Friday, October 11, 2019

2019 Election Recommendations (October)

Source: Public Domain
I’m often asked for my take on elections, probably because of my involvement in the local political scene. In previous years I would give my recommendations on candidates for specific offices, but several years ago I stopped doing that. Partly because I often know so many of the candidates personally and also because I have friends that support opposing candidates - both of which can create tension! So in the last few years I’ve essentially limited my recommendations to Constitutional Amendments, mainly because they are often hard to understand.

This year I plan to vote "Yes" on all four of the Constitutional Amendments on the October ballot. These amendments can be confusing, and I totally understand why some would vote "No" on some of them. I use the excellent non-partisan guide to the Constitutional Amendments from the Public Affairs Research Council of Louisiana to help me shape my opinion and I highly encourage you to read it before you shape yours. So without further adieu, here are my takes on the 4 amendments, and why I'm voting Yes:

  • Constitutional Amendment 1 would exempt from property taxes certain goods and products being transported through Louisiana to the Outer Continental Shelf (in international waters). Traditionally these have not been taxed due to an interpretation of the US Constitution, but some parishes have begun taxing these barring a court decision. A yes vote would guarantee they are not taxed. A no vote would leave it up to the local jurisdiction until a court gives clarity. (I'm voting YES because parishes that are beginning to tax these items are changing the long-established rules and hurting the off-shore drilling industry, which is one of the life-bloods of Louisiana's economy.)
  • Constitutional Amendment 2 would add 3 more schools and public TV to the list of institutions funded by the Education Excellence Fund. Currently 153 local schools and school systems along with 43 non public schools receive funding and the 3 under consideration match the others in qualifications. A yes vote would add them to the funding formula, along with $75,000/year to the LA Educational Television Authority (through LPB). A no vote would maintain the status quo. (I'm voting YES because had these schools existed when the fund was originally established they would have been included. This is a good investment in education.)
  • Constitutional Amendment 3 would grant the Board of Tax Appeals the ability to rule on the constitutionality of tax laws when citizens appeal decisions by the state Department of Revenue without having to file suit in district court. This would spead up the process significantly. A yes vote would grant this authority. A no vote would maintain the status quo, meaning citizens appealing the constitutionality of taxes would have to file suit through district court before the rest of their appeal can be heard. (I'm voting YES because this would streamline the appeals process and help citizens who feel the Department of Revenue has decided against them wrongfully. They still can appeal to the courts if they disagree with the Board of Tax Appeals' decision. But this would cut at least a year off most appeals dealing with constitutionality issues.)
  • Constitutional Amendment 4 would grand the City of New Orleans the right to establish property tax exemptions for residential properties that provide affordable housing, which is a great need in New Orleans. New Orleans has unique housing needs and they feel they need this "tool in their toolbox" to generate more affordable housing. A yes vote would grant them the authority to exempt properties from local property taxes. A no vote would maintain the status quo of the exemptions already in the constitution that are applicable state-wide. (I'm voting YES because I think New Orleans has unique needs and needs unique tools to deal with their housing issues. Besides, the only taxes they're exempting are their own - so if the City of New Orleans is willing to forego tax revenue in order to encourage the development of affordable housing, why shouldn't they be able to?)
There you have it - those are my recommendations on the four Constitutional Amendments that will be on the October 12 ballot. Obviously there is a lot more on the ballot, from the governor and other state-wide offices to regional offices such as BESE, State Senate and State Representative races,and several local races such as the Sheriff, Police Juror and Mayor of Ball. One resource I can encourage you to look at for the statewide is the Louisiana Voter Guide published by the Louisiana Family Forum which you can find at https://louisianavoterguide.org. And most of all, pray and listen for the voice of the Shepherd. Because God is who chooses our elected officials, but He uses us to do it!

Blessings,
Nathan

Sunday, August 11, 2019

Hell in a Hand Basket?

Hell In A Hand Basket?



(This column originally appeared in the Town Talk on Sunday, August 11, 2019.)

