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Alford: Constitutional convention bill may be dead this year, but supporters are soldiering on

May 15, 2018
By Jeremy Alford
Originally Posted on Greater Baton Rouge Business Report

An organization backed by more than 30 community and business groups was rallying to have a constitutional convention convened by 2020, just one day after a bill that would have done as much died in the House.

And though the effort may ultimately fail this year, Jeremy Alford says in his latest column that the calls for a long-sought convention aren’t going to cease. Even though Gov. John Bel Edwards didn’t go along with Constitutional Coalition 2020’s request when he called for the next special session on Monday, the group is setting its sights on the 2019 election cycle.

“Plus, making another convention a campaign issue would keep with history; before voters approved our 1974 Constitution, they were sold on the matter during the previous election cycle–chiefly by Edwin Edwards in his first successful run for governor,” Alford writes.

The legislature is divided on the idea, so getting those in favor of a convention elected next year could make all the difference, says Alford, adding the most recent floor debate on the issue provided the “first honest look at the battle lines for this latest drive.”

Not a single black legislature supported HB 500 by Rep. Neil Abramson, D-New Orleans, and the proposal only got yea votes from five out of 41 Democrats in the chamber. There’s also a divide between business and industry and locals. CC2020 will have to address issues on both these fronts before Louisiana can repeat 1974.

Stephen Waguespack, president of the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry—a member of CC2020—says the organization believes it’s time for people from outside the Capitol have a say in the 46-year-old document.

“Every year we hear another excuse for taxing more and spending more and it’s time to smoke out that excuse,” Waguespack says. “And I think it’s fair to say it’s ironic that some of the people pushing hardest against the convention are the ones who authored many of the tax increase bills we debate year and after year.”

Read the full column.