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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!