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Shuttered EPA investigation offered ‘meaningful reform’ in Cancer Alley, documents reveal

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lailluminator.com – Halle Parker, WWNO – 2023-08-30 05:00:10

Shuttered EPA investigation offered ‘meaningful reform' in Cancer Alley, documents reveal

by Halle Parker, WWNO, Louisiana Illuminator
August 30, 2023

As industrial plants have overtaken historic Black communities and burdened neighborhoods with toxic air pollution, environmental advocates and residents of Louisiana's chemical corridor have spent decades calling for change.

So when the country's top environmental regulator opened a high-profile civil rights investigation into Louisiana's Department of Environmental Quality last year, it felt like a watershed moment.

For the first time, the Environmental Protection Agency stepped in to exercise its oversight and evaluate whether LDEQ has granted permits for companies to build and pollute in a way that has caused disproportionate harm to Black communities. Ultimately, they found signs that it has.

After pledging to clean up Cancer Alley — the nickname for the heavily industrialized, 85-mile stretch of the Mississippi River between Baton Rouge and New Orleans — the EPA issued a letter in October 2022 detailing preliminary evidence of racial discrimination and noncompliance by the state.

Advocates like Lisa Jordan, who leads the Tulane Environmental Law Clinic, and the clients she represents were cautiously optimistic.

“We dared to hope,” said Jordan, who filed one of the complaints that led to EPA's civil rights investigation.

EPA sued over failure to set, update pollution limits

The EPA's findings brought LDEQ to the negotiating table. Documents and emails newly uncovered by WWNO and WRKF show that staff from the two agencies spent months negotiating a 43-page agreement that would have fundamentally changed Louisiana's air pollution permitting program so that state regulators would have no longer allowed toxic emissions to disproportionately impact certain communities. While the EPA's civil rights investigation could potentially have led to a consent decree that forced LDEQ to change, this voluntary agreement offered a path to reform without punishment.

But, in late June, it all came to a grinding halt.

The EPA abruptly closed the case and ended discussions with the LDEQ, stopping its investigation without coming to a resolution or releasing its findings. The decision blindsided the River Parish residents who took part in the complaints.

“We'd been out here fighting so hard for so long, it felt good to have someone shouldering the burden with us, and it felt good to not be gaslit,” said Joy Banner, a St. John the Baptist Parish resident and cofounder of the Descendants Project, in the weeks after. “After all of that fighting, they just abandoned us.”

WWNO/WRKF's reporting reveals for the first time the fullest details of the draft agreement and offers a window into how negotiations between the two agencies unraveled. With Louisiana's attorney general now suing the EPA, environmental justice experts and advocates fear that the breakdown could mark the beginning of a major attack on a core aspect of the Civil Rights Act.

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‘Meaningful reform'

In the month before negotiations ended, LDEQ and EPA staff closed in on an agreement. They exchanged a draft resolution on May 18 that would have ingrained sweeping new procedures for the state to ensure that future permitting decisions included an in-depth analysis into whether the adverse impacts of any new polluting facility would be disproportionately felt by people of a certain race, color or nationality -— an outcome also known as “disparate impact.”

Had the agreement been finalized, Louisiana environmental advocates would also have received another major win: LDEQ would have begun studying how a proposed facility would add to a community's cumulative burdens. For each permit application, the agency would be required to look at the local area's current exposure to air pollutants as well as how different social or health factors could leave the community vulnerable to harmful effects.

Deep South Center for Environmental Justice Director of Law and Policy Monique Harden, who has more than two decades of law experience, reviewed the May 18 draft of the informal resolution agreement, saying it would have led to “meaningful reform” of the state agency. She wasn't involved in any of the complaints the EPA investigated.

A 2022 study conducted by Tulane Environmental Law Clinic researchers, published in Environmental Research Letters, estimated that air pollution causes 85 cancer cases annually, with the greatest risk concentrated in the industrialized areas of river parish region and southwest Louisiana. (Tulane University)

Most significantly, the agreement would have enforced the state's legal obligation to request companies look at alternate sites or even deny a permit to lessen any disparate impacts found during its newly robust analysis.

