A bill that would require candidates seeking office in Louisiana to clear any outstanding fines with the state Ethics Board awaits Gov. Bobby Jindal's signature.

Senate Bill 195 by state Sen. Lydia Jackson, D-Shreveport, had what you might characterize as a perfect transit to Jindal’s desk: It passed both chambers of the Legislature unanimously without amendment. Assuming the governor signs the bill, candidates who owe more than $250 in outstanding ethics fines would be prohibited from qualifying to run for office; this applies to incumbents as well, which could impact the presumed reelection bid of District 3 Lafayette City-Parish Councilman Brandon Shelvin, who, according to the board’s website, is on the hook for $1,900 for failing to file a supplemental campaign finance report.

Current law allows candidates with outstanding fines to enter into a payment plan agreement with the board before qualifying. But as Ethics Board Administrator Kathleen Allen told the House & Governmental Affairs Committee while speaking in support of the bill last week, “Certainly some habitual candidates, they enter into a payment plan, they run, they lose and they don’t pay their fines.”

Due to a weak enforcement system, the Ethics Board is owed hundreds of thousands of dollars by scores of candidates and office holders dating back decades. Read more about that here.

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