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Legislature: Bill to set qualifications for higher ed boards delayed

Last Modified: Thursday, March 13, 2014 11:48 AM

By Jim Beam / American Press

BATON ROUGE — An effort to establish some qualifications for members of the state’s higher education boards ran into a delay Wednesday, but it will resurface after some proposed amendments have been written.

Rep. Steve Carter, R-Baton Rouge, chairman of the House Education Committee, is author of a bill and a companion constitutional amendment outlining the qualifications he would like to see for some members of those boards.

Carter said board members handle millions of dollars every year and there needs to be some accountability from people who are qualified in business and finance.

Members of his committee had some concerns about parts of the legislation, and Carter agreed to voluntarily defer the bill in an effort to let them make some amendments to his proposal.

Rep. Patricia Smith, D-Baton Rouge, wants to have the measure say the appointees “shall” be representative of the state’s population by race and gender to ensure diversity. It only says “should be” in its current form.

Rep. John Bell Edwards, D-Amite, said the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry is involved in one of the nominations. He said LABI should be deleted or balanced off by including a representative from the Louisiana AFL-CIO.

Carter was asked if his bill was restricting the governor’s appointments. He said the qualifications involve only seven board members and that the governor has a free hand in the other appointments.

The governor doesn’t have veto power over proposed constitutional amendments, but he does over the enabling legislation.

House Bill 696 is the enacting legislation, and H.B. 588 is the proposed amendment that would be submitted to the state’s voters for their approval.

The LSU Board of Supervisors is the first listed in H.B. 696. It notes that there are 15 members appointed by the governor with the consent of the Senate.

Two members are appointed from each of the state’s congressional districts and the others are at-large.

Carter wants at least one member to have at least five years’ experience as the chief executive officer, chief financial officer or equivalent leadership officer of a large corporation dealing with such things as construction, utilities, chemical manufacturing, processing of oil and gas, banking or finance.

Another member would have to hold a master’s in business administration or have had at least 15 years of management experience in private business or industry.

At least three members would have to be graduates of an institution within the LSU System.

One member would be appointed from five nominees recommended to the governor by the Council for a Better Louisiana, the Public Affairs Research Council and LABI.

Another member would have to have five years’ experience as an executive in the public sector in the field of economic development or workforce development.

The governor would have to ensure that at least seven members of the board meet the qualifications required by the legislation.

The bill outlines similar requirements for members of the state Board of Regents, the University of Louisiana System Board of Supervisors, the Southern University Board of Supervisors, and the Board of Supervisors of the Community and Technical College System.

The Community and Technical College System would still have one member appointed by the governor from among three people nominated by the Louisiana AFL-CIO. However, the bill removes appointees from nominees submitted by the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education and LABI.

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