A new law giving Louisiana public entities the authority to deny low bids from contractors convicted of a felony is being met with approval by the Louisiana Associated General Contractors (LAGC).
Walker Hines, D-New Orleans, authored Act 945 which will disqualify contractors from public bidding if anyone with a five percent ownership stake in the firm has been convicted of certain felonies including misappropriation of funds, office malfeasance, extortion and public bribery.
Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal has signed the bill into law.
LAGC CEO and Secretary Ken Naquin said that his association would never support convicted felons from getting public works, but said they worked with Hines and other state representatives to narrow the scope of convictions that fall under the statute.
"In Louisiana, a DWI is a felony," Naquin said. "A DWI has nothing to do with your job as a contractor. So it has to be a felony that affects the course of your work."
Hines called it "landmark legislation" that will "prevent white collar criminals from getting tax payer dollars." He cited several 2009 media reports that showed that convicted white-collar criminals had received contracts on large public works projects in Orleans, St. John the Baptist and Jefferson Parishes.
"We basically wanted to send the message, 'crooked contractors need not apply,'" Hines said. "We changed the state law so this applies to state and local projects, so all public monies."
Hines said he was adamant about bringing all interested parties to the table and said he spoke with the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry on top of talking with the LAGC and independent contractors.
Naquin said that the LAGC are satisfied with the final version of the bill.