‘LaPolitics’: Coastal lawsuit legislation on tap for next week

Legislation related to the controversial $100 million settlement involving Freeport-McMoRan is expected to come before the Senate Natural Resources Committee on Wednesday, as long as all of the authors agree to the agenda. Chairman Bob Hensgens, R-Abbeville, says that’s the plan heading into the weekend. Lawmakers have been charged with developing a system for collecting the money that’s part of a series of lawsuits filed by parishes against oil companies. Hengens says legislation by Sen. Bret Allain, R-Franklin, will most likely be considered first at next week’s meeting. The bill also seems the most likely to pass, the chairman adds. Similar to the settlement legislation that passed the committee last year, the Allain bill would allow the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority to collect such fines and settlements. The cash would be earmarked for coastal restoration and protection projects. Sen. Mike Fesi, R-Houma, also has a bill that would require an exhaustion of the administrative remedy, in relation to such disagreements, and Sen. Rick Ward, R-Port Allen, has legislation that would set up a collection structure in state government and recognize the settlement agreement. “I think the committee is very evenly split on this issue and wanting a conversation on all three of the bills that have been proposed,” Hensgens says. Pelican Action, the sister organization of the Pelican Institute, is in the process of dropping mail pieces in legislative districts regarding the settlement bills. In a statement, the group says it’s “prepared to spend six-figures to put a stop to the coastal credit scheme currently before the Legislature.”

They said it: “I don’t know if I answered your question. I went on a rant. It felt good.”—House Speaker Pro Tem Tanner Magee, R-Houma, after fielding a question during a committee meeting this week.  

Jeremy Alford publishes LaPolitics Weekly, a newsletter on Louisiana politics, at LaPolitics.com. Follow him on Twitter, or on Facebook. He can be reached at JJA@LaPolitics.com.