What do you want to know

(Louisiana Highlighter) – Congratulations. If you clicked on a link to read this, you’ve already done more homework than many Louisiana voters when it comes to learning more about the eight proposed amendments to the state constitution on the ballot. of November 8.

In the spirit of efficiency inside the voting booth, let’s stop patting ourselves on the back and move directly to the analysis of the amendments. This comment is not meant to be exhaustive, so some additional sources at the bottom are included if you want more information.

Amendment 1: increase in investment limits in government shares

At one point, lawmakers thought it wise to limit how much the state could invest in the stock market, but those restrictions are now obviously costing Louisiana money. The proposed amendment would increase this ceiling for four specific funds.

Currently only 35% of the proceeds from the Louisiana Quality Education Trust Fund, Millenium Trust, Artificial Reef Development Fund, Marsh Island Refuge Fund and Rockefeller Wildlife Refuge Trust and Protection Fund.

The state treasurer manages these investments and is obligated to sell profitable stocks when growth in the fund’s portfolio exceeds the 35% limit. This is basically the opposite of what an individual investor would do if they wanted to get the most return from their stocks.

The amendment would raise the equity investment cap to 65%, which the Treasurer’s Office says will allow for greater profits without overexposing public funds to market volatility.

Amendment 2: Homestead Exemptions for Disabled Veterans

The proposed amendment to the constitution would maintain a series of exceptions to ease the property tax burden of veterans with significant disabilities.

In addition to the existing farm exemption on the first $7,500 of a property’s assessed value, current law provides 100% disabled veterans an additional $7,500 in consideration. This amendment would repeal that structure.

In its place, tiered exemptions would be created for the benefit of veterans deemed partially disabled. The break would be an additional $2,500 for a 50% to 70% disabled person, $4,500 for a 70% to 99% disabled person, and a full waiver of the assessed value of a property for a former 100% disabled fighter.

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Amendment 3: Public Service Employees and Political Campaigns

Government employees who are part of a state or local civil service system are currently not permitted to visibly support the campaigns of political candidates. The proposed amendment would remove this ban for workers who have a family member running for office.

The proposal defines relatives as spouses, children, parents, grandparents, siblings and their step-equivalents. The families could appear in political ads and advertisements if the amendment is approved.

Employees of local voter registrars and staff of the Secretary of State’s Elections Division would be excluded from the changes.

A water treatment area at the New Orleans Sewerage & Water Board. (Greg LaRose/Louisiana Illuminator)

Amendment 4: Exemption from water charges in the event of damage to infrastructure

It is illegal in Louisiana for the state or any local government to give away anything of value for free, no matter how deserving the recipient or the insignificant cost. That’s why you see cities auction off obsolete office furniture and vehicles well past their prime.

The policy is intended to protect the public’s investment, but there is a problem with the policy that proponents of the amendment say does more harm than good.

Too often we hear of utilities charging customers far more for water than they actually use. A broken meter or leaky pipes result in exorbitant charges, and it can be far from a simple process to fix overcharging.

Amendment 4 would allow a local government to waive wasted water charges if the problem is with public infrastructure. The waiver would not apply if a homeowner’s act – or failure to act – is to blame for the water loss.

Amendment 5: Avoid maximum ownership miles

If I had to predict which of the eight amendments might fail simply because voters will have a hard time understanding what it does, Amendment 5 would be the clear winner.

Let’s take an example to explain this: a fire district that has the power to elect to collect up to 2.5 million in taxes over 10 years to pay for new trucks and equipment. This “up to” part is important here because not all tax entities will collect the maximum.

Instead, the fire district will adjust the actual mileage to account for increases in property values. So if these values ​​increase, the mileage can be reduced, say to 2.1 mills, and the district will still collect the same amount in taxes. The advantage for owners is that they do not see their tax bill increase considerably.

Over the 10 year lifespan of the mile, the fire district may never need to collect the full 2.5 mills. But if they want the option to do so in the future when asking voters to renew the tax, they must advance to that maximum at some point before its original expiration date. The owner then faces a higher bill, and the district ends up with a surplus of revenue and not much need to spend it. Now the fire department faces tough questions about how it manages its finances.

The amendment will remove the requirement to max out a mile before it expires.

Amendment 6: Orléans Parish Assessments

Let’s not get caught in the weeds of the property assessment process in Orleans Parish, which includes the entire city of New Orleans. I live here and, believe me when I tell you, it’s an exhausting effort to explain the methodology.

In short, the inaccurate and evolving science of Orleans real estate appraisals results in wide variations for some homeowners. It is not uncommon to see increases in assessed value jump by 50% or more over a four-year period.

The city’s legislative delegation wants to be able to ease ratepayers toward higher rates, rather than cram it all into next year’s bill. Amendment 5 would limit assessment increases to 10% per year over a four-year phase-in period. In addition, any loss of tax revenue resulting from phasing in should be absorbed by the tax agency; he could not simply seek to transfer liability to other ratepayers.

An inmate takes out the trash at the Department of Corrections headquarters in downtown Baton Rouge. (Photo courtesy of the Louisiana Department of Corrections)

Amendment 7: Prohibition of slavery and involuntary servitude

Louisiana is one of four states – Oregon, Tennessee and Vermont are the others – with a measure on the ballot this fall to officially ban slavery. Voters in Colorado, Nebraska and Utah have already approved the ban.

An exception under Louisiana’s proposal would be for the “otherwise lawful administration of criminal justice,” according to the legislation that created the amendment. This means those incarcerated could still be forced to work.

Amendment 8: Recertification of Homestead Exemptions for Persons with Disabilities

Like Amendment 2, this proposed amendment aims to facilitate the property tax exemption process for the disabled population.

Additional assessment breaks are available for property owners deemed to be 50% or more disabled. Persons aged 65 and over as well as survivors of soldiers killed in action are also entitled to the supplementary benefit.

Amendment 8 would exclude anyone deemed 100% disabled recertified from the annual recertification process required to obtain the exemption.

The Public Affairs Research Council is finalizing its guide to amendments, which is a valuable source of information for voters. The Illuminator will add a link to it here when it comes out later this month.

The Louisiana Legislature also an overview this might help you, especially if you trace the amendments back to their original legislation and review the committee hearings where the proposals were debated. But we did it so you don’t have to.

Finally, you will not be finished with the amendments for the year after November 8th. Three more are on the December 10 ballot, and we’ll break them down for you long before that.

Louisiana Highlighter is part of States Newsroom, a network of news outlets supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Louisiana Illuminator maintains editorial independence. Contact editor Jarvis DeBerry with any questions: [email protected] Follow Louisiana Illuminator on Facebook and Twitter.

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