After close inspection of the ordinances (page 5) that established several new taxing districts, there appears to be a process error in their creation. The question of legislative authority has arisen regarding who in Lafayette Consolidated Government has the power to introduce ordinances. Let’s review our Home Rule Charter to find out.
Let’s pause for a quick history lesson on one of our nation’s founding principles. The Declaration of Independence says, “to secure [natural, inalienable] rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.” Ergo, “consent of the governed” is why we have a State constitution, a federal constitution, and a chartered government. The Home Rule Charter is a legal agreement that establishes our local government and how the people of the City of Lafayette and Lafayette Parish consent to be governed. Any power not granted by the charter is not consented to by the people.
The Home Rule Charter is Lafayette’s Constitution
The Home Rule Charter for the City of Lafayette and the Parish of Lafayette, jointly Lafayette Consolidated Government, is clearly organized by “Article” and “Section”. The article title specifies the body or issue the article applies to. The section title specifies the powers, duties, functions, guidelines or regulation of the specified body or issue.
The council is the Legislative Branch
Article II applies to the “CITY-PARISH COUNCIL.” It contains 18 sections that apply to the council, including instructions on how ordinances are created.
Section 2-01 states that “The legislative power of the City-Parish Government shall be vested in a Council.” Section 2-11 is titled “Action Requiring an Ordinance,” and 2-11, A states “An act of the Council having the force of law shall be by ordinance.”
Section 2-12 is titled “Ordinances in General,” and prescribes the process and requirements of introducing ordinances and final approval. From all this we understand that an ordinance is a legislative act.
It’s important to note: Section 2-13 states, “Every ordinance adopted by the Council shall be signed by the presiding officer or the Clerk of the Council…and it shall be presented to the Mayor-President…” From this we understand that the Mayor-President’s involvement with an ordinance occurs after it has been through the legislative process.
The Mayor-President is the Executive Branch
Article III applies to the “EXECUTIVE BRANCH,” and contains 10 Sections applying to the Mayor-President. In Section 3-01, “Executive Authority,” it’s stated “The Mayor-President shall be the chief executive officer of the City of Lafayette, the Parish of Lafayette, and the City-Parish Government and shall exercise general executive and administrative authority over all departments, offices and agencies, except as otherwise provided by this charter.”
In Section 3-09, “Powers and Duties of the Mayor-President,” the powers and duties are listed. Things the Mayor-President is directed to submit to the council:
3-09, A, (4) “Prepare and submit the annual operating budget and five (5) year capital improvement budget to the Council.”
3-09. A, (7) “Submit to the Council and make available to the public, within one hundred twenty (120) days after the end of the fiscal year, a complete report on the finances and administrative activities of the City-Parish Government as of the end of each fiscal year.”
And 3-09, A, (8) “Make such other reports as the Council may reasonably request to enable the Council to conduct its functions.”
In 3-09, A, (10) the Mayor-President is also directed to, “Perform such other duties as are specified in this charter or may be required by the City Council or Parish Council, not inconsistent with this charter.”
Who has the power to create law?
So, going back to the question, who has legislative power? According to the Charter, only the Council. Now, let’s check on page 5 of the meeting agenda to see who introduced the ordinances for the Economic Development Districts…
… it’s the Mayor-President.
What? How can that be? So many questions are now raised. Who has allowed this to happen? How long has this been going on? Has anyone else outside of council members been allowed to submit legislation / introduce ordinances? And again, who allowed this to happen?
Time to call the Lafayette Consolidated Government to demand the Home Rule Charter be followed. After all, the Charter is legally ratified based on the will of the People, not the opinions of the people’s employees.