Excerpt from The Advocate
Gov. Bobby Jindal's hallmark ethics bills have hit snags in the Legislature, with legislative leaders stalling two key proposals Thursday while they worked out compromises with lawmakers.
Bills that would require public officials to disclose how they make their money and ban lawmakers from contracts with state agencies were both scheduled for debate Thursday. But House Speaker Jim Tucker delayed a vote on the disclosure bill until Friday, and Senate President Joel Chaisson did the same with the contract ban measure.
The proposals are the centerpieces of a three-week special legislative session Jindal called to change Louisiana's ethics laws - which the governor said need to be strengthened to improve the state's image.
Tucker's bill would require lawmakers, statewide elected officials, executive branch department heads, judges and many local elected officials to provide information about how they earn their money and to whom they are indebted.
Chaisson, D-Destrehan, faced complaints from senators about his bill that would bar lawmakers and their spouses and family members from doing business with state agencies.
The measure would prohibit lawmakers, their spouses and their businesses from having contracts with state agencies, including those that are competitively bid through the public bid law process. It also would prohibit immediate family members of lawmakers from doing business with state agencies - unless the contract was competitively bid.
Senators said they worried the bill would exclude small businessmen and lawyers from running for office and should include the governor's staff and local elected officials.
"If we're talking about setting a new image for everyone, they have to be in this. They have more influence," said Sen. Cheryl Gray, D-New Orleans.
Meanwhile, both House and Senate committees have stalled a Jindal administration proposal to require candidates to list details of their donors' employers.
The Senate and Governmental Affairs Committee approved without objection a separate bill sought by Jindal that would prohibit candidates for office from using their campaign funds to pay their family members.
House Bill 1 and Senate Bills 1, 31 and 34 can be found at http://www.legis.state.la.us