Big Easy Magazine’s Guide to Voting for Amendments


Constitutional Amendments are sometimes hard to understand, often written in a “legalese” that most people find difficult to parse. At times, the amendments are written so poorly, that they actually are in favor of the opposite thing they seem to stand for. As a progressive magazine, we want to ensure that every voter understands what it is they are voting for. With that in mind, here are the proposed amendments.

Proposed Amendment No. 1

“Do you support an amendment to prohibit a convicted felon from seeking or holding public office or appointment within five years of completion of his sentence unless he is pardoned?”

This idea is seemingly very straightforward, but it actually is not. Some history and current historical context: In the 1990s, an amendment was passed that did not allow felons to seek public office for fifteen years. It won easily. However, due to an error in the wording of what was passed, the Louisiana State Supreme Court threw out the amendment.

Right now, in several parishes, there are people who are convicted felons, who committed crimes which benefited them and derived from their role as government employees, who would like to return to their previously held offices. If re-elected, there’s a possibility that they will repeat the crime.

Big Easy Magazine deeply believes in rehabilitation and supports the rights of felons to be protected. Too often the less fortunate and minority individuals have difficulty finding regular employment once they leave prison. Big Easy Magazine supports almost anything that will eliminate recidivism. With that being said, it should be harder for a person to run for office right out of jail than it is to get a delivery driver job at Domino’s pizza.

Proposed Amendment No. 2

“Do you support an amendment to require a unanimous jury verdict in all noncapital felony cases for offenses that are committed on or after January 1, 2019?

Louisiana is one of the only states that doesn’t require a unanimous jury for criminal convictions.

You’ve likely heard about Amendment #2 if you live in New Orleans. In the end, the simplest way for this to be explained is that someone can currently go to jail for a serious offense when some of the jurors did not believe in a guilty verdict. The current law originated during the Jim Crow era and was put in place to convict minorities of serious crimes. This way of doing things is un-American and certainly a violation of the spirit of the law of the land.

Big Easy Magazine has already weighed in on this, here.

Proposed Amendment No. 3

“Do you support an amendment to permit, pursuant to written agreement, the donation of the use of public equipment and personnel by a political subdivision upon request to another political subdivision for an activity or function which the requesting political subdivision is authorized to exercise?”

A complicated sounding amendment, but actually simple. Can cities share resources? To be more specific, the Public Affairs Research Council, a nonpartisan group, sums things up thusly: “Proposed Change:

“The proposed amendment would allow local governments or other political subdivisions to donate equipment and personnel to other local entities as long as they have a written agreement without a requirement for receiving comparable value. This amendment would not allow borrowing between the state and local entities.”

Here’s the thing: they can already legally do that. In 2017, they voted to allow this.

Proposed Amendment No. 4

“Do you support an amendment to remove authority to appropriate or dedicate monies in the Transportation Trust Fund to state police for traffic control purposes?”

Louisiana has tremendous infrastructure needs. A trust fund for this purpose was previously established by the state legislature. In previous years, monies from this trust could be given to the Louisiana State Police for traffic control. Funding for traffic concerns could be funded elsewhere in the state budget, but this amendment would ensure that the trust fund would be used as it was intended.

Proposed Amendment No. 5

“Do you support an amendment to extend eligibility for the following special property tax treatments to property in trust: the special assessment level for property tax valuation, the property tax exemption for property of a disabled veteran, and the property tax exemption for the surviving spouse of a person who died while performing their duties as a first responder, active duty member of the military, or law enforcement or fire protection officer?”

This amendment would ensure that the people dedicated to protecting the public good and their survivors would receive an easier financial transition from the state because of their special status.

Proposed Amendment No. 6

“Do you support an amendment that will require that any reappraisal of the value of residential property by more than 50%, resulting in a corresponding increase in property taxes, be phased-in over the course of four years during which time no additional reappraisal can occur and that the decrease in the total ad valorem tax collected as a result of the phase-in of assessed valuation be absorbed by the taxing authority and not allocated to the other taxpayers?”

The basic question here is, do you think it’s a good idea for large increases in property taxes to be phased in slowly?

Michael David Raso has worked as a writer, editor, and journalist for several different publications since graduating from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. If you like this piece, you can read more of his work here.

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