Friday, April 07, 2006
By MARK BALLARD
Capitol news bureau
An effort to allow taxpayers to look at the governor’s records was turned aside Thursday by a House committee.On a vote of three in favor to six against, the Committee on House and Governmental Affairs rejected House Bill 117.
It would have removed the governor’s exemption to state laws that require government agencies to make their records available to the public.
“It says the governor should be treated like everybody else,” said Rep. Peppi Bruneau, R-New Orleans, who sponsored the bill.
Bruneau said he will file another bill and press another debate on the issue before the legislative session adjourns June 19.
Gov. Kathleen Blanco opposed Bruneau’s bill despite her promise — often repeated over the past two years — to run an “open” government to overcome Louisiana’s reputation for backroom politics.
Rep. Mert Smiley, R-St. Amant, tweaked Blanco for taking a contradictory stance when open government applies to her rather than other officials in government. He said Blanco has done little to push bills that would realize, even partially, that promise.
Supporters of the bill said the records exception prevents the public from knowing how the governor comes to decisions that affect the liberty and pocketbooks of everyday citizens.
The exception keeps secret the correspondence and notes of the governor’s advisers, said Carl Redman, managing editor for The Advocate. Redman said the public has a right to know who is lobbying the governor on specific issues.