Did State Rep. Paul Hollis Double Cross Supporters of the Proposed Recall Legislation?


Led by the NorthshoreVoters.org, a coalition of ten citizen organizations sent State Representative Paul Hollis and other members of the Louisiana Legislature a strongly-worded “Open Letter” on Monday, June 5, alleging that Hollis “gutted” HB 212, also known as the Recall Bill, and “stabbed the voters in the back.”  

To set in motion a recall election, current law requires signatures from 50 percent of individuals who are registered to vote in the parish. After the failure of the campaign to recall Mayor Latoya Cantrell, supporters from Orleans and other parishes determined that the threshold in the current law was impossible to reach and began envisioning less restrictive legislation. Hollis, who had previously authored legislation regarding the recall process, was thought to be a natural fit to lead this new effort.  

When Hollis filed HB 212 on March 27, the original draft gave voters the power to trigger the recall of a public official if 20 percent of the total number of people who went to the polls when the official was elected signed the petition. For example if 50,000 qualified electors cast their vote, 10,000 signatures from qualified electors would be needed. The citizen coalition voiced their enthusiasm for the original draft and began lobbying legislators around the state. 

In the hearing before the House Governmental Affairs Committee on April 25, Hollis amended the legislation to raise the figure from 20 percent to 30 percent of those who voted to elect the public official. Though disappointed with the amendment, the citizen coalition continued to work on the bill.  

On May 17 when HB 212 came up for approval on the house floor, Hollis quickly agreed to an amendment by State Rep. John Illg, a co-sponsor of the legislation, which raised the threshold to 50 percent of those who voted when the public official was first elected. According to a press release by Northshore Voters.org, the website RealRecall.org details how they believe this amendment could require even more signatures to effect a recall than the current law requires.  

Citizen volunteer Chris Patron, Political Director of FPofLa.com, said “I worked my tail off supporting the original version of HB 212 at 20 percent. I even supported the 30 percent version… For Paul Hollis to then agree to gut the bill by raising the number to 50 percent was a betrayal. I understand he wants to run for a BESE seat – he sure won’t get my vote. He can’t be trusted.” 

Charlie McGrath, a member of NorthShoreVoters.org, said that it was “inexcusable” for Hollis to agree to 50 percent. McGrath was also disappointed that “not one” member of the legislature asked any questions about the proposed increase of the threshold. “Everyone was quiet. That tells me Hollis fixed the whole thing. What a disgrace,” McGrath continued.

HB 212 is currently pending before the Senate and Governmental Relations Committee, chaired by State Sen. Sharon Hewitt, a declared candidate for Governor. Yet committee staff has indicated that Rep. Hollis does not intend to move the bill forward. Other co-sponsors of the legislation include Rep. Beryl Amedee, Rep. Tony Bacala, Rep. Raymond Crews, Rep. Kathy Edmonston, Rep. Gabe Firment, Rep. Dodie Horton, Rep. Danny McCormick, Rep. Rodney Schamerhorn, Rep. Dewith Carrier, Rep. Charles Owen, and Rep. Stephanie Hilferty. The legislative session ends Thursday, June 8th.   

Oftentimes it takes years to move impactful legislation through the process. What citizen coalition members thought would be a relatively easy bill became politicized because it affected every elected official statewide – including other legislators.  There is still a need to revamp the threshold for recall elections in Louisiana to more closely align our laws with other states. Supporters may have learned many lessons from this year’s dialogue and be inclined to try again in 2024.  

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