The controversy over the idea of a new city of St. George in East Baton Rouge Parish has revealed one obvious gap in state law: a lack of a deadline for petition drives of this nature.

Under the 1898 law called the Lawrason Act — and that year is not a typo — there is no deadline for a petition drive required to create a new city.

The agitation for St. George is still a live discussion but one fact is that the notion of absorbing city-parish government’s large taxpayers into a city without a plan is unsettling to businesses.

To allow dissidents in St. George to keep the discussion going indefinitely would keep a threat going, even as those backing the effort don’t have to show whether they in fact have real support.

Every other petition drive we’re aware of, such as recalls for public officials, have firm deadlines in law.

We don’t know how the flurry of St. George-related bills will turn out, but one thing that lawmakers really ought to do, for this controversy and any future ones, is to set a deadline for petition drives.