A bid to let voters decide whether to ban the use of state road and bridge dollars for State Police died in the Louisiana Legislature Thursday.
The money is held in the Transportation Trust Fund, which finances state road and bridge projects.
A total of $679 million has been moved from the TTF to State Police for traffic control from 1991-2015, an average of $32 million per year.
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A bill by Senate Transportation Committee Chairman Page Cortez, R-Lafayette, to let voters decide whether to ban the practice passed the Senate by a lopsided margin.
But it hit a roadblock earlier this week in the House, and hopes of resurrecting the measure on the last day of the session failed.
The measure – Senate Bill 57 – came up for House debate on Monday.
The vote was 67-33, three votes shy of the two-thirds needed since it is a constitutional amendment.
When the bill came up later that day for a second try, Rep. Ted James, D-Baton Rouge, tried to add an amendment that would have let voters also decide on a state gas tax hike of 20 cents per gallon.
House Speaker Taylor Barras, R-New Iberia, ruled James' amendment was not germane to the bill.
However, the proposal was shelved by its House sponsor, Rep. Major Thibaut, D-New Roads, after other questions surfaced.
Cortez and Thibaut originally planned to submit two issues to the public.
"The idea was to give the public two different questions on the ballot," Cortez said.
Aside from the State Police ban voters would also be asked whether they favor creating a new state fund that would be used if additional dollars are raised for roads and bridges.
Under that plan, the money could only be used for infrastructure, not salaries, benefits and overhead for state employees.
The measure, House Bill 354, won final approval in the House on Thursday 91-1.
It is set to go to voters on Oct. 14.
The annual transfers to State Police have been trimmed under Gov. John Bel Edwards.
Backers of the bill said a constitutional ban is needed because future governors could resume the practice, at the expense of transportation needs.
Opponents questioned the wisdom of the proposed prohibition.
Cortez said he thinks his bill met resistance in the House because, once the push for a gas tax hike failed, some members lost interest in the legislation.
A bid to address state road and bridge needs by raising the gas tax by up to 17 cents per gallon died in the House on May 31 when the sponsor said the measure lacked enough support.