Do you ever feel like the world is going to hell in a hand-basket? It sure seems like there is a lot of messed up thinking in society today. But it shouldn’t surprise us since that’s the natural condition of the fallen world.

Paul wrote about this condition in his letter to the Roman Christians when he said, “And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind…” (Rom 1:28a NASB)

So by default, the world’s mindset is the opposite of what God intended. And due to sin, God allowed mankind to take their folly as far as they could. That’s how we ended up with a worldview that is completely upside down, that calls good evil and evil good.

This is just what the prophet Isaiah warned about when he wrote, “Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; Who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness; Who substitute bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!” (Isaiah 5:20 NASB) I don’t want to be “that guy!”

Thankfully, this is what God sent His Son, Jesus, to save us from, a world of messed up thinking! In fact, in the Greek, the word for “repentance” literally means “a change of mind.” It was that kind of changed thinking that John the Baptist called people to, and Jesus as well, when they both preached saying, “Repent, the Kingdom of heaven is at hand!” (Mat 3:2, 4:17)

Jesus called on people to change their thinking about how they lived. Like a Great Physician He called to those who were sick, to those who recognized they needed help. And it’s only when you realize you’ve got messed up thinking that Jesus can help you get your head on straight and you get saved!

But even after we become Christians we can still struggle with messed up thinking. Mainly because we live in an unrenewed world, and it rubs off! That’s why Paul called on Christians to “not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” (Rom 12:2b NASB)

Even as believers our mind must be constantly refreshed. In Eph 5:18 he taught that we were to live constantly being filled with the Spirit. It’s not simply a one-time experience but rather the daily infilling of the Holy Spirit that empowers us to live the renewed life that we’re called to live in order to be His witnesses.

How do we do that? First of all by “taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.” (2 Cor 10:5b NASB) We need to learn to “change the channel” whenever harmful or negative thoughts come into our minds. This is why it’s important memorize and internalize Scripture. If you don’t know God’s Word, you won’t have a channel to change to!

Another way is to guard what goes in! A great way to take thoughts captive is to not let them get a foothold in the first place. That’s why Paul wrote that we should think on things that are “true…honorable…right…pure…lovely…of good repute” (Phil 4:8 NASB) We need to be careful what we allow into our minds because we are what we think. In times of pressure and stress whatever is on the inside is what’s going to come out! So guard what goes in!

Finally we must learn to praise God in every situation. We praise Him best when we thank Him for what we do not want, knowing that He has a plan, even for that! Paul wrote that we should “in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thess 5:18 NASB) That doesn’t mean that everything that happens is God’s will, but we can still learn to give God thanks in the midst of whatever is happening.

As Christians we must learn to renew our minds daily, because everything around us is in a constant state of decay. But we can be renewed every day to God’s fresh mercies by presenting ourselves to God as living sacrifices and being transformed by His indwelling Holy Spirit. So let’s choose to get rid of the “stinking thinking” and renew our minds every day in Christ!

Thursday, January 10, 2019

New Year, New You

(This column originally appeared in the Town Talk on Sunday, January 6, 2019.)
I love the new year! It ushers in a wonderful time of reflection on the past with the promise of new opportunities for the future. It signifies a clean slate, a chance to start over, to begin again!

God is all about fresh starts and new beginnings! In one of the saddest books of the Bible, Lamentations, the weeping prophet Jeremiah wrote these amazing words of consolation: “This I recall to my mind, Therefore I have hope. The LORD'S lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, For His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness.” (Lam 3:21-23 NASB)

The King James Version translates the word “compassions” as “mercies” but either way we find the goodness of God is refreshed to us every day. What a magnificent promise, and how much more so in the new year!

Paul carries forth this theme when he declares the good news of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” (2 Cor 5:17 KJV)

This is another way of describing what it means to be born again. When you believe in Jesus, that is that you believe that God raised Him from the dead, and you confess Him as Lord of your life, committing to live according to His instructions, He causes you to be born spiritually, no matter how old you are. And that’s when new life begins!

But even those who’ve been walking with the Lord for some time need to be occasionally reminded that each day is a new gift from God. No matter how long you’ve been a Christian, you get to walk in the newness of His mercies every day!

