State Sen. Robert Adley, R-Bossier City, is chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee and Sen. Sherri Smith Buffington, R-Shreveport, is vice chairman, but it is not known if they were present or if they voted.
State Rep. Austin Badon, D-New Orleans, pleaded for passage of his bill. “We see it every single day, drivers swerving in their lanes, stopping at green lights, running red lights, driving below the speed limit,” he told the Senate committee.
And he asked that Louisiana be the 11th state to make using a hand-held cell phone a primary offense.
His words fell on deaf ears. “The will of the committee has been not to push this forward, and it’s unfortunate because it’s probably going to take a catastrophic accident or fatality by somebody close to a legislative member,” Badon said.
Louisiana already has a ban on texting while driving.
Let me see if I have this right. Louisiana was tabbed by Governing Magazine as the most corrupt state in the country over the past decade, and now the Legislature wants to eliminate the position of Inspector General (IG).
Yes, that’s right. The House of Representatives has already voted to eliminate the IG’s office. It’s up to the Senate to restore it, and the fate of the office is currently in the hands of the Senate Finance Committee.
IG Stephen Street told the committee, “We have no budget so I think I can talk to you about why we ought to have a budget.”
Street, who has been IG since 2008, pointed out that his office operates on $1.7 million a year, but that is the past fiscal year, his office has uncovered $3.2 million in fraud and corruption.
“There will always be those who want to shut down OIG. Some of those people are in federal prison or may be facing that possibility. Some of them may have been the subject of IG investigations or have friends that were. Some just can’s accept we won’t play politics,” Street said.
State Sen. Greg Tarver, D-Shreveport, who is a member of the Finance Committee said, “Well, my personal opinion is we do need the Inspector General Office in Louisiana.”
He and other senators told Street that the House vote doesn’t mean the job is done and that many people support the watchdog office.
The mission of the IG’s office is to help prevent and detect waste, mismanagement, abuse, and corruption in the executive branch of state government without regard to partisan politics, allegiances, status or influence.
It is an independent office within the Office of the Governor. The office is a law enforcement agency with all the investigative powers and privileges appurtenant to law enforcement.
by Lou Gehrig Burnett, Publisher of Fax-Net