Archive for the ‘Louisiana Legislature’ Category

Who Instigated HB 430?


One of the questions that needs answering is who at the Sparta Groundwater Commission persuaded Rep. Rob Shadoin to file HB 430, and how the bill’s language was decided. Unfortunately, we’ve not attended meetings of the commission, but we have reviewed the meeting minutes from the last year.

Here’s what we found:

Thursday, January 19, 2017, Claiborne Parish Police Jury Bldg, Homer, LA – 2:00 PM

Mr. Spivey also disused the need to our commission to have continuity and encouraged the commissioners to contact our legislators about giving the Sparta Ground Water Commission more authority so it could be more effective.

Zack Spivey is the City of Ruston’s representative

Wednesday, July 12, 2017, Bienville Parish Courthouse, Arcadia, LA – 2:00 PM

Meeting guest and Louisiana Representatives Rob Shadoin and Gene Reynolds explained HB 689 and how it came to be passed through the legislation and signed by the Governor. They expressed their intentions to help Sparta Groundwater Commission with this and any future legislation. Sam Little encouraged the representatives to “Kill the Bill!” Jack Clampit explained our need for our commission to have more authority.

Jack Clampit is the Ouachita Parish representative, and is a member of the Ouachita Parish Police Jury.

Monday, December 18, 2017, Reese Hall Conference Room, Louisiana Tech University, Ruston, LA – 10:00 AM

Mr. Zack Spivey discussed changes to our current Legislation. 1st He recommended that we make the 6 rotating commission seats permanent for 3 years. 2nd that our commissioners can stay on the commission until they are either reappointed or replaced. Mr. Jack Clampit stated he felt we need the ability to regulate who pulls out of the Sparta and we need the ability to generate revenue. All committee members were given a copy of our commission’s original legislation, Act. No 1228, to review. A Motion was made that a set of recommendations for future legislative consideration be prepared by Ms. Lindsay Gouedy and Mr. Zack Spivey. The motion was made by Mr. Jack Clampit and seconded by Mr. Charles Hughes.

Lindsay Gouedy is the Lincoln Parish representative.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018, Winn Parish Library, Winnfield, LA – 2:00 PM

(Ruston) Mayor Ronny Walker stated that his primary concern for industrial growth in North Louisiana is if we have enough water to sustain industries that may want to come in. Mr. Richard Durrett stated that we need to have more room to grow between the Sparta recharge rate and the rate of pullout.

Mr. Jack Clampit stated that at some time or another we are going to have to figure out how to regulate the usage of the Sparta, because we won’t be able to sustain industries if we don’t.

Friday, February 16, 2018, Reese Hall Conference Room, Louisiana Tech University, Ruston, LA – 10:00 AM

The Executive Committee along with Mr. Rob Shadoin and Mr. Ben McGee went over the proposed legislation draft page by page. We discussed many different concerns, questions, made omissions, and additions. A motion was made by Mr. Nick Cox that we redraft this proposed legislation according to the recommendations that the executive committee made today, that we meet again on Monday, February 28 with the full Sparta Ground Water commission and present the revised and recommended legislation draft. Motion passed unanimously.

Ben McGee is with the Water Resources Division of the US Geological Survey. Nick Cox is the Webster Parish representative.

A meeting was held on Monday, February 28, 2018, 10:00 AM, Historic Fire Station, Ruston, LA, but we have not received that meeting’s minutes. We have filed a public records request for production of those minutes.

We will be attending future meetings of the Sparta Groundwater Commission. We will record the meetings, as is our practice at all public meetings we attend.


Claiborne Jury Special Meeting Tomorrow to Oppose HB 430


The Claiborne Parish Police Jury has called a special meeting for tomorrow (Tuesday, March 20), 6:00 PM, CPPJ Administration Building, 507 West Main Street, Homer, LA.

The single agenda item:

Resolution 2018-007 – A Resolution Requesting the Citizens of the 16 Parish Region Which Comprise the Sparta Groundwater Conservation District to Urge Their Representatives to Defeat House Bill 430 as it is Currently Written

See here the document.

