A Morgan City crew works on Front Street lights. Voters will have the chance Nov. 6 to clarify the rules when governments lend each other the use of equipment and personnel.

The Daily Review/Bill Decker

What the Nov. 6 amendments are all about

Six constitutional amendments, which could make a significant change in criminal justice and protect people from property tax increases, will appear on the Nov. 6 ballot in Louisiana.
Here’s a roundup of information about the proposed amendments.
The information comes from the Public Affairs Research Council of Louisiana, which publishes the go-to guide to constitutional amendments each election cycle, and the Council for a Better Louisiana. We’ve including CABL’s recommendation, not as an endorsement but for whatever guidance it may offer.

Amendment No. 1
Authorization: Act 719 of the 2018 Regular Session of the Louisiana Legislature proposing to add Article I, Section 10.1 to the Louisiana Constitution.
Ballot language: “Do you support an amendment to prohibit a convicted felon from seeking or holding public office or appointment within five years of completion of his sentence unless he is pardoned?”
What it’s about: Louisiana voters approved a 1998 amendment prohibiting convicted felons from running for or holding elected office for 15 years after their sentence ends. But the Supreme Court struck the amendment down on technical grounds. Amendment 1 would prevent felons from running for or holding elective office for five years after their sentence ends. The amendment would not apply to felons who are pardoned.
CABL recommendation: Vote yes.

Amendment No. 2
Authorization: Act 722 of the 2018 Regular Session of the Louisiana Legislature proposing to amend Article I, Section 17(A) of the Louisiana Constitution.
Ballot language: “Do you support an amendment to require a unanimous jury verdict in all noncapital felony cases for offenses that are committed on or after January 1, 2019?”
What it’s about: Louisiana is one of only two states (Oregon is the other) that allow a jury to convict an accused felon in noncapital cases with an 11-1 or 10-2 vote. The amendment would bring Louisiana into line with states that require unanimous jury votes for conviction. Proponents say the current law is “rooted in Louisiana’s racist past,” according to PAR, while opponents say requiring unanimity makes hung juries and mistrials more likely.
CABL recommendation: Vote yes.

Amendment
No. 3
Authorization: Act 717 of the 2018 Regular Session of the Louisiana Legislature proposing to amend Article VII, Section 14(B) of the Louisiana Constitution.
Ballot language: “Do you support an amendment to permit, pursuant to written agreement, the donation of the use of public equipment and personnel by a political subdivision upon request to another political subdivision for an activity or function which the requesting political subdivision is authorized to exercise?”
What it’s about: The constitution forbids lending and donations among state and local governments. The amendment makes it clear that one government is free to lend the use of equipment and employee labor to another government as long as there is a written agreement and without requiring compensation. Opponents say the amendment isn’t really necessary because cooperative endeavor agreements are already legal.
CABL recommendation: Vote yes.

Amendment
No. 4
Authorization: Act 720 of the 2018 Regular Session of the Louisiana Legislature proposing to amend Article VII, Section 27(B)(1) of the Louisiana Constitution.
Ballot language: “Do you support an amendment to remove authority to appropriate or dedicate monies in the Transportation Trust Fund to state police for traffic control purposes?”
What it’s about: State gasoline taxes go into a Transportation Trust Fund that is dedicated to transportation infrastructure. But some other uses are authorized, including spending for “state police for traffic control purposes.” Some administrations and legislatures have dipped into the trust fund to help fund state police in the past, but not since 2016. The amendment would remove “state police for traffic control purposes” from the list of allowable uses. Proponents say the change is need to protect the integrity of the rules governing use of the trust fund. Opponents say it needlessly handcuffs budget-makers.
CABL recommendation: Vote yes.

Amendment
No.5
Authorization: Act 721 of the 2018 Regular Session of the Louisiana Legislature proposing to add Article VII, Sections 18(G)(6), 21(K)(4) and (M)(4) of the Louisiana Constitution.
Ballot language: “Do you support an amendment to extend eligibility for the following special property tax treatments to property in trust: the special assessment level for property tax valuation, the property tax exemption for property of a disabled veteran, and the property tax exemption for the surviving spouse of a person who died while performing their duties as a first responder, active duty member of the military, or law enforcement or fire protection officer?”
What it’s about: Current law provides a homestead exemption for primary homes and other property tax advantages for some classes of people, including people over 65, disabled veterans, and surviving spouses of military troops and first responders who die in the line of duty. But sometimes a homestead may be placed in trust, which allows the owner to continue living in the home while ownership technically passes to someone else. The amendment ensures that all the special tax treatment applies to otherwise eligible real estate held in trust.
CABL recommendation: Vote yes.

Amendment
No. 6
Authorization: Act 718 of the 2018 Regular Session of the Louisiana Legislature proposing to amend Article VII, Section 18(A) and (F) of the Louisiana Constitution.
Ballot language: “Do you support an amendment that will require that any reappraisal of the value of residential property by more than 50%, resulting in a corresponding increase in property taxes, be phased-in over the course of four years during which time no additional reappraisal can occur and that the decrease in the total ad valorem tax collected as a result of the phase-in of assessed valuation be absorbed by the taxing authority and not allocated to the other taxpayers?”
What it’s about: Suppose that when your home’s value is reassessed, as it is every four years, the assessed value shoots up dramatically. Under this amendment, if your tax assessment goes up by more than 50 percent, the higher tax liability would be phased in over four years (in 25 percent increments) as long as your home is eligible for the homestead exemption.
CABL recommendation: Vote yes.

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