Constitutional amendment explainers for Nov. 8 election
Lake Charles, LA (KPLC) - Being prepared means knowing what’s on your ballot before you head to the polls. But some of the measures you’ll be voting on might be a bit confusing.
We have a breakdown and explanation of the 8 constitutional amendments that will be on your ballot.
The first amendment centers around what to do with large trust funds managed by the state.
Right now, Louisiana has about $3.2 billion in seven trust funds.
The amendment would allow the treasurer to increase the amount of money they can invest in stocks from the trust funds to 65%.
Those for the amendment feel the state could make even more earnings if they invest more in stocks.
However, those against worry about the volatility of the stock market and the uncertainty of investing.
This amendment deals with property tax exemptions for veterans with disabilities.
If passed, this would expand the homestead exemption to cover more disabled veterans on a sliding scale based on their level of disability.
It would also mean that disabled veterans with either a 100% service-related disability rating or unemployment rating would be exempt from paying any parish property taxes on their homestead.
Amendment three involves service workers who have family members running for office.
Voting “YES” will allow most civic service employees to campaign for an immediate family member during their off-hours.
A vote of “NO” will leave the existing policy as-is.
This amendment will allow charges to be waived for water use if the damaged infrastructure was not the fault of the customer such as in an ice storm or flood.
Right now, agencies cannot lessen customers’ bills if there is a water line break or other infrastructure problem, only offer payment plans.
A vote for this amendment would allow entities to waive water use charges in such an event.
This amendment deals with millage rates.
As you know, local governments collect property taxes from you and every four years they’re required to re-assess the property’s value.
Most local governments across the state choose to automatically roll forward a certain tax rate every year for fear of losing out on money at the 4-year mark.
Some say this “use it or lose it” policy in the constitution could potentially have you paying more for your property taxes than necessary.
Wendy Thibodeaux, the Lafourche Parish Assessor, commented, “So, what I found happens is that a lot of these taxing districts, they will levy that maximum rate even if it’s not budgetarily necessary just so they don’t have to go back to the voters and ask the voters for that .5 mils again”
So, a vote of “YES” would give districts the flexibility to adjust their property tax collections when the need arises and give entities more time to decide if they need the increased tax revenue.
A vote of “NO” would keep the current system the way it is meaning taxing bodies will continue to have until the next re-appraisal to decide on rolling forward millages.
This amendment is strictly for Orleans Parish but the entire state has the option to vote on it.
It deals with the re-assessment of property and the issue of housing becoming increasingly unaffordable in New Orleans.
The amendment will limit the increase in property values to 10% over the previous year when it comes to calculating taxes. That way the higher cost could be phased in over time.
The 10% cap would not apply if the property was sold to another owner or if the increase in value was due to improvements made to the property.
This amendment eliminates an exception in Louisiana’s constitution that allows slavery and involuntary servitude as a punishment for a crime.
However, the lawmaker who wrote it says he’s having second thoughts about the legislation.
State Rep. Edmond Jordan says the wording, as is, may actually do the opposite of what he intended and is asking people to vote against it. He says he’d like to resubmit the law again next year with different wording.
Jordan says, “The way that the ballot language is stated it is confusing. And the way that it was drafted it could lead to multiple different conclusions or opinions. Because of the ambiguity of how it was drafted, I’m asking that people vote against it, so that we can go and clean it up with the intent of bringing it back next year and making sure that the language is clear and unambiguous. Regardless of what happens, we’re going to have to bring it back to get it cleared up either way. But either way, it is my intent to bring it back next year and make sure that the language is clearer, and that there is no confusion.”
However, some activist groups say they still want people to vote for the amendment.
Either way, Jordan says it will be brought up for a vote again.
This amendment deals with those who have their property tax rate frozen because they are permanently and totally disabled.
A vote of “YES” would eliminate them from having to re-certify their income every year to keep the tax rate. Currently, only those 65-and older are exempt from having to recertify their income every year.
A vote of “NO” would keep things as-is.
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