Sheriff Russell would like the public to be aware of some Louisiana Constitutional Amendments that will be on the November 6, 2012 ballot.
Early voting starts October 23 – 30 from 8:30a – 6:00p at the Registrar of Voters Office (122 Saint John Street, ROOM 114, Monroe, LA)
1. MEDICAID TRUST FUND FOR THE ELDERLY
PROPOSED CHANGE: The proposed amendment would add the Medical Trust Fund for the Elderly to the list of funds protected in the Constitution from being swept of cash when the state is looking for additional balanced the state budget.
2. STRICT SCRUTINY STANDARD FOR GUNS LAWS
PROPOSED CHANGE: The proposed amendment would add language to the Constitution that says the right to possess a weapon is a fundamental right in Louisiana and any restriction must pass a “strict scrutiny” judicial review. The amendment also would remove language from the Constitution that explicitly gives the Legislature the authority to pass laws restricting the right to carry a concealed weapon.
A VOTE FOR would require that any laws restricting the right to keep and bear arms be subject to the highest level of judicial review, known as strict scrutiny. Also, the amendment would say that the right to keep and bear arms is a fundamental one in Louisiana. It would delete a line in the constitution that says the right to keep and bear arms shall not prevent the passage of laws to prohibit the carrying of concealed weapons. The deletion of that language does not mean the legislature would lose its right to pass concealed carry laws.
A VOTE AGAINST would retain the existing language in the Constitution which affirms that the right to keep and bear arms shall not be abridged but does not require strict scrutiny of arms laws and expressly allows the Legislature to regulate concealed weapons.
3. EARLIER NOTICE OF PUBLIC RETIREMENT SYSTEM BILLS
PROPOSED CHANGE: The amendment would establish separate prefiling and public notice requirements for any proposal to change the state’s public retirement systems. Retirement bills of constitutional amendments would have to be prefiled no later than 45 calendar days before the start of the session. In addition, notices of intention to introduce a bill affecting the state’s public retirement systems would be published in the official state journal on two separate days, with the second notice published no later than 60 days before the bill is introduced.
4. PROPERTY TAX EXEMPTIONS FOR SPOUSES OF CERTAIN DISABLED VETERANS
PROPOSED CHANGE: The proposed amendment tweaks the language of the 2010 amendment and says that if the surviving spouse of a deceased disabled veteran occupies and remains the owner of the couple’s home, he or she can claim the higher homestead exemption whether or not the exemption was in effect at the time the veteran died.
5. FORFEITURE OF PUBLIC RETIREMENTS FOR CONVICTED PUBLIC SERVANTS
PROPOSED CHANGE: Any public servant convicted of a felony associated with his office could be required to forfeit some of all of his public retirement benefits. It would be up to the courts to decide. Only the publicly funded portion of a person’s retirement benefit would be affected. Any amount forfeited could go toward reducing the unfunded accrued liability of the specific retirement system through which the public servant has earned benefits. The provisions would apply only to those hired or elected on or after January 1, 2013. Public employees hired before that date would be exempt from the provisions. Any current elected official eligible for public retirement benefits would come under the provisions of the laws if he or she were re-elected after January 1, 2013.
This legislation, House Bill 9, ACT 868, in its final form was the result of many discussions between LSA, Louisiana Sheriff’s Pension and Relief Fund leadership, LSPRF Attorney Bob Klausner and Representative Tony Ligi that deleted some of the more arbitrary and onerous provisions from the original bill that caused LSA and LSPRF to oppose in the past because of fairness and family issues. The amendments agreed to resulted in LSA leadership testifying in behalf of this legislation. With that in mind, LSA supports passage of the Constitutional amendment.
6. PROPERTY TAX EXEMPTION AUTHORITY FOR NEW IBERIA
PROPOSED CHANGE: The proposed change would allow New Iberia to grant city property tax exemptions to any property owner annexed into the city after January 1, 2013.
7. MEMBERSHIP OF CERTAIN STATE BOARDS AND COMMISSIONS
PROPOSED CHANGE: The proposed change would reconfigure how the members of these six boards are selected to align with the reduced number of congressional districts and to ensure that each congressional district is represented equally.
8. PROPERTY TAX EXEMPTION FOR NON-MANUFACTURING BUSINESSES
PROPOSED CHANGE: The proposed amendment would create a limited exemption from local property taxes for certain targeted non-manufacturing businesses in parishes and towns that decide to take part in the program. The first $10 million of assessed value or 10% of the fair market value (whatever is greater) would be taxed. Any value above that would be exempt. In addition, at least 50% of the business’s sales would have to be out-of-state customers, or in-state customers who resell the product out of state, or to federal government, or some combination thereof.
9. CRIME PREVENTION AND SECURITY DISTRICTS
PROPOSED CHANGE: The proposed change would increase the number of times that bills to create crime prevention and security districts must be advertised and require that the notices of intent state whether a parcel fee would be imposed or increased without an election, and what the maximum amount of the fee would be.
10. TERM LIMITS FOR SCHOOL BOARD MEMBERS
PROPOSED CHANGE: The proposed change would be applicable in parishes where voters approve term limits for their school boards. Members would only server three consecutive four-year terms. This would start with elections after January 1, 2014.