Recommendations on Amendments, School Board Term Limits
Election Day is Tuesday, Nov. 6 and a very busy ballot awaits taxpayers. With early voting under way, we remind everyone that there are nine constitutional amendments on the ballot and one local option initiative to impose term limits on local school board members.
With those items in mind, here are our recommendations:
Amendment 1 — Yes
Normally we are opposed to constitutionally protecting funding for any category but the Medicaid Trust Fund for the Elderly presents a unique situation.
The trust fund originates from badly written federal legislation that allowed states to take money they didn’t technically have and use that to get federal matching funds they really weren’t entitled to. The federal government closed that loophole and in the process restricted any funds received to dedicated use for the elderly in the future. While Louisiana has never tried to tap the fund to balance the budget or redirect it for other uses, doing so could cause expensive federal headaches down the road. It’s best to take temptation off the table. Vote yes.
Amendment 2 — Yes
This amendment would give Louisiana the strongest gun ownership and possession rights in the nation while still allowing the state regulatory control for compelling state interests such as public safety. The ability to prevent gun possession in schools and other public places is preserved as is individual property owner’s rights to prohibit guns on their property. The amendment would recognize the right to own and possess firearms as a “fundamental” right and require any law restricting guns to be adjudicated under the “strict scrutiny” standard — the highest legal standard in practice. Vote yes.
Amendment 3 — No
This amendment would change the notice parameters for any law altering public retirement systems, requiring earlier notice than other laws. The constitution already requires a different notice timetable for public retirement bills that has worked well since 1974. Requiring earlier notice only serves those standing in the way of needed reforms that are in the public’s best interest. Vote no.
Amendment 4 — Yes
Only about 2,000 households in Louisiana are affected by the veteran’s exemption but there have been cases when a home was purchased by a couple and the veteran spouse died before the homestead exemption was executed. For a veteran’s family, it’s the right thing to do. Vote yes.
Amendment 5 — No
This is the third time one particular legislator has tried to strip retirement benefits from public officials convicted of criminal activity. However the meat of the law is in its companion statute, not the constitutional amendment, which can be changed or repealed by the legislature at any time. Bring us an amendment with teeth next time. Vote no.
Amendment 6 — No
A crony capitalism amendment for the city of New Iberia seeking to grant tax exemption authority for the city for newly annexed property. This does not belong in the constitution since the city is free to set up a tax rebate mechanism that would accomplish the same thing without constitutional approval. Vote no.
Amendment 7 — Yes
This amendment fixes the membership problem in various state boards and commissions created by Louisiana losing one congressional seat but we point out it is not a long-term solution. A better amendment could have been offered. Vote yes.
Amendment 8 — Yes
This would aid in recruitment of non-manufacturing enterprises but excludes common businesses such as retail, financial, gambling, etc. Other states employ it so Louisiana needs it to compete. Interestingly, all taxing authorities in a parish must agree to the waiver with each authority having veto power before a parish can participate in the program. Once agreed to there’s a waiting period in order to be removed from the program ensuring any ongoing recruiting effort can’t be torpedoed by a local special interest. Vote yes.
Amendment 9 — Yes
This amendment would provide additional notice to the public when the formation of a crime prevention district is contemplated in an area. Many districts have been legislatively formed with taxpayers learning about it only when a request for taxes appears on their ballot. Vote yes.
Members — No
We have a term limiting mechanism already — elections. School Boards often are the largest employer in many parishes and electing members to a school board deserves thoughtful consideration from every voter. Anyone dealing with Louisiana’s newly term-limited legislature will tell you term limits are a bad idea. Vote no.