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Constitutional convention looms for state lawmakers

1 month 3 weeks 5 days ago Tuesday, April 16 2024 Apr 16, 2024 April 16, 2024 10:57 PM April 16, 2024 in News
Source: WBRZ

BATON ROUGE - Legislators may be examining the state's constitution during the end of the current legislative session if a proposed bill passes. 

For months Gov. Jeff Landry has criticized the state's constitution. He says the document, which has more than 200 amendments, is bloated, outdated, antiquated, and abused. A bill from Rep. Beau Beaullieu, R-New Iberia could spark a constitutional convention.

Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle are concerned the changes will happen too fast, but what the reform means is still up for debate.

Rep. Beau Beaullieu says a convention will condense and bring the constitution back to its core values. He says the contents won't change. Instead, it will clarify what is an amendment and what is law. 

"The language that will be in the constitution at the conclusion will still be in the constitution when we're done," Rep. Beaullieu said.

If it passes, the convention will run through the last two weeks of the legislative session, giving lawmakers fourteen days to revise a 50-year-old document.

Some lawmakers say they aren't necessarily against revising the state constitution, but have scheduling concerns. If Beaullieu's bill passes, legislators have to wrap up the normal session early. State lawmakers have already been through two special legislative sessions on top of the regularly scheduled session. 

"I do believe it needs revisions, I do believe that," Rep. Denise Marcelle, D-Baton Rouge said. "The question is how the do we get there, how do we have transparency when we do it, how do we not rush into it and how do we not stay here for a fourth session."

Marcelle is not the only lawmaker worried about time constraints. Rep. Mike Bayham, R-Chalmette, says the bills moving through the legislative session should be top priority. 

"I would like assurances that the legislative prerogative of this session, which is our domain, this session, will be respected and that our bills that we have all worked very hard drafting, getting through committee, getting amended and going through the process, don't get scuttled because we run out of time," Bayham said.

The bill is scheduled for debate Wednesday in the House and Governmental Affairs Committee.

If lawmakers do draft a new state constitution, voters will ultimately decide if it passes come November's election. 

Governor Landry has already picked delegates for the convention including Baton Rouge's Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome. 

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