State Sen. Troy Brown

Advocate file photo by April Buffington

Perhaps Troy Brown's criminal record isn't enough to automatically trigger a vacancy in the state Senate seat he holds in the River Parishes. That would require a felony conviction.

But the Senate should act, as early as possible, to get him out, because of Brown's record of violence against women.

Senate President John Alario said Thursday he has been hearing from senators who are looking to either suspend or expel Brown if he won't resign.

The first step down the path to disciplining Brown would be for one of his Senate colleagues to file a resolution spelling out the punishment sought. That could come as early as February, said Alario, R-Westwego. Senators haven’t convened to consider punishing one of their own in 35 years.

Alario declined to take a position on Thursday because he would preside over any hearing. But the Senate leadership has already taken away Brown's committee assignments. Gov. John Bel Edwards has spoken against Brown; Democrats and Republicans appear united on this challenge to the reputation of the Senate.

Brown, an Assumption Parish Democrat in his second term, on Wednesday entered his second "no contest" plea to a criminal charge alleging he committed violence against a woman — a deal he struck with Ascension Parish misdemeanor prosecutors to avoid a trial.

He previously pleaded no-contest in a separate incident in which he was accused of punching his girlfriend in the eye hours after the Bayou Classic football game in New Orleans in 2015.

This week, Brown did not dispute allegations that he bit his wife during a struggle over a cellphone in their home last July, but he did not admit civil liability.

Political liability is another matter.

Having been involved in one case with a "side friend" in New Orleans, and now with his wife, the senator has a record that warrants expulsion. As a practical matter, the Legislature is likely going to be a in a special session for budget reasons sometime around Valentine's Day, and the Senate is likely to act at that time, if not before.

This is not easy territory procedurally to navigate, but we have confidence that Alario and the Senate leadership will find the appropriate pathway to make it clear to Brown that he has to resign voluntarily or be ejected involuntarily.

A stubborn refusal on Brown's part will leave his colleagues in the Senate with no choice.