Friday, October 06, 2006


"Voters Might Find Out Who Is Being Shifty"

No do-overs

When a lawmaker casts a vote, it ought to mean something. Constituents ought to be able to look at voting records and know what their representative stands for -- or doesn't stand for.

In the Louisiana House of Representatives, though, a recorded vote frequently doesn't mean anything at all.

A lawmaker who wanted to fight levee reform, for instance, could vote against it and then go back and change the vote later to seem like a reformer to the public. Several House members did exactly that last fall when Sen. Walter Boasso first tried to consolidate levee boards. Once the bill failed and the public got riled up, the vote changing started.

Not surprisingly, the House committee was not bothered by the vote-changing. Mr. Speer recommended a fairly modest proposal to make vote changes more orderly and got nowhere with it. All he wanted to do was to have members give him a signed form requesting a change.

St. Amant Rep. M.J. "Mert" Smiley wanted no part of that. The forms could be used by opponents to make a legislator look bad, and they would make it easier for the press to figure out who changes their votes, he said.

Oh my, then the voters might find out who is being shifty. And vote them out of office.

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