News & Resolutions

LWF Supports Protection of Artificial Reef Development Fund through Legislative Action

April 3, 2013 12:35 PM

Senator Bret Allain of Franklin is introducing Senate Bill 128 that would essentially protect the Artificial Reef Development Fund (ARDF) from further transfers to unrelated uses by making it a constitutionally-protected fund. Senate Bill 128 would present the proposition to voters to support the creation of the Artificial Reef Development Fund as an amendment to the constitution. The bill will need to pass out of the legislature by a two-thirds vote in this upcoming legislative session to be presented for vote by the public in November 2014.

“Louisiana Wildlife Federation (LWF) has publicly expressed concern for the future of the Fund and has objected to past transfers of ARDF funding that are not put toward uses designated in the Act of Donation or in the statute that governs the ARDF,” said Rebecca Triche, Executive Director for LWF.  “We want to see these funds used for fisheries enhancements and artificial reef creation.  The funds are donated to the Conservation Fund, which is a constitutionally-protected fund, so we believe it is protected but if the language needs to be explicit for protection then we support that and believe Louisiana voters will as well.”

For the fourth year in a row, the Artificial Reef Development Fund is a target for a transfer of its donated funds into an “overcollections fund” bound for other state budget purposes.  House Bill 452 proposes to transfer $20.6 million out of the ARDF. In the 2012 legislative session, a transfer of funds from ARDF was added to a bill but later removed. In 2011, $26.6 million was transferred out of ARDF as was $18.8 million in 2010.  

“The history of this Fund being a target for balancing the budget is enough to show it must be protected from future raids or we will have to fight this every year. People who care about fisheries protection and enhancement in Louisiana and the continued success of Louisiana’s rigs-to-reef program need to express their support for protecting the Artificial Reef Development Fund from further raids,” Triche said.

Photo courtesy of Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries for the Louisiana Artificial Reef Program.

Rebecca Triche

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