Two tort reform bills in play

By Catherine Hunt / LSU Manship School News Service BATON ROUGE — With the special session nearing an end, the Senate passed two possible compromise bills Monday aimed at lowering auto insurance rates and winning support from Gov. John Bel Edwards, who vetoed a major Republican-backed tort reform plan. The Senate voted 30-8 to approve a bill by House Speaker Clay Schexnayder, R-Gonzalez. Another bill, by Rep. Richard Nelson, R-Mandeville, passed 35-3, with seven Democrats voting in support. The House passed Nelson’s bill 82-9 last week, with 21 Democrats voting for it. Stephen Waguespack, head of the Louisiana Association of Business & Industry, told The Advocate/The Times-Picayune that his

Senate passes tort compromise

By Catherine Hunt / LSU Manship School News Service BATON ROUGE — With the special session nearing an end, the Senate passed a possible compromise bill Monday aimed at lowering auto insurance rates and winning support from Gov. John Bel Edwards, who vetoed a major Republican-backed tort reform plan. The bill, by Rep. Richard Nelson, R-Mandeville, passed 35-3, with seven Democrats voting in support. The House passed Nelson’s bill 82-9 last week, with 21 Democrats voting for it. It is one of several bills and resolutions that GOP lawmakers have passed that could serve as substitutes for the one that Edwards vetoed, but it is not clear if the business groups that originally pushed for the chang

OSHA gearing up for Safe + Sound Week

In anticipation of Safe + Sound Week by the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA), the agency is sharing links for employers and employees that could be helpful. Safe + Sound Week is held each August when OSHA recognizes workplace safety and health programs that have been successful and offers information and ideas about worker safety. This year it will be held Aug. 10-16. The links from OSHA include Recommended Practices for Safety and Health Programs, which include recommended practices in a step-by-step approach to safety; Using Leading Indicators to Improve Safety and Health Outcomes, which instructs how leading indicators can help be proactive and use preventative measures

CLT in the South?

By Richard Vlosky and Mason T. LeBlanc As the United States looks for ways to reduce its carbon footprint, the commercial construction industry and architects are searching for more sustainable products that are cost effective, energy efficient, structurally sound and environmentally friendly. At the same time, as housing starts have not rebounded to pre-recession levels, forest landowners and wood products manufacturers are seeking alternative markets. The Louisiana Forest Products Development Center, Louisiana State University Agricultural Center partnered with more than a dozen university, government and industry entities to conduct an analysis of the market environment and potential of c

Legislature nearing budget deal

By Catherine Hunt / LSU Manship School News Service BATON ROUGE — A Senate committee on Wednesday passed a version of the state’s budget for the upcoming fiscal year and several other bills that could impact the state’s finances, including freezing pay raises for state employees. The bill, approved by the Senate Finance Committee, would use $90 million from the state’s rainy-day fund to fill budget shortfalls caused by nearly $1 billion in lost revenues estimated by state economists. The Legislature is expected to use more than $1 billion in federal coronavirus aid to fill budget gaps. About half of those funds were used in the current fiscal year, which ends June 30, and the rest will be us

Compromise tort bill passes House

By Catherine Hunt / LSU Manship School News Service BATON ROUGE — The House passed a potential compromise bill Tuesday aimed at winning support from Gov. John Bel Edwards, who vetoed an earlier effort that sought to lower car insurance rates by limiting injury lawsuits. The bill, by Rep. Richard Nelson, R-Mandeville, passed 82-9, with 21 Democrats voting for it. Nelson said he was trying to break the logjam on an issue that Republicans have billed as one of their biggest priorities during this legislative season. Earlier this month, Edwards vetoed a bill by Sen. Kirk Talbot, R-River Ridge that had addressed several components of Louisiana’s tort laws that Republicans say lead to high auto in

Watered down tort bill passes Senate

By Catherine Hunt / LSU Manship School News Service BATON ROUGE — The Louisiana Senate passed 29-9 another bill aimed at lowering insurance rates by limiting damage lawsuits. The bill by House Speaker Clay Schexnayder, R-Gonzales, attempts to change Louisiana’s legal climate that Republicans and business groups say results in Louisiana drivers paying the second highest insurance rates in the country. A similar bill by Sen. Kirk Talbot, R-River Ridge, addressed several components of Louisiana’s tort laws that Republicans say lead to high rates, but it was vetoed by Gov. John Bel Edwards. Schexnayder’s bill mirrors Talbot’s bill in some ways but leaves out provisions that some lawmakers say ar

OSHA on returning to work

For businesses just returning to work or about to return to work, OSHA has developed a helpful document for business owners and managers to consider. The guidance released from OSHA does not establish new legal obligations for businesses, but it does include recommendations and descriptions of mandatory safety and health standards. For more information and to download the PDF "Guidance on Returning to Work from OSHA, click on this link.

