New Orleans, La. - The state constitutional amendments on the November 6 ballot can be confusing. The Public Affairs Research Council of Louisiana has helped to put them in much simpler terms.
Amendment 1 involves the Medicaid Trust Fund for the elderly. The fund helps cover the extra costs of nursing home or primary care. The amendment would keep lawmakers and the governor from dipping into that money to help balance the budget.
UNO political science professor Ed Chervenak says, "This is one fund that has not been raided and a lot of it has to do with the fact that most of the money comes from the federal government -- that they specify how that money should be spent, that if that money in fact was withdrawn from the fund for other purposes, the federal government then may take that money back. So that's why they haven't touched it."
Amendment 2 would spell out, in black and white, that the right to keep and bear arms is a fundamental right and that any restriction on that right shall be subject to strict court scrutiny.
Amendment 3 has to do with filing bills related to the state's public retirement system. It would require lawmakers to file a month earlier and would double the public notice period.
Amendment 4 relates to property tax exemption for spouses of certain disabled veterans. The measure would allow the spouse of a deceased veteran, who was 100 percent disabled, to claim a higher homestead exemption, even if it wasn't in effect at the time of the veteran's death.
Amendment 5 targets elected officials and state workers who don't play it straight -- it would allow courts to include forfeiture of all or part of the retirement benefits of a public official or worker convicted of a felony associated with their office or employment.
The City of New Iberia is looking for support for Amendment 6. It would allow the city to grant property tax exemptions to any property owner annexed into the city after January 1, 2013. It's an effort to create incentives for economic development.
You might call Amendment 7 a bit of housekeeping. Louisiana is going from 7 to 6 congressional districts as a result of redistricting based on the 2010 census. Amendment 7 would adjust the selection process for constitutionally created boards and commissions to align with the reduced number of districts.
Amendment 8 has to do with property tax exemption for non-manufacturing businesses. It would allow the Board of Commerce and Industry to grant local property tax exemption contracts to a targeted group of non-manufacturing businesses in parishes that choose to participate in the program.
Crime prevention districts are the focus of Amendment 9. Since 1997, there have been about 30 of those district created in the state. They didn't, however, come without complaints. Some residents in those districts complained about not being well informed.
Amendment 9 would increase the number of times bills to create these districts must be advertised. It would also require notices about parcel fees along with information on how and how much the fees could go up over the years.
For more detailed information on the amendments, go to www.parlouisiana.org/s3web/1002087/docs/2012_guide_to_constitutional_amendments.pdf