This newspaper doesn’t usually tell readers how to vote. We prefer to lay out the facts of the issues and let them make their selections.
FIRST DISTRICT CONGRESSMAN - There is no choice but Bobby Jindal for re-election. He is on his way to higher things but, in the meantime, we need him in Congress. He is trying hard to get more royalty on offshore production for the state to repair its coast and we couldn’t have a more effective representative doing it for us than our incumbent.
THIRD DISTRICT CONGRESSMAN - Take your choice. Charlie Melancon has done a good job as a minority Democrat but if you want to help the Republicans retain control of the House, you can vote for Craig Romero. His record in the state legislature speaks well of him.
AGAINST Proposed Amendment 1 - Property Tax Assessment Freeze for Military and Disabled. At present, property tax assessments of seniors aged 65 and older who occupy their own homes are frozen and not subject to reassessment every four years. The amendment would also freeze assessments of people who became disabled in the military, are missing in action or prisoners of war for more than 90 days, are widows of military members killed in action and any other person deemed permanently or totally disabled by a state or federal administrative agency. Tax assessments are already complicated enough and freezing some assessments would make the assessors’ jobs that much harder and invite favoritism. There are better ways to aid the unfortunate.
FOR Proposed Amendment 2 - Parish Severance Tax Allotments to Parishes to Be Raised. At present, the state is required to return 20 percent of the severance taxes collected in each parish back to the parish from whence it came up to $750,000 per year. More severance taxes from a parish means that more roads have been busted up with heavy equipment used in the drilling and related operations to produce that revenue. The amendment would up the maximum to $850,000 in 2008 and would be adjusted upward for inflation in following years. This would only give a little more back to the parishes to help them pay for the damages that were caused.
AGAINST Proposed Amendment 3 - Property Tax Exemption for Leased Medical Equipment. This would exempt from property taxes all medical equipment leased by small non-profit rural hospitals. At present, medical equipment owned by non-profit hospitals is exempt but leased equipment is not. The problem with the proposed amendment is that it favors only those hospitals located in municipalities with a population of less than 10,000. That shows favoritism.
FOR Proposed Amendment 4 - Extension of Property Tax Exemption for Motor Vehicles to Municipal Taxes. At present, motor vehicles in Louisiana are exempt from state and parish property taxes but not municipal taxes though municipalities are allowed to pass their own exemptions. New Orleans is the only city in the state that has not passed its own exemption and is therefore the only city that levies the tax but has not done so since Hurricane Katrina. The law should be uniform throughout the state and there is no reason to exempt state and parish taxes and not municipal taxes. That encourages people to register their cars in untaxed areas.
FOR - Proposed Amendment 5 - Property Tax Exemption for Art on Consignment. Artwork used in a home is exempt from property taxes but, if it is placed on consignment for sale, it is not. This discourages artists from selling on consignment and, thus, decreases sales tax revenue which is greater than the gain in property tax. The exemption would create a better business climate for the art industry in Louisiana.
FOR - Proposed Amendment 6 - New Family and Juvenile Judgeships. This would allow the Legislature to create new family or juvenile judgeships starting January 1. Those types of judgeships allow them to specialize in their fields, providing more expertise in judgements and efficiency in handling them.
FOR - Proposed Amendment 7 - Consolidation of Seven New Orleans Assessors into One. This is a no-brainer. Why should one parish have seven assessors and all the others have one? Presumably only to increase the influence property owners have with their assessors who are more likely to be a neighbor or friend with seven than one. Orleans Parish has no more population than Jefferson or East Baton Rouge Parishes. And it should have no more assessors.
AGAINST - Proposed Amendment 8 - Independent School System for Central. This would take the community of Central, which has only four public schools, out of the East Baton Rouge Parish School System (EBRPSS). It would be a form of segregation, which is illegal, and reduce revenue for EBRPSS which needs all the money it can get. If this were to pass, it would encourage other areas populated with privileged people to try and secede from their parishes which would leave an overload of underprivileged students in other areas. That is not the purpose of a public school system.