Our Views: Amendments, School Board term limits

Although the most prominent item on the Nov. 6 ballot is the presidential race, voters in Louisiana will be asked to vote on many other things, including nine proposed amendments to the state constitution. Here’s a brief summary of our positions on some key items on the Nov. 6 ballot. We analyzed these items in greater detail in previous editions of The Advocate. Here’s the recap:

Amendment 1 — Medicaid Trust Fund for the Elderly — No.

This is an unnecessary amendment aimed at protecting a trust fund for health care for the elderly. Appropriate safeguards are already in place.

Amendment 2 — Expansion of Gun Rights — No.

The right to bear arms outlined in the federal constitution is alive and well. This is a gimmicky amendment ostensibly intended to fix a problem that doesn’t exist.

Amendment 3 — Public Notice of Retirement Bills — Yes.

If approved, the amendment would require greater public notice when legislation is introduced that would change retirement systems for state employees. We support this amendment.

Amendment 4 — Exemption from Property Taxes for Spouses of Disabled Veterans — No.

This amendment aims to expand property tax exemptions for spouses of disabled veterans. We support helping veterans, but tinkering with property tax law isn’t the most efficient way to help them or their families.

Amendment 5 — Pensions of Felons — No.

This amendment would allow judges to cut the pensions of public officials who abuse the public trust. Even without this amendment, judges already have the power to order restitution by a convicted felon. We don’t believe this amendment would strike a significant blow to public corruption.

Amendment 6 — Property tax exemption in New Iberia — No.

This amendment would allow New Iberia officials to grant property tax exemptions to residents of annexed areas. Whatever the merits of such a policy, we don’t support the authorization of a change that would apply only to New Iberia.

Amendment 7 — Changing membership on boards and commissions — Yes.

Membership of certain state boards and commissions is determined at least partially through representation according to Louisiana’s congressional districts. This amendment changes the constitutional language on this provision to reflect Louisiana’s recently altered congressional district map.

Amendment 8 — Local property tax exemption for certain businesses — No.

This amendment would allow the state, with some input from local communities, to grant property tax exemptions for certain industries. We believe the amendment would steer yet more taxing authority away from local governments.

Amendment 9 — Crime prevention — Yes.

This amendment would strengthen public notice requirements for the process of creating neighborhood crime districts. We support the amendment as a useful way to promote citizen engagement.

Term limits for school board members — No.

Voters in many communities across the state, including Baton Rouge, will vote on Nov. 6 about whether to impose term limits on members of their local school board. We question the idea of term limits for members of public bodies. Such limits tend to remove at least as many good public servants as bad ones from public service.