Thursday, September 21, 2006

What exactly is hurricane protection?

The Fleur de Lis , Slidell LA 6/2006
all reproduction rights reserved William Greiner

What exactly is hurricane protection?

The fourth constitutional amendment on the Sept. 30 ballot will ask you if state and local government should be allowed to take private land for hurricane protection projects and pay the owner fair market value. The ballot language, however, does not contain a definition for "hurricane protection," nor does the enacting legislation. Paul Hurd, a Monroe attorney who has published works on the Louisiana Constitution, says the goal of government is to pay landowners as "little as possible" because the proposed amendment would prohibit future value from being considered. More importantly, he adds, there is no definition, aside from public good, for a hurricane protection project. "This concept can be painted so broadly," he says, "and the transfer of land could go from one entity to another to another." State Sen. Reggie Dupre, a Democrat from Bourg, told the Louisiana League of Women Voters last week the intent of the measure is to keep projects and landowners out of the courtroom and to convert Louisiana's system into what is being used nationwide. But Dupre couldn't shake off the lack of a good definition, although some state and federal agencies do create their own standards. "You bring up a good point that should be addressed in future legislation should the amendment pass," Dupre says. That will likely happen, Hurd says, given the way the state Legislature likes working off the cuff. "Sure, there will be a definition in Louisiana," he says. "It'll be whatever the Legislature says it is after six months into it."

(Jeremy Alford)
The Greater Baton Rouge Business Report 9-21-06

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