The Louisiana state House of Representatives has overwhelmingly approved an AT&T-supported bill that will move franchising authority to the office of the secretary of state.
If approved, the bill will not affect franchises in some cities—such as New Orleans or Baton Rouge, or parishes such as Jefferson and East Baton Rouge—because those governments have home rule charters, allowing them to set their own terms for business relationships such as franchises.
The bill, championed by state Sen. Ann Duplessis (D--East New Orleans), was approved on a 94-9 vote of the state House on June 10. The Senate must now agree with the bill, as amended by the House, before it can be sent to Gov. Bobby Jindal. According to local press reports, Jindal has not expressed a preference on the bill.
This is Louisiana's second run at a state franchising bill. Then-Gov. Kathleen Babineaux Blanco vetoed a version in 2006 after the Police Jury Association of Louisiana, which represents parish governments, convinced her to veto the measure.
Local governments were unsure if the bill protected their franchise fee revenues, and asked Blanco to reject anything that could cost local governments money in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.
This version of the bill would give the office of the secretary of the state 30 days to act on a simplified certificate of franchise authority request. The certificate would then go into effect 30 days after issuance.