“You can consider, through mapping and statistical data collection and analysis, environmental justice. You can do that all day long and not have any change on the ground for Black communities,” Harden said. “Consideration is weak sauce. We need permit denials. We need reductions in pollution. We need mitigation of hazards. We need a holistic view of appropriate sites.”

For years, Harden has watched progress on environmental justice issues stall as agencies quibble over meandering technical debates of definitions and procedures. In a break from the past, she felt the proposed agreement showed a commitment to creating real change.

“This agreement between EPA and LDEQ was headed around results and outcomes, which is a tremendous step forward,” Harden said.

Requests for disparity analyses and cumulative impact studies are nothing new. Advocacy groups and environmental lawyers like Harden and Jordan have called for LDEQ to conduct such studies since the 1980s.

A study published in the journal Environmental Challenges in January found that minority communities living in Louisiana's chemical corridor are exposed to levels of toxic air pollution seven to 21 times higher than predominantly white communities.

But time and again, the state agency has maintained that it isn't statutorily required to consider disparate impact under environmental legislation like the Clean Air and Clean Water acts nor under Louisiana law.

“They just never engaged at the level of saying it's not possible or it's too hard, or it would take too long. They just never entertained the idea at all,” Jordan said.

If successful, Landry's EPA suit could be ‘a significant setback' for the Civil Rights Act

In the EPA's letter of concern sent on Oct. 12, 2022, it said LDEQ staff should have conducted cumulative impact analyses in the past. It also brought attention to the lack of any written policies internally that guide when LDEQ staff should do such an analysis to comply with the Civil Rights Act.

According to the EPA, LDEQ went as far as to say it only needs to comply with environmental laws, not the Civil Rights Act — an assertion that EPA Deputy Assistant Administrator for External Civil Rights Lilian Dorka called “erroneous.”

“LDEQ has two obligations: to ensure legal and lawful administration of Clean Air Act programs and to ensure compliance with Title VI of the Civil Rights Act. And what this informal resolution agreement focuses on is that LDEQ is not doing either,” said Harden.

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The beginning of the end

The negotiations were on precarious footing from the start. The EPA worked with LDEQ to make voluntary changes to its permitting process to avoid punishment, while simultaneously conducting a civil rights investigation that would potentially result in a compliance order.

Meanwhile, LDEQ moved forward with the voluntary agreement, even as the state's attorney general (whose office was involved in the voluntary agreement negotiations) prepared a lawsuit against the EPA's investigation. Emails exchanged between LDEQ and the EPA show negotiations began to falter after the federal staff sent a version of the draft agreement back to LDEQ on May 18.

Days after the draft was sent, Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry sued the EPA, the Department of Justice and the Biden administration over the civil rights investigation on May 24 in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Louisiana. The Attorney General office didn't respond to a request for comment.

The new lawsuit appeared to cast doubt over whether any parties were willing to proceed with the negotiations in good faith. But, despite the looming lawsuit, a June 1 email shows LDEQ staff reassured Dorka that the litigation wouldn't change the agency's commitment, promising to continue to flesh out the draft agreement.

The emails show, however, that progress slowed in the waning weeks of the investigation. The EPA and LDEQ traded blame and frustration over the state of negotiations as the draft agreement sat in limbo and regular meetings were canceled.

One week before the case was closed, the tension bubbled over in one final exchange. LDEQ lead counsel Courtney Burdette questioned the EPA's commitment to the ongoing talks, citing the frustration of the state staff.

A screenshot of an email sent by Courtney Burdette, LDEQ's executive counsel, to EPA External Civil Rights Compliance Office Director Lilian Dorka on June 20, 2023.

Within hours of receiving the email, Dorka wrote back, pointing to the lack of a fully revised draft of the agreement from LDEQ as the reason for the series of meeting cancellations.

“Given how busy everyone is, I will go ahead and cancel the rest of the meetings that I had scheduled and then reschedule as needed once we receive the rest of LDEQ's draft IRA mark-up,” Dorka replied.

But another meeting wasn't scheduled.

Cattle graze in a pasture next to the Denka Performance Elastomer facility in LaPlace, where U.S. Environmental Protection Agency leader Michael Regan announced proposed regulations Thursday, April 6, 2023, for toxic air emissions. The federal government has sued Denka for failing to reduce levels of chloroprene, a known carcinogen, coming from the plant. (Greg LaRose/)

On June 27, the EPA sent a letter to LDEQ Secretary Roger Gingles stating they had closed the investigation, with little explanation beyond stating the EPA's Office of External Civil Rights Compliance felt an agreement wouldn't be reached by their July 11 deadline.

