Article III: Legislative Branch
Section 1.(A) Legislative Power of State. The legislative power of the state is vested in a legislature, consisting of a Senate and a House of Representatives. The Senate shall be composed of one senator elected from each senatorial district. The House of Representatives shall be composed of one representative elected from each representative district.
(B) Continuous Body. The legislature is a continuous body during the term for which its members are elected; however, a bill or resolution not finally passed in any session shall be withdrawn from the files of the legislature.
Section 2.(A) Annual Session. (1) The legislature shall meet annually in regular session for a limited number of legislative days in the state capital. A legislative day is a calendar day on which either house is in session.
(2) Any bill to be introduced in either house shall be prefiled no later than five o'clock in the evening of the tenth calendar day prior to the first day of a regular session; thereafter no member of the legislature may introduce more than five bills, except as provided in the joint rules of the legislature. The legislature is authorized to provide by joint rule for the procedures for passage of duplicate or companion instruments.
(3)(a) All regular sessions convening in even-numbered years shall be general in nature and shall convene at noon on the last Monday in March. The legislature shall meet in such a session for not more than sixty legislative days during a period of eighty-five calendar days. No such session shall continue beyond six o'clock in the evening of the eighty-fifth calendar day after convening. No new matter intended to have the effect of law shall be introduced or received by either house after six o'clock in the evening of the twenty-third calendar day. No matter intended to have the effect of law, except a measure proposing a suspension of law, shall be considered on third reading and final passage in either house after six o'clock in the evening of the fifty-seventh legislative day or the eighty-second calendar day, whichever occurs first, except by a favorable record vote of two-thirds of the elected members of each house.
(b) No measure levying or authorizing a new tax by the state or by any statewide political subdivision whose boundaries are coterminous with the state; increasing an existing tax by the state or by any statewide political subdivision whose boundaries are coterminous with the state; or legislating with regard to tax exemptions, exclusions, deductions or credits shall be introduced or enacted during a regular session held in an even-numbered year.
(4)(a) All regular sessions convening in odd-numbered years shall convene at noon on the last Monday in April. The legislature shall meet in such a session for not more than forty-five legislative days in a period of sixty calendar days. No such session shall continue beyond six o'clock in the evening of the sixtieth calendar day after convening. No new matter intended to have the effect of law shall be introduced or received by either house after six o'clock in the evening of the tenth calendar day. No matter intended to have the effect of law, except a measure proposing a suspension of law, shall be considered on third reading and final passage in either house after six o'clock in the evening of the forty-second legislative day or fifty-seventh calendar day, whichever occurs first, except by a favorable record vote of two-thirds of the elected members of each house.
(b) During any session convening in an odd-numbered year, no matter intended to have the effect of law, including any suspension of law, shall be introduced or considered unless its object is to enact the General Appropriation Bill; enact the comprehensive capital budget; make an appropriation; levy or authorize a new tax; increase an existing tax; levy, authorize, increase, decrease, or repeal a fee; dedicate revenue; legislate with regard to tax exemptions, exclusions, deductions, reductions, repeals, or credits; or legislate with regard to the issuance of bonds. In addition, a matter intended to have the effect of law, including a measure proposing a suspension of law, which is not within the subject matter restrictions provided in this Subparagraph may be considered at any such session if:
(i) It is prefiled no later than the deadline provided in Subparagraph (2) of this Paragraph, provided that the member shall not prefile more than five such matters pursuant to this Subsubparagraph; or
(ii) Its object is to enact a local or special law which is required to be and has been advertised in accordance with Section 13 of this Article and which is not prohibited by the provisions of Section 12 of this Article.
(B) Extraordinary Session. The legislature may be convened at other times by the governor and shall be convened by the presiding officers of both houses upon written petition of a majority of the elected members of each house. The form of the petition shall be provided by law. At least five days prior to convening the legislature in extraordinary session, the governor or the presiding officers, as the case may be, shall issue a proclamation stating the objects of the session, the date on which it shall convene, and the number of days for which it is convened. The power to legislate shall be limited, under penalty of nullity, to the objects specifically enumerated in the proclamation. The session shall be limited to the number of days stated therein, which shall not exceed thirty calendar days.
