‘Together Baton Rouge’ Fought to Take Away BR Metro Council Oversight of CATS Board

On Monday, Together Baton Rouge held a news conference to express its lack of confidence in the current board of the Capital Area Transit System and called for the resignation of board chairman Isaiah Marshall.
But last year, Together Baton Rouge sponsored and lobbied hard for House Bill 865 by Rep. Regina Barrow of Baton Rouge.  That legislation, which narrowly passed the House and Senate, would have removed the Metro Council’s oversight over the CATS board and made it for all practical purposes an independent agency of state government.  Under the legislation, Together Baton Rouge and groups closely associated with it would have had control of the board.
The bill passed the House 55-44 and passed the Senate 20-15, despite opposition from most of the legislative delegation from East Baton Rouge Parish.  Voting FOR the bill were Reps. Regina Barrow, Dalton Honore, Ted James, and Pat Smith.  Voting AGAINST were Reps. Franklin Foil, Hunter Greene, Kenny Havard, Valarie Hodges,
Eric Ponti, and Clif Richardson.
In the Senate, those voting FOR the bill were Sen. Sharon Broome,  and Yvonne Dorsey-Colomb.  Voting AGAINST were Sens. Dan Claitor, Dale Erdey, and Bodi White.
After the bill passed both houses, Gov. Bobby Jindal vetoed the bill, and it did not become law.
During her arguments for HB 865, Rep. Barrow said, “Give our citizens the opportunity to have a robust transit system.”
During the debate, Rep. Ted James said both Mayor-President Kip Holden and his Republican opponent at the time, Mike Walker, supported the bill.  Walker later issued a statement angrily denying James’ claim.
Rep. Franklin Foil took the mike during the debate and said, “This is a public bus system supported by taxpayer dollars.  I believe our council should have some oversight.”
After Gov. Jindal vetoed the CATS bill, Rep. Pat Smith called for the legislature to hold a veto session to override his action Rep. Barrow had asked the Metro Council to endorse the legislation but the council refused.
Members of Taxbusters of Baton Rouge and members of Republican Women’s Clubs in Baton Rouge had urged Gov. Jindal to veto the bill.

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