It’s easy to look back on our missteps and mistakes and feel like we’ve failed God so much that we’ve disqualified ourselves from experiencing His presence again. But we never qualified ourselves in the first place! Remember that “while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” (Rom 5:8b NASB) He extended His mercy to you before you knew Him, and He continues to give you new mercies every morning!

So now that we’re in a new year, perhaps we should all take to heart Paul’s words to the Philippian believers. From a Roman jail he wrote, “…one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus." (Phlp 3:13b-14 NASB)

Some people are held back by their past. But Paul encourages us to forget the past, to not limit ourselves by our past failures OR successes! It’s time to press forward into the “new” that God has for you in this new year.

Many people start the year with resolutions to lose weight, get in shape, start a new hobby, learn a new language, etc. These are noble goals and I don’t knock any of them! And we know that to achieve any of these goals will require discipline and work. So I commend you and encourage you as you begin your new year.

But I also want to urge you to consider one more, slightly different, resolution for your new year. In the midst of all your work on yourself consider Paul’s admonition to Timothy: “…discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness; for bodily discipline is only of little profit, but godliness is profitable for all things, since it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.” (1 Tim 4:7b-8 NASB)


If you truly want a new you in the new year, consider making the spiritual disciplines a priority in your life! Sure, losing weight will make you feel better, and getting in shape will bring you some compliments from others. But spiritual discipline has eternal value! So commit yourself to regular Bible reading and memorization, prayer, worship, fasting, and other spiritual disciplines. And you will truly find a new you in the new year!

Saturday, December 01, 2018

Why These Miracles?

(This column originally appeared in the Town Talk on Sunday, December 2, 2018.)
If I were to ask you how many miracles Jesus performed what would your answer be? If you ask Google, over 68 million results would suggest that Jesus performed 37 miracles, recorded in the four Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John), with Mark’s Gospel recording the most.

But what if I were to tell you that Jesus did many, many more miracles than this, would you believe me? I can prove it to you. Listen to the words of the beloved apostle John as he concludes his Gospel with these final words: “And there are also many other things which Jesus did, which if they were written in detail, I suppose that even the world itself would not contain the books that would be written.” (John 21:25 NASB)

It may seem a little surprising that the Bible records only 37 of these innumerable miracles. And even more surprising is that the Apostle John only records seven, prior to the crucifixion! Out of all the miracles that John personally saw Jesus do, how did he come to pick these specific seven?

John seems to have anticipated that question as well because in the second-to-last chapter of his Gospel we find these words: “Therefore many other signs Jesus also performed in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name.” (John 20:30-31 NASB)

What’s interesting is that when you walk through each of the miracles of Jesus that John recorded you find that very common theme – it always resulted in someone believing in Jesus!

For example, after Jesus turned the water into wine at the wedding in Cana John records these words: “This beginning of His signs Jesus did in Cana of Galilee, and manifested His glory, and His disciples believed in Him.” (John 2:11 NASB)

I could walk you through all seven miracles and with each one you would see that the miracle resulted in someone believing in Jesus. Here’s a good way to summarize it with John’s report of what happened in Jerusalem: “Now when He was in Jerusalem at the Passover, during the feast, many believed in His name, observing His signs which He was doing.” (John 2:23 NASB)

Hopefully you’re seeing the point very well. Jesus didn’t just do miracles to wow the crowds or drum up a big following. Every miracle had the sole purpose of bringing someone to faith in Him. And so John picked seven specific miracles to help the reader “believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God.”

But the sentence doesn’t end there. John went on to say, “…and that believing you may have life in His name.” (John 20:31b NASB)

My question to you is have you received the life that He offers? There are many who might say they “believe” in Jesus, but they don’t have a life that demonstrates that. It’s not enough to believe in God for according to James even “the demons also believe, and shudder.” (James 2:19b NASB) At least the demons have the sense to tremble before God!

My prayer for you is that you will receive the life that Jesus offers, and that His life will transform your life! Then you’ll find that life bubbling out onto others, giving them hope as well!

