Effort to direct oil spill money fails

Attempts to lock up oil spill penalty money to coastal restoration projects in the Louisiana Constitution have failed again in the state Senate.

Lawmakers in the House unanimously agreed to place the penalties that Louisiana will receive because of the Gulf Coast oil spill into the state coastal fund and protect it in the constitution. But the proposal didn’t even get a hearing in the Senate, where it has languished in the Finance Committee since May 6.

It won’t be heard before the legislative session ends Thursday.

House Bill 118, sponsored by state Rep. Simone Champagne, R-Erath, dealt with money that could be received by the state for violations of federal pollution standards under the U.S. Clean Water Act.

The Clean Water Act dollars already are earmarked for coastal protection in statute, but Champagne wants the language added to the Louisiana Constitution so lawmakers couldn’t easily change the allocation.

Champagne said senators raised concerns about the bill and suggested tweaks that she didn’t support. She said she’ll return again with the idea next year for more debate.