Committee assignment crucial for Abramson's HB618

Kyle Barnett May 2, 2012, 12:51am


BATON ROUGE – Rep. Neil Abramson's bill that would reform legacy lawsuits should be introduced into a Senate committee soon.

The bill, which passed in the House last week, has stalled since moving to the Senate.

"Not surprisingly there appears to be some sort of struggle taking place," said Melissa Landry, Executive Director of Louisiana Lawsuit Abuse Watch.

"HB618 was referred over to the Senate and it usually has some layover for a day. It normally gets a committee assignment which should have happened by Monday if not at least by today (Tuesday)."

The Senate president alone has the ability to decide which committee picks up a bill. It originally passed through the House Civil Law Committee, but may be diverted in the Senate to another committee seen as more friendly to one side of the debate or the other.

Last week the Senate Natural Resources Committee passed competing legislation in Sen. Bret Allain's SB731, now known as SB760, which is up for a vote on the Senate floor.

Supporters of Abramson's bill would like to see it go to a committee that is seen as more industry friendly.

"This is a key issue the committee assignment on HB618," said Landry. "If it gets out of committee there is a really good feeling it has broad support in the Senate. Of course if it doesn't get out of committee it doesn't matter."

HB618 is expected to receive a committee assignment Tuesday morning.

However, there is speculation that a compromise may be reached soon.

Jimmy Faircloth, who acts as an attorney for landowners, said last week after the passage of Allain's bill that the "language may be tweaked" to bring the two sides closer together.

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