BP account ordinance vetoed over 2/3 vote provision

By Jason Browne

On the advice of parish attorney Peter Barbee, parish president Amos Cormier III vetoed a council ordinance June 7 requiring a two-thirds vote from the council to spend money from the $45 million BP settlement. District 2 council member Beau Black campaigned hard for the two-thirds stipulation at the May 25 council meeting, pushing back against resistance from Cormier, who invoked the parish charter’s rules requiring a simple five-vote majority as opposed to the six vote majority that eventually passed. Cormier’s veto of the ordinance, which was intended to establish a special account at Regions Bank to hold the $45 million before veering into an argument over votes, included an opinion from Barbee explaining why the ordinance is unconstitutional. That opinion cites case law to state that “…unlike the federal constitution, generally a state constitution’s provisions are not grants of power but instead are limitations…” and points out that the only instances in which the charter requires a six-vote majority are (ironically) to override a veto or to declare a state of emergency.

“There’s absolutely nothing in the charter that states you can change the voting requirement,” Barbee said following the June 8 council meeting. “There’s no vagueness. The charter’s really well written. Whoever wrote that intentionally did not leave a lot of wiggle room.”


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