24 May 2006

Floor action, May 24: HB 1130, SB 347, SB 700, HB 685

HB 1130 unexpectedly popped up on the Senate floor when Sen. Tom Schedler had it declared a duplicate of his SB 665 after getting conforming amendments in place. It occurred without objection, meaning the bill, which would allow more governments to be created with, among other things, powers to tax, if now passed by the Senate unchanged would go to the governor.

SB 347, recently overwhelmingly defeated, was up for reconsideration. But its author Sen. Edward Murray pulled it back to the calendar, almost certainly ending its advancement this session.

SB 700 apparently still has a paucity of support. It was a special order for the day but its author Sen. Charles Jones postponed it another week.

HB 685 would force, after a certain amount is produced annually, ethanol or other renewable fuel sources to be included in gasoline at least at the 2 percent level of the total. Sen. Ben Nevers handled the bill, reminding the body of high oil prices that might be ameliorated by this bill (even though opponents in committee had argued otherwise).

Sen. Robert Barham said Louisiana was placed well to benefit from production of these renewable sources. He also offered an amendment that did not allow regulations to mandate who did or did not have to sell it, being as the Department of Agriculture had done this in the past. Nevers objected, saying the bill did not specify who could make such regulations. Barham’s response was that the bill as presently constituted did not provide enough protections to let the market decide things. This amendment failed 12-24.

Barham next tried amendments that would create more leeway statutorily for supplier compliance. Nevers said government bodies should make those calls. These amendments succeeded 18-17. He also offered amendments to clarify how the counting of production occurs which would matter in terms of when implementation would occur. Nevers objected by saying it would be another tactic to delay implementation, arguing the bill was written correctly to prevent premature implementation. These amendments failed 9-27.

Sen. Walter Boasso also was accused by Nevers as trying to delay by making the standards require production 18 months after hitting the target instead of 6 months. Boasso argued it took time for infrastructure to develop. Nevers said the infrastructure already was in place and delay could not be afforded. His amendment failed 13-23.

In closing, Nevers stressed the bill would alleviate high fuel costs, create business in the state, and help the environment. The bill passed 32-4.

THURSDAY: SB 98 is scheduled to be heard in the Senate Labor and Industrial Relations Committee.

He’s going to lose 20 pounds before this is all over.
Barham, talking about the furious Agriculture Department lobbying against his HB 685 amendments.

I love you guys …. Since I’m on a roll, why don’t you pick one?
Barham, after his second set of amendments narrowly passed, and was asked what amendments next to present.

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