BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - A bill designed to overhaul to East Baton Rouge Council on Aging (COA) board was killed by a House panel Thursday.
Days after questions of possible criminal activity at the COA, local Republican lawmakers say its time to increase accountability. The bill, authored by Rep. Steve Carter, R-Baton Rouge, would have reworked the council's board, reducing the number of board members from 15 to 9.
The plan would give local leaders, such as the mayor of Baton Rouge, more power in selecting who is on the panel. Democratic lawmakers and those who take advantage of the council's programs defended the group, saying they are doing their job and providing a valuable service.
"And I'm active, and I'm doing things, and I appreciate that center, because if we didn't have that center, I don't know what we'd do. I don't know what I would do. I would just sit there and look at the four walls and waste away," said Edna Allen, who goes to COA.
"This bill in no way eliminates the services. We applaud what they're doing. We just think that in order for this organization to function even better, that it needs to be reduced in size and it needs to have some accountability," said Carter.
Earlier this week, the legislative auditor released a report alleging that COA leadership participated in political activities during work hours ahead of a vote on a new tax to support the organization. That new tax passed in 2016.
Ultimately, a panel of House lawmakers killed the bill on a hairline vote of 8-7.