Your guide to the constitutional amendments on Saturday’s ballot
NEW ORLEANS — Voters in Louisiana will decide on three amendments to the Louisiana Constitution when they head to the polls on Saturday (Oct. 14).
This is nothing new. Voters in Louisiana have been asked to decide on constitutional amendments seemingly every year since the Louisiana Constitution was adopted in 1974.
According to the nonpartisan Public Affairs Research Council of Louisiana, the state Constitution has been amended 186 times.
Here’s a breakdown of the three constitutional amendments on the ballot, courtesy of PAR:
- Establish a property tax exemption for construction work in progress — Current law allows each parish assessor to decide whether construction work in progress, or CWIP, is part of the overall valuation of the property. According to PAR, some assessors wait until the building is completed before adding it to the tax rolls, while other assessors add a portion of the construction to the total assessment. A vote for this amendment would create a property tax exemption for construction work in progress, while a vote against would leave the current rules in place and allow assessors to interpret the law in different ways.
- Establish a property tax exemption for the surviving spouses of first responders who died while on duty — This is pretty self-explanatory and adds the surviving spouses of EMS workers, volunteer firefighters and paramedics to the list of spouses who are eligible to be exempt from paying property taxes on their home if their spouse died while on duty. Currently, surviving spouses of National Guard members, State Police, law enforcement or firefighters are exempt from paying any property taxes on the home in which they reside. This amendment would add to the list. A vote against would keep existing property taxes for surviving spouses of EMS workers, volunteer firefighters and paramedics.
- Establish a “Construction Subfund” of the Transportation Trust Fund — There is currently a Transportation Trust Fund in Louisiana that takes money from gas taxes and sets it aside to be used only for road and bridge maintenance, flood control, ports, airports, transit and state police for traffic control. Because of an Attorney General’s opinion, salaries for DOTD employees who work directly with these types of projects can also be paid out of this fund. And according to PAR, salaries have been a big part of the trust fund spending. This amendment, if approved by voters, would establish a “Construction Subfund” that would require any new taxes on gasoline or special fuels to be placed in the subfund and spent only on the “delivery, construction and maintenance of transportation and capital transit infrastructure projects of state and local governments.” It would not be used for employee wages, benefits or retirement.