 that proposed to authorize the LWFC through the LDWF to issue one "bonus" buck deer tag per hunter per season for a fee of $25 to take an additional buck in excess of the season limit and an unlimited number of "bonus" doe tags for a fee of $20 per tag to take doe deer in excess of the season limit. The department was appropriated some additional funds to cover the cost of its hurricane response work which put off the immediate need to raise revenues. A more comprehensive and better planned strategy for LDWF revenue enhancement will likely be forthcoming.
A measure that has been making the rounds in legislatures across the country is a prohibition on remote "hunting." It is a response to the promotion of "hunting" via the Internet where the "hunter" or player actually aims and fires a gun or shoots an arrow at live animal using a computer and the Internet. The practice is now outlawed in Louisiana via Act 745.
Several bills adopted were reactions to circumstances created by the hurricanes of last year. Particularly, the Department of Environmental Quality was given additional authority and direction regarding the removal and disposal of construction and storm debris and hazardous material generated by an emergency (Acts 112, 662, 718 and 829), and the secretary of the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries was authorized to act on behalf of the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission when emergency conditions require the cancellation of a regularly scheduled LWFC meeting and to declare emergency closures of hunting and fishing seasons (Acts 205, 339).
As expected, measures were adopted to address the greater post-hurricane urgency of coastal protection and restoration. Noteworthy were Act 297 setting a standard for barrier island restoration projects, Act 425 making oyster leases subservient to restoration and protection projects and Act 548 requiring consistency of government projects/activities with coastal restoration and protection. Related is Act 626 that will encourage the donation of coastal lands for coastal restoration and protection by allowing the DNR secretary to fix mineral boundaries for the donated property. Several concurrent resolutions promoting coastal restoration were also adopted.
Anglers who wish to make an extra contribution to the LDWF's Florida bass stocking program can now purchase a prestige license plate thanks to Act 352. Act 528 should encourage new hunters by temporarily deferring the hunter education requirement and allowing for a 30-day resident hunting license for all species for $10 for first-time hunters, and Act 109 clarifies the turkey baiting law by specifying a distance (200 yards) from "bait" within which it is illegal to hunt.
The following 3 resolutions, specifically promoted by the LWF, were adopted: SCR 59 nominates Drake's Creek in Vernon Parish for evaluation for suitability for inclusion in the Louisiana Natural and Scenic Rivers System; SCR 68 establishes the Louisiana Prescribed Fire Council within the Department of Agriculture and Forestry to promote the use of prescribed fire to manage and improve the health and habitat of forests and other ecosystems where appropriate; SR 115 directs the State Land Office to make accessible to the public information on the inventory of state water bottoms, including access to any maps or interactive programs showing public lands or waterbottoms pursuant to SCRs 24 & 25 of 2004 and SCR 115 of 2005.
The state took a proactive step toward curtailing the emissions and discharges of mercury into the environment with Act 126 establishing a program to label and eventually phase out the sale of mercury-containing products and to require the collection and proper management of mercury contained in products to be disposed of.
The most contentious and controversial "environmental" legislation, which ultimately was signed as Act 312, establishes a process for the remediation of contaminated oilfield sites that wind up in litigation. The bill (SB 655) started out with major flaws, but through the legislative process, it was dramatically improved. Despite that, significant questions remain with respect to the effectiveness of the process in sufficiently cleaning up the contaminated sites. Chief among these is whether or not DNR has the capacity to follow the process and execute its responsibilities as required by the new law. Equally important is the question of the adequacy of the current Statewide Order 29B site cleanup regulations and the applicable standards in assuring that contaminated sites are restored to a productive capacity. New rules may have to be promulgated to beef up those standards. The legislation was vague, perhaps intentionally, with respect to its application to contaminated sites that have been closed under previously applicable rules and standards (or the absence of such standards), even though those standards were inadequate and the site remains contaminated. Bill proponents assured sceptics that those sites would be covered by the new legislation and would be cleaned up, but they were not willing to accept amendments to the bill that would have stated that explicitly. The legislation also was unclear on whether or not DNR has adequate direction and authority to make sure contaminated groundwater under an oilfield site is properly remediated. Having said all that, this new law id directed primarily to sites under litigation. There are thousands of others on private and public lands and waterbottoms that need attention. One proactive strategy to clean up and restore such sites would be to establish an industry-supported clean-up program similar in concept to the Oilfield Site Restoration Program in DNR which is funded by a tax on production of oil/gas. That program applies only to orphaned wells and related abandoned facilities, but could be expanded if the tax on production could be adjusted and broadened. Such a "no-fault" approach could be more speedy and effective, not to mention economical, than the court-driven cleanup envisioned by Act 312.
