LA CONSTITUTION- Louisiana has the fourth largest constitution in the United States, back in 1975 it had a little over 36,000 words, since then it has been amended 195 times and now contains more than 72,000 words and many lawmakers say it needs to be adjusted and simplified. The call to rewrite Louisiana’s constitution has been growing over the last few years. But lawmakers haven’t been able to get enough support to approve a constitutional convention but that could be changing. A study group from the Public Affairs Research Council of Louisiana has issued a report focusing on the state constitution and on how to fix it. Robert Travis Scott, is president of PAR, he spoke recently on Baton Rouge Public Radio’s Capitol Access program about the complexity of Louisiana's constitution and why it needs revising.
"We have a very cluttered constitution and not because it started out that way," explained Scott. "It's
because, since we had this new constitution through a constitutional convention in 1974, we've amended it 195 times. So we've really cluttered it up with a lot of special protections, funds and mechanisms to the point where I think it's become pretty unwieldy and it's not a model constitution by any means."
Lawmakers have long complained about the number of dedicated funds that are outlined in the constitution and how those make the budgeting process more challenging. Nearly two-thirds of all state general fund dollars are already committed before the Legislature even starts working on the budget. Scott says a constitutional convention could change things to give the legislative process more budget flexibility. Calling a constitutional convention is a tall order, as it requires voter approval of a referendum first passed by two-thirds of each legislative chamber.