(C) Emergency Session. The governor may convene the legislature in extraordinary session without prior notice or proclamation in the event of public emergency caused by epidemic, enemy attack, or public catastrophe.
(D) Organizational Session. The legislature shall meet in an organizational session in the state capitol to be convened at ten o'clock in the morning on the day the members are required to take office. No such session shall exceed three legislative days. The session shall be for the primary purpose of judging the qualifications and elections of the members, taking the oath of office, organizing the two houses, and selecting officers. No matter intended to have the effect of law shall be introduced at an organizational session.
Amended by Acts 1989, No. 841, 1, approved Oct. 7, 1989, eff. Nov. 7, 1989; Acts 1990, No. 1095, 1, approved Oct. 6, 1990, eff. Jan. 1, 1992; Acts 1993, No. 1041, 1, approved Oct. 16, 1993, eff. Nov. 18, 1993; Acts 2001, No. 1231, 1, approved Nov. 5, 2002, eff. Jan. 1, 2004.
Section 3. The number of members of the legislature shall be provided by law, but the number of senators shall not exceed thirty-nine and the number of representatives, one hundred five.
Section 4.(A) Age; Residence; Domicile. An elector who at the time of qualification as a candidate has attained the age of eighteen years, resided in the state for the preceding two years, and been actually domiciled for the preceding year in the legislative district from which he seeks election is eligible for membership in the legislature.
(B) Domicile; Special Provisions. However, at the next regular election for members of the legislature following legislative reapportionment, an elector may qualify as a candidate from any district created in whole or in part from a district existing prior to reapportionment if he was domiciled in that prior district for at least one year immediately preceding his qualification and was a resident of the state for the two years preceding his qualification. The seat of any member who changes his domicile from the district he represents or, if elected after reapportionment, whose domicile is not within the district he represents at the time he is sworn into office, shall be vacated thereby, any declaration of retention of domicile to the contrary notwithstanding.
(C) Term. A member of the legislature shall be elected for a four-year term.
(D) Vacancy. A vacancy in the legislature shall be filled for the remainder of the term only by election by the electors of the respective district as provided by law.
(E) Election Limitation. No person who has been elected to serve as a member of the Senate for more than two and one-half terms in three consecutive terms, that service being during a term of office that began on or after January 8, 1996, shall be elected to the Senate for the succeeding term. No person who has been elected to serve as a member of the House of Representatives for more than two and one-half terms in three consecutive terms, that service being during a term of office that began on or after January 8, 1996, shall be elected to the House of Representatives for the succeeding term.
Acts 1995, No. 1326, 1, approved Oct. 21, 1995, eff. Nov. 23, 1995.
Section 5.(A) Full Term. Members of the legislature shall take office on the same day as the governor and other officials elected statewide.
(B) Filling Vacancy. A person elected to fill the remainder of an unexpired legislative term shall take office within thirty days after the secretary of state promulgates the election returns.
Section 6.(A) Reapportionment by Legislature. By the end of the year following the year in which the population of this state is reported to the president of the United States for each decennial federal census, the legislature shall reapportion the representation in each house as equally as practicable on the basis of population shown by the census.
(B) Reapportionment by Supreme Court. If the legislature fails to reapportion as required in Paragraph (A), the supreme court, upon petition of any elector, shall reapportion the representation in each house as provided in Paragraph (A).
(C) Procedure. The procedure for review and for petition shall be provided by law.
Section 7.(A) Judging Qualifications and Elections; Procedural Rules; Discipline; Expulsion. Each house shall be the judge of the qualifications and elections of its members; shall determine its rules of procedure, not inconsistent with the provisions of this constitution; may punish its members for disorderly conduct or contempt; and may expel a member with concurrence of two-thirds of its elected members. Expulsion creates a vacancy in the office.
(B) Subpoena Power; Contempt. Each house may compel the attendance and testimony of witnesses and the production of books and papers before it, before any committee thereof, or before joint committees of the houses and may punish those in willful disobedience of its orders for contempt.
(C) Officers. Each house shall choose its officers, including a permanent presiding officer selected from its membership. The presiding officers shall be the president of the Senate and the speaker of the House of Representatives. The clerical officers shall be the clerk of the House of Representatives and the secretary of the Senate, each of whom may administer oaths.