Yet, EPA's case resolution manual states that deadline requirements for ending an investigation are paused while working toward an informal agreement.

The reason for the investigation's untimely end remains unclear. Jordan and other advocates involved in the case have speculated that the litigation from Landry's office increased pressure on the Biden administration to close the case in an attempt to quash a lawsuit that has the potential to evolve into a broader challenge to a key element of the Civil Rights Act if it moves forward.

The Department of Justice wrote in its notice to the court that the EPA had terminated the complaints at the center of Landry's lawsuit, raising the question of whether it should proceed. A response filed by the attorney general's office made clear that the state planned to continue the lawsuit — which challenges any federal review of disparate impact as a result of environmental permits — regardless of the civil rights investigation's untimely end.

“EPA's and DOJ's entire rationale, we think, for having dismissed this complaint is to poise itself well to succeed in this litigation. So our clients sort of feel that they've been sacrificed,” Jordan said. “It's not looking like EPA made a good trade if that's what they did.”

Title VI precedent under attack

Since the early days of the EPA's investigation, LDEQ and other state officials have maintained that the agency shouldn't be punished for actions and decisions that comply with environmental laws — even if they result in violations of the Civil Rights Act.

The opposition came as the EPA finally pledged to step up its civil rights enforcement to match protocol that has been used by other federal agencies, from the Department of Housing and Urban Development to the Department of Education, for decades.

“The reason we're here is because EPA was late to fulfill its obligations under the Civil Rights Act of 1964,” said Carlton Waterhouse, a former EPA attorney and director of Howard University School of Law's Environmental and Climate Justice Center. “And so now, as the agency is trying to fulfill its obligations, we're finding pushback to say that not only are those not obligations, the agency is acting unlawfully by trying to enforce these regulations.”

In the past, the EPA has only investigated cases of “intentional discrimination,” or instances of blatant racism or differential treatment. But other agencies have historically taken into account the effect policies have. Even if a decision seems neutral on its face, does it disproportionately harm one group more than another? If so, the policy has a disparate impact, which is illegal. Courts across the country have upheld the use of disparate impact in rulings dating back to the 1970s.

In 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed the use of disparate impact in a housing discrimination case, writing in the decision that a focus on consequences “permits plaintiffs to counteract unconscious prejudices and disguised animus that escape easy classification as disparate treatment.”

Attorney General Jeff Landry speaks to reporters after qualifying for the governor's race Wednesday, Aug. 9, 2023, at the Louisiana State Archives building in Baton Rouge. (Wes Muller/Louisiana Illuminator)

But in his May 24 lawsuit, Attorney General Landry, who is now the leading candidate for Louisiana governor, disagreed. He argued the Civil Rights Act only prohibits “intentional discrimination,” and called the EPA's investigation a ploy by “social justice warriors.”

“Activities that would be perfectly lawful under environmental law are thus now threatened because EPA believes those activities occur proximate to the ‘wrong' racial groups,” wrote Landry in the suit.

The logic rings similar to other recent conservative legal attacks, including the argument recently used in overturning precedent on affirmative action, said Waterhouse.

“This is the reverse discrimination argument,” Waterhouse said. “Use of that is very politically astute and even legally astute to the degree that the ears of the court are very open to those concerns.”

As the Supreme Court has grown more conservative, advocates and legal experts have voiced concern over the potential for Landry's case to set back civil rights enforcement if it moves forward — and potentially reverse progress as well, said Waterhouse, by nullifying past wins for agencies like the Department of Education or eliminating the doctrine of disparate impact altogether.

Waterhouse said state agencies should expect to be required to follow more than one law at once, just like the average citizen. He likened it to driving a car.

“Sometimes you get a no speeding and a no passing law. It means that you have to drive 55 (miles per hour) and stay in that right lane, even though somebody is driving slow in it,” he said.

“It's not an either-or, so it's a false dichotomy.”

