18 February 2008
this evening we learn from melinda deslatte and the times-picayune, via the dead pelican, that several groups have (finally) came out against house bill 41. this disaster of a bill is a contrivance to give control of the louisiana state ethics board to governor piyush scam.
the public affairs research council,
the league of women voters of louisiana,
the council for a better louisiana
and louisiana common cause:
They say the proposal is moving too quickly through a special legislative session on ethics, with too little scrutiny.house bill 41 is currently in the state senate and governmental affairs committee; scheduled to be heard at 10:00 a.m., tuesday, 18 february 2008 in the john j. hainkel, jr. room.
Under the measure, the ethics board no longer would decide whether someone violated ethics laws. That power would be shifted to administrative law judges, who don't work for the board and who are selected by an appointee of the governor.
The Public Affairs Research Council issued a statement asking the governor and lawmakers not to push the proposal through the special session, saying more discussion of the idea is needed. The League of Women Voters of Louisiana and Louisiana Common Cause sent out an e-mail opposing the bill, which already has passed the state House.
PAR said the measure would dilute the power of the ethics board and "raises some troubling questions that require additional research."
Barry Erwin, president of the Council for a Better Louisiana, also sent a letter to Jindal's deputy chief of staff, Stephen Waguespack, asking that the administration delay the bill until a later legislative session when there was more time to review the proposal.
"We do believe such a significant change in the core function of the Ethics Board should be made only after appropriate time for deliberation and consideration of multiple approaches that would ensure fair outcomes for all public servants," Erwin wrote in the letter.
The idea wasn't part of Jindal's proposals on the campaign trail when he ran for governor on a platform of ethics reform, and it wasn't recommended by an advisory group Jindal tasked with recommending ethics law changes. But the governor, who faces charges before the ethics board, included it in his official agenda for the special session that he called.
In an e-mailed statement, the heads of the League of Women Voters of Louisiana and Louisiana Common Cause said the bill would "be a giant step backwards."
"For some unexplained reason, the governor's office insists that its approach is the only one and it needs to be acted upon immediately," said Jean Armstrong, president of the League of Women Voters of Louisiana, and Wendell Lindsay Jr., president of Louisiana Common Cause.
Administrative law judges conduct hearings for executive branch agencies, like challenges of motor vehicle license suspensions, challenges of concealed handgun permit denials, insurance agent licensing disputes and determination of violations of environmental quality regulations.
Posted by wst... at 18:49