By Nick BeJeaux
This is the second half of our breakdown of the 14 amendments on the Nov. 4 ballot, Amendments 8-14. Like we said last week, everyone always makes such a big deal over candidates during elections that it’s easy to overlook the other stuff on the ballot, namely proposed amendments to state constitutions.
Voters mostly show up to the polls having no knowledge of these very important changes to the laws of the land and the fact that their oh-so-brief ballot descriptions might as well be written in Middle English doesn’t help the 20-something (or anyone, really) without a pre-law degree. To help you decide what is best for you, we’ve broken each of the seven amendments into the simplest terms we can. After all, you should make up your own damn mind on what to vote for.
This would create the Artificial Reef Development fund, which would house funding through grants, donations and other sources for programs dedicated to managing the artificial reef system, the wild seafood certification program, and inshore fisheries habitat enhancement projects. Because the fund would be created through a constitutional amendment, it would take another amendment on the ballot to reallocate monies from this fund to another.
Amendment 9 would repeal the requirement that homeowners under the age of 65 who are permanently, totally disabled certify every year that their adjusted gross income meets the requirement for an assessment freeze, which prevents the owner’s home from increasing in value, therefore reducing the amount of property tax owed by the owner.
Instead, owners would have to qualify with their assessor only once and the freeze would remain in effect until the property was sold or its value increased more than 25 percent because of reconstruction. If this amendment does not pass, disabled homeowners under the age of 65 would have to continue to prove each year to their assessor that their income meets the requirements for the freeze.
This amendment would shorten the redemption period for abandoned, blighted, or vacant properties across the state from three years to 18 months. Orleans parish will not be affected by this amendment, as its redemption period is already 18 months. If passed, this would greatly speed up the rate at which developers acquire properties for infrastructure and redevelopment projects.
While it creates no specific department, this amendment would raise the maximum number of state departments from 20 to 21. The question is simple: do you want bigger or smaller government?
If passed, this amendment would require that two representatives from parishes north of Beauregard, Allen, Evangeline, Avoyelles, and Pointe Coupee serve as electors on the Wildlife and Fisheries Commission. Currently, the commission is made up of three representatives from each of the coastal parishes and four from Louisiana in general.
If approved, this amendment would authorize the governing authority of New Orleans to sell property in the Lower Ninth Ward below market value. Approving this amendment would also enact a companion bill that would set the price of abandoned, government-owned properties in the LNW to $100 per parcel. It could help revive the neighborhood, or tragically backfire depending on who invests.
In even-numbered years, the Legislature meets for a general session, while they meet for fiscal sessions during odd-numbered years. This amendment would forbid the introduction of new tax rebates, incentives or abatements during general sessions and would leave tax issues for fiscal sessions. Currently, legislators can introduce these tax bills during general sessions, when budgets and other financial matters are not discussed.