There are 27 Amendments to the U.S. Constitution, but the Constitution of the State of Louisiana has 189. It seems as though every year or so we are tacking on another amendment.
In the November elections, voters will be asked to approve seven most of them are good ideas, they just don’t belong in the constitution. Only two should be on the ballot at all, and only one should be approved.
Of the seven amendments that will be on the ballot, only two of them really rise to the level of importance of being a part of the constitution; the rest of them should be handled by the legislature.
In our view, the constitution is the basic set of rules by which the state operates. It sets out in general terms how the state will be organized, the distribution of its powers and spells out the rights of the citizens of the state.
As a general rule, there shouldn’t be laws in the constitution that do not apply to everyone or affect every part of the state.
The legislature is allowed to make laws to cover special projects, interests or concerns, that do not rise to the level of the permanence that comes with locking it into the constitution.
For example, we would not want to make it unconstitutional to chew bubble gum on a city street in Monroe, La. That’s the kind of thing that should be decided by Monroe voters, but not locked in the constitution.
Unfortunately, the Louisiana constitution has many amendments that address specific industries, areas of the state and some that effect on New Orleans.
In 1974 the state rewrote its constitution which had grown so large that it took several bound volumes to hold it all. Now, 44 years later, we have 189 amendments.
Here’s our view of whether or not the seven should be on the ballot at all:
–NO 1: This amendment will prohibit felons from hold public office or working for the
government for fives after serve a sentence. This item SHOULD BE on the ballot but SHOULD NOT BE APPROVED. We believe that a person who serves his sentence should not be punished another five years after his term ends. His voter rights should be restored immediately.
–NO 2: This amendment will required a unanimous verdict in all felony cases. This is SHOULD BE on the ballot and SHOULD BE APPROVED. We believe that a citizen should be not be convicted if a single person on a jury has a doubt. At present, a person can be convicted if as many as two people have a doubt.
–NO 3: This amendment will allow political subdivision to exchange public equipment and personnel for authorized services. This SHOULD NOT BE in the constitution.
–No 4: This amendment will prohibit using money in the Transportation Trust Fund by State Police for traffic control purposes. THIS SHOULD NOT BE in the constitution.
–No.5: This amendment will allow special assessment for certain categories of people. This SHOULD NOT BE in the constitution.
–No 6: This amendment will require a tax phase in for primary homes when an assessment increases by more than 50 percent. This SHOULD NOT BE in the constitution.
–No.7: This amendment will permit Gambling on sports if approved by individual parishes.
This SHOULD NOT BE included in the constitution. If any practice is not prohibited by the constitution any parish should be able to make its own decision, but to cite a single practice means others can follow.
Amendments two through seven will be on the ballot for approval; we think they would best be handled in the state legislature that can pass laws about sports betting, tax exemptions and other items at will.
Those that we want to lock in stone, we put in the constitution.
Our advice: Vote for FOR Amendments 1 and 2 and vote AGAINST Amendments 2-7 and send these proposals to the legislature.