The Constitution of the State of Louisiana
is the cornerstone of Louisiana
Louisiana is a state located in the southern region of the United States of America. Its capital is Baton Rouge and largest city is New Orleans. Louisiana is the only state in the U.S. with political subdivisions termed parishes, which are local governments equivalent to counties...
state law ensuring the rights of individuals, describing the distribution and power of state officials and local government, establishes the state and city civil service systems, creates and defines the operation of a state lottery
- History :The Louisiana Lottery Corporation began in 1991, after the 1990 Louisiana legislature proposed a government-run lottery as a way to generate revenue without increasing taxes...
, and the manner of revising the constitution.
It was adopted by Constitutional Convention in 1974, ratified by the voters of the state on April 20, 1974 and became effective on January 1, 1975.
Louisiana's constitution, the eleventh in the state's history, dates back to 1974 and has been amended numerous times.
"We, the people of Louisiana, grateful to Almighty God for the civil, political, economic, and religious liberties we enjoy, and desiring to protect individual rights to life, liberty, and property; afford opportunity for the fullest development of the individual; assure equality of rights; promote the health, safety, education, and welfare of the people; maintain a representative and orderly government; ensure domestic tranquility; provide for the common defense; and secure the blessings of freedom and justice to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this constitution."
Article I. Declaration of Rights
Contains provisions similar to the Bill of Rights
A bill of rights is a list of the most important rights of the citizens of a country. The purpose of these bills is to protect those rights against infringement. The term "bill of rights" originates from England, where it referred to the Bill of Rights 1689. Bills of rights may be entrenched or...
in the United States Constitution
The Constitution of the United States is the supreme law of the United States of America. It is the framework for the organization of the United States government and for the relationship of the federal government with the states, citizens, and all people within the United States.The first three...
, plus additional provisions unique to the State, such as Article I.27, which protects the freedom of the people to engage in traditional pastimes of hunting, trapping, and fishing, subject only to laws and regulations designed to "protect, conserve, and replenish the natural resources" of the State.
Article II. Distribution of Powers
Arranges the state government into the traditional three branches: legislative, executive, and judicial, and prohibits any branch from exercising the powers of any other branch.
Article III. Legislative Branch
Organizes the Louisiana Legislature into a bicameral one, consisting of the Louisiana House of Representatives
The Louisiana House of Representatives is the lower house in the Louisiana State Legislature, the state legislature of the US state of Louisiana. The House is composed of 105 Representatives, each of whom represents approximately 42,500 people . Members serve four-year terms with a term limit of...
(having no more than 105 members) and the Louisiana Senate (having no more than 39 members).
Sets qualifications for office, term limits (no more than three consecutive terms), and for filling vacancies.
This section also discusses when the Legislature shall meet in regular session and how "Extraordinary Sessions" (special sessions) can be convened (either by the Governor or by the leaders of both the House and Senate upon petition of the majority of the members of both houses). The regular session times and lengths, as well as what can be enacted, depend on the year:
- In even-numbered years, the Legislature meets at noon on the last Monday in March, for a period limited to 60 legislative days over 85 calendar days with the session required to end on or before 6PM on the 85th calendar day. The Legislature is prohibited from enacting legislation which would enact or increase a statewide tax, or in regards to tax exemptions, exclusions, deductions, or credits, during these sessions.
- In odd-numbered years, the Legislature meets at noon on the last Monday in April, for a period limited to 45 legislative days over 60 calendar days with the session required to end on or before 6PM on the 60th calendar day. The subject matter of any bills is limited to specified items involving taxes, fees, bonds, the budget, or appropriations, unless the bill is prefiled no later than 10 days before the session begins.
It also contains prohibitions against certain "local and special laws" (i.e., laws which make an act legal or illegal in one portion of the state, but not in another), requires appropriations bills to originate in the House, and sets rules for passage of bills and laws. Furthermore, it contains a provision for the "Legislative Auditor", who is responsible for auditing the fiscal records of the State, its agencies and political subdivisions.
Article IV. Executive Branch
Organizes the composition of the executive branch. Except for the offices of the Governor of Louisiana and Lieutenant Governor of Louisiana
The Office of Lieutenant Governor of Louisiana is the second highest state office in Louisiana. The current Lieutenant Governor is Jay Dardenne, a Republican...
, the branch is limited to no more than 20 departments comprising all functions.
Sets forth the qualifications for each branch member, term limits (two terms for the Governor, and three terms for members of certain appointed boards), determination of inability to serve and how vacancies shall be filled.
Article V. Judicial Branch
Sets forth the organization of the Louisiana Supreme Court
The Supreme Court of Louisiana is the highest court and court of last resort in the U.S. state of Louisiana. The modern Supreme Court, composed of seven justices, meets in the French Quarter of New Orleans....
and the various lower courts, as well as the provisions for qualifications of jurors and, under Section V.29, county coroner
A coroner is a government official who* Investigates human deaths* Determines cause of death* Issues death certificates* Maintains death records* Responds to deaths in mass disasters* Identifies unknown dead* Other functions depending on local laws...