John opens his Gospel by saying that everyone who received Jesus was given the right to become children of God! (See John 1:12.) So why did he include the seven specific miracles that he chose? Because he wanted to give you something to believe in, a hope to sustain you, and a life worth living! Why these miracles? That you might believe! And that believing you might have life! Do you believe?

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Alcohol Sales in Pineville??? Part 2

On December 8 the citizens of Pineville will decide the future of alcohol sales in the corporate limits of Pineville, courtesy of two out-of-town corporations (Walmart and Super 1) and a Texas consulting group (Texas Petition Strategies) that does this for a living.

Back on July 22 I shared right here in this blog about an effort by the "big box" stores to promote a petition to put alcohol sales on the ballot. In my opinion their tactics were very deceptive, and I explained that in that post. However, ultimately they were successful because they got just enough signatures to force a vote.

In a nutshell, they made it sound like if you signed the petition the only thing on the ballot would be alcohol sales in grocery stores. The reality is that the December 8 election will actually have 5 different options on the ballot, including options that would allow for bars, strip clubs, drive-through daiquiri shops, and alcohol sales in convenience stores, gas stations, and even drive-through "beer barns." Most who signed the petition had no idea how many options would be on the ballot - they simply thought they'd be voting on grocery store sales.

Having said that, my goal here is not to tell you how to vote. I simply want to help demystify the 5 options, and tell you in plan language what each option would allow.

Let's start with the actual language that will be on the ballot regarding the 5 options, or "Propositions" as they are officially called, and I will bold the key phrases. Remember, Pineville citizens, you will vote Yes or No on each one.)
  • Proposition 1: Shall the sale of beverages of alcoholic content containing not more than six percent alcohol by volume be permitted by package only and not for consumption on the premises in the City of Pineville, State of Louisiana?
  • Proposition 2: Shall the sale of beverages of alcoholic content containing not more than six percent alcohol by volume for consumption on the premises be permitted in the City of Pineville, State of Louisiana?
  • Proposition 3: Shall the sale of beverage alcohol containing one-half of one percent alcohol by volume and above for consumption on the premises be permitted in the City of Pineville, State of Louisiana?
  • Proposition 4: Shall the sale of beverages of alcoholic content containing one-half of one percent alcohol by volume and above by the package only and not for consumption on the premises be permitted in the City of Pineville, State of Louisiana?
  • Proposition 5: Shall the sale of beverages of high and low alcoholic content be permitted only on the premises of restaurant establishments which have been issued an "R" permit as defined by law in the City of Pineville, State of Louisiana?
    (This language comes from LA Revised Statute 26:588.)
There are several important terms being used in the legal language, and here's my attempt at a simpler explanation:
  • "no more than six percent alcohol" - this language is found in Props 1 and 2 and reflects the sales of "low alcohol" beverages, i.e., beer, wine coolers, etc. This is currently what is available in Ward 9 outside the city limits of Pineville - for example, along Highways 28E and 107.
  • "containing one-half of one percent alcohol by volume and above" - this language is found in Props 3 and 4 and reflects the sales of ANY alcoholic beverage, no matter the percentage of alcohol contained.
  • "by package only and not for consumption on the premises" - this language is found in Props 1 and 4 and allows the sale of packaged alcohol at retail locations in sealed containers not to be consumed on the premises. Examples would be liquor stores, grocery stores, drug stores, gas stations/convenience stores, beer barns, drive-through daiquiri stores, etc..
  • "for consumption on the premises" - this language is found in Props 2 and 3 and allows the sale of prepared alcohol beverages in restaurants, bars, strip clubs, lounges, theaters, etc. because all of these sales are for the purposes of consuming them ON the premises where the sale occurs.
  • "only on the premises of restaurants" - this language is found in Prop 5 and is the current status in Pineville where alcohol is only available for sale in restaurants.
You can see the perplexity because there are 2 descriptions of the type of alcohol that can be sold (low alcohol content and any alcohol content), and 2 types of locations where alcohol could be sold (off premises and on premises). And they're all mixed up! Then you have Prop 5 which allows all alcohol in restaurants only! Now you see the confusion.

