Week Six Legislative Update

State Capital w tree

Week six of the 2015 regular legislative session begins with one bit of great news on the environmental front. HB 597 (Bishop, regarding environmental self audit privileges) was likely the worst environmental bill of the session. At last week's hearing of the House Natural Resources and Environment Committee, Bishop withdrew his bill from the agenda. Given the late stage of the session and the pounding Bishop has taken from the Green Army, LEAN, the Sierra Club and other environmental organizations, the bill is likely dead for the session.

Many, many thanks for those of you who contacted your representatives and senators about this measure. Contrary to popular opinion, elected officials do respond to public input on an issue, especially input from the voters of their districts. Even three or four calls to a legislator's office can make a huge difference on an issue.

Less encouraging news comes with regard to Louisiana's solar tax credit. As I write this the Senate Revenue & Fiscal Affairs Committee (Monday morning) is sailing through a lengthy list of revenue raising measures with little to no testimony being given for or against the bills.

Ranking committee member Robert Adley made it clear at the hearing's onset that any committee action that did not meet the approval of Senate leadership would be undone by the Senate Finance Committee, which is where all of these measures go next. Pro-solar interests had lobbied Rev & Fisc Committee members hard last week, and a majority of the members seemed inclined at least to address two glaring problems. They also were sympathetic to the argument that the bill, which would effectively end the leasing component of the tax credit program, would disproportionately hurt Louisiana citizens lacking the means to purchase solar PV systems. The solar lobby is regrouping and weighing the next course of action.

There are other bills of interest moving through the process and I'll report more later.

Darrell Hunt, Sierra Club Delta Chapter Lobbyist

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