All 4 constitutional amendments on La. ballot pass
They deal with elections, churches, retirement debt & nonprofits
SHREVEPORT, La. (KSLA) — Louisiana’s voters have said “yes” to all four constitutional amendments that were on the ballot.
The amendments deal with elections, churches, retirement debt, and nonprofits.
As usual, the State of Louisiana and the Public Affairs Research Council of Louisiana have provided voters with summaries about the proposals. That information can be found at the end of this story.
KSLA News 12 spoke with a political science professor to better define the meaning of each proposal.
Amendment 1 states:
“Do you support an amendment to prohibit the use of funds, goods, or services from a foreign government or a nongovernmental source to conduct elections and election functions and duties unless the use is authorized by the secretary of state through policies established in accordance with law?”
The professor explained: “Number 1 is about private funding of elections. That was started a few years ago. Some interest groups got together and started to deem a lot of money to individual registrars and counties and states. Just saying you want money, we’ll give it to you as long as you do something with it which is somewhat related to elections.”
Amendment 2 reads:
“Do you support an amendment to provide that the freedom of worship in a church or other place of worship is a fundamental right that is worthy of the highest order of protection?”
“Basically, it means that the state has to show a compelling reason in order to restrict something. It has to be demonstrated that this is really the only way that this objective can be achieved,” the professor said. “It’s a high standard to limit, to restrict someone’s rights if you give it this level of strict scrutiny. And so that’s what the amendment is trying to do. Is to put that in the Constitution and say courts have to deal with these kinds of cases.”
Amendment 3 says:
“Do you support an amendment to require that a minimum of 25% of any money designated as nonrecurring state revenue be applied toward the balance of the unfunded accrued liability of the state retirement systems?”
The professor explained: “Now what this amendment does is three things. First of all, it jacks up that number to 25% so anytime you have a declared surplus, now a quarter of it will go to paying off the pension obligations. The second part of that is that the two funds are now being expanded to four. The four largest pension funds, which is practically in terms of the unfunded liability, that’s just about where all of it is. So now it’s four rather then two; and then the third thing is that it going to extend beyond 2029.”
And Amendment 4 says:
“Do you support an amendment to deny a property tax exemption to a nonprofit corporation or association that owns residential property in such a state of disrepair that it endangers public health or safety?”
“This is kind of a trivial thing to be putting in the Constitution. It’s mainly coming from one parish, Orleans,” the professor said.
“There are a number of nonprofits, entities religious and alike, who own residential units and rent them out or usually subsidized or free. And what the city of New Orleans and maybe some other places, they discovered that sometimes they aren’t up to local codes and terms of what needs to be there to make it legally defined as habitable. So their solution is well if it’s not, they’re violating code, then we’re going to yank whatever status that we give them preferential tax treatment that we give them to nonprofit organizations, we’re going to yank it until they come up to code.”
• A vote for Amendment 1 would ban the use of donations from a nongovernmental source or a foreign government to administer elections. A vote against Amendment 1 would allow election officials to accept donations from outside sources.
• A vote for Amendment 2 would declare the highest level of constitutional protection for the freedom to worship inside a church and require courts to apply these when the government tries to restrict access. A vote against Amendment 2 would keep the level of protections for churches as they are.
• Right now, 10% of any state surplus goes toward paying down retirement debt until 2029. A vote for Amendment 3 would raise the rate to 25% for the life of the debt and double the number of retirement systems. A vote against Amendment 3 would keep the current system.
• Finally, a vote for Amendment 4 would allow local governments to remove nonprofits’ property tax exemptions if the organization leases housing and has had more than 3 health code violations in a 12-month period. A vote against Amendment 4 would maintain the current system of property tax exemptions for nonprofits, including those with repeated health and safety violations.
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