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Constitutional convention proposal clears Louisiana House with timeline change

The Louisiana State Capitol on April 4, 2023, in Baton Rouge, La.
Stephen Smith
The Louisiana State Capitol on April 4, 2023, in Baton Rouge, La.

A bill calling for a constitutional convention passed the Louisiana House on Tuesday, clearing the required two-thirds threshold by five votes.

The full constitutional convention would now start on Aug. 1 and end no later than Aug. 15, under an amendment passed in the House.

Rep. Beau Beaullieu, R-New Iberia and the bill's author, says the new timeline will allow lawmakers to set guidelines and receive more public input before the convention starts. Delegates could meet as early as May 30 to pick convention leaders and set up committees. Those committees could then meet in June and July to discuss potential changes before the full convention meets in August.

Delegates could also vote to extend the convention beyond Aug. 15 if needed, though Beaullieu says the convention would have to wrap by Aug. 23 for Sec. of State Nancy Landry to get the initiative on the November ballot.

Gov. Jeff Landry continues to push for the convention and argues it’s necessary to free up spending ahead of an expected budget shortfall next year. But he has not said which provisions should be removed, instead saying lawmakers should make those decisions.

Beaullieu repeated on Tuesday that lawmakers do not intend to change the first four articles of the Louisiana constitution, which includes a section on fundamental rights.

The full House voted last week to take the homestead exemption and the state’s school funding formula off the list of things that could be changed or removed. They also voted Tuesday to protect teacher retirement benefits.

But several lawmakers and lawyers have questioned whether those limits are binding.

Landry was in the House on Tuesday to watch the debate and vote. The proposal heads next to the Senate.

Molly Ryan is a political reporter and covers state politics from the Louisiana Capitol.