SHREVEPORT, La. – The Caddo Parish Commission has filed a lawsuit challenging the provisions of part of the act that regulates the meetings of governing bodies in Louisiana during emergencies.
Current state law strictly limits the items that can be placed on a governing body’s electronic meeting agenda during a declared emergency. The commission argues that if it becomes unsafe to meet in person again during the pandemic or in a future emergency then it should be able to address any matter of business electronically that would ordinarily come up in an in-person meeting.
“We believe that home rule charter parishes’ governing bodies should have an exclusive right to set their own agendas, particularly with all of the safeguards put in place for public participation in electronic meetings,” said Caddo Parish Attorney Donna Frazier. “Electronic meetings with no limitation items were shown to work well before the passage of Act 302,” said Frazier.
The commission voted 10-2 to direct the parish attorney’s office to file the lawsuit.
The issue has been debated for several months as some commissioners refused to attend in-person meetings at Government Plaza, citing health concerns. Virtual meetings were authorized early in the pandemic, but the provisions were changed by Gov. John Bel Edwards when moving into Phase 2 and thus limited all-virtual meetings to COVID-19 related or emergency measures.
Monday's work session was the first time many of the commissioners have met in person since the pandemic started.