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Story Archives: Movement could be afoot to stop reforms
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|Movement could be afoot to stop reforms|
It is obvious to all of those who support Louisiana's reform movement, our new reform governor and our new reform legislators, that the Louisiana reform movement is reaching critical political mass to really change this state. It is equally obvious that the supporters of the old ways, including the old courthouse gang, the old-time political big-wigs, and the bureaucratic big-spenders, one and all, know that their days are numbered if things don't change.
What are the old-timers' newest proposal to stop the Louisiana reform movement? Nothing other than a full-fledged, wide open Constitutional Convention. One of the clear leaders of the anti-reform groups of Louisiana is the editorial board of The Times of Shreveport. In recent articles and editorials, The Times and other good-old boy supporters have suggested that Louisiana hold an unexplained and unstructured Constitutional Convention.
Let it be clearly understood the calling of a Constitutional Convention is a well thought-out political counter-attack of the good old boys to stop the Louisiana reform movement in its tracks. This is the last gasp of the leaders of the now defeated, big-government, populist, plantation politics of yesterday. The calling of a Constitutional Convention would allow these discredited leaders of yesterday to modify the constitution to grab more money from the voters of Louisiana, for the politicos to buy more votes and to kill more businesses in Louisiana. Remember, these are the same politicos who have made Louisiana the only southern state with growing poverty and a mass exodus of its educated children.
Let everyone in this state know that a Constitutional Convention is a direct threat to our infant reform movement and is absolutely unnecessary if there are real reforms that need to be made to the Louisiana Constitution. The Louisiana Constitution already provides a direct way to make substantial governmental reforms in a single package, without a Constitutional Convention. Article XIII, Section 1.B. of the existing Constitution provides that ". . . the legislature may propose, as one amendment, a revision of an entire article of this constitution which may contain multiple objects or changes. A section or other subdivision may be repealed by reference."
Stated simply, if Louisiana needs to change its constitutional tax structure, we could simply draft the desired, comprehensive amendment to the tax article in the Louisiana Constitution and present it for public scrutiny. With the "Article Revision" procedure, the amendment is filed before the Legislature starts, giving the citizens advance notice of the proposed amendments; the amendment is explained and debated in the legislative process, and; ultimately the amendment is submitted to the public for its approval. No simpler, transparent and democratic process could be developed.
Using our existing "Article Revision" procedure, the public and the Legislature will better scrutinize the proposal over a longer period of time with greater public input than would be available in a Constitutional Convention. The "Article Revision" procedure prevents the back-door horse trading that occurs in an unrestrained Constitutional Convention. Remember the constitutional amendments that made "gambling" illegal but "gaming" a welcomed business in Louisiana? A Constitutional Convention has not served Louisiana well in the past.
The "Article Revision" procedure allows anyone, particularly any governor or legislator, who wishes to amend the Constitution, to draft the needed changes and file them publicly so the public would know what the amendment would accomplish.
Yet, the real constitutional issues that need to be addressed to move Louisiana into the 21st Century as a growing and prospering state are well known:
Should the existing limit on government spending be weakened or strengthened?
Should existing taxing authority be repealed or reduced or enlarged?
Should existing tax exemptions be repealed or reduced or enlarged?
Should some state departments be reallocated to other state offices other the governor?
Should some state departments be eliminated or consolidated?
The "Article Revision" process is not a new or unknown process. It was discussed in "Louisiana's Governmental Cesspool: THE CONSTITUTIONAL SOLUTIONS," authored by me several years ago, and the constitutional articles cited in that book. These are a few of the real constitutional issues that need to be addressed in amending our constitution. The "Article Revision" amendment procedure will serve Louisiana well.
Let this Louisiana political truth of 2009 be declared to one and all. Pure and simply, anyone and everyone who advocates a Constitutional Convention in Louisiana wants to (1) eliminate the public's dedications on spending that direct the purpose of many of our existing taxes approved by the public; (2) increase the taxing authority of government generally as to sales taxes, property taxes and income taxes; and (3) totally repeal the homestead exemption and other exemptions and restraints on government raising taxes. Their common goal is to increase the taxes flowing into the unrestrained general fund of the state of Louisiana. The Constitutional Convention is one of the last attempts to keep Louisiana a plantation political system.
The only pro-reform and democratic way to amend the Louisiana Constitution in 2009 is to use the "Article Revision" procedure in Article XIII, Section 1.B. For those who want a wide open Constitutional Convention, just say "no." Instead, the reform voters should demand that any proposed amendment to the constitution should be presented to the public. If our good old boys will not draft their proposals and disclose their proposed amendments to public for thorough scrutiny and debate, we must deny them the unrestrained power of a Constitutional Convention, where their drafting is unrestrained and bargained behind closed doors. If an amendment to the Louisiana Constitution is "needed," draft it and disclose it in public through the "Article Revision" procedure that exists today.
Paul Hurd of Monroe is an attorney and author of "Louisiana's Governmental Cesspool: THE CONSTITUTIONAL SOLUTIONS" (Authorhouse; Bloomington, Indiana; www.authorhouse.com)