‘LaPolitics’: Will constitutional chatter dominate legislative workflow?

Larry Bagley was a young teacher fresh out of college in 1972, when Louisiana was preparing to hold the constitutional convention that produced our current charter.

Bagley, now a state representative, doesn’t remember the exact circumstances that led him to run for a delegate slot—elections were held across Louisiana by state House district—but he entered the fray nonetheless.

Bagley, along with several other candidates, ultimately lost to Buddy Roemer, the future congressman and governor who became an outspoken delegate during the convention that spanned 1973 and 1974. 

At a public forum prior to the delegate election, Bagley recognized he was outmatched. “I realized pretty quickly there were some people who were going to get elected, and nobody knew who I was,” Bagley says.

Fast-forward to today, more than half a century later: Bagley is an elected member of the state House of Representatives and on the cusp of becoming a delegate for another constitutional convention. 

While the enabling legislation hasn’t yet been filed, House and Governmental Affairs Chair Beau Beaullieu says he’s sponsoring the instrument and legislators—along with gubernatorial appointees—will likely be the proposed delegates.

Bagley, for his part, isn’t sure Louisiana needs another convention. While it would mean missing his opportunity to become a delegate, finally, Bagley doesn’t want “change for the sake of change.” He worries about losing protections for state K-12 education funding.

“I hope we don’t shorten the session down and legislation doesn’t get passed trying to get this [convention] done,” Bagley says. 

To be certain, chatter about the anticipated convention is already sucking oxygen out of the Capitol’s hallways, even with a regular session in full swing. 

In fact, “big idea” policy proposals are being paused until the work and scope of the proposed constitutional convention comes into focus. Even constitutional amendments filed for the ongoing regular session face an uncertain future.

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Jeremy Alford publishes LaPolitics Weekly, a newsletter on Louisiana politics, at LaPolitics.com. Follow him on Twitter, or Facebook. He can be reached at JJA@LaPolitics.com.