LaSalle Parish voters will join voters across the state to decide the fate of four more constitutional amendments on the November 18 election ballot.
Once again, we offer our recommendations on the amendments at the request of so many readers but strongly suggest all voters take the time to research for themselves to help make informed decisions.
AMENDMENT NO. 1: Deadlines to Veto Bills and Rules for Veto Sessions Basically, a vote for this amendment would allow lawmakers to try to override a governor’s bill rejections without calling a separate veto session if they are already in a legislative session and add further details about the deadlines for a governor to veto bills.
A vote against the amendment will keep the same rules in place for legislatures overriding a governor’s veto and all rules pertaining to the governor and legislature.
This amendment is certainly put in place as a result of Gov. John Bel Edwards. Lawmakers had canceled every veto session scheduled under the 1974 constitution until Edward’s final four-year term. Since 2021, lawmakers have held three veto sessions resulting in only two overturned gubernatorial vetoes.
With a new Republican Governor taking office next January, joined by a Republican majority House and Senate that will likely result in fewer vetoes, one could argue that with the supermajority the change in the veto session rules is no longer needed. Proponents of the bill note that while one party will have control in January, that is no indication that will continue in the future.
OUR RECOMMENDATION: We have decided to recommend voting “Yes” to this amendment, if for no other reason than the cost savings that will occur in not having to convene a separate veto session. If the legislature is already in session, it seems obvious to allow them to handle any veto issues that may arise without having to end that session to only reconvene into a veto session.
AMENDMENT NO. 2: Repeal of Inactive Special Funds in the Constitution A vote for this amendment would remove six inactive funds with zero or near-zero balances from the Louisiana Constitution. A vote against would keep the inactive funds.
There are over a dozen inactive funds currently that this amendment affects and those for the amendment argue this will help to clean up a cluttered constitution. However, those funds were at one time created for a specific purpose and removing them also removes any use of them should they want to return to them in the future.
OUR RECOMMENDATION: We have decided to recommend voting “Yes” to this amendment. These funds haven’t been used in years and the likelihood of them being used in the future is not high. If the amendment is passed, whatever money is in those accounts will be transferred to the General Fund.
AMENDMENT NO. 3: Property Tax Exemptions for First Responders A vote for this amendment will allow a parish governing authority to give an extra property tax exemption to police, firefighters and certain other first responders who own homes and live in the parish.
A vote against will maintain the current property tax system, which doesn’t allow parish governing authorities to offer extra tax breaks to first responders.
The Louisiana Constitution authorizes homeowners to receive an exemption from most parish property taxes up to $75,000 of the value of the homestead if they live in the home. Additionally, the state provides many special property tax breaks for people depending upon their status, such as homeowners with disabilities, some military veterans and homeowners of certain income levels who are 65 or older.
This amendment would allow an additional exemption for first responders up to $25,000.
The main argument for this amendment is to help recruit and retain first responders, with proponents noting that some areas of the state have severe shortages of police officers.
OUR RECOMMENDATION: This was one of our toughest decisions but after careful thought, we have decided to recommend voting “No” to this amendment.
Here’s why: First, special property tax breaks erode the dollars available to local government needed for services and shifts the tax burden to fewer taxpayers. Second, it worsens an inequitable taxing system, where neighbors with houses of similar value will pay vastly different property tax bills. Third, and most importantly, where will we stop? Once we cross this line of giving these tax breaks the sky is the limit.
For instance, the main argument for the amendment is to recruit and maintain police officers. Well, if that logic continues, upon the next election cycle we must also have an amendment for nurses and teachers, as we clearly have a shortage of those positions as well.
We just feel as though this is opening up something that has no limit. It is nothing against any first responders as we are 100% for all first responders, but one should not be moved to vote on an amendment simply through emotions without thinking logical about the entire amendment and its repercussions.
AMENDMENT NO. 4: Rule Changes for the Revenue Stabilization Trust Fund A vote for this amendment would tighten the rules on allowed use of a seven-year-old state trust that collects dollars from corporate tax collections and oil and gas production in the state. A vote against maintains the broad rules for emergency use of the same fund.
OUR RECOMMENDATION: We have decided to recommend voting “No” to this amendment. Louisiana locks up too much money in constitutionally protected accounts that limit lawmakers’ ability to respond to the state’s changing needs and circumstances. This amendment has the ability to worsen the problem, removing the Legislature’s flexibility to tap into the Revenue Stabilization Trust Fund in times lawmakers consider an emergency. Although the intent of the amendment is to keep money from being squandered, the amendment doesn’t go far enough to protest tax dollars.