Jindal transparency bill falls

by Walter Pierce

Acadiana-area Sens. Mike Michot, Elbert Guillory and Fred Mills voted with the majority in defeating the bill.

A bill that would have opened the governor's office to public-records requirements similar to those state lawmakers are subject to fell in the Senate late Monday on a 22-14 vote. Acadiana-area Sens. Mike Michot, Elbert Guillory and Fred Mills voted with the majority in defeating the bill.

Even in defeat, Sen. Robert Adley, R-Benton, made a compelling case for pushing back against Gov. Bobby Jindal's famed lack of transparency. Adley's Senate Bill 57 would have undone what Jindal managed to do in his first year in office - shield virtually all the records of Louisiana's executive branch from the state's public records law. Jindal has argued that releasing some records could jeopardize negotiations for economic development deals and other sensitive matters.

"This is the people's government. It is not my job to make it more difficult for them to get records - it's my job to make it easier," Adley argued on the Senate floor Monday. Several senators joined Adley in calling for passage of the bill; in fact, only state Sen. Danny Martiny, R-Metairie, spoke against it.

This is the third consecutive year Adley has introduced legislation opening the governor's office to sunshine - and the third year it has failed. The bill was seen in part as a symbolic gesture: Jindal would likely have vetoed the bill had it cleared the Legislature.

Monday afternoon's vote, which came just before 5 p.m., leaned along party lines: Only three Republicans joined the 11 Democrats who voted for the bill while four Democrats including Elbert Guillory of Opelousas voted with 18 Republicans in opposing the measure.

The League of Women Voters chapter in Baton Rouge blasted the vote in an email fired off just after 8:30 p.m. Monday, urging recipients to contact their senator about reviving the legislation:

Where were the political parties who are always talking about transparency today when the Senate was voting on Senator Adley's SB 57 on transparency?

For example, there is a $ 340 million Medicaid contract going out of state to the DHH's secretary's former boss and the bid process has been behind closed doors. Senator Adley can bring it back up, if the voters want to really know what is happening to the LA taxpayers' money!