‘Power to the people’ bill rejected

by Jeremy Alford, LaPolitics

State Sen. Rick Gallot

The Senate and Governmental Affairs Committee all but ignored a constitutional amendment last week that would have allowed Louisiana’s citizenry to collect signatures to place proposed law changes on a ballot.

“I just want to give the power to the people,” said Sen. Rick Gallot, D-Ruston, author of SB 201.

Gallot said he was challenged by a constituent to bring the bill. Variations of the same idea have been floated, and voted down, in the past. Former Gov. Mike Foster, as a state senator, tried to get it into law, as did late Sen. Ken Hollis, Gallot said.

“If the Legislature won’t stand up to the governor, then maybe the people should be given the power to put an initiative on the ballot,” he added.

The bill was still in a somewhat conceptual phase when presented, and Gallot invited the committee to build it up before he had an amendment attached creating a signature threshold of 5% to 8% for certain electorates. Numerous business and union groups opposed the constitutional amendment.

“Would you like to voluntarily defer this and work on it for a while?” asked Senate and Governmental Affairs Chairman Jody Amedee, R-Gonzales.

Gallot replied, “I think I’d like to seal my fate today.”

And the committee did just that, without objection.