Ethics showdown

There’s a storm brewing in Baton Rouge.

Sunday starts Gov. Bobby Jindal’s first foray into the state’s ethics fray. For years, Louisiana has shrugged off its political black eyes: Huey Long’s backroom dealings, Edwin Edwards shenanigans and, don’t forget, David Duke.

But things changed in late 2005. In the aftermath of hurricanes Katrina and Rita, Louisiana’s eastern and western coasts were decimated. We needed the help of the nation. And that’s when our reputation – rather, that of our ill-reputed leaders and the sanity of those that continued to re-elect them to office – came into play.

Vowing to seek ethics reform and stop Louisiana’s reputation for graft, Gov. Jindal was overwhelmingly voted into office.

On Sunday, he’ll be put to the test as his first special session convenes.

The scope of the reform is huge. In fact, some political watchdogs are calling this the most ambitious ethics package put to Louisiana lawmakers ever. Jindal’s agenda targets 60 separate changes to the state’s ethics law. He’s taking on lobbying, public officials’ financial disclosure; conflicts of interest; enforcement of ethics law; easing public access to state information; anti-fraud measures; and changes to campaign finance law.

Win or lose, it’s a new day in Louisiana. Expect this to be an interesting debate … one that could extend into the regular session in March.

We urge residents, too, to keep a close watch on local lawmakers. Remind them before the final vote that it is a new day in the Bayou State. Business as usual is no longer acceptable as our political motto.