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Voters to decide on six constitutional amendments

by Minden Press-Herald

Six changes to the Louisiana State constitution are on the ballot this year and voters may find information in the non-partisan Public Affairs Research Council of Louisiana helpful.

According to the PAR Guide to the 2016 Constitution Amendments, a constitution is meant to have permanence. Typically, constitutional amendments are proposed to authorize new programs, ensure that reforms are not easily undone by future legislation or seek protections for special interests.

Louisiana has a long history of frequent constitutional changes. Since its implementation in 1974, the Louisiana Constitution has been amended 183 times.

Amendment No. 1 — VOTE FOR: would require standards of professional and educational experience for local registrars of voters and more public disclosure in their hiring process. VOTE AGAINST: would leave the existing job requirements in place and allow local governing authorities greater discretion when filling registrar vacancies.

Amendment No. 2 — VOTE FOR: would let higher education management boards set annual tuition rates and fee amounts for colleges and universities without legislative approval. VOTE AGAINST: preserve the state legislature’s authority over tuition and fee levels.

Amendment No. 3 — VOTE FOR: would eliminate the deduction for federal income taxes paid by corporations when calculating state income taxes while triggering a flat corporate tax rate of 6.5 percent. VOTE AGAINST: would allow corporations to continue receiving a state income tax deduction for federal income taxes paid and allow the existing corporate tax rates and brackets to remain.

Amendment No. 4 — VOTE FOR: would give surviving spouses of military, fire protection officers and law enforcement personnel who died while on duty a full property tax exemption on their home. VOTE AGAINST: would leave existing ad valorem property tax exemptions levels and eligibility requirements in place.

Amendment No. 5 — VOTE FOR: would create the Revenue Stabilization Trust Fund to receive a portion of revenues from corporate and mineral taxes and to spend the money on infrastructure and pension liabilities. VOTE AGAINST: would continue to allow corporate tax and mineral revenue above a certain threshold to flow into the state general fund for appropriation by the legislature.

Amendment No. 6 — VOTE FOR: would provide legislators a new way to tap into constitutionally protected funds during revenue downturns and also extends protection to five existing funds. VOTE AGAINST: would keep in place the existing trigger which allows the legislature to tap into otherwise protected funds.

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