Voters face no less than seven constitutional amendments and a gaming proposition on today’s ballot. The following are the views of The Advocate's editorial board. We urge voters to look at the issues and cast an informed ballot.
Amendment 1: abortion lawsuits – No recommendation
The Legislature has enacted, usually by big majorities, the nation's sharpest restrictions on abortion rights. This amendment seeks to limit state courts' ability to undermine those statutes should the U.S. Supreme Court return power over abortion to legislatures. We take no position on the amendment. Voters should follow their consciences on this divisive subject.
Amendment 2: drilling rigs tax assessments – Yes
The amendment would allow market-value assessments on drilling equipment, to settle long-standing disputes between industry and parish tax assessors.
Amendment 3: ‘rainy day funds’ for disasters – Yes
The current constitution sharply limits use of the state’s ‘rainy day’ fund for budget stabilization. The amendment allows up to a third of the state’s “rainy day” fund to be used during disasters, when government needs ready cash, in part to meet mandated matches for federal aid.
Amendment 4: budget restriction – No
Louisiana formally has a budget restriction amendment. This is another version by anti-government legislators who have been unable to convince their peers that drastically cutting services — the result of budget limits — is a good idea in a poor state that needs more spending on education, health and other needs, not wants. We want to see wiser spending, but we don’t want to see arbitrary limits on the budget.
Amendment 5: corporate tax payments — No
If you’re a politician, you want to spend as much money as you can for four years, to get reelected. That’s the kind of short-term thinking that underlies the “payments in lieu of taxes,” or PILOT proposals like this one.
Corporate interests would be delighted to trade cash upfront to shed long-term obligations like property taxes, and local politicians will be easy marks for these deals.
Amendment 6: property tax exemption income — No
This removes an income limit for getting freezes for some homestead exemptions. The limit $50,000, now up to $77,000, indexed for inflation. This is political, a nod to the wealthiest retiree households who can pay their property taxes, which in Louisiana are small bills compared to those in most every other state.
Amendment 7: unclaimed property fund — Yes
While there is a small cost to the state general fund, the Treasurer’s Office will be able to better manage the distribution of unclaimed money with a new trust fund established by the amendment.
Sports wagering — Yes
This proposition on every parish ballot allows sports betting, under rules to be established by the Legislature and the Gaming Control Board. As with fantasy sports games, approved by 47 of 64 parishes in 2018, each parish must approve the wagering in gaming establishments in that locale.