Update: The paper confirms.

Is not the Jindal veto, although it will be remembered as the biggest story of the week.

The biggest story is actually the deadline for disclosure that is being imposed on local and statewide commissions and authorities and the rash of resignations that it caused.

The Governor’s press release:

Governor Signs SB 718 by Senator Martiny into Law

As of June 26, 2008, members of boards and commissions are no longer required to file the same level of personal financial disclosure statements as legislators, with the exception of the Board of Ethics and the State Board of Elementary and Secondary Education.

Act 472 of the 2008 Regular Legislative Session creates a new tier of disclosure exclusively for members and designees of certain boards and commissions with the authority to “expend, disburse, or invest” $10,000 in a fiscal year, the Civil Service Commission, and the Board of Commissioners of the Louisiana Stadium and Exposition District.

In addition to state boards and commissions that were affected by legislation passed in the 2008 1st Extraordinary Session, SB 718 extends financial disclosure requirements to a new group of boards and commissions—those created by the constitution, law, a political subdivision, or jointly by two or more political subdivisions as a governing authority with the exception of:

  • Parish governing authorities
  • Boards created by a single parish governing authority, or subdistrict, of a parish with a population of 250,000 or less
  • Municipal governing authorities
  • Boards created by a single municipal governing authority, or subdistrict, of a municipality with a population of 25,000 or less
  • Boards of directors of private non-profit corporations that are not created by law

According to Act 472, affected board members and spouses are required to report the following information on a single form by May 15 annually, beginning in 2009:

  • Full name and mailing address of the board member
  • Full name of the board member’s spouse, his/her occupation, and his/her principal business address
  • Name of the employer, job title, and brief job description of the board member and his/her spouse
  • Name of business that is owned by the board member or his/her spouse, the address, brief description, nature of association, and percentage of ownership interest (if it is more than 10%)
  • Name of non-profit organization in which the board member or his/her spouse is a director or officer, the address, brief description, and nature of association
  • The following must be reported if the board member, his/her spouse, or the business owned by the board member or his/her spouse (over 10% ownership) receives income from the State of Louisiana, a political subdivision of the State, or a gaming interest:
    • the name of the business
    • the address of the business
    • the type of business
    • the dollar amount of income from these sources.
  • Certification that the board member has filed his/her personal income taxes or a request for an extension.
  • Certification that the board member and any member of his/her immediate family has no personal or financial interest in any entity, contract, business, or relationship that would pose a conflict of interest that affects the impartial performance of his/her duties; OR a statement describing each conflict and action taken to resolve or avoid the conflict.

What does that mean for those of us in Central Louisiana? (I suppose you’ll have to stay tuned to your local news media to find out the full story).

But suffice it to say, the disclosure requirement (which somehow seemed to sneak up on many people today) affects the boards of GAEDA, ACEDD, the Convention and Visitors Bureau, the Port Authority, and several other boards, commissions, and authorities.

It is possible- if not probable- that many of these commissions will suddenly find themselves without the necessary number of members to qualify as a quorum. Basically, they will be stuck in their tracks. And who really knows how long it will take to locate qualified people who will volunteer their time and don’t mind having their and their spouse’s holdings out there for the entire world to see? (Will wealthy Republicans ever be inspired to participate again?).

Taxpayer dollars may still pour in, but without the supervision of a board, there will be no real authority to allocate and spend those dollars.

Some may initially see this as a sign of real ethics reform; I think it’s somewhat onerous and overly burdensome, particularly when you’re talking about people who, literally, volunteer their time to serve their community.

Of course, there may be some benefits to the sudden and rapid vacuum. It will create the perception that Louisiana has embarked on meaningful reforms. And plus, it may give some people the opportunity to “clean house,” though it remains to be seen who is actually doing the cleaning.

Still, today’s deadline will certainly have broad, far-reaching effects– potentially changing the State (and the nature of government commissions and authorities) forever.

4 thoughts

  1. This is a very real problem. A lot of decent, community-minded individuals serve on some of these boards and they are simply not going to expose themselves to this.
    If and when they are replaced, it will not be by people of the same caliber. (No offense to new appointees intended.)
    The legislature looked at this and failed to change it. They were otherwise occupied (sorry, couldn’t help one little shot).
    I didn’t understand these requirements from the begininng and I don’t understand why they would not ease these requirements.

  2. It may be recorded as the most myopically ideological and ridiculous move possible for a State in need of rebuilding and still in transition. I am really surprised this wasn’t vetted. I agree with full disclosure for elected officials- including judges- but asking volunteers to disclose their family’s holdings will only DISCOURAGE qualified people from participating.

    By the way, it’s worth noting that both Joe McPherson and Eric LaFleur voted against this bill.

  3. The worst part is that now 10 of the 11 board of ethics members have resigned. Dr. Ted Lowery of Alexandria is the only remaining board member, and a fantastic guy he is, but they will have to start over from scratch to rebuild this board. Meanwhile, no one is guarding the henhouse.

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