Here are the amendments that appear on the Nov. 18 ballot.
Amendment #1 – Tweaks rules for veto sessions
The gist: Louisiana’s veto rules are complicated, sometimes triggering legislative sessions within legislative sessions. This amendment clarifies deadlines and streamlines the veto override process.
Veto overrides were once very rare. Louisiana law automatically calls a special override session whenever the governor vetoes a bill, unless lawmakers opt out. Between 1974 and 2021, legislators had opted out of every veto session. Since 2021, they’ve held three, including one session that was called while the legislature was already in session.
Lawmakers could override vetoes during a concurrent session under this proposed change. It also clarifies the governor’s deadlines for signing or vetoing bills.
Vote Yes: This is a commonsense change meant to simplify rules and avoid overlapping sessions, which recent history proves to be disruptive.
Vote No: The rules are fine as-is and the changes react needlessly to an unusual series of events.
What the ballot says: Do you support an amendment to clarify that the timing of gubernatorial action on a bill and his return of a vetoed bill to the legislature is based upon the legislative session in which the bill passed and to authorize the legislature, if it is in session, to reconsider vetoed bills without convening a separate veto session?
Amendment #2 – Clears out unused special funds
The gist: This amendment deletes several inactive special funds, which were created to hold dedicated revenues and spend them on specified functions.
This amendment eliminates six funds: the Atchafalaya Conservation Fund; Higher Education Fund; Millennium Leverage Fund; Agricultural and Seafood Products Support Fund; First Use Tax Trust Fund; and the Louisiana Investment Fund for Enhancement (LIFE). Of those, only the LIFE has any money in it, a grand total of $604.
Vote Yes: There’s no point in accounting for funds that no longer carry money. Louisiana already has enough restricted accounts on the books.
Vote No: The funds may again have a purpose, and it would require yet more constitutional amendments to bring them back.
What the ballot says: Do you support an amendment to remove provisions of the Constitution of Louisiana which created the following inactive special funds within the state treasury: Atchafalaya Basin Conservation Fund, Higher Education Louisiana Partnership Fund, Millennium Leverage Fund, Agricultural and Seafood Products Support Fund, First Use Tax Trust Fund, Louisiana Investment Fund for Enhancement and to provide for the transfer of any remaining monies in such funds to the state general fund?
Amendment #3 – Creates property tax exemptions for first responders
The gist: Local governments could offer first responders a property tax exemption up to $25,000 of the assessed value of their homes, under certain conditions.
The tax break would apply to law enforcement officers, firefighters, emergency medical service staff and full-time support staff for emergency agencies. Local taxing bodies would have to opt-in to offering the tax exemption by approval of the local governing authority, typically a council or police jury. To qualify, first responders would need to own a home in the parish they work in.
Vote Yes: First responders are sorely needed, and a tax incentive can help local agencies recruit quality personnel.
Vote No: Louisiana already offers generous tax breaks for homeowners, adding yet another tax exemption reduces revenue that might go to other public services, including police and fire protection.
What the ballot says: Do you support an amendment to authorize the local governing authority of a parish to provide an ad valorem tax exemption for qualified first responders?
Amendment #4 – Restricts use of the state’s backstop trust fund
The gist: Louisiana maintains a special savings account for business taxes to keep income from those volatile revenue stable. This amendment would add new limits to how those funds are used.
Louisiana’s Revenue Stabilization Fund has accrued $2.2 billion from corporate franchise and income taxes and oil and gas production since its creation in 2016. Right now, lawmakers can drain that fund with a two-thirds vote from each chamber. This amendment adds more legislative hurdles to using that money and adds a withdrawal cap of $250 million in most cases. There would be no change to a trigger allowing legislators to use 10% of the fund on construction projects once the fund reaches $5 billion.
Vote Yes: The fund is growing quickly and lawmakers can use it too easily. Adding restrictions protects the fund’s intended purpose.
Vote No: State government needs more flexibility, not less, in how it can spend tax dollars. The safeguards in place are adequate.
What the ballot says: Do you support an amendment authorizing the legislature, after securing a two-thirds vote of each house, to use up to two hundred fifty million dollars from the Revenue Stabilization Trust Fund to alleviate a budget deficit subject to conditions set forth by law and allowing the legislature to modify such conditions for accessing the monies in the fund, subject to two-thirds vote?