Bienville Police Jury Opposes HB 430


The Bienville Parish Police Jury is opposed to Rep. Rob Shadoin’s controversial House Bill 430, Lincoln Parish News Online has learned.

At their Wednesday, 3/14 meeting, a resolution in opposition to the bill was unanimously adopted by the jurors.

Among the more pertinent points of the resolution:

HB 430 has no cap on the fee that can be charged each user within the 16 parishes served by the Sparta Commission

it is the belief of the Bienville Parish Police Jury that this proposed legislation has not received sufficient input from the citizens of these 16 parishes

the Bienville Parish Police Jury does hereby strongly encourage any citizen within the parishes of Bienville, Bossier, Caddo, Caldwell, Claiborne, Jackson, LaSalle, Lincoln, Morehouse, Natchitoches, Ouachita, Richland, Sabine, Union, Webster and Winn to urge their representatives to defeat House Bill 430 as it is written currently.

that a copy of this resolution be mailed to each of the 16 parishes served by the Sparta Groundwater Conservation District.

See here the document.

So Just Who does the Sparta Water Belong To?


It appears the proposed House Bill 430 that changes the makeup and powers of the Sparta Groundwater Commission will radically change the property ownership rights of subsurface water in the sixteen parishes that come under the jurisdiction of that commission.

Several provisions of the bill appear to grant the commission authority over mineral rights that heretofore belonged to the landowner.

“Assess against all users within the district either a fee on each meter installed or a charge based on the annual rate of use of each user.”

In other words, water users will have to pay for something that already belongs to them.

“To do all things necessary to prevent waste of groundwater resources…”

The term “waste” is not defined. Is it “wasteful” to water lawns and country club golf courses? Is it “wasteful” to use evaporative cooling systems for chicken houses? Is it “wasteful” to use Sparta Water to wash paper pulp?

“Establishing groundwater use priorities under conditions supported by research data that indicates depletion of water.”

This provision will plainly grant authority to un-elected bureaucrats to decide who does and doesn’t get water.

“After notice and hearing, adopt and enforce reasonable rules, regulations, or orders necessary from time to time.”

This provision provides for $1000/day civil fines for violations.

Here’s what existing Louisiana state law says:

LA RS 31:4

Substances to which Code applicable

The provisions of this Code are applicable to all forms of minerals, including oil and gas. They are also applicable to rights to explore for or mine or remove from land the soil itself, gravel, shells, subterranean water, or other substances occurring naturally in or as a part of the soil or geological formations on or underlying the land.

Acts 1974, No. 50, §1, eff. Jan. 1, 1975.

Right to search for fugitive minerals; elements of ownership of land
LA RS 31:6

Ownership of land does not include ownership of oil, gas, and other minerals occurring naturally in liquid or gaseous form, or of any elements or compounds in solution, emulsion, or association with such minerals. The landowner has the exclusive right to explore and develop his property for the production of such minerals and to reduce them to possession and ownership.

Acts 1974, No. 50, §1, eff. Jan. 1, 1975.

When minerals reduced to possession
LA RS 31:7

Minerals are reduced to possession when they are under physical control that permits delivery to another.

Acts 1974, No. 50, §1, eff. Jan. 1, 1975.

Landowner’s right of enjoyment for mineral extraction
LA RS 31:8

A landowner may use and enjoy his property in the most unlimited manner for the purpose of discovering and producing minerals, provided it is not prohibited by law. He may reduce to possession and ownership all of the minerals occurring naturally in a liquid or gaseous state that can be obtained by operations on or beneath his land even though his operations may cause their migration from beneath the land of another.

Acts 1974, No. 50, §1, eff. Jan. 1, 1975.

Correlative rights of owners of common reservoir or deposit
LA RS 31:9

Landowners and others with rights in a common reservoir or deposit of minerals have correlative rights and duties with respect to one another in the development and production of the common source of minerals.

Acts 1974, No. 50, §1, eff. Jan. 1, 1975.

