Voters to decide ten constitutional amendments

By Theresa Schmidt - bio | email

LAKE CHARLES, LA. (KPLC) - U.S. Senate and Louisiana Lieutenant Governor are probably the most interesting contests on the ballot for Tuesday November 2nd. But voters will also decide ten proposed amendments to the state constitution.

Here at the Calcasieu Registrar of Voters Office there's a steady stream of people coming to cast ballots during early voting.  Voter Somer Brown is an attorney and says she's glad she did research ahead of time on the ten constitutional amendments. "Even we attorneys have a hard time figuring it out sometimes."

With ten constitutional amendments on the ballot, voters may want to consider bringing a sample ballot along so as to remember how they plan to vote. Said Brown, "It's a lot easier to come in prepared and they even let you bring your paper in with you which I did. And I knew ahead of time exactly what I was going to do and I was in and out in two minutes."

In a nutshell amendment one would prevent pay raises for statewide elected officials, public service commissioners and legislators from taking effect until the next term after the increase was approved as Calcasieu Registrar Angie Quienalty explains. "In essence they would not be increasing their salary for that current term. If they go into the next term then yes they would receive the benefit of that salary increase."

Amendment two has to do with getting more state severance tax returned to local government. Says Quienalty, "It's a shift in the tax, not an increase in the tax."

Number three would allow parishes to double the homestead exemption for disabled veterans if voters approve in a local option election. "Would give the local governing authorities the option to call an election to allow those veterans who are 100% disabled to have the homestead exemption available to them for $150,000 compared to the normal $75,000 for most citizens," explains Quienalty.

And there are seven more amendments. If you do find yourself unprepared on any race or issue, Quienalty says failing to vote on every issue will not disqualify your ballot. "We're always encouraging people to be informed voters but if you choose not to vote on one of the amendments because you do not understand it, you will not lose your vote."

At last count about three thousand people had voted early.

For more information on the ten constitutional amendments see the analysis provided by the Public Affairs Research Council of Louisiana.

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