In an effort to simplify how all the various options terms and definitions, here is a small table that hopefully explains it better:

PACKAGE SALES
Grocery & Convenience Stores, Liquor Stores, Drug Stores, Beer Barns, Daiquiri Shops, Etc.
CONSUMPTION ON SITE
Restaurants, Lounges, Hotels, Bars, Private Clubs, Strip Clubs, Theaters, Etc.
LOW Alcohol Content Prop 1 Prop 2
ANY Alcohol Content Prop 4 Prop 3
(Prop 5 would only allow for alcohol to be sold in restaurants only without any of the expansions listed above.)

There you have it! It all boils down to what Pineville wants. So here's what you do:
  • If you want alcohol to be sold in grocery stores, drug stores, convenience stores, gas stations, stand-alone liquor stores, beer barns and drive-through daiquiri stores, etc, then vote YES on Props 1 and/or 4.
  • If you want alcohol to be sold in restaurants, bars, strip clubs, lounges, hotels, theaters, etc, then vote YES on Props 2 and/or 3.
  • If you want alcohol to be available in restaurants only, as it currently is, without any expansion of alcohol sales, then vote YES on Prop 5.
  • If you want alcohol freely available in every form, then vote YES on all 5 options.
  • If you don't want want alcohol to be sold in any form in Pineville, then vote NO on all 5 options.
On December 8 THE CHOICE IS YOURS! And don't forget the early voting is Nov 24-Dec 1 (excluding Sunday, Nov 25) which you can do at the Courthouse or at Kees Park Community Center! It's your decision. Choose well.


Sunday, November 11, 2018

Honor to Whom Honor is Due


(This column originally appeared in the Town Talk on Sunday, November 11, 2018.)

Honor to Whom Honor is Due

One hundred years ago today, on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month of 1918,  the “war to end all wars” finally came to an end. “The Great War” mobilized over 70 million military personnel making it one of the largest wars in history. The following year President Woodrow Wilson issued a proclamation declaring the nation’s feelings about what the day meant to Americans. That was just the beginning of recognizing today, November 11, as a special day to honor our military veterans.

We honor our veterans for their service. Whether they were drafted or volunteered, they served us and our country, fulfilling their obligation with honorable service. For that we are grateful.

We also honor our veterans for their sacrifice. Many of us will never know the cost of their service. Boot camp alone is an incredible sacrifice! But long tours away from family, emotional hardship, physical danger, some were even wounded or injured – all of these are sacrifices that we honor.

We also honor our veterans for their love. Soldiers learn to love in a very unique way, a way that can best be summarized by what Jesus said in John 15:13. “Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.” We honor our veterans because they exhibit the greatest love of all – the willingness to lay down their life for their friend.

The word veteran is generally understood to describe a former member of the armed forces. However, it comes from the Latin word “veteranus” which simply means mature, experienced or old. I believe that by extension all Christians are called to be veterans in our service of Christ. We’re not to be “flash-in-the-pan” Christians or “one-hit-wonders” but rather to develop a life of consistency as we serve Jesus.

Jesus talked about this in Luke 9:62 when He said, “No one, after putting his hand to the plow and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.” Jesus called us to keep looking forward, not looking back over our shoulder at what we’ve left behind. He tells us to fix our eyes ahead. You don’t become a veteran over-night. And you don’t become a veteran by fixating on your past. Once you’ve committed your life to Jesus it’s time to follow through.

And there are no guarantees that things will be easy. Sometimes people have mistakenly communicated the idea that when you accept Jesus life becomes a bed of roses. But the reality is that Christians enlist in a spiritual battle with unseen forces that war for our soul. Paul described this warfare in Ephesians 6:12-17 when he urged us to “take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day.” 

We can’t give up just because it gets tough. In 2 Tim 2:3 Paul urged young Timothy (and us) to “suffer hardship with me, as a good soldier of Christ Jesus.” And in Gal 6:9 he calls on us to “not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary.” So press through and don’t give up, Christian, because you, too, are called to be a veteran – a veteran follower of Jesus!

