December 10, 2022 Constitutional Amendments

   

Short Version:

  1. No. This amendment is nothing more than virtue signaling, which is why it will pass anyway.
  2. Yes. However, the “extra transparency and accountability” in this process is a farce.
  3. Yes. See #2.

Proposed Amendment No. 1: Prohibition Against Voting by Non-U.S. Citizens

Do you support an amendment to provide that no person who is not a citizen of the United States shall be allowed to register and vote in this state? (Amends Article I, Section 10)

The proposal on the ballot originates from House Bill 178 introduced by Representatives Debbie Villio and co-sponsored by Senator Beth Mizell during the 2022 Regular Session.

Proponents of the bill say that the amendment is essential to closing a loophole in the Constitution which allows local governing authorities to allow people who aren’t United States citizens to register to vote and cast ballots. In other states non-U.S. citizens have been allowed to vote in local elections.

Opponents of the bill say that the amendment is not necessary. In Louisiana people who aren’t United States citizens are not allowed to register or vote. As part of the registration process a person is required to declare whether they are a U.S. Citizen or not. The Legislature determines voting law in the state which cannot be superseded by the municipalities.

Why all the fuss?

The Louisiana constitution presently reads “Every citizen of the state, upon reaching eighteen years of age, shall have the right to register and vote…” The amendment would change the phrase to read “Every person who is both a citizen of the state and of the United States, upon reaching eighteen years of age, shall have the right to register and vote…” Isn’t a citizen of the state of Louisiana already also a citizen of the United States?

The underlining confusion here partially stems from a fundamental change in our constitutional Republic. You see it was the States under the original Federal System that determined voter qualifications. Long before there was universal suffrage and fighting over voter identification laws, the States retained the power to determine who cast a ballot in that state. There was no such thing as a “U.S. Citizen.” You were a citizen of your state.

What is the danger in the change?

Words and phrases mean things. Some would have you believe that disagreeing with someone now fits within the definition of “violence” or “aggression.” Others want you to believe that protecting children is “censorship,” while looting, property destruction and death are the results of “fiery, but mostly peaceful” protests. If being a “citizen of the state,” which the legislature has authority to define, is not a high enough bar that we now need to add the phrase “and of the United States” we should be asking questions.

Can the Louisiana legislature define what it means to be a “United States Citizen?” Will the National government one day seize upon this sort of language to determine who is not eligible to vote in Louisiana? Will domestic terrorist (January 6th peaceful protestors) one day be excluded from the definition of U.S. Citizen because they are considered enemies of the state? In short, we should be thinking long term about the language of the amendment and unforeseen consequences which may lie ahead.

There are other solutions if the intent is to bar foreign individuals from registering and voting in our elections. Bar “foreign nationals,” as defined by the Legislature, from registering and voting. That would be similar to what is imposed on convicted felons and those declared mentally incompetent. Wouldn’t that be a better course?

Proposed Amendments No. 2 & 3: Senate Confirmation of Civil Service and State Police Commission Members

Do you support an amendment to make appointed member of the State Civil Service Commission subject to confirmation by the Louisiana Senate? (Amends Article X, Section 3(B)(1) and (C))

Do you support an amendment to make appointed member of the State Police Commission subject to confirmation by the Louisiana Senate? (Amends Article X, Section 43(C))

These two items are very similar. The proposals on the ballot originate from Senate Bill 160 and Senate Bill 75, both introduced by Senator Cleo Fields during the 2022 Regular Session. Presently the Governor has six appointments to each of these seven-member boards tasked with overseeing rules concerning the activities of state employees/police and reviewing disciplinary decisions. The governor’s nominees originate in the form of three-person lists submitted by various Universities in Louisiana. Once appointed the person serves a six-year term.

Some proponents of the bill believe that by giving the Senate an opportunity to vet the candidates an additional check is placed on the Governor. Appointments to other major boards in the state are handled using the “Senate confirmation” system. However, the senate just rubber-stamps these appointments “in globo” (all of them with a single vote.) That’s exactly what happened with the governor’s controversial appointment of Ronnie Johns to the state gaming commission. Johns abandoned his responsibilities to the senate and his constituents for a six-figure job. The “extra senate oversight” meant nothing.

Opponents believe that by inviting Senate confirmation into the equation will only further serve to inject partisan politics into a panel which should be apolitical in nature. Some are concerned that the additional step could lengthen the timespan it takes to fill vacancies on the Board. Others are displeased that the confirmation decisions will occur behind closed doors without any transparency.

What do you think?

The present system, where appointment lists originate from Universities, is no longer an ideal situation for many. The ever-increasing left-leaning liberalism in University administrations leaves people weary of the quality of persons selected through that process. However, the Senate confirmation process adding another check on the Executive is unlikely.

All too often people think in terms of how legislation is good “if” and “when” their faction is in power. But they should really pay attention to the opportunity for abuse when that is not the case. We should all be focused on avenues that lead to less government corruption, abuse, and provide greater transparency.

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