- Associated Press - Saturday, June 6, 2015

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - Gov. Bobby Jindal will decide whether to make more of his successors’ records available to the public.

With a 37-0 vote Saturday, the Senate gave final legislative passage to a bill that would place new limits on future governors’ ability to keep their records secret. The changes would take effect when a new governor takes office in January.

The proposal by Sen. Dan Claitor, a Baton Rouge Republican, would keep the governor’s communications with internal staff exempt from disclosure.

But it would get rid of several exemptions placed in public records law in a 2009 bill backed by Jindal. Lawmakers say the exemptions have been more broadly interpreted than they intended.

Although Jindal won’t be affected, the Republican governor hasn’t said whether he’ll sign the changes into law.

“We are reviewing the bill,” Jindal spokesman Mike Reed said in an email Saturday, repeating the same statement he’s given for a month when questioned about the proposal.

The four major candidates vying to be Louisiana’s next governor have said they back efforts to curtail the governor’s public records exemptions.

Claitor’s bill would remove an exemption that gives executive branch departments a six-month blackout period on budget documents. It also would do away with language that hides records considered part of a governor’s “deliberative process.” Agencies outside of Jindal’s office have claimed that exemption, even though it’s not granted to them in law.

The Jindal administration has described the deliberative process exemption as a way to protect the free flow of ideas and discussions that help the governor make decisions. But lawmakers say use of the exemption has gone too far.

Claitor said during one discussion of his bill: “It turns out we were boondoggled on that.”

In a committee hearing, Robert Travis Scott, president of the Public Affairs Research Council of Louisiana, which pushes for more open access to government, said state agencies, higher education leaders and local government officials have improperly tried to claim the deliberative process exemption.

Under the measure, even internal communications and exempted records would have to be retained for the state archives, and they would be available for review eight years after their creation.

The governor’s schedule would be protected for up to seven days after the event, to address security concerns.

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Online:

Senate Bill 190: www.legis.la.gov

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