2010 PROPOSED CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENTS
NOVEMBER 2, 2010
Louisiana voters will be asked to approve or reject 10 amendments to the Louisiana Constitution Tuesday. Those amendments address issues that include everything from preventing legislators from receiving pay raises they vote for themselves until the following term, to granting veterans on full disability an additional $75,000 homestead exemption bringing the total exemption to $150,000.
Below is a rundown on all 10 amendments, as well as explanations as to what “For” and “Against” votes mean.
Proposed Amendment No. 1
Act 539—Senate Bill No. 67, Regular Session 2009
To provide that any salary increase enacted by law for certain state elected officials, including statewide elected officials, members of the Public Service Commission and members of the legislature not be implemented until a subsequent term of office.
A vote FOR this amendment would prohibit statewide elected officials, public service commissioners and legislators from receiving pay raises voted in by the legislature until their following term of office.
A vote AGAINST this amendment would continue to allow pay raises for statewide elected officials, public service Commissioners and legislators to take effect any time—including during the terms of the legislators who voted in the pay raise.
Proposed Amendment No. 2
Act 541—House Bill No. 765, Regular Session 2009
To decrease the amount of taxes retained by the state on the severance of natural resources, other than sulphur, lignite and timber, and to increase the maximum amount of such revenues which are remitted to the parish governing authority from where the severance occurs, to be implemented in the event that the official forecast of severance tax revenues for any fiscal year includes an estimate for severance tax collections which will exceed that actually collected by the state in Fiscal Year 2008-2009; to change the annual maximum amount to be remitted to a parish governing authority from $850,000.00 to $1,850,000.00 for the following and subsequent fiscal years; to provide for annual adjustment of the maximum amounts in accordance with the consumer price index; to require that of the revenues received by a parish governing authority under these provisions, that portion which is in excess of the amount of such revenues received in Fiscal Year 2011-2012 be used within the parish for the same purposes as monies received from the Parish Transportation Fund; to require that of the severance taxes and royalty revenues retained by the state from activity on state lands within thee Atchafalaya Basin, up to $10,000,000 dollars per year be deposited into a special fund created in the state treasury to be known as the Atchafalaya Basin Conservation Fund; to provide that monies in this fund be used exclusively for conservation, improvement, and management of the Atchafalaya Basin in accordance with formal state and federal plans; to require legislative approval for and specific limitations on the use of monies appropriated from the fund. (Effective April 1, 2010) (Adds Article VII, Section 4(D) (4))
A vote FOR would dedicate additional state tax revenue to parishes of origin, restrict the use of a portion of these funds and dedicate a portion of severance tax collected on state lands to the Atchafalaya Basin Conservation Fund.
A vote AGAINST would maintain the limit on severance tax revenue that must be paid by the state to parishes at $850,000.00 per year, adjusted annually for inflation.
Proposed Amendment No. 3
Act 1049—House Bill No. 246, Regular Session 2010
To exempt from ad valorem tax, in addition to the homestead exemption, the next $75,000.00 of value of property which is owned and occupied by a veteran with a service-connected disability rating of 100 percent; to authorize the exemption to apply to the surviving spouse of a deceased veteran if the exemption was in effect on the property prior to the death of the veteran and the surviving spouse remains the owner of the property; to require the taxing authority to absorb any decrease in the total amount of ad valorem taxes collected as result of this exemption, to prohibit the exemption from creating any additional tax liability for other property taxpayers; to prohibit implementation of the exemption from triggering reappraisal of property or adjustment of millages; provides that the exemption shall only extend and apply if established through an election called by the local governing authority and approval by a majority of the registered voters in an election held for that propose. (Effective January 1, 2011) (Adds Article VII, Section 21(K))
A vote FOR would give each parish governing authority the option to call an election on whether to double the homestead exemption available to veterans with a 100 percent service-related disability and surviving spouses meeting the criteria.
A vote AGAINST maintain the current homestead exemption of $75,000.00 for all homeowners and provide no additional exemption for veterans.
Proposed Amendment No. 4
Act No. 542—House Bill No. 903 (Substitute for House Bill No. 375) Regular Session 2009
To provide that the power of a taxing attorney with a governing authority, which is not elected to increase millage rates without voter approval after reappraisal, which is presently by the prior year’s maximum millage rate, be further limited to annual increases which do not exceed 2.5 percent of the property tax collections for the immediately preceding calendar year, to exclude from such restriction taxing authorities which are special fire protection or fire department districts or fire department districts or ports, port harbor, and terminal districts, and millages levied by certain levee districts under authority granted by the Constitution of Louisiana. (Amends Art. VII, Section 23 (C)
A vote FOR would limit the property tax millage increase that certain taxing bodies - whose members are not elected - could impose following a mandatory milliage decrease due to reassessment. The milliage adjustment could not increase taxes more than 2.5 percent above the amount collected the previous year.