Liability to others with interests in common reservoir or deposit
LA RS 31:10

A person with rights in a common reservoir or deposit of minerals may not make works, operate, or otherwise use his rights so as to deprive another intentionally or negligently of the liberty of enjoying his rights, or that may intentionally or negligently cause damage to him. This Article and Article 9 shall not affect the right of a landowner to extract liquid or gaseous minerals in accordance with the principle of Article 8.

Acts 1974, No. 50, §1, eff. Jan. 1, 1975.

Protection of landowner’s interest in minerals
LA RS 31:12

Except as provided in Article 14, the owner of land may protect his rights in minerals against trespass, damage, and other wrongful acts of interference by all means available for the protection of ownership.

Acts 1974, No. 50, §1, eff. Jan. 1, 1975.

Shadoin Files Bill to Tax Sparta Water


A bill filed for the current legislative session by State Rep. Rob Shadoin (R, Ruston) would allow levy of a tax (referred to in the bill as a “meter fee” or “pumping charge”) on water users within the Sparta Groundwater Conservation District.

The district consists of the following 16 parishes: Bienville, Claiborne, Jackson, Lincoln, Morehouse, Ouachita, Union, Webster, Winn, Bossier, Caddo, Caldwell, LaSalle, Natchitoches, Richland, and Sabine.

See here House Bill 430.

Other provisions of the bill include:

To do all things necessary to prevent waste of groundwater resources, and to prevent or alleviate damaging or potentially damaging subsidence of the land surface caused by withdrawal of groundwater within the district.

Establishing groundwater use priorities under conditions supported by research data that indicates depletion of water.

Conduct studies and investigations of all problems concerning groundwater resources of the district.

After notice and hearing, adopt and enforce reasonable rules, regulations, or orders necessary from time to time.

Hire such personnel and retain such consultants as shall be reasonably necessary to the performance of its functions.

Reportedly, several area poultry growers showed up at Tuesday night’s meeting of the Lincoln Parish Police Jury to voice their opposition to the bill. As they were making their remarks during the public comments section, several jurors left the meeting, it was said.

Tech Press Box Loan has no repayment Schedule


Back in 2016, Louisiana Tech announced the construction of nearly $20 million in improvements to the Joe Aillet Stadium, including some $16 million for the stadium press box.

During a lunchtime press conference in the Jarrell Room of the Davison Athletics Complex Tuesday, McClelland revealed that a new $16.7 million press box and guest suite facility would be built. An additional $1.9 million will be invested in other stadium improvements, including LED lighting, a permanent west side ticket booth, renovations to the west side bathrooms and aesthetic improvements to stadium entry points.

The total price of $18.6 million for the various improvements will be funded 100 percent through private donations.

In early January, the Louisiana Tech University Foundation annual audit had this note on page 13.

Effective May 23, 2017, the board of directors approved self-financing, through the Foundation, to facilitate the timely completion of an athletics expansion project with the use of endowment funds. The funds were borrowed at an interest rate of four percent, with no formalized repayment schedule. Funds will be paid back as proceeds from charitable gifts along with income generated from above said project are available. The financial statements reflect a note receivable from the Foundation, in the amount of $11,054,000 and an unsecured note payable in the same amount to the Louisiana Tech University Foundation endowment investment account.

Louisiana Legislature Considering Tax on Sick People


From the (New Orleans) Times Picayune:

Specifically, it wants to reduce a state tax deduction for people who itemize on their federal returns – a change that would typically raise income taxes for higher-income residents.

While that statement regarding “higher-income residents” may or may not be accurate, it is a gold-plated fact that sick people will be among those hardest hit.

Itemized deductions over and above the standard deductions generally are in two categories: mortgage interest and medical deductions.

People who have a large mortgage can use IRS Schedule A (long form) to reduced their tax bill. Older, sicker people with lots of hospital/doctor bills can do the same.

In Louisiana, the amount over and above the standard deduction is now deductible. A bill now pending in the legislature would kill that deduction.

The old and sick would have to pay more.

Former State Senator Charles Jones a Lawyer Again


Former State Senator Charles Jones, a Monroe Democrat, was yesterday re-admitted to the Louisiana State Bar and will be allowed to practice law again.

See here the order from the Louisiana Supreme Court.