Today on this Veteran’s Day we pause to honor the veterans among us because it is proper to give honor to whom honor is due (Rom 13:7). Thank you for your service, your sacrifice, and your love. We are grateful for your example of setting others before self and pray that you will feel our appreciation and honor. And we never get tired of saying, “Thank you for your service!”

Friday, October 26, 2018

2018 Election Recommendations

Source: Public Domain
I'm honored that many of my friends ask for my recommendations on elections. Hopefully it's because they trust me, even though I am involved in politics! LOL! In previous years I would give my recommendations on candidates for specific offices, but I've largely stopped doing that. In the last few years I’ve essentially limited my recommendations to Constitutional Amendments, mainly because they are often hard to understand, and only occasionally have I spoken about a candidate or cause I feel strongly about.

This year the main elective offices before us are the following:
  • LA Secretary of State
  • US Representative in the 5th Congressional District
  • District Judge for the 9th Judicial District
  • Several Rapides Parish School Board members
  • Mayors of Alexandria, Ball, Boyce and Lecompte
  • Councilman-at-Large and District 2 Councilman of Alexandria
  • Aldermen/Councilmen of Ball, Boyce, Glenmora, Lecompte, Forest Hill, McNary, and Woodworth
  • Some area-specific taxes and propositions.

I'm going to keep my mouth shut in those races and just share some thoughts about the Constitutional Amendments. 😃

There are six amendments on this ballot, plus a state-wide vote on the expansion of gambling for fantasy sports. I'll give my quick recommendation on each issue, and then a more detailed explanation for each one below. BTW, a GREAT resource is the Public Affairs Research Council of Louisiana's excellent non-partisan guide, which I highly recommend. And please note that the wording of some amendments can be confusing - sometimes you vote "YES" for something you DON'T want and "NO" for something you DO want! Whew! So without further ado, here are my recommendations:


  1. AMENDMENT 1: Felons in Public Office. YES.
  2. AMENDMENT 2: Unanimous Juries for Felony Cases. YES.
  3. AMENDMENT 3: Allow Local Governments to Share Resources. YES.
  4. AMENDMENT 4: Diversions of Dedicated Transportation Funding to State Police. YES.
  5. AMENDMENT 5: Tax Exemptions for Property in Trust. YES.
  6. AMENDMENT 6: Large Tax Increases on Homes. YES.
  7. BALLOT ITEM: The Louisiana Fantasy Sports Contest Act. NO.


Now let's take a look at each amendment a little more closely:

1. AMENDMENT 1: Felons in Public Office.
This amendment would prohibit felons from holding or seeking elective public office for five years after completing a sentence. (This restriction would not apply to felons who are pardoned.) Voters in 1998 approved a similar constitutional amendment that prevented felons from seeking and holding public office for 15 years after completing their sentence. However, in 2016 the Supreme Court threw out the amendment because the wording on the ballot didn’t exactly match what was passed by the Legislature. This new effort continues the same philosophy of trying to clean up the reputation of Louisiana having "the best politicians money can buy," but shortens the time that a felon can’t seek or hold public office to 5 years. In my opinion, this is needed if Louisiana is going to break its reputation for corruption in politics.
MY RECOMMENDATION: YES

2. AMENDMENT 2: Unanimous Juries for Felony Cases.
US President John Adams wrote, "...it is the unanimity of the jury that preserves the rights of mankind." However, Louisiana is one of only two states that allow for felony trials to be decided without a unanimous decision (Oregon is the other). Only 10 out of 12 jurors have to vote guilty for a person to be convicted. This was originally instituted in the 1898 Louisiana Constitution as 9 out of 12, and then revised in the 1974 Constitution as 10 out of 12. The reason appears rooted in racism of the past, as the Official Journal of the 1898 Constitutional Convention states, “Our mission was, in the first place, to establish the supremacy of the white race in this State to the extent to which it could be legally and constitutionally done.” (Thomas J. Semmes, Chairman of the Committee on the Judiciary, explaining the rationale behind many of the proposals put forth and adopted in the Constitution. ) This is a stain on our state that needs to be reversed.
MY RECOMMENDATION: YES