The future of Louisiana's air program

Even with the EPA's investigation being closed, the draft informal agreement produced in May offers a blueprint for addressing decades-old complaints about LDEQ's permitting process. Research and news investigations have repeatedly demonstrated that Black communities in Louisiana live with more air pollution than white communities.

Legal experts agree that nothing in the law prevents the state agency from implementing the measures developed over the 8-month negotiation to ensure it is in compliance with nondiscrimination laws.

Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality Secretary Roger Gingles speaks at a news conference held by the EPA about new pollution rules proposed to help lower emissions and cancer risk in Louisiana's chemical corridor in St. John the Baptist Parish on April 6, 2023. (Halle Parker/WWNO)

“States have the authority to go well beyond anything that the federal government has put in place,” said Waterhouse. “So they can be more protective for their citizens. They can be more attentive to preventing disparities in terms of who bears the burden of pollution. They have all kinds of authority to do that.”

The draft agreement offered a step-by-step guide for considering various demographics when permitting, explaining how to analyze for potential disparities and what to do if any are found. It also laid out ways to facilitate a more robust public participation process.

“EPA has given LDEQ all of the tools that it could need to do a better job than what it has done,” said Jordan.

Whether LDEQ will use those tools remains an open question. When WWNO/WRKF asked LDEQ whether it planned to use the draft agreement, agency press secretary Greg Langley said, “We are glad to have the complaint closed. LDEQ has no comment about the communications that occurred between EPA and LDEQ.”

Langley didn't say if the agency planned to make any changes to its permitting program.

The EPA will still pursue other avenues to address the issues that came up in the complaints, including a major lawsuit it launched earlier this year against a neoprene plant in St. John the Baptist Parish and new proposed rules limiting the emission of certain cancer-causing chemicals plaguing Louisiana's chemical corridor. It also plans to conduct its own cumulative impact study in St. John.

But the federal agency hasn't provided any indication that an overhaul of the state's air permit program is in the cards. EPA staff has offered to help LDEQ implement changes if the state decides to strengthen its safeguards against discrimination.

Unless changes are made, Harden said, LDEQ will continue to have the same problems that the EPA identified — and racial disparities will continue to go unchecked.

“Each permit that LDEQ issues in a predominantly Black community in Louisiana is a further violation of civil rights,” she said.

This article was first published by WWNO.org.

Louisiana Illuminator is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Louisiana Illuminator maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Greg LaRose for questions: info@lailluminator.com. Follow Louisiana Illuminator on Facebook and Twitter.

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Louisiana Illuminator

After U.S. Supreme Court decision to allow bump stocks, U.S. Senate rejects bill to ban them • Louisiana Illuminator

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lailluminator.com – Ariana Figueroa – 2024-06-19 06:25:13

by Ariana Figueroa, Louisiana Illuminator
June 19, 2024

WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. Pete Ricketts blocked a bipartisan bill Tuesday that would ban bump stocks following a Supreme Court decision that repealed a Trump-era rule against using the gun accessory.

Ricketts, a Nebraska Republican, objected to New Mexico Democratic Sen. Martin Heinrich's request that the chamber approve his bill — cosponsored by Nevada Democratic Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto and Maine Republican Sen. Susan Collins — by unanimous consent.

Heinrich attempted to pass the bill, which the trio introduced last year, following the Supreme Court ruling last week that the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives lacked the authority to ban bump stocks.

“As a firearms owner myself, there's no legitimate use for a bump stock,” Heinrich said. “What they are tailor made for is a mass shooting.”

The bill, S. 1909, would ban the sale of bump stocks that allow semi-automatic weapons to rapidly fire multiple rounds like a machine gun.

Ricketts argued that the Supreme Court made the right decision and said the bill didn't just ban bump stocks but also “targets other firearm accessories.”

Ricketts added that the bill is a violation of the Second Amendment.

“This bill is about banning as many firearm accessories as possible and giving ATF broad authority to ban most semi-automatic firearms,” Ricketts said. “It's an unconstitutional attack on law-abiding gun owners.”

Heinrich said the bill would not ban a large amount of firearm accessories, but would ban things like Glock switches, which can be attached to the side of a Glock handgun to convert a semi-automatic pistol into a fully automatic firearm.

“I think the American people understand what common-sense gun safety looks like,” Heinrich said.

