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LWF Legislative Report on Coastal Restoration Bills

April 21, 2014 9:00 PM

The Louisiana Legislative session is nearing the half-way point and LWF has a few bills we want to point out for your attention and action. 

Your action is needed to keep coastal restoration moving forward in the right direction!

Please take a moment to let your legislators know of your continued support for Louisiana’s Coastal Master Plan and show support for the annual plan as presented to be authorized in HCR 10, with no changes or amendments.  In the same message you can let your legislators know you support protection of the Coastal Protection and Restoration Trust Fund as provided for in HB 148 and HB 490. Let them know you want to see funds from the penalties and fines of the oil spill spent toward restoring Louisiana’s coast and not on balancing the budget or paying for unrelated budget proposals. We must get this right for our coast's recovery and future sustainability. 

You can view these bills yourself at https://www.legis.la.gov/Legis/Home.aspx

How to find and contact your legislator: https://www.legis.la.gov/legis/FindMyLegislators.aspx

Below is a summary of key bills related to coastal protection and restoration work in Louisiana:

The Coastal Master Plan’s Annual  Plan:

HCR 10 presents approval for the Annual Plan that guides implementation of the Coastal Master Plan and the work of the CPRA. It is important to express support for the plan, and let legislators know that the CPRA and its plan have public support. While some folks oppose large sediment diversions and are asking legislators to redirect funding earmarked for diversions out of the annual plan, we must stay the course with the Annual Plan and implementation of the Coastal Master Plan that we, as a state, approved. Any amendments to the annual coastal plan at this stage would present a problem for keeping projects on track, including projects associated with funding from the oil spill to fast-track restoration projects.  The Annual Plan is designed to address projects at various stages moving forward in the process and supports multiple strategies. Removing funding for large sediment diversions would set this annual plan process back and have negative implications for future planning. (Need more info on this process? http://coastal.la.gov/resources/library/reports/

Protection for the Coastal Trust Fund:

HB 148 (Champagne) requires that money received by the state from violations of certain federal and state laws associated with the Deep Water Horizon oil spill be deposited into the Coastal Protection and Restoration Fund. This is the 3rd year in a row that Rep. Champagne is seeking to constitutionally protect the Coastal Trust Fund.

HB 490 (Geymann) is another attempt to constitutionally protect the Coastal Trust Fund and appears to be a good government bill. It prohibits certain transfers of monies through the Coastal Protection and Restoration Fund or the Budget Stabilization Fund. While the current constitution says that no appropriation from the CPR Fund shall be made that is inconsistent with the plan developed by the CPRA, it does not prohibit the transfer of money in and out of the fund that can appear to be a way to remove the designation of non-recurring funds.  This proposed constitutional amendment fixes that. Here's another call to action on this bill: http://www.mississippiriverdelta.org/blog/2014/04/21/support-hb-490-legislation-to-protect-louisianas-coastal-protection-and-restoration-fund/

Why we need to protect the Coastal Protection and Restoration (CPR) Fund and watch closely how penalties and fines from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill will be spent:

HB 587 (Carmody) eliminates constitutionally protected funds, including the CPR fund. Other protected funds impacted include state supplemental pay, free school books, the Minimum Foundation Program, the Transportation Trust Fund, the Parish Trust Fund, the Lottery Proceeds Fund.

SB 345 (Crowe) dedicates certain Deepwater Horizon oil spill fines to provide public elementary and secondary schools with full wireless digital technology capabilities for the classroom. We understand Senator Crowe has committed to not moving this bill forward and learned that there are other separate, unreleated commitments to providing this technology to schools in the next few years. 

HB 1026 (Fannin) Establishes the DWH Economic Damages Fund as a special permanent trust fund. Proceeds from the state’s economic damages lawsuit from DWH will be deposited into this fund. Up to 50% of each receipt of funds will be deposited into the budget stabilization fund until that fund reaches amount statutorily mandated by present law. This law is specific to the economic damages, and does not pertain to RESTORE, NRDA or NFWF money.

Other bills related to the Coastal Zone:

HB 850 (Henry) Gives CPRA the authority to contract directly with entities already contracted with the Corps for the study, investigation, response to and clean-up of hazardous materials. This appears to allow the CPRA to respond more quickly to these situations without having to go to through the bid process.

HB 397 (Gisclair) Prohibits the dredging of sand pits near a state highway in certain areas of the coastal zone. It is talking about Highway 1 in Lafourche Parish that could be compromised by this kind of activity.

HB 862 (Robideaux) No action may be initiated to enforce the coastal zone management laws or rules until notice has been given, and the secretary of Natural Resources has opened an investigation which must be completed in 120 days. Funds deposited into the Coastal Resources Trust Fund as a result of action must be used for mitigation projects in the geographical boundaries of where the violation took place.

HB 855 (Henry) Has many of the same provisions as HB 862 (Robideaux).

SB 489 (Adley) Has many of the same provisions as HB 862 (Robideaux). 


 
 
 
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