Always included in LWF's coverage of the Legislature are the Appropriations (Act 17) and Capital Outlay (Act 27) bills. We do that to give interested folks an idea of the budgets and staff of some of the agencies and programs most pertinent to LWF's mission, particularly the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries. It is noteworthy that LDWF, unlike most every other agency in state government, does not receive support from the state general fund. On the capital outlay side, we have been following the proliferation of funding for reservoir projects around the state, none of which have been evaluated for impacts to water supply or fish and wildlife habitat, but yet continue to receive funding for planning and construction. Some impacts are adverse and significant, and water supply benefits are small or nil. Some will never be built once the feasibility and impacts are finally known, leaving the state (taxpayers) out millions of dollars. The process is badly in need of reform.
That wraps it up for the 2006 legislative session. The following lists some of the pertinent (to LWF) bills and resolutions as finally adopted. Act numbers are indicated for those measures signed by the Governor or allowed to become law without the Governor's action. For the full text of bills and resolutions visit the Legislature's website at www.legis.state.la.us and click on "2006 Regular Session" in the drop-down box, enter the bill or resolution # and and click "view." From there, the current status and history of each measure can be obtained.
House Bills and Resolutions
HB 1 by Alario (Act 17). APPROPRIATIONS. Dept. of Agriculture & Forestry - $98,398,821 ($33,171,162 general fund [GF]), plus $1,400,000 GF supplemental - HB 1208, 798 positions; Dept. of Culture, Recreation & Tourism: Office of State Parks - $28,072,699 ($26,131,181 GF), 421 positions; Dept. of Natural Resources: Atchafalaya Basin Program - $527,963, 4 positions; Office of Coastal Restoration & Management - $77,599,579, 149 positions; Dept. of Environmental Quality - $137,006,606 ($10,406,470 GF), 986 positions; Department of Wildlife & Fisheries - $92,397,604, 791 positions / 258 Enforcement Division ($22,321,676), 214 Office of Wildlife ($34,418,673 plus $234,000 GF supplemental - HB 1208), 222 Office of Fisheries ($22,591,006 plus $300,000 supplemental - HB 1208).
HB 2 by Hammett (Act 27). CAPITAL OUTLAY. Provides for the capital spending of state government; includes $32,145,000 in Priority 1 (P1), $8,990,000 in Priority 2 (P2), $1,000,000 in Priority 3 (P3), $2,400,000 in Priority 4 (P$) and 21,140,000 in Priority 5 (P5) bond funding, $4,510,000 in reallocation funds, $5,400,000 in State Parks Improvement and Repair Fund, and $120,000 GF for various acquisition, planning and construction projects (AP&C) and maintenance and repairs for state parks and preservation areas administered by the Office of State Parks; $2,625,000 in P1, $1,200,000 in P2, $1,000,000 in P5 bond funding for AP&C for the Washington Parish Reservoir; $100,000 in P1, $250,000 in P2, $500,000 in P5 bond funding for AP&C for the Castor Creek-Little River Reservoir in LaSalle Parish; $2,000,000 P1, and $1,000,000 P5 bond funding and $500,000 GF for AP&C for the Poverty Point Reservoir in Richland Parish (plus a HB 1 appropriation of $50,000 operating funds for the reservoir commission); $400,000 in P1, $500,000 in P2, $3,500,000 in P5 bond funding for AP&C for the Ouachita Water Supply Reservoir; $800,000 in P1, 1,000,000 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, $1,000,000 in P5 bond funding for AP&C for the Bayou Duchene Reservoir in Caldwell Parish; $100,000 in P2 and $100,000 in P5 bond funding for AP&C for the New Morehouse Reservoir; $550,000 in P1 and $90,000 in P2 for Bayou Desiard Ecosystem Restoration in Ouachita Parish; $4,500,000 in P1, $5,000,000 in P2, and $4,000,000 in P5 bond funding for the Atchafalaya Basin Protection and Enhancement Program; $1,500,000 in P5 bond funding and $500,000 in state duck stamp funding, $500,000 in Rockefeller Funds and $1,000,000 in Wildlife Habitat & Natural Heritage Trust funds for wildlife habitat acquisition by the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries; $150,000 in P2 and $330,000 in P 5 for the Sabine River Authority (SRA) for navigation aids on Toledo Bend Reservoir; $350,000 in P 1 and $3,880,000 in P5 bond funding for SRA park improvement; $200,000 in P2 and $2,000,000 in P5 for the America's Wetland Discovery Center in Calcasieu Parish; $300,000 in P1, $400,000 in P3 and $100,000 in P5 for a recreation area at Pearl River Canal in Washington Parish.
