U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., fired back last week at a proposal from two House Democrats to repeal a law giving coastal states, such as Louisiana, more royalties for oil and gas drilling off their shores.

Rep. Ed Markey, D-Mass., and Rep. Rush Holt, D-N.J., said they would introduce legislation to repeal the revenue-sharing measure of 2006.

The two members of the House Natural Resources Committee have joined other revenue-sharing critics in saying the Gulf of Mexico is federal land and any royalties secured from new drilling should be put into the coffers of the U.S. Treasury.

The 2006 law, co-authored by Landrieu, gives four coastal states - Louisiana, Mississippi, Texas and Alabama - a 37.5 percent share of any royalties from new drilling in the Gulf. Louisiana, which handles a third of the nation’s energy production, would receive half of the money.

Landrieu took a backhanded shot at the two members, whose states aren’t energy producers.

“All coastal states, including Massachusetts and New Jersey, should consider what contribution they can make to our country’s energy needs, both onshore and offshore,” Landrieu said in a statement.

Promoting new drilling would aid, not hinder, the accumulation of federal revenue, Landrieu said.

“Creating a partnership with coastal states to develop offshore energy resources that this country desperately needs will bring more money to the federal treasury,” Landrieu said.

Landrieu noted that inland states such as Wyoming, Utah, Colorado and New Mexico have received a 50 percent share of royalties since 1920.

“Why should coastal states be treated any differently?” Landrieu said.

Landrieu has introduced her own legislation that would increase revenue sharing to the coastal states. She failed to get a vote in a recent committee hearing on her measure by the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.

The panel chairman, Sen. Jeff Bingaman, D-N.M., has scheduled a second hearing on the Landrieu measure.

Boustany looks at IRS program

Rep. Charles Boustany, R-Lafayette, held a hearing last week to examine the new Internal Revenue Service paid tax return preparer program.

Boustany is the chairman of the House subcommittee on oversight for the House Ways and Means Committee that writes the nation’s tax laws.

In 2010, the IRS launched a paid return preparer initiative to stop abusive returns at the source rather than through the lengthy and expensive audit process, Boustany said.

“It is crucial for Congress to understand the new requirements and continue its oversight to judge whether the new program improves tax compliance,” Boustany said in a statement.

Paid tax return preparers handle an estimated 60 percent of all federal returns filed, Boustany said.

“The increasing complexity at the Internal Revenue Code has led more and more Americans to rely on paid tax return preparers to fulfill their tax return filing obligations,” Boustany said.

La’s beautiful Richmond

Freshman Rep. Cedric Richmond, D-New Orleans, continues to get notoriety outside his role as a legislator.

Richmond was the buzz of the chamber recently after pitching his Democratic colleagues to an 8-2 win in the congressional baseball game. Now Richmond is getting attention for his looks.

Richmond was selected last week as one of the 50 Most Beautiful People on Capitol Hill in a contest run by the newspaper Roll Call.

Richmond might also be one of the shyest members on Capitol Hill. He declined to comment on his newfound status..

Report: La. rural care limited

Louisiana has about 1.14 million rural residents who depend on limited health-care providers in

their areas, according to a new report issued by UnitedHealth Center for Health Reform and Modernization.

One in four of the state’s population rely on only 54 primary-care physicians per 100,000 residents, compared with 102 primary-care doctors per 100,000 in urban and suburban areas, the report said.

Nationwide, rural Americans are more likely to receive lower-quality health care through a highly fragmented local-care delivery system, the report concluded. Nationwide, rural patients reported an average distance of 60 miles between their local primary-care physician’s office and specialist’s office.

Compiled by Gerard Shields, chief of The Advocate’s Washington bureau. His email address is GerardShields@aol.com.