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Sen. Cleo Fields says House bill laying out plan for constitutional convention idea is dead

2 weeks 5 days 17 hours ago Tuesday, May 28 2024 May 28, 2024 May 28, 2024 1:04 PM May 28, 2024 in News
Source: WBRZ

BATON ROUGE — The chairman of a Senate committee key to Louisiana holding a constitutional convention this summer said Tuesday that a House-passed proposal setting out a plan will not win passage in the current legislative session.

Sen. Cleo Fields, a Democrat from Baton Rouge who heads the Senate and Governmental Affairs Committee, described HB800 as essentially dead. 

"HB800 will not be heard in this session of the Legislature," Fields said in an interview with WBRZ after his panel met Tuesday. "We are going to have another meeting tomorrow but I don't intend to put it on the agenda and I don't intend to put it on the agenda for the rest of this session. 

"There may be some other moves that may be made before the session is over with, but as far as 800, that bill will not be heard this session," he said.

The House approved calling a constitutional convention in a 75-27 vote on May 7 and sent the bill to the Senate. It's been hung up in Fields' committee since May 8.

Louisiana currently operates under a constitution adopted in 1974, which has been amended more than 200 times. Louisiana has had 10 constitutions since becoming a state in 1812.

Gov. Jeff Landry listed a constitutional convention as a key part of his legislative plan for 2024.

Louisiana Illuminator reported last week that the governor hasn't declared portions of the current constitution off-limits and has said some budget changes could be made to direct state funds to private schools.

The news outlet said Senate President Cameron Henry was asked whether he knew what Landry wanted to accomplish in a convention. "No. No one does," Henry said in reply.

State lawmakers are facing pressure to address a budget deficit anticipated after an automatic sales tax cut takes effect in the summer of 2025. If they wanted to address issues in a new constitution, the state's voters would need to approve changes, as well.

The constitution could still be changed. Lawmakers could meet in a special session to propose changes to specific parts of the document, or could agree to a broader convention with more guidance about changes sought by the governor.

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