HB 52 by Hammett (Act 745). REMOTE KILLING. Prohibits taking, possessing or assisting in the take of an animal from a remote location with the aid of a computer or other device that allows the control and discharge of a firearm or other weapon by a person who is not physically present at the location of the weapon; applies to providers of such services and designates violations as Class Six.
HB 91 by Farrar (Act 675). NO WAKE ZONE. Establishes no wake zones within 300 feet of dock/launches accessible to the public and requires the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission to adopt rules for uniform signage for no wake zones to be used by local governing authorities in posting such zones on waterways.
HB 511 by Damico (Act 829). SOLID WASTE REDUCTION. Updates and strengthens the state's solid waste reduction and recycling law and provides with respect to evaluation of waste disposal capacity and emergency waste management and disposal capacity.
HB 760 by Scalise (Act 275). FIREARMS/EMERGENCY. Prohibits confiscation of lawfully possessed/transported firearms during a declared emergency.
HB 795 by Triche (Act 715). BIG CAT REGULATION. Requires the LWFC to control the importation and ownership of big exotic cats.
HB 824 by Frith (Act 775). CROSSBOW/MECHANICAL RELEASE. Authorizes hunters with qualifying disability and senior hunting license holders to use crossbows with scopes and mechanical bow releases when hunting.
HB 825 by St. Germain, et al. (Act 339). EMERGENCY HUNTING/FISHING CLOSURE. Authorizes the LDWF secretary to close or modify hunting and or fishing seasons/limits in an emergency.
HB 837 by Jack Smith, et al. (Act 205). LWFC/EMERGENCY. Authorizes the chairman of the LWFC to cancel Commission meetings when the state is under an emergency declared by the Governor and authorizes the LDWF secretary to act on any items on the agenda of the canceled LWFC meeting and to take any other action necessary to protect the fish and wildlife resources until the next LWFC meeting.
HB 838 by St. Germain, et al. (Act 400). AQUATIC PLANT CONTROL. Adds to the list of prohibited invasive, noxious aquatic plant species, strengthens the authority of the LDWF in regulating their importation and possession, authorizes listing additional prohibited plants by rule, and raises the penalty for violation to a Class 4.
HB 840 by St. Germain, et al. (Act 283) FRAUDULENT HUNTING. Makes the use of another person's hunting license a Class 3 violation.
HB 891 by St. Germain (Act 352). LARGEMOUTH BASS TAG. Creates a largemouth bass prestige license plate for $26 per 2 years and $3.50 handling fee; the net funds so raised will be deposited in the "largemouth bass account" in the Conservation Fund and dedicated to raising and stocking Florida bass in Louisiana.
HB 1086 by Dove (Act 297). BARRIER ISLANDS. Requires the Department of Natural Resources to submit an annual report on the status of all barrier islands and to require all barrier island stabilization and preservation projects to include the establishment of a minimum dune height of 8 feet.
HB 1161 by St. Germain (Act 419). SHAD FISHING. Authorizes the use of unattended nets overnight for fishing for shad in Lakes Palourde and Verret from Nov. 1, 2006 to Mar. 31, 2007.
HB 1210 by LaFonta (Act 234). LITTER/ROOFING NAILS. Adds roofing nails to the list of materials that constitute litter, and gross litter when improperly discarded.
HB 1229 by Baudoin (Act 842). DEER STAND/STATE LAND. Prohibits the placement of or hunting from a permanent deer stand on state land and requires that portable stands be removed from the tree/laid on the ground and tagged with the owner's I. D. if they are to be left overnight on state land.
