BATON ROUGE – A new bill concerning legacy lawsuit reform is set to be heard in a Senate committee later today.
The bill, SB443, sponsored by J.P. Morrell, D–New Orleans, contains the same language as an earlier proposal - HB618 - that was stopped on its arrival to the Senate after receiving overwhelming approval in the House.
Both SB443 and HB618 would allow energy companies to admit fault for pollution from past activities and have an environmental remediation plan developed by the Department of Natural Resources that would be entered into evidence in cases.
The push to pass SB443 is seen as a response to the failure of Senate leadership to assign HB618, sponsored by Neil Abramson, D–New Orleans, to a committee. SB443 was assigned to Judiciary A on March 12th, long before the legacy issue became a hot topic in this legislative session.
"Bills should be referred to the proper committee according to the technical rules," said U.S. Senator David Vitter.
"And its very clear to me in the case of Abramson's bill that's Judiciary A and the exact same J. P. Morrell bill was referred there on the Senate side weeks ago, which sort of proves my point and the problem with the other side was that they were not all focused on (SB443), so that let it go."
SB443 is on the agenda in the Judiciary A committee and will be heard following adjournment of the Senate today.
"I feel very comfortable that we'll have a good hearing in Senate Judiciary A and that we'll be able to hear it on the Senate floor and they'll be able to move it forward into the House," said Don Briggs, President of the Louisiana Oil and Gas Association. "Do I think time is short? Yes. But we're fighting for every inch we can get."