PAR Releases “Guide to the Constitutional Amendments”
The Public Affairs Research Council of Louisiana, Inc. (PAR) today released the “Guide to the Proposed Constitutional Amendments” for the September 30 ballot, which explains the potential impact of the 13 proposals facing the public in the upcoming election. PAR will publish a separate guide examining the eight proposed amendments scheduled for the November 7 ballot. The two ballots present the highest number of proposed amendments (21) to be voted on in a single year since the adoption of the current Constitution in 1974.
“The number and complexity of amendments voters face this year is much higher than in recent years, and the proposals include some hotly debated and controversial topics, as well as technical legal issues,” said Jim Brandt, president of PAR. “The PAR Guide’ will help voters better understand the propositions and determine for themselves whether to vote for or against each amendment.”
Several proposals on the September ballot stem from recent regional and national events. Heading the list are four amendments addressing hurricane protection, coastal restoration and levee board consolidation that were developed in the aftermath of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. The next two proposals, dealing with the expropriation of private property, arose after the United States Supreme Court’s 2005 Kelo v. City of New London decision. Other amendments deal with changes to the homestead exemption, the investment of public funds, the election of statewide officials and qualifications for judges. Another proposal deals with spending mandates for school boards. It contains a drafting error that potentially contradicts the purpose of the amendment.
The “Guide” provides background for each of the proposals, describes the proposed changes and presents commentary that includes the arguments of the proponents and opponents of the proposal.
Including the 13 amendments on the September ballot and the eight set for the November ballot, voters will have considered 210 amendments since the 1974 Constitution was adopted. Thus far, 127 amendments have been approved. Typically, amendments are designed to deal with emerging issues, authorize new programs or policies, seek exception or protections for specific interests or correct errors in existing provisions. Unfortunately, as more detail is placed in the Constitution, more amendments may be required as conditions change or problems arise with earlier provisions. In evaluating each of the current proposals, Brandt urged voters to consider not only the merits of the amendment, but also whether the proposed language belongs in the Constitution.
PAR members will receive a free copy of the “Guide to the Proposed Constitutional Amendments” for the September 30, 2006, ballot. Others may order copies of the guide for $3.50 each by writing PAR at P.O. Box 14776 , Baton Rouge , LA 70898-4776 , or by calling (225) 926-8414. Special pricing is available for bulk orders.