HB 1249 by Odinet (Act 425). OYSTER LEASES/COASTAL RESTORATION. Makes oyster leases subservient to coastal restoration, conservation and protection and provides for the acquisition of oyster leases impacted by such projects and the compensation of lease holders by DNR.
HCR 34 by Gary Smith. CIGARETTE LITTERING. Directs DEQ in cooperation with Keep America Beautiful to conduct an educational campaign to prevent cigarette littering (butts, package wrappers, match books, disposable lighters, etc.).
HCR 35 by Hammett. YOUTH HUNTING & FISHING. Commends the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries for its youth hunting and fishing programs and urges the LDWF to continue and expand them.
HCR 38 by Hutter. MRGO. Memorializes Congress to close the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet and requests the Louisiana Congressional Delegation to file legislation to do so.
HCR 49 by Dove. BARRIER ISLANDS. Urges the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority to increase the focus on the restoration of barrier islands in the overall plan for coastal restoration and hurricane protection.
HCR 57 by Farrar. KISATCHIE DOG TRAINING. Requests the US Forest Service to continue to allow the training of hounds on the Kisatchie National Forest betweem March1 and Sept. 1.
HCR 61 by Geymann. HUNTER EDUCATION. Urges the LDWF to consider raising the age at which youths can receive hunter safety certification and be eligible to hunt without supervision; further to encourage parental participation in the safety training course and youth hunting activities.
HCR 137 by Dove. RIVER DIVERSIONS. Urges the operation of Mississippi River diversions as close to their capacity as possible.
HCR 158 by Fannin & Sen. Kostelka. CANEY LAKE MANAGEMENT PLAN. Urges the LDWF to develop and implement, with input from the local community, a 10-year management plan for Caney Lake in Jackson Parish, such plan to consider aquatic vegetation management, harvest management regulations, water quality and other factors.
HCR 227 by Walsworth. OUACHITA RIVER POLLUTION. Urges the participation of the pertinent Louisiana agencies in commenting on and monitoring the proposed El Dorado (Arkansas) Wastewater Effluent Pipeline that would pump municipal and industrial wastewater into the Ouachita River.
Senate Bills and Resolutions
SB 30 by McPherson (Act 561). PUBLIC HUNTING/FISHING LAND. Requires that the Commissioner of Administration and Wildlife and Fisheries Commission give primary consideration to public hunting, fishing and recreation when making decisions governing the management and use of state lands and provide to the Legislature by March 1st each year a listing of all acreage owned by the state that is available for public hunting, fishing and outdoor recreation and the amount of such land gained and lost for those purposes during the year.
SB 146 by McPherson (Act 109). TURKEY BAITING. Clarifies the law prohibiting the hunting of turkeys over bait by prohibiting hunting turkeys within 200 yards of a "baited"area.
SB 162 by Ellington (Act 111). CATFISH LIMIT/RECREATIONAL NET. Allows a person fishing with a wire net under a recreational gear license to keep/possess up to 25 undersized catfish.
SB 173 by Fontenot (Act 112). HAZARDOUS WASTE DISPOSAL CAPACITY. Requires DEQ to evaluate the volume and types of hazardous waste managed in the state by Jan. 1, 2007 and to determine the sufficiency of hazardous waste management capacity in the state as well as to provide for sufficient capacity that can be anticipated to be needed in an emergency.
SB 209 by Fontenot (Act 115). DEQ GENERAL PERMITS. Authorizes DEQ to issue regulatory (general) permits for minor discharges/emissions of pollutants; requires promulgation of rules to designate the kinds of activities that can be permitted via a regulatory permit and procedure for permit application and response from DEQ.
SB 229 by Dardenne. COASTAL RESTORATION/PROTECTION. Constitutional amendment expanding the use of the Coastal Restoration fund to include coastal protection and related infrastructure (Coastal Protection & Restoration Fund) and provides for 20 percent of the tobacco settlement to be deposited in this fund with a portion dedicated to barrier island protection and restoration.
SB 250 by Fontenot (Act 117). DEQ PERMITS. Shortens the time allowed for completeness reviews of DEQ permit applications from 110 to 60 days, and from 410 to 300 days on final permit decisions.
SB 292 by Fontenot et al. (Act 586). EXEDITED PERMITTING/DEQ. Authorizes DEQ to promulgate rules for an expedited permitting process program.
