The Louisiana special session crashed and burned before the Louisiana Senate could vote on the proposed Louisiana Checkbook government transparency website, but the proposal is far from dead.
House Speaker Taylor Barras filed a bill ahead of the start of Monday’s regular legislative session to bring the idea back before state lawmakers. House Bill 510—which, if approved, establishes the website—gives the Louisiana Checkbook a new lifeline in state government.
The concept is a policy model based on the Ohio Checkbook which allows the public to track and investigate state and local government spending. Business groups—with the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry at the forefront—have seized on the Ohio model, pushing lawmakers to replicate the idea in Louisiana. The proposal has the support of the Public Affairs Research Council of Louisiana.
The momentum behind the Louisiana Checkbook did not diminish with Monday’s premature end to the special session, says LABI President and CEO Stephen Waguespack, adding the concept didn’t pass during the special session simply because time ran out.
The bill was pending in the Senate Finance Committee when the special session was halted two days early due to gridlock over revenue-raising measures in the House. The Senate version of the bill was pending House referral.
Still, Waguespack says local governments and school boards—like in Lafayette—are proposing and adopting their own versions of the Louisiana Checkbook
Despite the partisan bickering at the state level, Waguespack remains confident the proposal will pass during the regular session.
“We feel highly confident that there will be a lot of momentum to getting this done,” he says.