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November 4th Election and Constitutional Amendments PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, October 21 2008 - 3:19 pm

To My Friends and Supporters:

Early voting for the November 4, 2008 election begins Tuesday, 10/21 through Tuesday 10/28. Everyone knows just how critical this election is for the future of the country. Also, on the ballot for our rejection/approval are seven (7) Constitutional Amendments that affect our state and its operation.

I thought I would take a moment and recap the seven amendments for you.


Amendment No. 1
This amendment adds term limits to certain state appointed Boards and Commissions. Just as we have added term limits for the legislature, this amendment would now add some term restrictions on ten (10) Boards and Commissions.
The arguments both for and against are about the same that you have heard in previous term limit debates. The lack of term limits encourage existing members to stay in their appointed seats, which may foster the opportunity for corruption and stale thinking. Supporters argue that term limits allow new people with new ideas to be exposed to public service.

Amendment No. 2
This issue truly tries to remedy a technicality in the current constitution in relation to the language in the call for a special session by the Governor.
This amendment simply adds two days to the time for a call extending it from 5 days to 7 days.

Amendment No. 3
This amendment addresses what happens to the seat of a legislator who is called to active military duty. What happens now is that the seat remains vacant while he or she is away in military service. The legislator, of course, also has the option to resign.

If this amendment is adopted it allows a procedure to take place where a substitute is appointed for the legislator until he/she returns from active duty.
The truth is that this situation rarely occurs but Representative Nick Lorusso, who sponsored this legislation, was just activated. Small world, huh?

Amendment No. 4
This legislation affects the distribution of severance tax revenues in all of our parishes. Right now severance tax collected in each parish is shared between the State and the parish where the resource is produced. The split is that the state gets 80% and the parish gets 20% up to a maximum of $850,000. The cap is adjusted each year for the Consumer price index (CPI) so that the parish’s share continues to grow each year.

If this amendment passes the parish will retain a larger share of the severance tax up to a maximum of $ 1,850,000 for 2009 and $2,850,000 for 2010.
To give you an idea of the magnitude of the dollars the state is retaining PAR is reporting that in 2007 the state collected $890,000,000 and only sent 4% of that back to the Parishes where the tax was generated. Each year the amount would be adjusted upward by the CPI. Another caveat of this legislation is that 50% of the increased severance tax received by the parish will be dedicated to the Parishes’ transportation fund.

Amendment No. 5
This amendment allows a homeowner to transfer his/her special property tax assessment level to new property if the government actually takes their home through expropriation. The new property would have to be purchased within two years of the appropriation.

Amendment No. 6
This amendment would affect expropriated land that is sold for private use. If passed, the expropriating body would not be required to offer back the property to the original owners if the property had been taken to remove a threat to public health or safety.
The purpose of the bill is mainly to address properties in blighted areas. The bill was introduced by Senator Murray to specifically cover property devastated by Katrina.

Amendment No. 7
The Constitution presently prohibits the investment of state funds in equities. This amendment would allow the investment of post-employment dollars in equity funds. The legislation includes a number of restrictions on the investments such as setting percentages to control how the investments are made. The problem with the idea still revolves around using public funds to invest in risky ventures, such as the stock market, and who ultimately shoulders the burden of a loss.

Our constitution has been amended so many times that it is almost impossible to keep up with what is going on in this state. It seems like everything requires a change in our constitution and as a result we have the most modified constitution in the country.

I did not tell you how I am going to vote on these issues because I feel everyone has a right to make up their own mind.

For a really detailed discussion on each amendment you can visit the PAR site:

www.la-par.org

 

 

JOHN (JACK) DONAHUE, JR., P.E.
SENATE DISTRICT 11