SB 329 by McPherson (Act 528). HUNTER EDUCATION DEFERRAL. For persons who were born after Sept. 1, 1969 and who never have previously purchased a Louisiana hunting licence of any kind, or WMA permit, provides for a one-time, 30 consecutive day, hunter education certification deferral at a cost of $10 for Louisiana residents 16 and over who are hunting in the company of a person 18 years of age or older who has a valid hunting license or hunter education certification and which is in lieu of basic, big game, turkey, waterfowl, bow, muzzleloader and WMA licenses for the 30-day period; further provides for a one-time 5 consecutive day hunter education certification deferral at a cost of $10 for nonresidents but is not in lieu of the required nonresident hunting licenses.
SB 583 by Fontenot (Act 662). DEBRIS MANAGEMENT. Requires DEQ to develop a management plan for debris created by natural disasters with priority given to recycling/composting, volume reduction, weight reduction, and use of woody material in coastal restoration projects and to submit such plan to the House and senate Environment Committees by July 1, 2006.
SB 615 by Fontenot, et al. (Act 126). MERCURY RISK REDUCTION. Creates the Mercury Risk Reduction Act to require the labeling of mercury containing products and the ultimate phase out of the sale and use of those products in Louisiana; exempts the use of mercury dental amalgam by a qualified health care provider from labeling and phase out provisions; provides for the proper disposal and recycling of mercury-containing products and regulation of the use of mercury and mercury-containing products in the state; authorizes and directs a comprehensive public education and outreach program informing of the hazards of mercury and proper handling, disposal and recycling; establishes state procurement policy to encourage purchase of mercury-free products; phases out and prohibits the use of mercury-containing products in proximity to water supplies and wastewater treatment and discharge areas.
SB 635 by Dupre & Dardenne (Act 548). COASTAL PROTECTION CONSISTENCY. Establishes policy that any government body undertaking, conducting or supporting activities inside or outside the coastal zone that affects any land or water use or natural resource of the coastal zone shall ensure that such activities are consistent with coastal protection and restoration, and further, that such government bodies shall consider the sustainability of any such activities.
SB 655 by Adley et al. (Act 312). OILFIELD CLEANUP. Clarifies and establishes procedure for the remediation of contamination and damages to land and water caused by activities associated with the exploration and production of mineral resources as regulated by the Department of Natural Resources, to ensure that damaged sites are cleaned up to standards adequate to protect public health and safety.
SB 664 by Dupre & Rep. Daniel (Act 626). COASTAL RESTORATION/MINERALS. Authorizes the DNR secretary to enter into agreements regarding mineral ownership with the owners of land that is acquired by government or qualified private non-profit land conservation organizations for the purposes of coastal restoration and protection.
SCR 16 by McPherson. SPOONBILL CATS. Urges the LWFC to allow for the incidental take of paddlefish by recreational fishermen.
SCR 17 by Murray. FIREARM RETURN. Directs law enforcement authorities in the New Orleans area that seized lawfully-possessed firearms during the hurricane emergency to develop and implement a plan to return them to their owners.
SCR 20 by Schedler. COMPUTER RECYCLING. Requests a joint study committee of the House and Senate Committees on the Environment to investigate and make recommendations on the recycling and proper disposal of used computers and related electronic equipment.
SCR 59 by McPherson. DRAKE'S CREEK/SCENIC RIVERS. Nominates Drake's Creek in Vernon Parish for evaluation for suitability for inclusion in the Louisiana Natural and Scenic Rivers System.
SCR 68 by Barham. PRESCRIBED FIRE COUNCIL. Establishes the Louisiana Prescribed Fire Council within the Department of Agriculture and Forestry to promote the use of prescribed fire to manage and improve the health and habitat of forests and other ecosystems where appropriate.
SCR 82 by Barham. OUACHITA RIVER POLLUTION. Urges the DEQ secretary to monitor and participate in the activities with respect to the proposed El Dorado (AR) Wastewater Effluent Pipeline to the Ouachita River that will adversely impact the quality of the Ouachita River in Louisiana.
SR 115 by McPherson. PUBLIC LANDS/WATERBOTTOMS. Directs the State Land Office to make accessible to the public information on the inventory of state water bottoms, including access to any maps or interactive programs showing public lands or waterbottoms pursuant to SCRs 24 & 25 of 2004 and SCR 115 of 2005.