BATON ROUGE, La. — A bill by Sen. Gerald Boudreaux (D-Lafayette) that would allow the Lafayette City Marshal to keep court fees moved through the Louisiana House Judiciary Committee Thursday.
Boudreaux says this bill will allow the Lafayette City Marshal to pocket certain fees from the court system like money from eviction notices and subpoenas.
Only Lafayette and Shreveport are exempt from the current state law regarding fees collected by the marshal's office.
SB 120 would only affect Lafayette it it becomes law.
"Basically, this proposal will allow the marshal for the city of Lafayette to experience the same thing as marshals all over the state," said Boudreaux before the committee. "For whatever reason, the state statute currently has left the City of Shreveport and the City of Lafayette out of this. This will clarify it and statute as is in so many other municipalities throughout the state."
The text of Boudreaux's bill states:
...in addition to the salary paid to him by the City of Lafayette, the marshal of the city court of Lafayette may receive the same fees as are payable to constables of justice of the peace courts, not to exceed 50% of the salary paid the marshal by the city of Lafayette. The remainder of the fees and commissions collected shall be used to defray the operational and necessary related expenses of the office of the marshal.
Boudreaux says he pre-filed his bill last year before the Lafayette City Marshal election in December 2020. He said he did so in order to clarify the salary issue after former Lafayette City Marshal Brian Pope was indicted in March 2019 for depositing money owed to the marshal’s office into his personal account.
Lafayette City Marshal Reginald Thomas was present during the hearing, as was Joe Shumate, Jr. president of Louisiana City Marshals & City Constables Association, who supports the bill.
Aimee Boyd Robinson, who led the effort to recall Pope from office, also spoke before the committee.
"Last month, it was reported that Thomas' salary is $88,000 a year for supervising 23 employees," said Robinson. "Our police chief, by contrast, makes $132,000 a year and he supervises 285 people.
"I also want to let you know that this opens up a very slippery slope," added Robinson. "I want to finish off with the fact that this would incentivize crime, and collecting crime and fees on crime and I just don't know why we would do that."
The bill now heads to the Legislative Bureau for review.
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