Examining Louisiana’s Constitution

Examining Louisiana's Constitution: The Impact on Business and Industry" A.k.a. open up your kimono, Louisiana!

This article presented by Joe Mapes the LLSSA Lobbyist

While I’m not opposed to the governor’s plan to hold a constitutional convention, I do question the timing. The 1973 constitutional convention took close to two years, and Louisiana is currently considering re-tooling our state’s most precious document in roughly two weeks. Is some voodoo magic going to occur within that two-week period, or is Louisiana‘s next Constitution already drafted? 

The delegate body will be comprised of legislators from both the senate and the house, as well as some individuals from the private sector. For this newly formed group to gather a consensus on so many complicated issues in such a short period of time will be next to impossible. It would be like trying to herd a bunch of cats in a room full of rocking chairs.

For decades, business and industry groups opposed a convention. Roughly 10 years ago, however, legislation was filed to call for a fiscal-matters-only constitutional convention, so business groups removed their opposition to a convention because the need to fix the state’s financial system was obvious to everyone. Several bills to create a convention have been filed since, but no bill has ever passed. Since no bills passed to create a convention, nobody looked very closely at the details, like is there even such a thing as a limited constitutional convention?  The answer is no. Sub-articles in the constitution cannot be opened by themselves. That’s because the sub-articles are under their parent article, and that main article has to be opened first. When a main article is opened, all of the contents of its sub-articles are opened thus exposing all of the related industries and professions in each sub-article. As stated by Senate President, Cameron Henry, “Once you’re in a Constitutional Convention, you open up the entire Constitution”. Sunday – The Advocate

Every industry and profession should be lobbying and educating the legislature right now, as roughly 2/3 of the delegates will come from the house and the senate. Business and industry groups need to educate potential delegates and answer questions about what’s important to their industry in the constitution, before any convention begins. There’s just not enough time before May or June to do this – especially during a legislative session. 

If business and industry groups are not able to educate the legislature as to what’s important to them in the Constitution prior to a convention, then who will educate the delegates? These delegates may not even know who they are right now, so they’re probably not burning the midnight oil studying all the issues that could possibly come up during a convention. A one-to-two-year period is needed so that business and industry have a chance to educate the delegates about the importance of their issues that are in the constitution. That way, when the Delegates walk into a constitutional convention, they’ll have a stack of folders filled with papers under their arms and be better prepared to do business with Louisiana’s most important document. 

If it’s possible that a new constitution has already been written and the delegates are just being handpicked to vote yes for a completely rewritten, new constitution for our state, then there was little to no input from the general public. If an entirely new constitution has been written in advance of any constitutional convention, then who wrote it? With issues like personal injury rights in the courts and the personal bill of rights being in the constitution, this seems like an extremely important question to have answered. 

As stated by House Speaker, Phillip DeVillier, he would like to create a Sub-Committee of Legislators to recommend the final shape of the Bill, adding that what it would contain “is on everyone’s mind”.  Sunday – The Advocate


Joe Mapes of Mapes & Mapes, Inc. – 225-268-8572 (cell)

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