Landrieu backs Coast Guard
Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., spent much of this past week in Alaska pressing for more funding for the U.S. Coast Guard to boost supports and protections along the Alaskan coastlines and throughout the rest of the nation.
Landrieu made a bipartisan partnership with Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, who wanted to host a hearing of Landrieu’s Homeland Security Appropriations subcommittee.
As offshore oil-and-gas drilling increases in Alaska, Landrieu argued the region needs more resources, including a greater Coast Guard presence for safety and disaster response.
“It needs significant infrastructure, starting with more investments to give the Coast Guard what they need to get their job done,” Landrieu said, according to The Associated Press. “It’s really a focal point for Homeland Security, keeping us safe and we need a much more aggressive strategy for investment.”
Alaskan officials also are seeking federal funding for more ice-breaking Coast Guard vessels.
Landrieu noted the strong Coast Guard responses in Louisiana for recent disasters like Hurricane Katrina and the BP oil leak.
Landrieu has crossed party lines on issues like offshore drilling. She backs increased drilling in the Gulf of Mexico, off of Alaska and along the Pacific and Atlantic coasts.
She also has led the effort for more offshore drilling revenue sharing for Louisiana and other coastal states.
Vitter says, ‘Hunt ’em !’
Sen. David Vitter, R-La., is getting involved in alligator hunting.
While the senator may not do any of the hunting himself, Vitter announced Friday the state’s decision to issue more alligator hunting tags in the Henderson area to help fight overpopulation of the Louisiana reptiles.
The argument is that the overpopulation of alligators is disrupting the fishing industry because alligators are destroying fishing traps and eating the bait.
“Henderson is one of Louisiana’s prized fishing areas and it’s important to keep it that way,” Vitter said in the announcement. “There’s a simple solution to help get rid of the alligator overpopulation disrupting the fishing community and I’m very pleased that the (U.S. Army Corps of Engineers) and the (Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries) worked with us to issue more hunting tags.”
Vitter said that, after learning about the problem last month, he asked the corps to assess the situation. The LDWF and corps agreed to issue more overall tags in 2013, and also more tags starting next month to a contract hunter selected to hunt alligator on the corps’ Bayou Des Ourses property.
Vitter also said the corps likely will include its Indian Bayou lands in the state’s lottery hunt during 2013 hunting season. There’s an increased number of applicants from 600 to 2,800 since the popularity of the television show “Swamp People.”
Landry proposes accounts
With the federal farm bill stalled in Congress, Rep. Jeff Landry, R-New Iberia, proposed new legislation to help farmers save for a rainy day through tax-deferred savings accounts.
The new Commercial Fishing, Farm, and Ranch Risk Management Act would let farmers place up to 20 percent of their annual income into tax-deferred savings accounts for up to 10 years. Farmers and fishermen could hypothetically use these accounts to cover equipment purchases or cover losses during bad years.
The bill was referred to the House Ways and Means Committee and is unlikely to see much movement this year.
“Washington politicians have once again let our farmers down, failing to pass a Farm Bill,” Landry said in the announcement Friday. “But I’m not going to just wait around for Washington to fix our problems; I’m searching for innovative solutions to help our farmers manage their own risk.”
The federal farm bill has stalled in the House amid Republican concerns that the House bill doesn’t have enough budget cuts and Democratic complaints that the bill guts the federal food stamp program. The Senate has already passed its farm bill.
As soon as next month, the House could consider a one-year extension to current federal farm program if a compromise cannot be reached on the long-term farm bill.
Jordan Blum is chief of The Advocate’s Washington bureau. His email address is email@example.com.