Louisiana (bill) and Montana (law) mandate judges disclose financial information; LA bill appears to duplicate existing court rule but requires disclosures be put online

The issue of how and when judges should file financial disclosure statement for the public has come up in the 2015 session in both Montana and Louisiana with both states taking somewhat different approaches.

Montana’s governor has now signed into law SB 89, expanding the state’s disclosure law that already included all other state or local elected officers to specifically include supreme court justices and district court judges; judges of the justice courts, city courts, municipal courts, and water courts would not be affected. The bill was approved without a single no vote in any committee or in the full House or Senate.

Louisiana’s HB 294 takes a different tack. Rather than expanding existing disclosure laws (such as those that apply to state officials) it creates a new code section by duplicating existing disclosure laws and an existing rule of court (La. Sup. Ct. R. XXXIX). It differs from the court rule, however, in terms of access; HB 294 requires the disclosures be posted online while the Supreme Court rule does not appear to provide for this. Both HB 294 and the Supreme Court rule do provide judges that have failed to file, or have partially filed, their disclosures are to be listed on a website.

HB 294 is pending in the House Judiciary Committee.