Internet Explorer 11 is not supported

For optimal browsing, we recommend Chrome, Firefox or Safari browsers.

2 Banks Advocated for Gun Control. Now Louisiana Is Barring Them From a Major Road Project.

The State Bond Commission barred two of the largest banks in the world from participating in efforts to fund some highway projects in Louisiana because of gun sales policies instituted after recent mass shootings.

By Mark Ballard

The State Bond Commission barred two of the largest banks in the world from participating in efforts to fund some highway projects in Louisiana because of gun sales policies instituted after recent mass shootings.

On 7-6 vote, the commission decided not to grade the bids of Citibank and Bank of America.

State Treasurer John Schroder made the motion.

"I personally believe that these policies are an infringement," of Louisiana citizens' constitutional right to purchase guns, Schroder said.

Citibank has pushed its retail clients to refrain from selling firearms to customers who haven't passed a background check or are under the age of 21, with the exception of those who have passed gun or hunter safety courses or are in the military or law enforcement.

Bank of America wants to limit doing business with retailers and manufacturers that sell military-style weapons.

Bank of America handles 18 percent of the state's general obligation bonds and Citibank administers 5 percent.

Excluding Bank of America and Citibank from the process because of a social policy could open state to litigation.

"It puts us in an awkward position," said Senate President John Alario Jr., R-Westwego, who sits on the Bond Commission. "And I am worried about the bottom line to the state of Louisiana."

The commission's chief consultant said the move would cost the state taxpayers more in terms of interest on the loans.

Matthew Block, the governor's executive counsel, agreed. "We owe it, all of us, to the taxpayers, to understand the decision we are making," Block said.

"You can't put a price tag on the Second Amendment," state Rep. Blake Miguez, an Erath Republican who was serving as a proxy Representative of the House, adding that he thought the policies infringed on the constitutional rights of Louisiana citizens.

Miguez said the Louisiana Bond Commission should not be doing business with Citibank and Bank of America because of policies that restrict sales of certain styles of weapons used in mass shootings.

"The ability of the merchant to sell the item is being restricted by you," Attorney General Jeff Landry said, pointing at executives from the two institutions.

"We're not putting out a bid," Landry said, "we're basically trying to evaluate underwriters."

The Bond Commission has the authority to decide if the state should hire an agent that believes in restricting the citizens right to bear arms, he said.

"It was not us who brought the social police into this issue," Landry said. "It was the financial institutions who did by approving the policies."

House Speaker Taylor Barras, a Republican who is a banker in New Iberia and a member of the Bond Commission, said after the meeting that interest rates are set by the market. "This was deciding who we would pay a fee to be a senior advisor," Barras said. "As we evaluate bidders, it's within our jurisdiction to ask those questions."

Schroder said after the meeting that he doesn't plan on disrupting those existing relationships but would bring the issue up when those contracts expire.

(c)2018 The Advocate, Baton Rouge, La.

Special Projects
Sponsored Stories
In this episode, Marianne Steger explains why health care for Pre-Medicare retirees and active employees just got easier.
Government organizations around the world are experiencing the consequences of plagiarism firsthand. A simple mistake can lead to loss of reputation, loss of trust and even lawsuits. It’s important to avoid plagiarism at all costs, and government organizations are held to a particularly high standard. Fortunately, technological solutions such as iThenticate allow government organizations to avoid instances of text plagiarism in an efficient manner.
Creating meaningful citizen experiences in a post-COVID world requires embracing digital initiatives like secure and ethical data sharing, artificial intelligence and more.
GHD identified four themes critical for municipalities to address to reach net-zero by 2050. Will you be ready?
As more state and local jurisdictions have placed a priority on creating sustainable and resilient communities, many have set strong targets to reduce the energy use and greenhouse gases (GHGs) associated with commercial and residential buildings.
As more people get vaccinated and states begin to roll back some of the restrictions put in place due to the COVID-19 pandemic — schools, agencies and workplaces are working on a plan on how to safely return to normal.
The solutions will be a permanent part of government even after the pandemic is over.
See simple ways agencies can improve the citizen engagement experience and make online work environments safer without busting the budget.
Whether your agency is already a well-oiled DevOps machine, or whether you’re just in the beginning stages of adopting a new software development methodology, one thing is certain: The security of your product is a top-of-mind concern.