Section 8. A member of the legislature shall be privileged from arrest, except for felony, during his attendance at sessions and committee meetings of his house and while going to and from them. No member shall be questioned elsewhere for any speech in either house.
Section 9. Legislative office is a public trust, and every effort to realize personal gain through official conduct is a violation of that trust. The legislature shall enact a code of ethics prohibiting conflict between public duty and private interests of members of the legislature.
Section 10.(A) Quorum. Not less than a majority of the elected members of each house shall form a quorum to transact business, but a smaller number may adjourn from day-to-day and may compel the attendance of absent members.
(B) Journal. Each house shall keep a journal of its proceedings and have it published immediately after the close of each session. The journal shall accurately reflect the proceedings of that house, including all record votes. A record vote is a vote by yeas and nays, with each member's vote published in the journal.
(C) Adjournment. When the legislature is in session, neither house shall adjourn for more than three days or to another place without consent of the other house.
Section 11. There shall be a legislative auditor responsible solely to the legislature. He shall serve as a fiscal advisor to it and shall perform the duties and functions provided by law related to auditing fiscal records of the state, its agencies, and political subdivisions. He shall be elected by the concurrence of a majority of the elected members of each house and may be removed by the concurrence of two-thirds of the elected members of each house.
Section 12.(A) Prohibitions. Except as otherwise provided in this constitution, the legislature shall not pass a local or special law:
(1) For the holding and conducting of elections, or fixing or changing the place of voting.
(2) Changing the names of persons; authorizing the adoption or legitimation of children or the emancipation of minors; affecting the estates of minors or persons under disabilities; granting divorces; changing the law of descent or succession; giving effect to informal or invalid wills or deeds or to any illegal disposition of property.
(3) Concerning any civil or criminal actions, including changing the venue in civil or criminal cases, or regulating the practice or jurisdiction of any court, or changing the rules of evidence in any judicial proceeding or inquiry before courts, or providing or changing methods for the collection of debts or the enforcement of judgments, or prescribing the effects of judicial sales.
(4) Authorizing the laying out, opening, closing, altering, or maintaining of roads, highways, streets, or alleys; relating to ferries and bridges, or incorporating bridge or ferry companies, except for the erection of bridges crossing streams which form boundaries between this and any other state; authorizing the constructing of street passenger railroads in any incorporated town or city.
(5) Exempting property from taxation; extending the time for the assessment or collection of taxes; relieving an assessor or collector of taxes from the performance of his official duties or of his sureties from liability; remitting fines, penalties, and forfeitures; refunding moneys legally paid into the treasury.
(6) Regulating labor, trade, manufacturing, or agriculture; fixing the rate of interest.
(7) Creating private corporations, or amending, renewing, extending, or explaining the charters thereof; granting to any private corporation, association, or individual any special or exclusive right, privilege, or immunity.
(8) Regulating the management of parish or city public schools, the building or repairing of parish or city schoolhouses, and the raising of money for such purposes.
(9) Legalizing the unauthorized or invalid acts of any officer, employee, or agent of the state, its agencies, or political subdivisions.
(10) Defining any crime.
(B) Additional Prohibition. The legislature shall not indirectly enact special or local laws by the partial repeal or suspension of a general law.
Section 13. No local or special law shall be enacted unless notice of the intent to introduce a bill to enact such a law has been published on two separate days, without cost to the state, in the official journal of the locality where the matter to be affected is situated. The last day of publication shall be at least thirty days prior to introduction of the bill. The notice shall state the substance of the contemplated law, and every such bill shall recite that notice has been given.
Section 14. The style of a law enacted by the legislature shall be, "Be it enacted by the Legislature of Louisiana." It shall be unnecessary to repeat the enacting clause after the first section of an act.
Section 15.(A) Introduction; Title; Single Object; Public Meetings. The legislature shall enact no law except by a bill introduced during that session, and propose no constitutional amendment except by a joint resolution introduced during that session, which shall be processed as a bill. Every bill, except the general appropriation bill and bills for the enactment, rearrangement, codification, or revision of a system of laws, shall be confined to one object. Every bill shall contain a brief title indicative of its object. Action on any matter intended to have the effect of law shall be taken only in open, public meeting.
(B) No General Reference. A bill enacting, amending, or reviving a law shall set forth completely the provisions of the law enacted, amended, or revived. No system or code of laws shall be adopted by general reference to it.
