Constitutional amendments explained
BATON ROUGE- Voters will have to consider 14 constitutional amendments when they hit the polls next Tuesday, and with a three-minute time limit behind the curtain it could prove difficult to tackle the ticket without some studying ahead of time.
Some of the amendments only affect the New Orleans area, though the entire state will vote on them. Others likely won't affect many people overall.
There are six amendments, though, that should grab voters attention as they head to the polls. Amendments No. 1 and No. 2 both deal with health care funding, especially when it comes to matching federal dollars. Number 1 seeks to constitutionally protect the Louisiana Medical Assistance Trust Fund, which would benefit nursing homes.
According to Robert Travis Scott, president of the Public Affairs Research Council, the AARP, home care providers and higher education institutions are against this amendment.
Amendment No. 2 seeks to create a new assessment for hospitals, something many hospitals support. The assessment would get matching federal dollars that would be constitutionally protected and help offset costs from uninsured patients.
"They want to protect that in the constitution so that these monies that come back from the federal program don't get spent on other Medicaid priorities," said Scott.
Higher education institutions also oppose this amendment, because it could leave them out of the budget process in the future.
Amendment No. 3 takes of the sale of property with delinquent taxes and allows local governments to use private third-party firms to collect delinquent taxes and guide the municipalities through the sales of those property.
Opponents of this amendment think the role of tax collection should remain in the hands of the government, not private companies.
Amendment No. 5 seeks to eliminate a mandatory retirement age for judges. Currently judges must retire after they turn 70 and then complete their term, but if the amendment is approved, judges could serve for as long as they'd like, if they continue to win elections.
Amendment No. 10 takes of the tax sale of vacant, blighted or abandoned properties and would allow parishes to shorten the period of redemption for properties sold from three years to 18 months. Opponents think this amendment may give too much power to the government over property owners, while governments think it would help clear out eyesores.
"Local governments would like to see this so they can move quicker on these blighted properties," said Scott.
Amendment No. 11 seeks to expand government from 20 to 21 state departments. If passed, it would create the office of Elderly Affairs, something proponents think would help streamline services for the elderly. While people against the expansion of government note that many of those services are already provided under the governor's department.
You can take an in depth look at each amendment on the ballot with this guide created by the Public Affairs Research Council. The Secretary of State's office also recommends you download the "Geaux Vote" app, where you can fill out a sample ballot to use as a cheat sheet while you vote.