During the current term of the Louisiana Legislature, taxpayers have paid for more than $1 million worth of special elections, according to the Legislative Auditor’s Office. And based on a search of the secretary of state’s election database, legislative leaders have called seven such races since November alone—five this year, just months before the regularly scheduled fall elections are to be held. House Appropriations Chairman Jim Fannin, D-Jonesboro, has introduced a constitutional amendment to bring Louisiana’s vacancy procedures in line with other southern states. His House Bill 359 calls for legislative vacancies to be filled by temporary appointments. These appointees would serve until the regular four-year elections are held again. If approved by the House and Senate, the constitutional amendment would then face voters this fall.
The backbone of the proposed amendment, though, is found in Fannin’s House Bill 575, the enabling legislation. It states that the temporary successor would be banned from standing for the office’s full four-year term. The House speaker and Senate president would be allowed to make the appointments by proclamation, under the proposal. Any vacancy that occurs due to a resignation would be guided by the vacating lawmaker, who would be allowed to submit the names of three nominees. In another interesting twist, Fannin’s enabling bill requires that non-resignation vacancies be filled with temporary successors of the same party—or of no party affiliation, if applicable—as their predecessors. HB 359 can be viewed here, and HB 575 here. Both bills have been assigned to the House and Governmental Affairs Committee, but have not yet been scheduled for hearings. —Jeremy Alford
Today’s poll question: Do you support a bill to fill legislative vacancies by temporary appointments and not special elections?