Bill to limit St. Tammany coroner's power approved by full House

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wwltv.com

Posted on April 30, 2013 at 6:46 PM

Updated Tuesday, Apr 30 at 7:58 PM

WWLTV.com
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BATON ROUGE, La. - A bill limiting the St. Tammany coroner's power over his office is closer to law after the full House gave the plan a thumbs up on Tuesday.

House Bill 561 passed 91 to nothing and the Northshore leaders pushed the change. That kind of support will follow the plan to becoming law.

"We all voted for that bill several years ago to put the coroner in place, put that system in place and it was abused so this is our effort to fix that," said Rep. John Schroder, R- Covington.

The bill, now on its way to the Senate, transfers control over money, property and oversight of the coroner's office to the parish council.

It comes after allegations of misspending by Coroner Peter Galvan in regards to salaries, unused sick and vacation time, as well as questionable purchases.

Representative Tim Burns, R-Mandeville, started the bill, but he now has the backing of the entire Northshore delegation, and he's confident in the rest of the legislation's journey.

"We need to get control of these financial affairs immediately," Burns said.

The bill is expected to make its way through Senate Committee and the full Senate in the coming weeks.

The corner's office said they plan to fully cooperate with every agency.

"The Legislative Auditor has demanded access to emails that are protected by the attorney-client privilege or that contain confidential personal health information that is prohibited from disclosure by HIPAA. Under Louisiana and Federal law, the Auditor is not entitled to privileged or HIPAA-protected information. The Coroner’s Office has repeatedly offered to conduct a review and turn over all non-privileged, non-HIPAA-protected emails that are responsive to the Auditor’s subpoena. That request was declined," according to the office.

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