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Amendments on the ballot: What do they mean?

Posted at 8:27 PM, Oct 22, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-24 23:08:38-04

There are more than just people and positions to consider during the upcoming election. Amendments and propositions need your 'yea' or 'nay' as well.

We have a preview of the proposed amendments and proposition on next month's ballot.

Amendment 1: "Do you support an amendment declaring that, to protect human life, a right to abortion and the funding of abortion shall not be found in the Louisiana Constitution?"

Here's what this means: If passed, The state constitution would not have a thing to say about protecting a Louisiana citizen's right to have an abortion. The abortion issue would go directly to you via your elected officials and a statewide vote--- and would not be decided by state court judges.

One thing to note - this amendment won't matter if Roe versus Wade is never overturned.

Amendment 2: "Do you support an amendment to permit the presence or production of oil or gas to be included in the methodology used to determine the fair market value of an oil or gas well for the purpose of property assessment?"

Here's what this means: When it's time for property tax assessments, passage of this would mean that the amount of oil and gas produced by a well, may be included when it comes to determining the fair market value of a well. Right now, only property taxes are levied, and there's no consideration given to the minerals produced.

Amendment 3: "Do you support an amendment to allow for the use of the Budget Stabilization Fund, also known as the Rainy Day Fund, for state costs associated with a disaster declared by the federal government?"

Here's what this means: If there's a revenue shortfall, passing Amendment 3 provides the state with some immediate cash when there's a federally-declared disaster in our state. And that money would be replaced when the U.S. government reimburses those expenses. The gray area here is that the amendment would allow the state during a disaster to tap the Rainy Day fund even if there wasn't a revenue shortfall.

Amendment 4: "Do you support an amendment to limit the growth of the expenditure limit for the state general fund and dedicated funds and to remove the calculation of its growth factor from the Constitution?"

Here's what this means: Right now, the Louisiana Constitution requires our state to have a balanced budget The amount of money going out, has to match the estimated amount of money coming in.

If Four passes, a new state budget spending limit would be established----Spending limits would be linked to factors like state revenue, and the calculation would no longer be in the constitution.

Amendment 5: "Do you support an amendment to authorize local governments to enter into cooperative endeavor ad valorem tax exemption agreements with new or expanding manufacturing establishments for payments in lieu of taxes?"

Here's what this means: "Ad valorem" taxes are property taxes. Essentially, a business can make a deal with a local government to make a negotiated payment instead of paying property taxes, but the manufacturer has to give the local taxing authority the title to the business who then leases the business back to the manufacturer for a small fee.

A vote for would provide new options for manufacturers and local governments to schedule payments instead of property taxes for industrial expansions. And here's the biggie-- the business doesn't lose ownership.

A vote against would leave the current system in place.

Amendment 6: "Do you support an amendment to increase the maximum amount of income a person may receive and still qualify for the special assessment level for residential property receiving the homestead exemption?"

Here's what that means: If 6 passes, it would allow homeowners with higher incomes to qualify for the property tax assessment freeze. The level would rise from $77,000 to $100,000. Proponents say it would make the state more attractive to retirees.

Fans of the "no" vote say more people are working later in life; they don't need the increase, and they are providing the state some much needed tax dollars.

Amendment 7: "Do you support an amendment to create the Louisiana Unclaimed Property Permanent Trust Fund to preserve the money that remains unclaimed by its owner or owners?"

Here's what this means: There's money out there-from bank accounts and insurance payments-- that often goes unclaimed by Louisiana residents-it belongs to the people, not the state.

Problem is, while it waits for people to claim their money, the state uses the money, then looks to replenish it. And if claims are made, sometimes the money isn't there because it was already spent.

Saying "yes" would create a new fund, one that would (1) lock in the principal and then (2) by allowing the fund to be invested, it would create a future revenue stream for the state that would not be dependent on spending other people's property.

Proposition on Sports Wagering: "Shall sports wagering activities and operations be permitted in the parish of __________?"

Here's what this means: Proponents of this amendment say, "We already bet on sporting events; this would just legalize it and allow state and local governments to regulate and tax such wagers." They also say, "It's our money, and governments should not tell citizens how they can spend that money."

Opponents, however, believe this would be a major expansion of gambling in Louisiana, adding that it's a blatant effort bring younger people into casinos. According to a recent Wallethub analysis, Louisiana is already the fifth most gambling addictive state.

Election Day is November 3. For more information, visit the Public Affairs Research Council website. Find the latest election information for Acadiana and nationwide at katc.com/election-2020.

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