Senate procedure requires 60 votes to proceed on most legislation. But for the chamber to approve a measure by unanimous consent, no senator can object.

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Supreme Court ruling

The Supreme Court on Friday overturned an ATF regulation, enacted during former President Donald Trump's administration after the Las Vegas mass shooting, which defined a semi-automatic rifle equipped with a bump stock attachment as a machine gun. Machine guns are generally prohibited under federal law.

In that mass shooting, a gunman used rifles outfitted with bump stocks to fire into a crowd of 22,000 people at a music festival, killing 58 people that night and two more who died of their injuries later, and injuring more than 500.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said on the Senate floor that the bill was needed because the Supreme Court's decision was “an utter disgrace.”

“It will endanger our communities, endanger law enforcement, and make it easier for mass shooters to unleash carnage,” Schumer, a New York Democrat, said.

The opinion, written by Justice Clarence Thomas, who is a strong defender of Second Amendment gun rights, deemed that the ATF exceeded its statutory authority in prohibiting the sale and possession of bump stocks, which he said differed importantly from machine guns.

“Nothing changes when a semiautomatic rifle is equipped with a bump stock,” Thomas wrote. “Between every shot, the shooter must release pressure from the trigger and allow it to reset before reengaging the trigger for another shot.”

Additionally, the decision, which was split along ideological lines, limits the federal government's ability to address gun violence in the absence of congressional action.

More federal gun legislation unlikely

With a split Congress, any gun-safety related legislation is unlikely to pass. However, after Friday's decision, President Joe Biden called on Congress to ban bump stocks and assault weapons.

“Americans should not have to live in fear of this mass devastation,” Biden said at the time.

The last time Congress passed gun legislation was in 2022 after two mass shootings that occurred less than two weeks apart.

One was at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, where 19 children and two teachers were killed. The other was in Buffalo, New York, where a white supremacist targeted a predominantly Black neighborhood and killed 10 Black people.

The 2022 gun safety legislation did not ban any firearms but provided funds for mental health and to help states enact red flag laws, which allow the courts to temporarily remove a firearm from an individual who is a threat to themselves or others, among other provisions.

That same year, the Supreme Court decided on a major gun-related case that invalidated a New York law against carrying a firearm in public without showing a special need for protection.

Because of that decision, there's another gun-related case before the court that will test a federal law that prevents the possession of firearms by a person who is subject to a domestic violence protective order. A decision on that is expected this month.

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Louisiana Illuminator is part of States Newsroom, a nonprofit news network supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Greg LaRose for questions: info@lailluminator.com. Follow Louisiana Illuminator on Facebook and X.

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Louisiana lags on electric vehicle charging program, but DOTD sees ‘no reason to rush’ • Louisiana Illuminator

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lailluminator.com – Wesley Muller – 2024-06-19 05:00:24

by Wesley Muller, Louisiana Illuminator
June 19, 2024

Two years after receiving federal funding to build electric vehicle charging stations across the state, Louisiana has yet to ask for bids from companies that might want the money. However, state transportation officials say there is a reason for their sluggish pace. 

The Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development (DOTD), plans to start the request-for-proposal process as soon as it identifies an appropriate “contracting mechanism” under state law to use the money, DOTD spokesperson Rodney Mallett said. 

The Federal Highway Administration allocated $73.4 million to Louisiana under the National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure (NEVI) program in 2022. NEVI is a product of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law that Congress approved in 2021. It included billions for state transportation agencies to build a network of rapid chargers along major highways. 

Louisiana's initial response was on par with other states. DOTD submitted its NEVI deployment plan by the federal deadline of August 2022. However, while states such as Ohio, Pennsylvania and others now are disbursing the grant money or have already built some EV charging stations, Louisiana hasn't yet figured out how to spend it. 

“There's no real reason to spend two-plus years figuring out how to get this money to grant recipients when other states are already opening up chargers,” said Ryan McKinnon of the Charge Ahead Partnership, an EV charger lobby group. “Lots of states will be opening up chargers pretty soon, and it sounds like Louisiana will be sitting on the sidelines.” 

McKinnon said Louisiana is one of 11 states that have still not asked for bids to use the NEVI grant money. 

