A bill that would move Lafayette Parish School Board elections to the same year the governor is elected is one step closer to law after gaining a Senate committee's approval Wednesday.

Rep. Nancy Landry, R-Lafayette, said her bill would increase voter turnout when electing the school district’s governing body.

"I think it's really important to have more people paying attention to the issues and more people participating in choosing their elected officials," Landry said.

If you want money to elect your school board, you want it on a big election.

Board Members Rae Trahan, District 9, and Greg Awbrey, District 6, spoke at the hearing in opposition to the bill.

Awbrey said moving the elections to a crowded ballot — one that asks voters to decide on the governor, constitutional amendments and the city council and city-parish president —would overshadow the board elections, and at a high cost.

"If you want money to elect your school board, you want it on a big election," Awbrey said. "If you want parents to elect your school board, then it needs to be in a cycle where money doesn't matter so much — where you don't have to have advertising and radio ads and a lot of funds."

The Lafayette Chamber of Commerce supports the bill, but the school board, along with some community members — including former superintendent Burnell Lemoine and Power of Public Education leader Ann Burruss — oppose it.

House Bill 786 passed through the Senate and Governmental Affairs Committee with a 5-1 vote with Sen. Edwin Murray of New Orleans dissenting.

If the bill becomes law, school board members elected in November would serve a 5-year term, then reconciling the election cycle with 2020 gubernatorial elections.