Wining and dining and whining to members of the Louisiana Public Service Commission by lobbyists and officials from the utility companies the PSC oversees has come to an end. It’s been the Louisiana way for regulators to be treated to extravagant dinners for years. The free for all was capped at $50 recently under state law, which caused a lot of whining on the part of legislators; after all, it’s hard to get out of Ruth’s Chris for under $50 a person. This morning, the PSC voted to prohibit its members and staff from even accepting a burger, fries and a coke. The Times-Picayune reports that commissioners Lambert Boissiere, D-New Orleans, Foster Campbell, D-Elm Grove, and Jimmy Field, R-Baton Rouge, voted for the measure, while new commissioner Eric Skrmetta, R-Metairie, and Pat Manuel, R-Eunice, opposed it.
Skrmetta, who was attending his first PSC meeting after replacing Jay Blossman in the New Orleans-area seat, said he wanted a month to consider the proposal and thought it might be an onerous burden on the agency staff and in conflict with state law. Skrmetta had issued a press release prior to the meeting saying he would vote to end the practice of free meals.