It was two weeks ago that the City-Parish Council narrowly defeated a resolution calling for the Louisiana Attorney General to weigh in on the charter “fix” debacle that seems to be dragging on forever. The deciding vote on that resolution was cast by Liz Webb-Hebert, the only Republican councilman to do so. While he verbally discouraged the council decision from requesting an AG opinion, that was at odds with City-Parish attorney Paul Escott’s written opinion on the same subject.
If the council had heeded that written opinion and requested for the AG weigh in two weeks ago, other elected officials would have been discouraged from doing so. That means the question as phrased in the resolution would have been the only one asked. That question, effectively, was, does the council have reapportionment authority. Of course the answer to that question is yes. However, that’s not the question submitted by Louisiana Senator, Bob Hensgens, earlier today.
In his letter to the state attorney general, Senator Hensgens asked, “can the newly amended Lafayette City-Parish Home Rule Charter be further amended and revised by ordinance,” and “is it necessary for the Lafayette City-Parish Council to make the precinct and/or council district boundary changes required to remedy the referenced errors , omissions , and discrepancies by amendment to the Home Rule Charter.” As you can judge for yourself, these questions are entirely different than the one presented by the City-Parish attorney in the defeated resolution.
What will the opinion end up saying?
As we’ve previously discussed, history says that precinct fixes should go to the voters and they can’t amend the charter by ordinance. Add to that, Hensgens request pointed the Attorney General to Article VI, Section 5(C) of the Louisiana State Constitution. That section reads, “A home rule charter shall be adopted, amended, or repealed when approved by a majority of the electors voting thereon at an election held for that purpose.”
Based on all of our previous research, including finding that the home rule charter was never amended without either being triggered by population changes or a vote of the people, we don’t see how any informed legal opinion could find otherwise. Amending the home rule charter with a simple ordinance should be declared illegal.
### Red text in this article link to earlier stories or sourced documents that you can read for yourself.
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