PAR Report Targets Louisiana Constitutional Reform

Aug 14, 2019

Credit Courtesy: wikimedia-commons

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 

Robert Travis Scott, President - Public Affairs Research Council of Louisiana
Credit Courtesy: PAR-La.

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.