BATON ROUGE – An amended 'legacy lawsuit' bill has passed the Senate unanimously.
HB618 was held without being assigned to committee for three weeks before a compromise was announced on the issue by Governor Bobby Jindal's office.
Now, an amended HB618, sponsored by Representative Neil Abramson, D –New Orleans, along with SB555, sponsored by Senator Robert Adley, R–Benton, are being passed though as tandem legislation that will work together. Both bills passed the Senate unanimously this week.
HB618 will change the courtroom mechanism for hearing environmental pollution cases and SB555 will provide for the administrative function for developing an environmental remediation plan in the cases.
The bills together are said to accomplish the goals of allowing defendants to admit responsibility for environmental pollution due to drilling activities without admitting liability for private damages, allow for a pre-trial hearing to determine regulatory damages and provide for the most feasible cleanup plan.
Melissa Landry, Executive Director of Louisiana Lawsuit Abuse Watch Group, said the legislation looks like it is on its way into law.
"As I understand it, the compromise that was made last week is definitely holding," Landry said.
"The bills are really moving pretty rapidly through the process. The biggest hurdle for both the bills has been cleared.
"Of course it is never over until it is over, but at this point it is very, very strong. There is broad support for both bills in the legislature and it's clear that the leadership has really fast-tracked both the bills for final passage prior to the deadline, which is very good news."
Both bills are scheduled to be heard for a final vote on the House floor on May 31.