Lawmakers review state’s lengthy constitution

Lawmakers review state’s lengthy constitution

Critics of Louisiana’s constitution have long complained that the state’s foundational document is too long, and larded up with amendments that can often seem trivial. They’re right. Louisiana’s constitution has seen more than 300 proposed changes over the past 47 years – with three more proposals on the Dec. 10 general election ballot. The Louisiana Illuminator’s Greg LaRose reports on a new subcommittee of the Legislature tasked with reviewing the lengthy document and potential solutions to simplify it. 

[Rep. Barry]Ivey tasked members of the subcommittee with a review of the state constitution, focusing on “language that is unusual,” outdated and redundant, as well as measures that most states would handle with new laws their legislature creates rather than voter referenda. … A suggestion [Steven] Procopio offered to the subcommittee was that any proposed constitutional amendment receive legislative approval in two successive annual sessions before being placed on the ballot. Concerns about not being able to make an urgent change to the constitution are unwarranted, he said, based on his review of ballot proposals since 1974. “If you need an emergency constitutional amendment, then your constitution isn’t working in the first place,” Procopio said.

Some legislators continue to argue for a constitutional convention to draft a whole new argument from scratch. A better solution would be to give citizens a stronger voice in the ballot process by creating a system of ballot propositions and referendums. Louisiana could look to states like Arkansas, Florida, Missouri and Oklahoma as a model.  

Mixed results on state reading scores
Fewer than 40% of kindergarten students in Louisiana who started school this fall are reading on grade level, according to a new state report. But the drop in kindergarten scores was offset by gains among children in first, second and third grades. The Advocate’s Will Sentell reports

Overall 49.6% of K-3 students meet reading benchmarks, up from 49.2% in 2021. (Superintendent of Education Cade) Brumley said the gains show recent state efforts to solve the state’s reading crisis among young students is paying dividends. … Student reading skills are considered crucial to their future learning success. Those who are not reading on grade level by the end of the third grade are considered more likely to struggle in classrooms and drop out of high school.

Congress refuses paid sick days for rail workers
President Joe Biden signed a bipartisan bill Friday to avert a national rail strike that threatened to disrupt supply chains and stall the economy heading into the holiday season. The measure forces union leaders to accept a September deal that some unions had rejected because it failed to guarantee paid sick days for workers. The Senate rejected a separate measure that included the sick days. The Washington Post’s Tony Romm and Lauren Kaori Gurley report

“We carry the country on our backs whether [Congress] realizes it or not,” said Tom Modica, 36, a rail mechanic in Chicago. “The fact that they are willing to force a contract down our throats to keep the railroads from shutting down means we’re important. But they get sick days, and we’re out here in the snow all day and we don’t. It’s pretty hypocritical.” … “The American people are increasingly disgusted at the level of corporate greed they see today,” Sanders said in a floor speech Thursday, adding there is “no greater example of corporate greed than what we see in the rail industry today.”

Reality check: Rail workers currently have zero paid sick days, while members of Congress have unlimited sick days and numerous paid federal holidays. 

Young jobs seekers want stability
A new, top priority has emerged for young adults entering the workforce: stability. While other factors, such as location or staff diversity tended to be valued most by these workers in the past, the global pandemic and historically high inflation have shifted what workers prioritize. The New York Times’ Emma Goldberg explains why young job seekers are ditching their search for a dream job – for now – in favor of a secure one. 

For the nearly two-thirds of young American adults who didn’t graduate from college, job insecurities are sharpened by inflation, at a 40-year high. Others, who did go to college, are entering their careers after years of school disruptions and rising levels of mental distress. And for the very small subset who graduated from college and planned to seek out especially high-paying, perk-filled jobs, like those in technology, there’s the angst of witnessing layoffs across the companies associated with the most alluring roles.

The New York Times’ Jeanna Smialek, Lydia DePillis and Ben Casselman examine 38-year-old Paul Rizzo’s decision to step away from employment during his prime working years and why hundreds of thousands of middle-aged men are missing from a healthy labor market: 

They are an anomaly, as employment rates have rebounded more fully for women of the same age and for both younger and older men. About 87 percent of men ages 35 to 44 were working as of October, down from 88.3 percent before the pandemic struck in 2020. The stubborn decline has spanned racial groups, but it has been most heavily concentrated among men who — like Mr. Rizzo — do not have a four-year college degree. The pullback comes despite the fact that wages are rising and job openings are plentiful, including in fields like truck driving and construction, where college degrees are not required and men tend to dominate.

Programming note: The Daily Dime is taking its annual holiday hiatus. We will be back in January. The LBP staff wishes a happy and safe holiday season to all our subscribers! 

Number of the Day
263,000 – Number of jobs the U.S. economy added in November. The nation’s 3.7% unemployment rate shows continued strength of the labor market. (Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics)