After getting many individual requests for advice or comments on the amendments, I decided the easiest thing for me to do is to get it over with and put my personal thoughts out in public.
For the most part, the amendments are corrective measures or afterthoughts to fix recently passed amendments that were poorly written or poorly thought-out. None of which will even negate the need for future amendments for those sections of the constitution. In other words, the laws should be statutes, except that we can’t trust our elected officials.
Mine are not objective, scholarly or even well-educated explanations, opinions and observations. If you want objectivity and scholarly observations you should read them for yourselves. Despite what the leges think, the voters in Louisiana are not stupid.
You can find all the factual information necessary to decide how to vote here: http://www.legis.state.la.us/election2008/amendments.htm
What they DO
Amendment No. 1: Imposes future terms limits (grandfather’s all current members) on certain appointed and elected boards in the state. It doesn’t preclude jumping from one board to the other, but unlike lege term limits requires the appointees to wait two years before jumping to another board.
Amendment No. 2: Increases the number of days that leges must be given notice by the governor of a Special Lege Session from 5 to 7 days. Because leges can’t figure what a “day” is (I’m not joking), it spells it out for them. It still doesn’t require the leges to actually read, much less understand, the bills on which they vote.
Amendment No. 3: Gives members of the lege a “property right” in their office. If a lege is called up for active military duty, he can submit 3 names for a temporary replacement to his office, one of which will be appointed by either the Speaker of the House or President of the Senate to temporarily fill his office while he is on duty. The person so appointed cannot later run against the “owner” of the office. It begs the question of who is accountable for the votes of the temp? The incumbent “owner” of the office? The Speaker? The President?
Amendment No 4: Would increase the amount of state severance taxes on certain minerals returned to the parishes from whence they came. Sound familiar? It should. It was just increased by another constitutional amendment in 2007. This serves to increase the local governments dependency on mineral revenues and to put pressure on the state to raise state taxes in the future to fund state services.
Amendment No 5: Would allow certain persons 65 and older whose property is expropriated by the government to transfer to the “frozen” property tax assessment to new property purchased by the individual. It doesn’t keep the amount of property tax paid from rising, only the assessment value of the property. Has this ever happened? I don’t know.
Amendment No 6: Would eliminate the right of “first refusal” for the original property owner for certain blighted property expropriated by the government. This amends an amendment that was passed in 2006. And, you wonder why we have so many amendments each year.
Amendment No. 7: Would allow the state to dabble in the stock market with funds set up for certain post-employment, non-pension, funds of government retirees. Talk about your good timing!
What they DON’T do
None of them address the myriad of problems faced daily by individual citizens of LA such as:
1. The high cost of insurance.
2. The high cost gasoline.
3. The high cost of utilities.
4. The high cost of health care or its lack of availability.
5. The high cost of taxes and fees.
6. The poor public education system.
7. The ability for leges to give themselves pay raises.
8. The poor roads.
9. The bloated state government.
10. The eroding coastline or flood control.
11. Preparation of the state for the next round of hurricanes or the evacuations from them.
12. The poor workforce or the ability to do business in Louisiana.
Finally, none of these amendments, if passed, will improve the quality of life in Louisiana.
If you’ve read this far, I hope it helps.