A Louisiana House committee decided Tuesday that Secretary of State Tom Schedler should have the power to close museums under his control because of budget cuts.
The House and Governmental Affairs Committee approved Senate Bill 268, which also would require Schedler to work with communities where the museums are located to see if there are local options for keeping facilities open.
Schedler’s office manages 17 museums, ranging from the Old State Capitol in Baton Rouge and the Louisiana State Exhibit Museum in Shreveport to smaller museums such as the Garyville Timbermill Museum and the Delta Music Museum in Ferriday.
“Currently the law does not offer the secretary of state any latitude at all to literally close museums,” said Schedler. He said that ability is especially important since the museums have been targets for budget cuts.
Schedler said his office has acquired museums from primarily local areas to run. “With budget constraints it’s becoming more and more difficult,” he said.
The legislation would allow Schedler’s office to accept private contributions, funding from local government and other public entities to help keep museums open.
The panel amended the bill to make it clear that the closure authority would remain until such time as “sufficient funds” are appropriated for museum operations.