Louisiana’s present constitution, the state’s 11th, was adopted in 1974. Previous state constitutions were adopted in 1812, 1845, 1852, 1861, 1864, 1868, 1879, 1898, 1913, and 1921. A proposed amendment to the constitution must initially be approved by a two-thirds majority vote of the elected membership in each house of the state legislature. To be adopted, it must then be approved by a simple majority of the electorate voting on it. Amendments also may be proposed at a constitutional convention; these too are subject to approval by a majority of voters.
The chief executive of Louisiana, the governor, is elected to a four-year term and may not serve more than two successive terms. The governor appoints some of the state’s major administrative officials, sometimes subject to the approval of the state senate, and has the power to veto legislation and items in appropriations bills. However, the state legislature can override a veto by a two-thirds majority vote of the elected membership in each house. The governor is also empowered to call special sessions of the legislature. The other elected state officials include the lieutenant governor, secretary of state, attorney general, treasurer, superintendent of education, and the commissioners of agriculture, insurance, and elections. All of these officials are elected to four-year terms.
The state legislature consists of a 39-member Senate and a 105-member House of Representatives. Both senators and representatives serve four-year terms of office. The legislature meets annually in odd numbered years in a general session and in even numbered years for fiscal matters only.
The general session convenes the last Monday in March for up to 60 legislative days, the fiscal session the last Monday in April for up to 30 legislative days. Special sessions of the legislature may also be called either by the governor or by petition of a majority of the elected members of each house of the legislature.
The Supreme Court, the state’s highest court, has seven justices, each elected from a different district to a ten-year term. The justice with seniority presides over the court as chief justice. The next highest courts are the courts of appeals.
Judges are elected to ten-year terms. The Supreme Court has original as well as appellate jurisdiction. The major trial courts in Louisiana are the district courts. District court judges are elected to six-year terms. Minor courts in Louisiana include justice-of-the-peace courts, mayor’s courts, juvenile courts, and family courts. Orleans Parish has civil and criminal district courts and city, municipal, traffic, and juvenile courts. Louisiana’s legal system is based on the French Code Napoléon, but it has been gradually changed to conform to the system practiced in other states.
Louisiana is divided into 64 parishes. Parishes, first established by the Spanish in the 18th century as divisions for religious administration, correspond to counties in other states. Most parishes are administered by police juries, of 5 to 16 members, elected to four-year terms of office. The rest generally use a commission form of government, sometimes merging metropolitan and parish government in a single body. Most Louisiana municipalities have the mayor and city council form of government. The voters of Louisiana elect seven members of the U.S. House of Representatives and two members of the U.S. Senate. In presidential elections the state casts nine electoral votes. "Louisiana" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia
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