Louisiana lawmakers send economic development confidentiality bill to governor



(The Center Square) – An amended bill that could provide confidentiality for economic development efforts is now awaiting a decision by Gov. Jeff Landry.

The House concurred with the Senate changes to the bill by a 71-18 vote on Friday.

House Bill 461 would allow parishes or municipalities to prevent the disclosure of documents, including expense reports, related to economic development negotiations.

The bill was amended by the upper chamber to require that an economic development project covered by the records exception be valued at $5 million or greater and create 15 permanent jobs for manufacturing or distribution centers or at least 25 permanent jobs for digital media, headquarters, research and development or inbound call center operations.

The Senate also added to the measure that records of local government expenses related to economic development negotiations remain public, with an exception that a local chief executive officer could redact any identifying information that would expose people related to a firm in talks with the government.

The amended bill would also prohibit the local chief executive from entering into an agreement without an affirmative vote of the local legislative body consistent with the state’s Open Meetings Law.

In the original bill, local governments had 10 days to make a determination on whether to keep records confidential and inform the public, but the amendments cut that time to five days.

The committee also added a four-year sunset provision for the bill, allowing lawmakers to take another look if the measure becomes law.

The bill sponsor, Rep. Steven Jackson, D-Shreveport, said during earlier debate it was a “simple bill that helps Louisiana stay competitive and would strengthen the hand of local governments with regard to negotiations for economic development. Once those negotiations are complete, those documents will be made readily available to the public.”

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