3. AMENDMENT 3: Allow Local Governments to Share Resources. 
The state Constitution prohibits donations or loans by governmental entities except in cases of emergency. This causes political subdivisions to duplicate resources, for example, having to purchase expensive equipment that they only occasionally need. The amendment would allow cities, towns, villages, police juries, etc to loan equipment to each other as long as they have a written agreement, making sure such loans are kept in the public eye for the public benefit.
MY RECOMMENDATION: YES

4. AMENDMENT 4: Diversions of Dedicated Transportation Funding to State Police.
In 1990 the Transportation Trust Fund (TTF) was created to ensure that state fuel tax dollars would go to transportation projects. A portion of the fund was allowed to support the state police for traffic control purposes, but that amount ballooned to about $700 million since its inception, causing many people to “not trust the trust fund.” Since 2016 the current administration has NOT used TTF monies to fund the state police, trying to reestablish “trust in the trust fund.” This amendment would ensure that future administrations would not return to the practices of old, while having NO impact on the operations of the state police.
MY RECOMMENDATION: YES

5. AMENDMENT 5: Tax Exemptions for Property in Trust. 
It is becoming increasingly common for people to place their home into a “trust” that will insure that their assets go to who they choose after their death. Current law allows for the homestead exemption to be applied to property placed in a trust. However, there are other exemptions passed by the voters (i.e., not increasing assessments for those over the age of 65, surviving spouses of military personnel killed in action, or the permanently disable, etc), that are not being applied to properties in a trust due to a 2017 opinion from the Attorney General. This amendment would allow properties placed in trust to continue to receive ALL the normal exemption as long as the the original owner continues to live in it, not just the homestead exemption. This clarifies and codifies the will and intent of the Legislature and public. (NOTE: This section was edited for clarity.)
MY RECOMMENDATION: YES

6. AMENDMENT 6: Large Tax Increases on Homes. 
Every four years all taxable property is reassessed. In addition, property is also reassessed when it is sold. Sometimes the property owners can receive large increases in their property tax bill. This amendment would allow tax assessors to gradually increase the assessment of a property owner’s primary residence over four years whenever a properties reassessment is greater than 50% of the prior assessment. That means that if the tax assessor raises the value of your home over 50%, your tax burden would not increase immediately, but would be phased in over 4 years.
MY RECOMMENDATION: YES

BALLOT ITEM: The Louisiana Fantasy Sports Contest Act.
Although not a constitutional amendment, this item will appear on ALL ballots statewide on November 6. This act would allow for the expansion of gambling in Louisiana by allowing betting on “fantasy sports” to take place.  According to some research, Louisiana is the 5th most gambling addictive state in the United States. Do we need more gambling?
MY RECOMMENDATION: NO


Well there you have it. For what it’s worth, those are my recommendations, which you’re free to accept or ignore. But no matter how you feel on the matter, please don’t forget to vote! It’s both a right and a responsibility of citizenship! And pleas note that  EARLY VOTING is going on Oct 23-30 (except for Sunday) from 8:30AM to 6:00PM. And you can early vote at either the Registrar of Voter's office in the Rapides Parish Courthouse OR at Kees Park Community Center on Hwy 28E in Pineville!

And wherever you live in Louisiana, you can get your custom sample ballot by simply going to https://voterportal.sos.la.gov/Home/VoterLogin - just input your info and you’ll find every option on your ballot coming up in the November 6 primary election! 

BTW, if you have any thoughts or think I overlooked something, please don’t hesitate to comment and let me know. I enjoy the feedback and look forward to some good dialog!

And one more BTW - there will be another election in December for those races that end up in a runoff. BUT WAIT, THERE'S MORE! December 8 is when the citizens of Pineville will vote on 5 different options regarding alcohol sales within the city limits. The story behind that upcoming vote is both deceptive and intriguing, and the options will be CONFUSING. I'll try to break it all down for you shortly after the November election. So stay tuned!!!