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Sunday, December 16, 2018



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Louisiana voters to decide felon rights, gas tax spending

Louisiana voters to decide felon rights, gas tax spending


BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Advertising money and advocacy have drawn the attention of Louisiana voters to Amendment 2, a proposal to require unanimous jury verdicts for all felony convictions. But there are six constitutional amendments in all to consider on the Nov. 6 ballot. The others are:

AMENDMENT 1

Topping the list is a proposal to make convicted state felons wait five years after serving their sentences before they can run for office in the state, unless they are pardoned.

Louisiana had an amendment passed in 1998 that barred felons from seeking office for 15 years after serving their sentences. The state Supreme Court overturned the provision in 2016 on a technicality, saying voters approved a version differing from the one that lawmakers passed.

After a couple of years of debate over whether a prohibition should exist and how long it should last, lawmakers compromised on the five-year proposal.

AMENDMENT 3

A Louisiana Supreme Court ruling provoked Amendment 3 on the ballot.

The high court determined that local government agencies could only share equipment and staff if they exchange something of equivalent value or get a payment in return.

The proposal would authorize donations of public equipment or personnel between agencies for a specific activity or function if they have a written agreement, without any compensation needing to be exchanged.

AMENDMENT 4

Lawmakers are asking voters to consider kicking the state police out of Louisiana's Transportation Trust Fund.

Louisiana's constitution allows the trust fund containing state gasoline and fuel tax income to be spent on road, bridge, port and airport work and on Louisiana State Police traffic control operations.

Amendment 4 would strip the state police from that group, banning the agency from getting any of the dollars.

An estimated $700 million in trust fund money has been spent on state police operations since 1991, as Louisiana built up a $14 billion backlog of road and bridge work. Gov. John Bel Edwards and legislators have stopped the diversions in recent years.

AMENDMENT 5

One of the more complex amendments would tweak Louisiana's property tax regulations.

The state has special property tax assessments for the elderly, disabled veterans and surviving spouses of people in the military, law enforcement, firefighters and emergency medical technicians and paramedics who die in the line of duty.

Amendment 5 would extend those special tax treatments to homes placed in a trust if the person eligible for the special assessment is living there.

AMENDMENT 6

The final proposal addresses possible spikes in property tax bills.

Amendment 6 would require a four-year phase-in of higher property taxes when a tax assessor's reappraisal boosts a home's value by more than 50 percent. The change wouldn't apply if the home is sold or its value was bumped up by construction or upgrades.

MORE INFORMATION

The nonpartisan Public Affairs Research Council has more details about the amendments online. The research organization, which has tracked constitutional amendments for decades, says that since Louisiana's current constitution took effect in 1974, it's been amended 189 times.

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Follow Melinda Deslatte on Twitter at http://twitter.com/melindadeslatte