Early voting begins Friday; Louisiana Constitution in play
Early voting for Louisiana's Dec. 5 election begins Friday with the only statewide issue being an amendment to the Constitution that could change the makeup of the state's higher education boards.
Early voting is 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Nov. 20-28 excluding Sunday, Nov. 22, Thursday, Nov. 26 for Thanksgiving and Friday, Nov. 27 for Acadian Day. Early voting was advanced one day because of the holidays.
The proposed amendment would allow the governor to appoint up to two out-of-state members to the Louisiana Community and Technical College, LSU, Southern University and University of Louisiana management boards.
Louisiana's Board of Regents, which oversees all four of the 15-member system boards, would not be affected.
Proponents of the amendment said the change would allow wider perspective and expertise on the boards. The late LSU philanthropist Lod Cook was used as an example of someone who couldn't serve on the LSU board after moving from Louisiana in his later years.
All four higher education boards supported the amendment by Baton Rouge Democrat Sen. Cleo Fields, which had no opposition when debated by the Legislature, though opponents could question why an outsider should have a say in Louisiana's higher education affairs.
Following are the arguments for an against the amendment by the non-partisan Louisiana Public Affairs Council (PAR):
► ARGUMENT IN FAVOR: Louisiana colleges and universities have many graduates and other supporters who live out of state. Allowing two of 15 members to be from outside the state provides for a bigger pool of candidates. These members could bring a wealth of knowledge, perspective and support to Louisiana’s higher education systems. Several other states allow out-of-state members on their college boards.
► ARGUMENT AGAINST: There is no requirement that the out-of-state members be graduates of the institutions they will govern. A broader reform might have moved the details of the composition of these boards out of the Constitution and into statute where they can be adjusted as necessary by the Legislature.
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Greg Hilburn covers state politics for the USA TODAY Network of Louisiana. Follow him on Twitter @GregHilburn1.