UPDATE: Legacy lawsuits bills delayed; Monday Hearings, Tuesday Votes
The expected clash over “legacy lawsuits” dealing with oilfield contamination was put off until next week by Judiciary A Committee Chairman Ben Nevers, D-Bogalusa. On Monday April 16th, there will be an informational hearing on legacy lawsuits, and Tuesday April 17th will be the actual vote on the matter.
Call to action
Come to Baton Rouge to oppose SB 443 or email email@example.com
if you can submit a card opposing this bad bill.
Using the Code of Civil Procedure, SB 443 attempts to amend R.S. 30 to give the oil and gas industry what it was denied in the passage of Act 312 – (1) the doctrine of primary agency jurisdiction to use as barrier against private claims, and (2) the means to use its influence over the agency (lobbying and/or media or political pressure) to reduce its exposure for remediation damages in private litigation.
Act 312 was passed following lengthy debate and stakeholder negotiations in the natural resource committees of both chambers. There are 14 bills pending in those committees that relate to Act 312, some of which propose major revisions (SB 528, Chairman Long; SB 731, Allain, SB 555, Adley; HB 642, Montoucet; HB 678, Morris; HB 1180 Harrison). Chairman Long has scheduled an “information-only” hearing for April 19.
SB 443 proposes a procedural and substantive train wreck for the legislature because it contemplates amending 312 in avoidance of the natural resource committees, without regard to the other Act 312 instruments, issues, and the enormous time and resources spent informing those committee members. The integrity of the process demands that all Act 312 issues be debated in the committees where the law originated and where all debates and attention have been, and remain, focused.
Fearing defeat in the natural resource committees, SB 443 was added to the calendar of Senate Jud A, at 4:45 just before the Easter recess, with the hearing scheduled for the following Tuesday and committee members not scheduled to report until Monday evening. Given the weight and complexity of the issue, this attempt to avoid substance by “jamming” landowners and legislators over Easter weekend represents the worst of old-school politics.
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