Rep. Paul Hollis, R-Mandeville, says he decided that Louisiana needs to make it easier to recall an elected official after efforts to remove then-St. Tammany Parish Coroner Peter Galvan in 2013 fell short.
Hollis prefiled legislation this month that he says is aimed at reforming Louisiana's "antiquated and ineffective" recall system. It's his second effort to pass such a bill. A similar version passed the House last year but did not make it out of Senate committee.
At present, 33 percent of all registered voters in a particular district must sign a recall petition in order to trigger a special election.
Hollis' bill, HB 54, would create three tiers, tied to district size. Districts with 25,000 or fewer registered voters would still need to get 33 percent of them to sign recall petitions. But in districts with 25,000 to 99,999 voters, the bar would be lowered to 25 percent. And in the largest districts, those with 100,000 or more registered voters, only 20 percent of registered voters would need to sign a recall petition to spark an election.
"Recalls should be challenging, convincing, but certainly not impossible," Hollis said in a statement.
Under the current requirements, he said, removing an official who has "betrayed the public's trust" isn't a viable option. In the case of Galvan, he said, organizers raised thousands of dollars and had strong momentum but still couldn't get enough signatures to trigger a recall election.
Rick Franzo, whose group Concerned Citizens of St. Tammany spearheaded the recall effort, said the drive was suspended when Galvan resigned in October 2013 after his indictment on a conspiracy to commit theft charge.
But if that had not occurred, Franzo said, the group would not have succeeded in getting the 53,000 signatures it needed. After 4½ months, it had only 28,000 to 30,000 signatures.