Student claims hike needs legislative approval
BATON ROUGE, La. -- LSU needed the Legislature's OK before it raised the price of football tickets, a third-year law student claims in a suit filed in state district court.
All fee increases must be approved by two-thirds of the Legislature, claims Donald Hodge Jr.'s suit against the LSU Board of Supervisors, which approved the increase in August.
Hodge could not be reached for comment. The case was assigned to state District Judge Janice Clark.
The state attorney general found in 1996 that, for universities, the provision cited by Hodge applies only to tuition and other fees directly related to education, board attorney Ray Lamonica said.
Under Hodge's reading, LSU would have to get a two-thirds vote of the Legislature every time it wanted to raise the price of books in the Student Union, Lamonica said.
The sentence in question is: "Any new fee or civil fine or increase in an existing fee or civil fine imposed or assessed by the state or any board, department, or agency of the state shall require the enactment of a law by a two-thirds vote of the elected members of each house of the Legislature."
In 1996, the attorney then representing the board asked the attorney general's office whether charges for food services, bookstore merchandise, medical or veterinary services, student housing and admittance to extracurricular events fit the constitution's definition of a "fee."
The attorney general's opinion said no, that applies only to fees that deal directly with the primary service provided by a government body.
"The Louisiana State University system is created and exists for the sole purpose of providing public higher education to the citizens of this state," the opinion says. "This is its governmental function."
"Any charges which are for services or products which are not directly a part of the delivery of an education are not considered fees," the opinion says.
The increase in ticket prices, which LSU calls a "donation," goes into effect for the 2004 football season. Season tickets will cost $252, or $36 for each of the seven home games.
However, fans must pay another $85 to $400, depending on location, for the right to buy one of the 45,197 season tickets.
LSU officials expect to raise $14.5 million annually from the ticket hike.
The Board of Supervisors approved the ticket increase by a 15-1 vote. LSU Athletic Director Skip Bertman has said the football ticket increase is needed to keep LSU athletic facilities on par with other universities. Part of the money will go toward expanding Tiger Stadium.
Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press
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