BR.legopens0508.041117 bf

Gov. John Bel Edwards, right, addresses the joint session during opening day at the Louisiana legislature Monday April 10, 2017, in Baton Rouge, La..


A bill is advancing at the State Capitol that would establish a process to potentially overhaul sections of the state Constitution dealing with state and local finances and taxes.

House Bill 456, which made it out of a committee on an unrecorded voice vote Tuesday, would set up the potential for a constitutional convention in January 2019, if lawmakers don't work to otherwise solve structural deficiencies in the state budget.

"It gives the delegates the opportunity to decide what's best for Louisiana, no matter what that is," said Rep. Neil Abramson, a New Orleans Democrat and sponsor of the bill.

The proposal now heads to the full House for consideration, though its largely seen as a back-up plan if lawmakers don't substantially review the state's finances.

If the convention were to go forward, HB 456 calls for 132 delegates -- 105 members of the public elected from state House districts and 27 appointed by various stakeholder organizations and good government groups.

Several lawmakers voiced concern about the potential unintended consequences.

"We have all these people saying we need a new constitution with nobody saying what the new constitution should look like," said Rep. Jay Morris, R-Monroe. "It's like they say, 'Be careful what you wish for.' At least we know what we have right now."

"You will see a mad rush of special interests like the state has never seen," he added.

It's unclear when the bill may come up for consideration. Abramson said that he was interested in seeing how things play out but wanted to give it a chance in case it's needed.

Follow Elizabeth Crisp on Twitter, @elizabethcrisp.