Agenda Item
Docket No. 17-748
Advisory Opinion request of Blaise St. Blanc, Project Manager for DeVillier House Movers, which is owned by Phillip DeVillier, State Representative for District 41 (Acadia, St. Landry, and Evangeline Parishes).
Blaise St. Blanc is the Project Manager for Louisiana Structural Movers, Inc. d/b/a DeVillier House Movers. DeVillier House Movers is owned by Phillip DeVillier, State Representative for District 41.

There is currently a home in Eunice that has suffered multiple flood events, the most recent being a result of Hurricane Ike, which was declared a major disaster on September 13, 2008. As a result, FEMA has provided funds through a Hazard Mitigation Grant for the home to be relocated. In this case, funds have been allocated to the Acadia Parish Police Jury, which has hired Quality Engineering and Surveying LLC as their grant manager. The homeowner has received the required three bids and selected DeVillier House Movers to elevate the home. The grant pays 75% of the costs, with the homeowner paying the other 25% directly to the Acadia Parish Police Jury. All payments received by DeVillier House Movers would be paid by the Acadia Parish Police Jury.

In an advisory opinion issued by the Board, Docket No. 2014-1563, the Board explained to Rep. DeVillier that La. R.S. 42:1114.3 would prohibit his company from entering into contracts related to disaster or emergency declarations, unless the contract qualified for the two year exception provided in 1114.3A(3). In Docket No. 2014-1563, it was provided that the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP), administered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), is a federal program that provides grants to state and local governments to implement long-term hazard mitigation measures after a major disaster declaration. Following a gubernatorially declared disaster or emergency, the Governor's Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness (GOHSEP) prioritizes and selects applications developed and submitted by local jurisdictions. GOHSEP forwards the applications that are consistent with state mitigation planning objectives to FEMA for eligibility review. Based on FEMA's determination of which properties are qualified for HMGP grants, GOHSEP disburses the federal disaster funds to the participating parishes and municipalities.

Severe repetitive loss/repetitive loss grants (SRL/RL) under the HMGP are available for homes that have suffered a flood event and meet the following criteria: (1) at least four National Flood Insurance Program claim payments (including building and contents) over $5,000 each have been made, and the cumulative amount of such claims exceeds $20,000; or (2) at least two separate claims payments (building payments only) have been made with the cumulative amount of the building portion of such claims exceeding the market value of the building. For both (1) and (2) above, at least two of the referenced claims must have occurred within any ten-year period, and must be greater than ten days apart.

Phillip DeVillier, a candidate for state representative, owns 80 percent of Louisiana Structural Movers (LSM), which is a licensed elevation contractor. For contracts funded in whole or in part by HMGP SRL/RL grants, LSM enters into a construction-related contract with a homeowner for the purpose of elevating a home. The homeowner is responsible for submitting an application with the parish for approval and participation in the HMGP. After completion of the work by LSM, inspection by the parish, and submission of requests for payment, the parish pays LSM from HMGP funds administered and distributed to the parish by GOHSEP. While most of LSM's projects involve flooding caused by natural disasters, some houses are eligible based upon flood events caused by rain, drainage issues, etc.

La. R.S. 42:1114.3A(1) provides that no statewide elected official, legislator, commissioner of administration, or chief of staff or executive counsel to the governor, nor the spouse of such person, nor any corporation, partnership, or other legal entity in which such person owns an interest of greater than 5%, except a public traded corporation or a legal entity in which the person owns a passive ownership interest that is the result of participation in a federally approved program of employee ownership, shall enter into any contract to which all of the following apply:
(a) The contract is directed to addressing the needs directly emanating from a gubernatorially declared disaster or emergency.
(b) The person knows or reasonably should know that the contract or subcontract is funded or reimbursed in whole or in part with federal funds distributed, paid, or allocated to or by the state or a state department, agency, or official.

La. R.S. 42:1114.3A(3) provides that the provisions of Paragraph (1) of this Subsection shall not apply to construction-related contracts entered into with entities more than two years following the initial declaration of disaster or emergency, provided the entity is not the governmental entity of a person covered by this Subsection.

La. R.S. 42:1114.3A(5) provides that each person covered by this Subsection who derives, either directly or through a company covered by this Subsection, any thing of economic value through any contract which is directed to addressing needs directly emanating from a gubernatorially declared disaster or emergency and which the person covered by this Subsection knows or reasonably should know is or may be funded or reimbursed in whole or in part with federal funds shall disclose the information required by Subsection C of this Section as provided in that Subsection.

La. R.S. 42:1114.3C requires each elected or appointed official and immediate family member subject to the provisions of this Section to file an initial disclosure statement within 30 days after entering into the contract, and by May 15th of each year until a disclosure statement is filed after the completion of the contract or subcontract subject to disclosure, or until he is no longer an elected official, whichever occurs first.

Adopt the proposed advisory opinion.
Assigned Attorney: David Bordelon
2017-748 AOR
2017-748- Advisory Opinion Draft (2.0)
2017-748- AO 2014-1563