Tariff troubles in timber industry

By Brooks Mendell What is the role of tariffs — taxes placed on imported goods or services? Countries use tariffs to restrict trade, to protect domestic industries, to raise revenue, to achieve something. In the current situation with China, the trade war attempted to, among other things, improve protections on U.S. intellectual property. Based on available data, how have tariffs with China affected the U.S. economy and the forest products industry? Since July 2018, there have been four rounds of tariffs between the United States and China, with the United States increasing tariffs on $360 billion of Chinese imports and China retaliating with $90 billion in levies on U.S. exports. To underst

Tort reform passes Senate panel

By Catherine Hunt / LSU Manship School News Service BATON ROUGE — House and Senate committees passed more legislation Wednesday aimed at lowering car insurance rates in Louisiana by limiting damage lawsuits. Louisiana has the second highest auto insurance rates in the country after Michigan, and lawmakers have focused on lowering these rates during the regular and special legislative sessions. A major bill by Sen. Kirk Talbot, R-River Ridge, addressed several components of Louisiana’s tort laws that Republicans say lead to high rates. His bill was vetoed by Gov. John Bel Edwards Friday. The Republicans could still try to override the veto, but they also are trying to pass possible replacemen

More attempts to lower premiums

By Catherine Hunt / LSU Manship School News Service BATON ROUGE — Two bills that aim to lower insurance rates in Louisiana by limiting damage lawsuits by people injured in car accidents passed the House Monday and will move to the Senate for debate. Both are generally similar to a bill by Sen. Kirk Talbot, R-River Ridge, that had been approved by the Legislature but was vetoed by Gov. John Bel Edwards on Friday. It’s unclear if Republican legislators will attempt to muster the two-thirds majority vote needed to override Edwards’ veto of Talbot’s bill or hope that one of the bills written by Rep. Ray Garofalo, R-Chalmette, or House Speaker Clay Schexnayder, R-Gonzales, will have more success

Connecting with forests

By Jeff Zeringue Shinrin is the Japanese word for forest. The word for bath in Japanese is yoku. Put together you get the phrase that has been popping up in stories across the globe — forest bathing — encouraging people to spend more time in forests as a way to decompress or reset. The Japanese culture has a close connection with the natural world, as described by Dr. Qing Li, who has promoted “forest bathing” in a book by the same title. Li, chairman of the Japanese Society for Forest Medicine, explains how in his culture, trees and forests play a huge role in changing moods from stressful to calm. Many folks in America who enjoy spending time outdoors probably don’t call it “forest bathing

Forester job open in Shreveport

Bird Forestry has an opening for full-time forester for its Shreveport office. Bird Forestry (BF), a division of Advanced Ecology, Ltd., with offices in Center, Texas and Shreveport, Louisiana, is seeking qualified candidates to fill a full-time Forest Management position. The position will involve assisting other foresters, natural resource management specialists and Division Managers with the collection and interpretation of timber inventory and other forest resource related data necessary for the development of sound forest management strategies that will help our clients meet their ownership objectives. This position will be officed out of our Shreveport location. Fore more information a

Panel rejects insolvency rule for insurance companies

By Catherine Hunt / LSU Manship School News Service BATON ROUGE — A House committee voted 8-4 Wednesday to reject a bill that would require the Legislature to decide whether an insurance company could avoid lowering auto insurance rates if it claimed it might face insolvency. The bill, by Rep. Ted James, D-Baton Rouge, aimed to fix problems that Democrats have with a bill by Sen. Kirk Talbot, R-River Ridge, that would attempt to lower insurance premiums by targeting Louisiana’s civil justice system. Republicans also have problems with Talbot’s bill. After negotiating with Gov. John Bel Edwards just before the Legislature approved the bill, Talbot added wording that would require judges to aw

Red buckeye new champ in La.

By Jeff Zeringue Sometimes the Aesculus pavia is referred to as the firecracker plant likely for the collection of small bright red flowers that form on a single branch. Another common name for this species is the red buckeye, which is a native tree that spans from North Carolina to Texas. On Avery Island, which sits atop a salt dome in Iberia Parish that is 163 feet above sea level at its highest point and almost an anomaly in the flat wetlands of South Louisiana, is home to the state’s new champion red buckeye tree. It is one of six trees to be added to the list of Louisiana Champion Trees this year. Champion trees in Louisiana “The tree is so large that most people would be clueless that

In 11th hour, tort reform passes

The House voted 66-31 to approve the new version of the bill, and the Senate approved it 28-10, shortly before the legislative session ended

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