The Public Affairs Research Council of Louisiana (PAR) has released its "Guide to the 2012 Constitutional Amendments" for the ballot on Nov. 6. The Guide explains the potential impact of the nine constitutional amendments that the public will consider in the upcoming election, as well as the local option vote on term limits for school board members. The objective analysis will help voters understand the issues and the potential changes so they may develop their own positions on each proposition.
The propositions on the ballot address such issues as the Medicaid Trust Fund for the Elderly, individual gun rights, forfeiture of retirement benefits for convicted public servants and a new property tax exemption aimed at certain targeted non-manufacturing businesses.
• Add the Medicaid Trust Fund for the Elderly to the list of funds that could not be used to help the state balance the budget.
• Require that any restriction on individual gun rights be subject to "strict scrutiny," which is the highest standard of judicial review.
• Require that the deadline for giving notice of intent to file any bills affecting the state's public retirement systems be 45 days before the session starts.
• Allow the spouses of deceased veterans who had a 100 percent service-connected disability rating claim the special increased homestead exemption whether the exemption was in effect at the time the veteran died or not.
• Let the courts include forfeiture of public retirement benefits as part of the sentence for public servants convicted of a crime associated with their office.
• Give the city of New Iberia the authority to exempt any property annexed into the city from municipal property taxes.
• Change the membership selection process for a half-dozen constitutionally created boards and commissions.
• Allow the state to grant local property tax exemptions for certain non-manufacturing businesses that want to locate or expand their operations here.
• Require that notice of bills creating crime prevention districts be published on three separate days prior to the legislative session in which they are to be heard.
The Guide gives background for each amendment, describes the current situation regarding the issues, offers commentary on each proposed change and provides the arguments for and against the proposals.
Since its implementation in 1974, the Louisiana Constitution has been amended 167 times.
In addition to the amendments, there is another statewide question on the Nov. 6 ballot for voters to decide. Under the provisions of Act 386 (House Bill 292) by Rep. Steve Pugh, nearly every public school district in the state must ask voters whether they want to impose term limits on their local school boards. The only districts exempt from this vote are Jefferson and Lafayette parishes (which already have school board term limits), the Recovery School District and the governing authorities of charter schools. Although this measure is not a constitutional amendment, PAR is including a review of the measure to further public understanding about this significant decision.
The Public Affairs Research Council (PAR) is a private, nonprofit, non-partisan public policy research organization focused on pointing the way toward a more efficient, effective, transparent and accountable Louisiana government. PAR was founded in 1950 and is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization supported by foundation and corporate grants and individual donations.