Article VI. Local Government
Unusual among state Constitutions, several Articles of the Louisiana Constitution contain Parts which are further organized into sections.
Part I. General Provisions
Defines the composition of parishes (as counties are called in Louisiana) and municipalities, provisions for home rule
Home rule is the power of a constituent part of a state to exercise such of the state's powers of governance within its own administrative area that have been devolved to it by the central government....
charters, and other allowances and limitations.
Part II. Finance
Places limitations on taxation and issuance of bonds for parishes, municipalities, and local school boards
Part III. Levee Districts
Allows for the creation of special levee districts in coastal parishes.
Part IV. Port Commissions and Districts
Allows the Legislature to create new port commissions and districts, and grandfathers existing ones at the time of the 1974 Consitition adoption.
Part I. General Provisions
Provides for the authority to assess and collect various taxes, subject to limitations, as well as for various dedicated funds.
Part II. Property Taxation
Provides for taxation of real and personal property, including sale of property for nonpayment (Louisiana is a tax deed sale
A tax deed sale is the forced sale, conducted by a governmental agency, of real estate for nonpayment of taxes. It is one of two methodologies used by governmental agencies to collect delinquent taxes owed on real estate, the other being the tax lien sale....
state with a 3-year right of redemption in most cases) and qualifications for the parish tax assessor.
Article VIII. Education
Provides that the Legislature shall provide for the education of the people of Louisiana. Provides for the State Superintendent, the State Board of Elementary and Secondary Education
The Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education was created during the 1973 Louisiana Constitutional Convention, called by then Governor Edwin W. Edwards...
, the Louisiana Board of Regents
The Louisiana Board of Regents is a government agency in the U.S. state of Louisiana that is responsible for coordination of all public higher education in the state...
and the Boards of Supervisors of the LSU System, the University of Louisiana System, and the community and technical colleges, and the parish school boards. It also provides for school funding and for public hospitals.
Article IX. Natural Resources
Includes various provisions involving mineral rights, regulation of natural gas and pipelines, the Wildlife and Fisheries and Forestry commissions, and certain dedicated funds.
Part I. State and City Civil Service
Provides for the creation of the State and various city civil service commissions (excluding the State Police Service, covered under Part IV, and paid firefighters and police in certain instances (mainly covered under Part II).
Part II. Fire and Police Civil Service
Provides for the creation of classified fire and police civil service systems in certain larger municipalities and in parishes.
Part III. Other Provisions
Miscellaneous provisions dealing with removal of public officials and teachers' retirement systems, among others.
Part IV. State Police Service
Provides for the creation of the classified State Police civil service system.
Article XI. Elections
Provides that the secret ballot
The secret ballot is a voting method in which a voter's choices in an election or a referendum are anonymous. The key aim is to ensure the voter records a sincere choice by forestalling attempts to influence the voter by intimidation or bribery. The system is one means of achieving the goal of...
shall be used in all elections, prohibits the use of public funds to urge passage for or against any candidate or proposition, and provides for the Registrar of voters for each parish.
Article XII. General Provisions
Contains miscellaneous provisions such as the state capital (Baton Rouge), creation of a state lottery
A lottery is a form of gambling which involves the drawing of lots for a prize.Lottery is outlawed by some governments, while others endorse it to the extent of organizing a national or state lottery. It is common to find some degree of regulation of lottery by governments...
, and prohibition of same-sex unions.
Article XIII. Constitutional Revision
Provides for two methods of amending the Constitution, by either Legislative action or convention. There is no provision for amendments via the initiative
In political science, an initiative is a means by which a petition signed by a certain minimum number of registered voters can force a public vote...
- The Legislature may propose an amendment, by 2/3 vote of each house, and in the same manner as for passage of any bill except that the Governor does not approve or veto it. However, the amendment must have been prefiled at least 10 days prior to any regular session, or within the first five days of any Extraordinary Session provided it is within the objects of the call of such Session.
- The Legislature may also call a constitutional convention to propose amendments or a new constitution upon the vote of 2/3 of the members of each house.
The amendment or new constitution must then be approved by the voters. However, there are two unusual provisions involving amendments not involving the entire state:
- If the amendment directly affects not more than five parishes, or areas within not more than five parishes, the amendment must receive the majority of the electors voting theron in both 1) the entire state and 2) each affected parish.
- However, if the amendment directly affects not more than five municipalities, and only such municipalities, the amendment must receive the majority of the electors voting theron in both 1) the entire state and 2) each affected municipality.
Article XIV. Transitional Provisions
Contains provisions to transition between the prior 1921 Constitution and the current 1974 version.