(Special to the American Press)
Last Modified: Wednesday, March 19, 2014 2:55 PM
BATON ROUGE — Legislation that would allow political candidates to register as independents failed to get out of a Senate committee Tuesday.
The Senate and Governmental Affairs committee voted 4-4 on Senate Bill 60, by Sen. Rick Gallot, D-Ruston.
The legislation would allow candidates to register as independents and have the designation “I” listed on the ballot.
Under the current system, candidates who do not want to register as Republican or Democrat can register as “no party.”
Gallot said the Legislature approved a similar measure — House Bill 533 — in 2011, but Gov. Bobby Jindal vetoed it.
Eric Sundstrom, a resident, told the committee that while he is affiliated with a political party, he would switch to an independent party if possible.
“I’m finding it very hard to identify myself with either party, as they’re moving to the extreme,” Sundstrom said.
Kyle Ardoin with the Secretary of State’s Office said the state would not be able to render the legislation effective by the fall elections.
“It would be impossible for our staff to do all the programming changes necessary to meet the time frame of this legislation,” Ardoin said.
He said that while some candidates are registered as “no party,” some have specified a particular party in the “other” party category.
“I think there’s 327 other political parties that are noted,” he said. “We have nine variations of independent.”
Voting for the measure were Sens. Edwin Murray, D-New Orleans, Jonathan Perry, R-Kaplan, Gregory Tarver, D-Shreveport, and Jody Amedee, R-Gonzales. Sens. Mike Walsworth, R-West Monroe, Jack Donahue, R-Mandeville, Neil Riser, R-Columbia, and Robert Kostelka, R-Monroe, opposed the measure.
The House Committee on Governmental Affairs is scheduled to consider a similar bill, House Bill 193, by Jerome “Dee” Richard, I-Thibodaux, today.
Meanwhile, the committee approved Senate Bill 245, by Sen. Dan “Blade” Morrish, R-Jennings.
The legislation prevents a parish or municipal governing authority from appointing more than one member of any immediate family to the same board or commission.
Morrish said his district has “a lot of small boards and commissions,” and there have been some instances where family members were appointed to the same board.
Morrish’s bill now heads to the full Senate for consideration.