A set of constitutional amendments is on Tuesday's ballots, which also include a statewide special election for Louisiana secretary of state and for members of Congress.
The Advocate's recommendations follow on the amendments and a separate proposition, a local-option election to allow regulation of online fantasy sports leagues. We also recap our positions on two proposals in Livingston Parish.
Amendment 1: Felons in office. Yes.
The amendment restricts the rights of felons to seek public office for five years. With Louisiana's history of corruption, this is needed to improve confidence in government.
Amendment 2: Unanimous jury verdicts. Yes.
This would change a rule, from the racist Jim Crow era, that felony convictions do not require a unanimous jury verdict. Louisiana's rule, nearly unique in the nation, should be changed.
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Amendment 3: Loaning public equipment. Yes.
While seemingly a minor matter, the requirement that payment be made for loans of the use of public equipment among local governments is burdensome paperwork that could properly be eliminated. We urge a vote for it.
Amendment 4: Transportation trust fund. Yes.
The amendment forbids funding of State Police from the money set aside by the state constitution for transportation improvements. While the Legislature and Gov. John Bel Edwards have eliminated the practice, abused in prior administrations, the amendment will prevent raids on the trust fund. State Police will be supported by the general fund.
Amendment 5: Property tax breaks. No.
For the relatively small number of houses in trust, various tax breaks would be allowed. Louisiana gives too many breaks to various categories of homeowners based on politically popular appeals to support the elderly, veterans or other favored groups. There is no pressing need for this amendment.
Amendment 6: Tax assessments. No.
This amendment is intended to reduce the impact on property owners of a rapid rise in property tax assessments. It would require that changes be phased in over four years, in cases where the value of the property for tax purposes rises more than 50 percent. This once again creates a special class of homeowner who might live next door to another whose assessment rose by some other percentage, but gets no break.
Local option on fantasy sports. Yes.
In every parish, voters must decide whether to allow state regulation of fantasy sports leagues, popular on the internet. Many states have already authorized regulation and are getting revenue from the league fees, so we believe that this proposal should pass. It does not authorize casinos or other venues to offer sports betting, so popular in Las Vegas, but not yet legal in the Bayou State.
Livingston Parish law enforcement tax: No.
The plan for half-cent sales tax to fund school security is so loosely defined that it can be used for other activities, and the proposed tax would be levied in perpetuity, which reduces accountability.
Term limits on parish officials: No.
A proposed change to the parish charter would limit council members and the parish president to no more than three consecutive terms. If local officials are doing a good job, they shouldn’t be barred from seeking reelection. Voters can decide for themselves if they should be returned to office.
The constitutional amendments that make their way to Louisiana voters don’t usually create much political drama. For the most part, proposed c…