In addition to deciding the next president and congressmen, Louisiana voters on Tuesday will be asked to decide a crowded ballot of various tax propositions locally and, statewide, a variety of questions from gun control to term limits for school boards.
Voters in metro New Orleans will decide on a handful of propositions Tuesday, but most of the pre-election hubbub has been generated by a proposition to renew tolls on the Crescent City Connection. That decision will be made by voters in Orleans, Jefferson and Plaquemines parishes.
Crossing the bridge costs $1 or 40 cents with a toll tag.
Toll opponents, including Jefferson Parish President John Young and state Rep. Patrick Connick, R-Marrero, as well as a group of about 200 West Bank business owners, say that toll revenue hasn’t been used wisely and that promised projects were never completed.
Proponents of renewing the tolls, including New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu, the sheriffs from the three affected parishes and New Orleans Police Superintendent Ronal Serpas, argue that the $21 million generated by the tolls is needed. Without it, they fear that bridge maintenance will suffer along with public safety if they have to divert officers to handle traffic on the bridge.
Now that the Regional Planning Commission is in charge of the bridge, they argue that finances will be better managed.
Orleans Parish voters also face a charter amendment that would separate races for the City Council’s two at-large seats, beginning in 2014. Currently, any two candidates who earn at least 25 percent of the vote are elected, with a runoff for one or both seats if no two candidates get that percentage.
The amendment would see at-large seats filled through separate elections, with candidates declaring during qualifying which seat they are seeking. Winners would need at least 50 percent of the vote to avoid a runoff.
Orleans Parish voters will decide whether to extend and rededicate a 6.07-mill property tax for levees and hurricane protection, and whether to approve a 20-year, 20-mill property tax within the boundaries of the New Orleans Regional Business Park to pay for improvements. There are also a handful of propositions to levy fees for security and crime prevention districts.
In Kenner, voters will weigh in on two charter amendments. One would restrict political activity by non-elected Kenner city employees on behalf of a city candidate.
The other requires contracts with a value of $100,000 or more to be ratified through ordinance by the Kenner City Council.
St. Tammany Parish voters face a renewal of a 1.84-mill property tax for the parish health center and other health activities. Covington voters will decide on a proposed rededication of a 1-cent sales tax that will free the city to use the revenue for a broader array of purposes.
Residents in St. Tammany’s Waterworks District No. 2 will decide whether to allow the authority to issue $985,000 in 20-year bonds to pay for water system improvements in an area between Covington and Abita Springs.
Voters in all but two school districts statewide will decide individually whether to enact terms limits for local school board members.
Under current rules, panel members can serve indefinitely except in the Lafayette and Jefferson school districts, which already limit service.
Under Tuesday’s ballot measure, voters will have the option of limiting time to 12 consecutive years.
The limitations would take effect with elections held after Jan. 1, 2014.
Voters in districts that reject the plan would allow board members to continue to serve indefinitely.
Backers say the plan would help inject new ideas into school districts.
Opponents contend voters already have the option of replacing school board members through the ballot box.
Tuesday’s ballot also proposes nine amendments to the Louisiana Constitution, seeking changes on gun rights, pension revocation, property tax breaks and more.
Since it was rewritten in the mid-1970s, the state Constitution has been amended 167 times, with 239 amendments proposed.
The most attention-grabbing item is Amendment 2, a “strict scrutiny” legal standard proposal that would require courts, when asked, to determine whether the state’s gun laws demonstrate “a compelling governmental interest” and are “narrowly defined.” If not, they could be thrown out as unconstitutional.
The National Rifle Association-pushed change won overwhelming legislative support during the 2012 Legislature.
Supporters, including the Republican Party of Louisiana, say the change would protect gun rights regardless of who in the future is appointed to high court positions or elected to the Legislature.
Opponents include Orleans Parish District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro the Council for a Better Louisiana, based in Baton Rouge, and the Bureau of Governmental Research, in New Orleans.
They claim that more than 80 laws could come under court challenge, including those stopping possession of guns by felons and banning possession of firearms in bars, at parades, on college campuses and the like.
- Amendment No. 8 would give the state Department of Economic Development another incentive to attract new businesses to Louisiana. The proposition allows for a 10-year break from most local property taxes would be expanded to include data service and distribution centers, corporate headquarters and other non-manufacturing businesses.
- Amendment 1 would protect the Medicaid Trust Fund for the Elderly from being raided in tough state fiscal times to help balance the budget.
- Amendment 3 would provide for additional and earlier notice of legislation proposing changes to laws governing the state retirement systems.
- Amendment 4 would allow widows of veterans with 100 percent service-related disability to continue received double homestead exemption for property taxes.
- Amendment 5 would allow judges to order forfeiture of retirement benefits of a public employee convicted of crimes related to their government jobs or order any fines or restitution related to the crime be paid by the employee out of those funds.
- Amendment 6 would allow the City of New Iberia to offer a limited tax exemption from municipal property taxes to encourage them to go along with the annexation.
- Amendment 7 would change the makeup of six major state boards whose appointments have been based on membership from each of seven congressional districts. The state now has six congressional districts.
- Amendment 9 would require publishing three times, instead of two, notice and details when legislative proposals are being made to create crime prevention districts.