Exemptions to public records progress

State senators are pushing new exemptions to Louisiana’s public records law that would hide jury questionnaires and state building security footage from the public.

The jury questionnaire secrecy measure, Senate Bill 353, by state Sen. Barrow Peacock, is further along. It’s been approved by the Senate and was advanced to the full House for debate with unanimous support Wednesday from the House and Governmental Affairs Committee.

Peacock, R-Shreveport, said he wants to make sure jury service doesn’t violate privacy rights. He said the questioning during jury selection in a case still will be open to the public.

“We’re not closing the courthouse,” he said. “We’re trying to protect the privacy of the citizens of Louisiana who have been called upon to serve.”

While the public couldn’t see the forms, any licensed attorney in Louisiana still would be able to access them, under SB353.

State Rep. John Schroder, R-Covington, questioned whether that loophole undermined the privacy rights Peacock said he was trying to protect.

Sen. J.P. Morrell, D-New Orleans, in the committee awaiting a hearing on another measure, Stold Schroder that senators objected without the language allowing all lawyers to see the questionnaires.

Meanwhile, Senate Bill 446 would shield the state building surveillance video, by state Sen. Sherri Smith Buffington, R-Keithville, started advancing Wednesday.

The Senate and Governmental Affairs Committee backed the measure without objection and with little discussion, sending it to the full Senate for consideration.