July 1, 2011
The Honorable Alfred W. Speer
Clerk of the House of Representatives
Baton Rouge, Louisiana 70802
RE: House Bill No. 334 by Representative Champagne
Dear Mr. Speer:
The Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority (CPRA) has been actively and aggressively working to consolidate levee districts based on geographical, hydrological, and topographical criteria. Louisiana currently has 27 levee districts, in comparison, Mississippi has two levee districts. In order to expedite the process of implementation and management of these important efforts and to heed lessons learned from Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, Gustav and Ike, we must continue to work to consolidate levee districts based on regional and hydrological criteria.
Last year I signed into law ACT 1008, which allowed for the creation of the Chenier Plan Restoration Authority to serve as the levee district and restoration authority for the parishes of Vermilion, Calcasieu and Cameron. This legislation was supported by the members of the Vermilion delegation.
The membership of the Chenier Plain Authority corresponds with the geographical area within the South West Coastal Louisiana Feasibility study that is underway. This study will yield billions of dollars in basin-scale protection and restoration of the Chenier Plain communities and ecosystem. Having one levee authority within the vicinity of this major study area is critical to the successful implementation and management of the project.
Additionally, in 2009 I signed ACT 320 which authorized the CPRA to enter into certain agreements with parish governing authorities located within the coastal area for coastal protection, flood control, and restoration projects. This law gives the parish governing authority any and all powers of a levee district. In the case of House Bill No. 334, I question the benefit of creating a new independent levee district when the parish governing authority already has the power to carry out these functions.
For these reasons, I have vetoed House Bill No. 334 and hereby return it to the House.