Champagne went to the school board meeting to defend her vote on House Bill 563 in the House Natural Resources Committee which occurred last month in Baton Rouge.
The bill dealt with oil field waste cleanup and speeding up the process of cleaning up the land. The bill failed to get out of committee and was voted down 9-8 with Champagne voting in favor of the bill.
School Board member Anthony Fontana, who is an attorney, wanted an explanation from Champagne why she voted in favor of the bill despite the request from School Superintendent Randy Schexnayder and school board attorney Woody Woodruff not to vote for the bill. The two men were in Baton Rouge the day the committee voted on the bill and informed her of the way they would like her to vote.
Thursday night, Champagne also learned the School Board has five lawsuits against oil companies pertaining to oil field waste cleanup.
Champagne argued this bill would have helped Vermilion Parish and state landowners.
“I did not vote against you (Vermilion Parish), I voted to help landowners across the state by expediting cleanups.”
Fontana argued against her. He said the bill would take away parish rights to protect its property and give the upper hand to the oil companies. Fontana pointed out that House Bill 563 would limit how oil companies would clean up the land.
Fontana said water and animals are also damaged by the oil waste on the land. “You think you are voting for the people of Vermilion Parish? I disagree,” Fontana said.
Champagne fired back at the school board members and asked each one individually, including Schexnayder, if they ever came to her before the vote to educate her that the School Board has pending lawsuits with oil companies over oil field waste. She was visited by Schexnayder and Woodruff right before the committee meeting.
“My question to Mr. Randy is, did you tell me any of these issues?” Champagne said “I could have addressed the issues.”
“No, ma’am,” said Schexnayder.
School Board member Ricky Broussard stepped in and gave his opinion about Champagne being on trial. Two school board meetings ago, Fontana made a motion to create a resolution “denouncing” Champagne because of her vote on HB 563 and HB 621 (tax credits for private schools).
“I think it is the wrong approach to try and denounce our state representative,” Broussard said. “It is unprofessional and probably unethical. We have to work together. We do not always agree. We have to agree to disagree. It is as simple as that. We have to move on.”
Broussard praised Champagne for the work she has done to help the Erath and Delcambre residents after Hurricane Rita.