- Associated Press - Tuesday, May 8, 2018

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - Louisiana’s public colleges and ports would have legal permission to shield records from the public, under bills sent to the governor’s desk Tuesday.

Legislation from Rep. Franklin Foil, a Baton Rouge Republican, would shield documents that identify anyone who reports a violation of a student code of conduct or safety policy on a college campus. Also shielded will be any personally identifiable information of witnesses to the reported violation or of a person who may be a victim of violence or abuse involving the violation.

The bill doesn’t cover information specifically required to be released under other provisions of state or federal law or under court order.

Though concerns were raised that the exemption is overly broad, the measure came amid heightened worries about hazing. It sailed through the Legislature. Gov. John Bel Edwards’ office didn’t immediately respond Tuesday to a question about whether he’ll sign the bills. The Edwards administration didn’t raise concerns about the measures as they moved through the Legislature.

The second measure , by Rep. Greg Miller, a Norco Republican, will grant confidentiality to certain documents involved in active economic development negotiations that are underway for a port commission, port, harbor or terminal district. The commission or district must publish in its official journal a notice that the records are being hidden, within 10 days after deciding to keep them confidential. The records can be hidden for up to 24 months. After the economic development negotiations are over, the documents can no longer be shielded from public view. The public records exemption doesn’t apply to applications for hazardous waste licenses or permits.

The bill was modeled on an existing exemption granted to the Louisiana Department of Economic Development for its negotiations over possible business projects in the state.

Senators overwhelmingly backed both records-exemption proposals, giving them final passage, with a 35-0 vote for Foil’s bill and a 32-1 vote for Miller’s bill. The House already had unanimously approved both measures.


House Bills 270 and 665: www.legis.la.gov


Follow Melinda Deslatte on Twitter at http://twitter.com/melindadeslatte

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