Mike Francis

Public Service Commissioner Mike Francis, R-Crowley 

Kelly J Morvant

Louisiana Public Service Commissioners Wednesday morning decided against taking up an effort to change ethics rules and allow the utilities they regulate go back to wining and dining them, according to four participants in the meeting being held at Toledo Bend.

Debate on the controversial matter is being postponed until the April meeting, which is scheduled to be held in Baton Rouge.

The five elected utility regulators gathered for their regular monthly meeting at the Cypress Bend Resort near Many – far from any large media markets and without adequate Internet connection to live-stream the meeting. Lobbyists, advocates and commissioners themselves attending the meeting texted the decision to wait until next month on the issue.

The PSC had scheduled a vote on whether to rollback the commission’s absolute ban on accepting meals, beverages, entertainment and other largesse provided by the utility companies. Because utility companies sell electricity as monopoly within their territories, the PSC is responsible for determining how much Louisiana’s two million customers of 19 investor-owned electric and gas utilities conducting business in Louisiana can be charged on their monthly bills.

Newly elected Commissioner Mike Francis, R-Crowley, asked his colleagues to reconsider what is the state’s most stringent policy on wining and dining public officials. He argued that business in Louisiana is traditionally conducted over lunch.

The PSC ban was adopted in January 2009 after being criticized for overindulging in the meals provided by industry officials under the ethics law covering legislators and other elected officials that limits each meal to $60.

Follow Mark Ballard on Twitter, @MarkBallardCnb.