(C) Germane Amendments. No bill shall be amended in either house to make a change not germane to the bill as introduced.
(D) Three Readings. Each bill shall be read at least by title on three separate days in each house. No bill shall be considered for final passage unless a committee has held a public hearing and reported on the bill.
(E) Rejected bills; Reconsideration. No bill rejected by either house may again be introduced or considered during the same session by the house which rejected it without the consent of a majority of the members elected to that house.
(F) Concurrence in Amendments. No amendment to a bill by one house shall be concurred in by the other, and no conference committee report shall be concurred in by either house except by the same vote required for final passage of the bill. The vote thereon shall be by record vote.
(G) Majority Vote; Record Vote. No bill shall become law without the favorable vote of at least a majority of the members elected to each house. Final passage of a bill shall be by record vote. In either house, a record vote shall be taken on any matter upon the request of one-fifth of the elected members.
Section 16.(A) Specific Appropriation for One Year. Except as otherwise provided by this constitution, no money shall be withdrawn from the state treasury except through specific appropriation, and no appropriation shall be made under the heading of contingencies or for longer than one year.
(B) Origin in House of Representatives. All bills for raising revenue or appropriating money shall originate in the House of Representatives, but the Senate may propose or concur in amendments, as in other bills.
(C) General Appropriation Bill; Limitations. The general appropriation bill shall be itemized and shall contain only appropriations for the ordinary operating expenses of government, public charities, pensions, and the public debt or interest thereon.
(D) Specific Purpose and Amount. All other bills for appropriating money shall be for a specific purpose and amount.
(E) Extraordinary Session. Except for expenses of the legislature, a bill appropriating money in an extraordinary session convened after final adjournment of the regular session in the last year of the term of office of a governor shall require the favorable vote of three-fourths of the elected members of each house.
Section 17.(A) Signing; Delivery. A bill passed by both houses shall be signed by the presiding officers and delivered to the governor within three days after passage.
(B) Resolutions. No joint, concurrent, or other resolution shall require the signature or other action of the governor to become effective.
Section 18.(A) Gubernatorial Action. If the governor does not approve a bill, he may veto it. A bill, except a joint resolution, shall become law if the governor signs it or if he fails to sign or veto it within ten days after delivery to him if the legislature is in session on the tenth day after such delivery, or within twenty days after delivery if the tenth day after delivery occurs after the legislature is adjourned.
(B) Veto Message. If the governor vetoes a bill, he shall return it to the legislature, with his veto message within twelve days after delivery to him if the legislature is in session. If the governor returns a vetoed bill after the legislature adjourns, he shall return it, with his veto message, as provided by law.
(C) Veto Session. (1) A bill vetoed and returned and subsequently approved by two-thirds of the elected members of each house shall become law. The legislature shall meet in veto session in the state capital at noon on the fortieth day following final adjournment of the most recent session, to consider all bills vetoed by the governor. If the fortieth day falls on Sunday, the session shall convene at noon on the succeeding Monday. No veto session shall exceed five calendar days, and any veto session may be finally adjourned prior to the end of the fifth day upon a vote of two-thirds of the elected members of each house.
(2) No veto session shall be held if a majority of the elected members of either house declare in writing that a veto session is unnecessary. The declaration must be received by the presiding officer of the respective houses at least five days prior to the day on which the veto session is to convene.
Acts 1989, No. 841, 1, approved Oct. 7, 1989, eff. Nov. 7, 1989.
Section 19. All laws enacted during a regular session of the legislature shall take effect on August fifteenth of the calendar year in which the regular session is held and all laws enacted during an extraordinary session of the legislature shall take effect on the sixtieth day after final adjournment of the extraordinary session in which they were enacted. All laws shall be published prior thereto in the official journal of the state as provided by law. However, any bill may specify an earlier or later effective date.
Acts 1992, No. 1139, 1, aproved Oct. 3, 1992, eff. Nov. 5, 1992.
Section 20. Only the legislature may suspend a law, and then only by the same vote and, except for gubernatorial veto and time limitations for introduction, according to the same procedures and formalities required for enactment of that law. After the effective date of this constitution, every resolution suspending a law shall fix the period of suspension, which shall not extend beyond the sixtieth day after final adjournment of the next regular session.