How much does a legislator cost in Louisiana?
Certainly, that’s a loaded question, an ambush question, if you will.
Some go pretty cheap. Others not so much.
For the record, State Rep. Terry Brown (I-Colfax) says he is not for sale.
Brown, testifying before the House Natural Resources and Environment Committee last Wednesday in favor of House Bill 11, did what few legislators will ever do: he related payoff overtures he said were made by representatives of the target of the bill, Clean Harbors and its efforts to burn some two million pounds of explosives from Camp Minden in Webster Parish.
A massive explosion occurred at Camp Minden in October 2012, creating a mushroom cloud that loomed 7,000 feet over the town. That led to decision to burn 15 million pounds of explosives on open “burn trays” at the site.
That decision set off a firestorm of protests that involved citizens and officials from Baton Rouge to Washington and the plan was eventually scrapped in favor of moving the burn to the Clean Harbors location in Grant Parish where (surprise) the plan was met with an equally hostile reception.
Clean Harbors, Inc. was founded in Brockton, Massachusetts, in 1980 and has expanded to 400 locations, including more than 50 hazardous waste management facilities, in North America. Revenues for the company in 2016 totaled $3.28 billion, according to the Clean Harbors Web site. http://ir.cleanharbors.com/phoenix.zhtml?c=96527&p=irol-news&nyo=0
Clean Harbors in February withdrew its permit request to quadruple the amount it can burn at its facility located about five miles northwest of Colfax, although the company continued its open burning of explosives at the site. http://www.thetowntalk.com/story/news/local/2016/02/19/hb-11-next-battleground-colfax-open-burning/80565032/
HB 11, by Reps. Brown and Gene Reynolds (D-Minden), would prohibit open burning statewide as a method of disposal of explosive materials, such as those burned at Clean Harbors’ Colfax facility.
“…I was asked as a state representative by a person representing Clean Harbors, ‘What would it take for me to pull this bill?’” Brown testified. “They (Clean Harbors) started out by saying they would pay for our sewer system in South Grant Parish, that they would give my schools playground equipment, my Little League ball teams uniforms—and they would make me a part of it.
“Ladies and gentlemen of this panel, I am not for sale,” Brown said.
Here is the link to his testimony: http://house.louisiana.gov/H_Video/VideoArchivePlayer.aspx?v=house/2016/apr/0427_16_NR
It was a long committee meeting, lasting just more than five hours. To get to Brown’s testimony, move the cursor below the video to 3:04:30.
The bill barely made it through the committee by a 9-8 vote and will be debated on the House floor on Wednesday.
Representatives voting against the bill in its amended form were Committee Chairman Stuart Bishop (R-Lafayette), James Armes (D-Leesville), Jean-Paul Coussan (R-Lafayette), Phillip DeVillier (R-Eunice), John Guinn (R-Jennings), Christopher Leopold (R-Belle Chasse), Jack McFarland (R-Jonesboro), and Blake Miquez (R-Erath).
Amendments to the bill http://www.legis.la.gov/legis/ViewDocument.aspx?d=998279 included a self-defeating provision allowing the Secretary of the Department of Natural Resources to authorize open burning of munitions or waste explosives by the military or by state police and one that would make the effective date of the bill January 1, 2018, which would allow continued burning for an additional 18 months.