A vote AGAINST would continue to allow all local taxing bodies to run a milliage back up to the previous maximum-authorized rate following a mandatory reassessment rollback.
Proposed Amendment No. 5
Act No. 1050—Senate Bill No. 21, Regular Session 2010
To authorize the continuation of the homestead exemption and the special assessment level for a homestead that has been destroyed or is uninhabitable due to a disaster for two years if the homeowner’s claim for damages is pending in a formal appeal process with a governmental agency or program offering assistance for repairing or rebuilding homes damaged by the disaster or if a homeowner has a damage claim filed and pending against the insurer of the property; to authorize an assessor to grant up to three additional one-year extensions of the continuation of the homestead exemption and the special assessment level as prescribed by law. (Amends Article VII, Sections 18(G)(5) and 20(A)(10)
A vote FOR would allow homeowners displaced by a disaster to apply for a second five-year extension on their special assessment levels and their homestead exemptions if they are unable to occupy their homes due to a pending appeal on damage claims.
A vote AGAINST would continue to allow a single five-year period in which homeowners displaced by disaster could reoccupy their homes before they lose their special assessment levels and homestead exemption.
Proposed Amendment No. 6
Act No. 1048—House Bill No. 229, Regular Session 2010
To require a two-thirds vote of the elected members of each house of the legislature to enact any benefit provision for members of a Louisiana public retirement system if the provision has an actuarial cost. (Amends Article X, Section 29(E)(5); Adds Article X, Section 29(F))
A vote FOR would require a simple majority for changes to benefit provisions of any public retirement system subject to legislative authority, and would require two-thirds legislative approval when the proposed change has an actual cost.
A vote AGAINST would continue to allow certain retirement systems to change benefit systems for their members without legislative approval and would continue to allow the state Legislature to increase benefits for state and statewide public retirement systems with a simple majority vote.
Proposed Amendment No. 7
Act No. 540—House Bill No. 509, Regular Session 2009
To provide relative to the bidding process for ad valorem property tax sales by authorizing a bidder at a tax sale to bid down the existing five percent penalty in increments of one-tenth of one percent; to require the payment of penalties by a bidder at ad valorem property tax sales; to require the payment of interest, penalties and costs by a taxpayer who is delinquent on the payment of taxes on movables (Amends Article VII, Section 25(A)(1) and (E))
A vote FOR would change the bidding rules for tax sale auctions and would allow tax collectors to charge additional penalties for non-payment of property taxes.
A vote AGAINST would maintain the current bidding process and would continue to exclude certain charges from the list of delinquent amounts that can be recovered through a tax sale.
Proposed Amendment No. 8
Act No. 1052—House Bill No. 276, Regular Session, 2010
Provides that property expropriated for the public purpose of removing a threat to public health or safety caused by the existing use or disuse of the property shall not be subject to the requirement of offering the property back to the original owners who allowed the property to become a threat to public health or safety or to the requirement of public sale. (Amends Article I, Secotion 4(H)(1))
A vote FOR would remove the requirement that public authorities first offer expropriated property for re-sale to its prior owner before the property can be sold to a third party if the property was taken to remove a threat to public health or safety when it has been held for 30 years or less.
A vote AGAINST would continue to grant the right of first refusal to former owners of the property if the property was taken to remove a threat to public health or safety when it has been held for 30 years or less.
Proposed Amendment No. 9
Act No. 1051—House Bill No. 42, Regular Session, 2010
To provide that – in civil matters only – when a court of appeal is to modify or reverse an administrative agency agency determination in a workers’ compensation claim and one judge dissents, the case shall be reargued before a panel of at least five judges prior to rendidtion of judgement, and a majority shall concur to render judgment. (Amends Article V, Seconion 8(B))
A vote FOR would require that under certain circumstances, workers compensation cases be reargued before a panel of five or more appellate judges, prior to the reversal or modification of an administrative agency’s decision.
A vote AGAINST would continue to allow administrative agency decisions in workers compensation claims to be reversed or modified with only a majority vote of a panel of three appellate judges.
Proposed Amendment No. 10
Act No. 1053—House Bill No. 940, Regular Session 2010
To permit criminal criminal defendants, except in capital cases, to waive their right to a trial by jury no later than 45 days prior to the trial date. (Amends Articl 1, Section 17(A)
A vote FOR would allow criminal defendants to waive their right to a jury trial in non-capital cases only if the waiver was made at least 45 days to beginning of trial and would provide that once the waiver is made, it cannot be revoked.
A vote AGAINST would continue to allow criminal defendants to waive their right to a jury trial in non-capital cases without any time restriction .