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The state's current constitution was adopted by constitutional convention in 1974, ratified by the voters of Louisiana on April 20, 1974 and became effective on January 1, 1975.
Louisiana's current constitution -- the version adopted in 1974 -- is its ninth. The previous versions were adopted in 1812, 1845, 1852, 1864, 1868, 1879, 1898 and 1921. In 1913, a constitutional convention in the state adopted a recodification of the constitution of 1898. The recodification was not submitted to the state's voters for ratification and some observers do not therefore count it as a new constitution.
- Main article: Preambles to state constitutions
The preamble to the Louisiana Constitution says:
- We, the people of Louisiana, grateful to Almighty God for the civil, political, economic, and religious liberties we enjoy, and desiring to protect individual rights to life, liberty, and property; afford opportunity for the fullest development of the individual; assure equality of rights; promote the health, safety, education, and welfare of the people; maintain a representative and orderly government; ensure domestic tranquility; provide for the common defense; and secure the blessings of freedom and justice to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this constitution.
- Article I is the Bill of Rights for the citizens of Louisiana.
- Article II distributes governmental powers between the legislative, executive, and judicial branches.
- Article III establishes the legislature as the law-making body of the government.
- Article IV establishes the executive department and lists the duties of the governor.
- Article V establishes the system of courts and the judicial department.
- Article VI describes the system of local government in great detail.
- Article VII details the state's revenue and finance system, taxation, and exemptions.
- Article VIII sets up the public school system.
- Article IX concerns the use and preservation of natural resources.
- Article X deals with public officials and employees.
- Article XI details the election process as well as voter eligibility.
- Article XII in entitled general provisions.
- Article XIII describes the process for amending the constitution.
- Article XIV is the transitional schedule, which was designed to ease the transition from territory to state.
Amending the constitution
- Main article: Amending state constitutions
Article XIII, Louisiana Constitution lays out two ways to amend or revise the Louisiana Constitution:
If 2/3rds of the members of both houses of the Louisiana State Legislature vote in the affirmative, a legislatively-referred constitutional amendment can be placed on a statewide ballot. If approved by a simple majority, it becomes part of the constitution in twenty days, unless the amendment itself has a different date that it will become effective.
- Amendments to the constitution can be proposed that directly affect voters in just part of the state. If an amendment affects five or fewer parishes it has to be approved by a majority statewide vote and by a majority vote in the parishes it affects. The same thing is true for an amendment that affects five or fewer municipalities in the state.
- Resolutions of the state legislature authorizing a proposed amendment to be placed on the ballot for voter ratification must specify an election. The legislature can decree a special election for this purpose.
- Proposed amendments must cover just one subject with the exception that the legislature is allowed to put an amendment on the ballot that, if approved, would alter or revise one full article of the constitution. In the case of such an amendment, it can cover multiple subjects.
Two-thirds of the members of both houses can call for a constitutional convention. The results of such a convention have to go before the state's voters for ratification. Unlike most other states that allow for constitutional conventions, the Louisiana legislature can directly order up a convention without having to submit the question of whether or not to hold one to the state's voters.