Jindal Signs SB 469, Flood Authority Lawsuit Dies (For Now)

From a release out of Gov. Bobby Jindal’s office comes something we’ve discussed here and here

Today, Governor Jindal signed SB 469 by Sen. Bret Allain, legislation that will help continue coastal restoration work and stop unnecessary, frivolous lawsuits. The bill is part of Governor Jindal’s 2014 Legislative Package.

The Governor signed SB 469 to clarify that only entities authorized under the Coastal Zone Management Act (CZMA) may bring litigation to assert claims arising out of permitted activities. These parties include parishes and the state. It further requires that dollars recovered through CZMA litigation must be spent on coastal restoration. This law ensures that the state’s coastal master plan and the collaborative work of the state and the parishes on coastal restoration are not threatened with lawsuits.

Governor Jindal said, “This bill will help stop frivolous lawsuits and create a more fair and predictable legal environment, and I am proud to sign it into law. It further improves Louisiana’s legal environment by reducing unnecessary claims that burden businesses so that we can bring even more jobs to our state. The bill will also send future recovered dollars from CZMA litigation to coastal projects, allowing us to ensure Louisiana coastal lands are preserved and that our communities are protected.”

Senator Bret Allain said, “As a senator, and life-long resident of a coastal parish, there is no one who is more concerned about protecting the state I love. The fact is the Louisiana Legislature sees the suit for what it is, a frivolous lawsuit that hurts jobs, and we have voiced our support for SB 469 to end this frivolous lawsuit. I am proud that the Governor is signing this legislation.”

Senator Robert Adley said, “This bill keeps a rogue agency from misrepresenting this State and trying to raise money through illegal actions. This lawsuit was never about repairing the coast; it was about enriching lawyers and certain individuals. I applaud the Governor for signing the bill and standing up for Louisiana and it’s people.”

LOGA President Don Briggs said, “The signing of SB 469 is a huge victory for the oil and gas industry as well as the economy for the state of Louisiana. We commend Governor Jindal for his leadership and support of this bill as it made its way through the process. The governor understands the importance of keeping the hardworking men and women of our state employed with good paying jobs. While there is still much work to be done, this piece of legislation is a big step in the right direction.”

There will be a ton of litigation on SB 469, including the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority-East utilizing their plaintiff lawyers to attempt to sue the state for the right to sue the oil industry.

This will be a mess. But it will be a mess either way. And now Jindal and the state legislature are on record as against the levee board and their plaintiff lawyers.

UPDATE: LABI’s Stephen Waguespack weighs in…

Stephen Waguespack, president of the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry (LABI), issued the following statement today regarding the Governor signing into law Senate Bill 469, legislation to address the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority-East lawsuit:

“We applaud the Governor for signing Senate Bill 469 into law and thank Sen. Brett Allain (R-Franklin), Sen. Robert Adley (R-Benton) and Rep. Joel Robideaux (R-Lafayette) for their hard work in shepherding this bill through the process. We also want to express our appreciation to the many other Legislators who joined with their colleagues to support this bill during session. This law will help restore order and coordination to Louisiana’s approach on how best to tackle our coastal challenge.

Working collaboratively with the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority and coastal communities to prioritize and implement our state plan is much more effective than vigilante justice-style lawsuits that try to divide and conquer our stakeholders for the benefit of a chosen few.

Throughout the Legislative process, the attorneys pushing the lawsuit made it clear that they would stop at nothing to protect their contract – and we will continue to see those promised tactics play out in the media and court system in the days and weeks to come. While not unexpected, it is disappointing that opponents to Senate Bill 469 failed to persuasively make these arguments throughout the process, and are instead choosing to do so now after the Legislature has passed the bill and the three-month session is complete.”

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