Friday, June 11, 2021

2021 Legislative Summary: one big win, one big loss

Yesterday the 2021 Louisiana Legislative session came to an end. And so did any hopes of passing HB535, the bill to create a nearshore exclusion zone for menhaden harvest along the coast.

As mentioned previously, the House rejected the Senate amendments and subsequently, a conference committee was formed to work out a compromise. Among the six legislators in that group was Bob Hengens, the Senate Natural Resources Committee Chairman that worked to derail the bill. With only hours to work out differences, the group was unable to reach agreement before the session ended.

Commercial fishing interests also fought hard to derail HB691, a bill to restructure fishing and hunting licenses and fees, and in most cases, bring them up to the Southern average. That bill needed a two-thirds vote of both House and Senate to ratify several amendments made in each chamber, but it did so with only hours to go. Expect Governor Edwards to sign this bill into law. This bill was greatly needed to help defray LDWF budget deficits as the result of loss of oil and gas revenues, and without having an increase in 20 years, the cost of inflation.

The fight to create an exclusion zone for menhaden is far from over just because of one defeat. Public sentiment and science are too strong to let this continue. What action will be taken next remains to be seen.