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PAR Says Keep Ban on Contributions During Session

A bill aiming to repeal a major ethics reform that restricts campaign contributions during legislative sessions is scheduled for a hearing on Wednesday. The law being targeted prohibits campaign contributions to legislators and the governor during regular legislative sessions. The ban, recommended by PAR in 1995, was a key part of the Governor’s 2004 ethics package to improve the state’s image and attract economic development. The legislation passed overwhelmingly in both houses after substantial debate and amendment.

Louisiana is one of over 30 states that limit campaign contributions during legislative sessions. Some states have more restrictive laws that include bans on contributions made during special sessions and to statewide elected officials. Some also extend the prohibited period to include contributions made 30 days before a session and 15 days after adjournment. Louisiana extends its prohibition on contributions made to the governor for 30 days following adjournment to reflect that office’s authority over legislation. However, legislators may accept contributions immediately after the session ends.

The state’s economic prospects have become more, not less, tenuous since the ban was passed in 2004. The legislature can aid recovery efforts by enacting stronger ethics laws. Repealing this hard-won reform would send a terrible message. The House and Governmental Affairs Committee should reject HB 668.

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