BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) _ A state Senate committee on Wednesday rejected a bill pushed by civil rights groups to make it easier for displaced New Orleans residents to vote in the mayoral election next month.

The panel rejected a bill to create ``satellite voting centers'' in other states so that registered voters living elsewhere could cast ballots without traveling back to Louisiana for the April 22 election.

The Rev. Jesse Jackson testified that forcing displaced voters _ most of whom are black _ to pay for transportation back to New Orleans amounted to a ``poll tax'' like those from the Jim Crow era.

Opponents questioned whether the other states where Hurricane Katrina evacuees are living would give Louisiana full cooperation.

Sen. Jay Dardenne, R-Baton Rouge, called the plan ``a recipe for litigation,'' arguing that it would provoke lawsuits alleging that voters received different treatment depending on which state they voted in.

State officials have taken several steps to help displaced residents vote in the municipal elections, including easing restrictions on mail voting and setting up offices around the state where residents can cast ballots before election day.