He will have a three-year period of unsupervised probation.

Jones was convicted in 2010 of filing false tax returns and tax evasion.

He was sentenced in January, 2011 to 27 months in federal prison.

Notable in the court’s order is the restitution repayment schedule for Jones.

…is paying $500 a month to the United States District Court Clerk toward the $305,174.05 in restitution related to his criminal conviction, is paying $1,578 a month to the IRS pursuant to an installment agreement related to his federal tax debt, and is paying $1,080 a month to the Louisiana Department of Revenue (“LDR”) pursuant to an installment agreement related to his state tax debt.

As Jones is in his mid to late 60s, it seems likely the taxpayers will never be fully repaid.

FBI on Edmonson’s Case


Sources: Pilots questioned, logs checked in FBI probe of Mike Edmonson’s helicopter travel at State Police


The FBI’s investigation of Mike Edmonson has focused in part on his extensive travel as the head of the Louisiana State Police, with agents interviewing current and former pilots about Edmonson’s prolific use of state helicopters, according to two law enforcement officials familiar with the inquiry.

The bureau has been following up on allegations outlined in a legislative audit that accused Edmonson of taking an array of handouts and tapping state resources for his family’s benefit. Agents have questioned a growing list of state troopers — and even inmates who once cooked for Edmonson and his family — and reviewed policies and procedures related to State Police travel, according to two other sources with knowledge of the probe.

The federal inquiry has tracked the legislative audit in many respects, with some officials saying they fielded similar questions from both auditors and agents. But the feds appear to have cast a broader net, reviewing helicopter log books and other travel records related to the frequent trips Edmonson took during his nine years as superintendent.

In what appears to be a new vector, unrelated to the audit, federal investigators also are trying to determine whether Edmonson ever sought freebies from casino owners or anyone else subject to State Police gaming regulations.

“The questioning of the pilots has been strictly about Edmonson and whether there was personal use” of the helicopters, said one of the law enforcement officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to discuss the ongoing investigation.

Edmonson relied on Department of Public Safety helicopters for dozens of in-state flights a year, including relatively short journeys to New Orleans from State Police headquarters in Baton Rouge to attend news conferences or to meet with officials at the FBI’s Lakefront headquarters.

Federal authorities do not appear to be focusing on the fiscal prudence of Edmonson’s travel but rather whether he improperly extended the use of state helicopters to family members or friends. That determination could be aided by flight manifest records, some of which were redacted by the State Police in response to a public records request filed several years ago by The Advocate.

More on the LSP Crib


The (Baton Rouge, LA) Advocate has a front-page story with more details on the infamous “crib” located at the Department of Public Safety’s Baton Rouge compound.

Is it legal? Mike Edmonson’s tax-free lifestyle sparks questions about other Louisiana-paid housing


The legislative auditor’s report that lambasted Mike Edmonson reverberated through the state Capitol last week, as lawmakers heard testimony that the former State Police superintendent exploited taxpayer money to provide a life of perks and privilege for his family.

Among the audit’s chief findings was that Edmonson and his family lived rent-free at the State Police compound in Baton Rouge, relying on prisoners for cooking, cleaning and even dog-walking services for nearly nine years.

That allegation — and claims the state dropped the ball by not including the accommodations in Edmonson’s W-2 income — raises questions about similar state-paid housing arrangements extended to certain university presidents, prison wardens and other officials across state government.

Dozens of other state employees who receive complimentary housing do not pay taxes for that benefit because the accommodations are a condition of their employment. That appears to be a key difference in the case of Edmonson, who became the first superintendent to move his family into the Residential Conference Center, a property built in 2002 to house the governor and State Police superintendent during emergency situations.

Edmonson’s successor, Col. Kevin Reeves, now stays at the residence during the week but returns to his home and family in Jackson Parish on weekends. “I do not by any means live in the house,” Reeves said. “It is a place for me to stay and lay my head while I’m here.”

Remember, there’s a special session of the Legislature coming within the next few months, and all we’ll hear from Bel Edwards and the thieves at the State Capitol is that we’re not paying enough taxes.