Louisiana voters had seven constitutional amendments to vote on Tuesday and only voted for five of them, including adding to the state constitution language that abortion is not a right.
Voters rejected Amendment 4, which sought to limit the potential growth of state spending, and Amendment 5, which would have created a new tax break for manufacturers.
Amendment 4 would have capped annual spending growth at 5 percent in addition to other requirements and made it more difficult for lawmakers to keep spending taxpayer money. Voters rejected curbing spending, continuing on with Louisiana’s pattern of spending money it doesn’t have.
Amendment 5 was viewed by some as an economic development incentive to bring jobs to a region by allowing companies to pay less in property taxes as an incentive to move to their jurisdiction or expand there. Left-leaning group Together Louisiana helped defeat the measure, arguing corporate tax breaks shifted the tax burden onto others.
After many attempts by Republican and Democratic legislators to restrict abortion in the state and protect the life of the mother, fought vigorously by abortion activists in court, Louisianans voted to approve Amendment 1, which establishes in the state constitution that abortion is not a protected right. Proponents wanted to ensure that the rights to due process and privacy are never interpreted in a way that protect abortion rights if Roe v. Wade were struck down.
Voters also voted in favor of Amendment 2, which changes how property taxes on oil wells are assessed. Low-producing wells may be taxed less, more productive wells could be taxed more. Supporters say overall, taxes on wells won’t go up or down, but the local impact may vary depending on the parish.
They also approved Amendment 3 to allow the Budget Stabilization Fund, or “rainy day” fund, to be used to pay for state costs incurred during a federally declared disaster.
Amendment 6, which raises the income threshold to qualify for a property tax assessment freeze, was also passed.
Currently, property tax assessments are frozen for residents 65 or older, the disabled, and surviving spouses of military members killed in action, though they must have $77,030 or less in annual income to be eligible. Amendment 6 raises the income limitation to $100,000, which would be adjusted for inflation starting in 2026.
Voters also approved Amendment 7 to create a dedicated trust fund for unclaimed property.
The unclaimed property fund includes abandoned financial assets like old checking and savings accounts, unpaid wages, securities, life insurance payouts, uncashed checks, and the proceeds of safe deposit boxes– which lawmakers spend.
The amendment directs that the money be put into an interest-earning fund and lawmakers can only spend the interest but not the principal.
Here’s a question– why not give the unclaimed property and funds back to the person to whom it belonged or their family members?