A bid to toughen penalties for repeatedly dumping refrigerators, engines and other heavy-duty litter died in the House on Monday.

The House voted 49-46 to delay action on the bill indefinitely, which all but ends any chances for final approval.

The session has to end by 6 p.m. Thursday.

State Rep. Karen St. Germain, D-Pierre Part and House sponsor of the bill, said afterward the proposal is dead.

Senate Bill 270 is aimed at those convicted of dumping auto parts, household or office furniture, tools and garbage along and near highways and elsewhere.

It would have allowed a judge to seize the car, truck or boat of any third-time offender and order it sold at auction.

“This is not sitting in your car and having a piece of paper fly out the window accidentally,” St. Germain told the House.

“And this is the third time you have been caught,” she said of those who would be covered by the bill.

Backers said the issue has become especially troublesome, and costly for the state, since Hurricanes Katrina, Gustav and Ike.

State Rep. Nancy Landry, R-Lafayette, grilled St. Germain about the possibility that someone could use a borrowed car or truck to litter, and result in the person who loaned the vehicle losing it.

Rep. Alan Seabaugh, R-Shreveport, tried to craft an amendment that would exclude borrowed cars and trucks from being subjected to seizure.

That triggered more arguments about the merits of the legislation.

“This seems like a great bill for the towing business,” Rep. John LaBruzzo, R-Metairie, said.

Rep. Austin Badon, D-New Orleans, said some in his city routinely use vehicles to illegally get rid of refuse.

Critics noted that, under state law, third-time offenders now face a fine of up to $5,000, a suspended driver’s license and up to 30 days in jail.

St. Germain countered those penalties were not serving as enough of a deterrent.

State Rep. Joe Lopinto, R-Metairie, made the motion to shelve the debate.

The same bill passed the Senate last week 34-1.