Long time, no see. :)
Whenever election season rolls around many of my friends ask me my thoughts, especially on constitutional amendments, which can be quite confusing. Now, I recommend that everyone make up their own mind, and there are some great resources out there, like the Public Affairs Research Council of Louisiana, otherwise known as PAR. They do a great job of outlining the amendments and give the arguments for and against each one. Their "Guide to the 2012 Constitutional Amendments" is a great to help you understand the issues.
Another great resource is the Louisiana Secretary of State's GeauxVote web portal. It's a "clearinghouse for all elections-related information, from elections and voter registration information to statistics and educational materials." One of the best things to look at is the link in the middle of the page that says Sample Ballot. That will take you to a page where you can find out exactly what's on your ballot for your precinct. This will include any local issues in your area, not just the state-wide or parish-wide matters. I highly recommend it.
Now with that being said, here are my recommendations, based on the ballot for my precinct:
Presidential Electors - Mitt Romney, Paul Ryan - While I'm not a Republican (I'm actually registered as "No Party"), I am solidly a conservative and the Romney/Ryan ticket comes the closest to representing the values that are important to me. I'm proud that our country was color-blind four years ago in selecting a president, but values matter, and I believe we need smaller-government and a return to Judeo-Christian values on issues like life and marriage. And we must stand by Israel, which I am not convinced our current president is willing to do. So I recommend a vote for Mitt Romney for President and Palu Ryan for Vice-President.
U.S. Representative, 5th Cong. District - Rodney Alexander - Rep. Alexander has been very responsive to me as an individual and to our beloved City of Pineville. His experience and seniority will serve him well in future terms.I strongly recommend we return him to office.
1. Medicaid Trust Fund for the Elderly - YES
This would give constitutional protection to this particular fund, preventing it from being used for any other purpose. In a perfect world this should not be necessary, but there are already so many other "protected" funds that this one needs to be protected as well.
2. Strict Scrutiny Review for Gun Laws - YES
This would make it harder for the legislature to pass laws restricting gun ownership, thus ensuring the right to keep and bear arms is known as a fundamental right.
3. Earlier Notice of Public Retirement Bills - NO
This would require bills affecting the state's public retirement systems to be filed a month earlier than other bills. This is unnecessary and burdensome.
4. Homestead Exemption for Veterans’ Spouses - YES
This ammendment cleans up an unfortunate loophole from a 2010 amendment that allows LA veterans with 100% service-connected disabilities to claim a higher homestead exemption. There were a few cases where the veteran died before the amendment went into effect, thus not allowing the spouse to receive the benefit that LA voters overwhelmingly approved. This amendment grandfathers in those few situations.
5. Forfeiture of Public Retirement Benefits - YES
This amendment would allow the courts to require any public servant convicted of a felony associated with his office to forfeit some or all of his public retirement benefits. While most public corruption cases are handled at the federal court level, this sends a strong message that LA will not tolerate corruption.
6. Property Tax Exemption Authority for New Iberia - NO
This amendment would allow New Iberia to grant property tax exemptions to owners of property annexed into the city after Jan. 1, 2013. While it is a good idea in theory, this economic development tool should be offered to all cities or none, not just one.
7. Membership of Certain Boards and Commissions - YES
Many of our state boards and commissions have their members selected based on the number of congressional districts. Since the 2010 census stripped us of a congressional district, we need to change the way we select members to these boards. This is a necessary housekeeping amendment. (It really should be a revised statue and not a constitutional amendment issue, but that's just the way it is.)
8. Non-Manufacturing Tax Exemption Program - YES
This amendment would give us another economic development tool in attracting new businesses to our state. It would help make LA more attractive to certain non-manufacturing businesses (corporate headquarters, distribution centers, data services centers, etc) that have typically gone to other states.
9. More Notice for Crime Prevention District Bills - NO
This amendment would require extra notice before elections are held to create "crime prevention districts" throughout the state. Any time you add "special notice" requirements to any issue you simply confuse matters, no matter how well-intentioned the effort may have been.
LOCAL OPTION - Term Limits for Local School Board Members - YES
This would limit school-board members to serving 3 consecutive terms (beginning in 2014). Term-limits are a two-edged sword in that they also keep good elected officials from continuing to serve. But they also keep fresh points of view coming onto the boards which should be good for students.
Parishwide Proposition (Library Millage Renewal) - YES
Our library is an incredibly important resource on so many levels. This is a renewal of an existing tax and should receive our strong support.
Parishwide Proposition, Bond and Millage, Coliseum - YES
This is the proposal to essentially rebuild the Rapides Parish Coliseum and make it a state-of-the-art facility for hosting events that otherwise would go to Shreveport, Lafayette or Baton Rouge. This is a "quality of life issue" in my opinion that will have a positive effect on our area for many years. I understand some may oppose any new taxes, but I think this one is worthwhile.
Rigolette School District Number 11 Proposition (Tax Renewal) - YES
This may not be on your ballot unless you live in my area, but I typically vote to renew school district taxes. We have excellent schools and to keep them excellent we've got to keep their funding in place.
So there you have it, these are my recommendations. You might not agree and that's ok. That's the American way. But whether you agree or not, please remember to go vote on Tuesday, November 6 from 6:00AM-8:00PM. God will use YOU to chart the future of our nation!