Some congressional Republicans and anti-union groups have directed their criticism at the Biden administration, claiming the delays are the result of mismanagement or of labor requirements within federal rules. Officials closest to the situation say the delays are largely because it is a new program that they want done correctly.

Mallet said the federal rules for the NEVI program don't “fit cleanly” within DOTD's usual contracting methods. DOTD often writes contracts for projects in which the agency owns and maintains the infrastructure, such as highways. In contrast, the EV charger grants will pay for the construction of infrastructure for which “ownership and operation will be transferred” from the state, in most cases, to a private entity, he said.

Although the Biden administration has aimed for a goal of building 500,000 charging stations by 2026, Mallet said the NEVI funds do not lapse, so there is no hard deadline to complete the projects.

“The key is to do it right for the long term,” Mallet said. “No reason to rush it through.”

States to receive $2.5B from feds for electric vehicle charging infrastructure

Tyler Herrmann with Louisiana Clean Fuels, a nonprofit working with DOTD on the NEVI rollout, said earlier, smaller EV charger programs saw build-outs at sites that weren't very practical. 

The chargers were often installed at public libraries or apartment complexes — places with no real interest or resources to maintain them. Without that routine maintenance, chargers would break and often stay that way for years. 

The government learned from those programs and is now taking care to avoid making those same kinds of mistakes, Herrmann said.   

“It is a unique situation,” Herrmann said of DOTD's efforts to administer the NEVI grants. “The program is pretty much completely different from what the DOTD does normally.”

In the meantime, Louisiana Clean Fuels has been working to build a workforce of technicians who can install and repair EV chargers and supply equipment.

Baton Rouge Community College just recently saw its first class of students graduate from a three-week course in which they learned some of the fundamentals required to become nationally certified Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment technicians. 

Herrmann said about a dozen students completed the first course, which will soon be offered at other community colleges across the state.

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Louisiana Illuminator is part of States Newsroom, a nonprofit news network supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Greg LaRose for questions: info@lailluminator.com. Follow Louisiana Illuminator on Facebook and X.

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St. Tammany’s embattled coroner targeted under new state laws • Louisiana Illuminator

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lailluminator.com – Julie O'Donoghue – 2024-06-18 17:43:54

by Julie O'Donoghue, Louisiana Illuminator
June 18, 2024

Gov. Jeff Landry has signed two new laws to weaken the authority of St. Tammany Parish's controversial coroner who is already the subject of a recall campaign. 

Dr. Christopher Tape drew scrutiny from lawmakers after a WWL-TV investigation revealed he had been accused of child sex abuse in New Mexico decades ago and then settled a lawsuit over workplace sexual harassment allegations in the past few years. Charges in the New Mexico case were quashed after the prosecutor failed to move the case forward in a timely fashion. 

Almost immediately after taking office, Tape also tried to cancel a multi-parish program housed in the St. Tammany coroner's office that provides nurses to perform sexual assault exams on victims. The service helps police collect evidence and assists Northshore district attorneys who prosecute sex crimes. 

Legislators responded to Tape's actions, as well as his refusal to resign from his job, by filing legislation to limit his power.

Sen. Patrick McMath, R-Covington, sponsored a new law to give the St. Tammany Parish Council greater authority over the coroner's public finances and the ability to remove any coroner convicted of violent crimes. Moving forward, candidates for St. Tammany coroner must submit records regarding their criminal background to the local clerk of court.

Sen. Beth Mizell, R-Franklinton, authored a second law that allows the state attorney general to move sexual assault victim programs to another parish if the local coroner is unqualified or unwilling to perform those duties. 

In Tape's case, a transfer has already happened. Last month, the Jefferson Parish Coroner's Office took over the sexual assault examination program serving the Northshore region. The two parishes have entered into a cooperative endeavor agreement that allowed Jefferson Coroner Gerry Cvitanovich to hire the nurses who worked for the St. Tammany program.

Meanwhile, the organizers of Tape's recall must gather 35,000 signatures from qualified voters before mid-October for an election potentially forcing Tape out of office to take place.

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Louisiana Illuminator is part of States Newsroom, a nonprofit news network supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Greg LaRose for questions: info@lailluminator.com. Follow Louisiana Illuminator on Facebook and X.

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