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11 28, 2011 by The Advocate
The two Louisiana congressmen who could face off next year for a seat in Washington recently differed on legislation that would require ships to be stationed three miles from oil rigs.
U.S. Rep. Jeff Landry, R-New Iberia, had the provision successfully tucked into legislation that recently passed the U.S. House funding the U.S. Coast Guard for the next four years.
Landry came up with the legislation pointing to the Damon Bankston, a supply boat near the BP rig explosion last year that saved 115 workers stranded after the blast.
“My standby vessel provision applies lessons from the Deepwater Horizon tragedy and guarantees our offshore workers will have a vessel nearby ready to act if another accident occurs,” Landry said in a statement.
U.S. Rep. Charles Boustany, R-Lafayette, expressed the concerns of the oil industry, who see the move as expensive and unnecessary.
The provision would create unneeded regulation on energy producers and would hinder progress made in order to restart Gulf energy production, Boustany said.
“Like many in the maritime, oil and natural gas industries, I am opposed to implementing additional regulations when current operating standards already adequately address safety,” Boustany said.
The two men were thrown into the same congressional district when the Louisiana House delegation was reduced from seven to six due to reapportionment from the U.S. Census.
Fighting baggage fees
U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., recently introduced legislation aimed at protecting travelers from excessive baggage fees.
The bill would require airlines to allow passengers one checked bag and one carry-on bag for free. In 2008 and 2009, airlines collected $3.9 billion in checked baggage fees, Landrieu said in a statement.
“When an airline advertises a flight, that is how much it should cost, plain and simple,” Landrieu said. “Passengers should not be charged additional fees for checked of carry-on baggage, drinkable water or other reasonable requests.”
Vitter backs generics
U.S. Sen. David Vitter, R-La., has signed onto legislation that he said would bring generic drugs to market sooner, saving Americans millions of dollars in health-care costs.
The legislation is called the Fair and Immediate Release of Generic Drugs Act of 2011.
A provision in a previous law gives the first generic company to file for a patent the exclusive right to sell a generic version of the medication 180 days after the original patent expires.
In many instances, the “first filer” is paid by or settles with the name brand company to delay selling the generic drug, Vitter said in a statement.
The situation leaves the more expensive name brand drug on the market while both financially benefit, he said.
During the delay, the name brand drug enjoys market exclusivity while the generic producer can enjoy the settlement payment while blocking other generics from coming to market, Vitter said.
Known as Fair Generics, the legislation would allow any generic company that wins a patent challenge in district court or is not sued by the name brand company to share most of the 180-day market exclusivity that was originally reserved for the first generic filer. The legislation would end the “pay for delay” problem, Vitter said.
The federal government would benefit also because of savings to drug payments for Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security, Vitter said.
“This is a great opportunity to achieve cost savings by bringing lower-priced generics to the market faster and will greatly benefit many Americans on tight budgets, as well as significant savings to the federal government,” Vitter said.
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