Election Coverage

Nov 5, 2012 6:39 PM by Erin Steuber

Proposed Amendment #5 designed to discourage corruption

The polls open in 12 hours, and here in Louisiana voters will be deciding on nine proposed amendments to the Louisiana Constitution. One in particular is designed to discourage corruption.

Amendment 5 deals with retirement benefits for state employees, which are generally untouchable. The law, as it stands, only permits seizing a portion of these benefits to pay court ordered child-support, legal costs or restitution. But Amendment 5 could change all of that.

Let's use former Governor Edwin Edwards as an example. As you probably know, Edwards served ten years in federal prison on corruption charges. But do you know how much he is still paid by the state?

According to the Louisiana State Employees Retirements System, Edwards is paid $5,088.39 per month, that's $61,060.88 per year.

While Edwards would not be affected, should Amendment 5 pass, this is the scenario the law could do away with; a convicted felon, collecting publicly funded retirement benefits. Voting yes for Amendment 5, would make it legal for the courts to stop retirement benefits for a state employee convicted of a felony. Only if their conviction is related to their state job.

Voting against the amendment would leave the retirement benefits untouchable.

The legislation does not only target politicians, but all state employees; teachers, firefighters and police officers. If approved by voters, the law would affect those state employees hired, or elected, on, or after, January 1st.

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