The Louisiana House Civil Law & Procedure Committee is expected to hear more statements about Senate Bill 553 on Tuesday. Last Thursday, May 15, the committee heard from those some of those who oppose the bill, including Bureau of Governmental Research.
The bill seeks to stop flood protection authorities that represent many in the New Orleans area from filing lawsuits and hiring special counsel. The bill has the backing of Gov. Bobby Jindal and his administration, as well as Sen. Robert Adley.
The hope of the governor and the senator is to stop the massive lawsuit filed against the Southeast Flood Protection Authority-East. That suit, which was filed against nearly 100 oil and gas companies, seeks to hold those companies responsible for the injury and damages to the state’s coastal regions.
According to the statement by the Bureau of Governmental Research, their main concern is that the bill will give the governor the power to stop legal actions by the flood authorities, as well as decide which attorneys are hired.
Another statement on Thursday to the committee, this time by the Citizens for 1 Greater New Orleans, expressed their disapproval that this bill would be in contradiction to what was wanted when the flood protection authorities were set. That was to keep them out from under the influence of politics.
Currently, the flood protection agencies, as well as parish governments and school boards, only have to have the approval of the attorney general in order to hire special counsel. The SLFPA-E did that.
This lawsuit, according to proponents deserves the right to move forward. In past posts, we’ve talked about how there could be many legal challenges ahead if this bill were to pass. Until that time, the citizens of Louisiana will have to wait and see what transpires with the lawsuit.
Source: The Times-Picayune, “Lives depend on flood authority independence: Editorial” No author given, May. 16, 2014