Explaining the Constitutional Amendments

Since the dawn of civilization, people have looked to their political officials and asked; What, exactly, is it that you do? While this guide might not answer every one of your questions about what, exactly, your elected officials are responsible for, it will (we hope) give you some clarity on the various offices that are supposed to represent your interests at the state and local level, and the responsibilities that are supposed to go with those offices.

On the November 18 Runoff Ballot you can anticipate voting on four constitutional amendments. In addition to knowing about the candidates you support and why, we want to help ensure you feel confident to vote all down the ballot. Make your voice heard as we head to the polls to decide on what should be changed in our state constitution.

As the head of the executive branch, the Governor is the highest state office in Louisiana. Elected every four years, and limited to two consecutive terms, the Governor leads the Governor’s office and all departments therein.

Maybe the most notable part of the Governor’s job is signing legislation into law or vetoing legislation. But the Governor also submits a proposed budget to the legislature (which serves as a statement of principles, i.e., a set of priorities), and he or she can create executive orders that impact state policy.

The Governor also appointments and removes people to and from appointed positions, makes an address at the beginning of regular legislative sessions, serves as Commander in Chief of all the armed forces of the state, and is able to declare states of emergency.
Lieutenant Governor
Although the Lieutenant Governor is officially second-in-command of the executive branch, the office doesn’t come with a lot of responsibilities in terms of policy. The office is up for election every four years.

While serving as the commissioner of the Louisiana Department of Culture, Recreation, and Tourism, most of the Lieutenant Governor’s work comes in promoting Louisiana to the rest of the country and the world. They also take on other duties as assigned by the Governor, and stand in as Governor in the event of a vacancy or if the current Governor is out of state.
Secretary of State
As the chief election officer of Louisiana, the Secretary of State oversees several administrative and archival duties, including acting as the state’s head election officer, overseer of state archives, manager of business registration in the state, keeper of the great seal of the state of Louisiana and, finally, the overseer of several state museums.

That’s a lot of responsibilities for one office, but the Secretary of State is probably best known as the head election officer for Louisiana. That means they are responsible for qualifying certain candidates, preparing and certifying ballots for all elections in the state, tabulating, and verifying election results. They are also central to the effort to maintain the integrity and security of Louisiana’s voting system.

The Secretary of State also administers election laws, except for those regarding voter registration and custody of voting machines, and is responsible for the proper and lawful regulation and registration of businesses in Louisiana.

Proposed Constitutional Amendment 1

“Do you support an amendment to clarify that the timing of gubernatorial action on a bill and his return of a vetoed bill to the legislature is based upon the legislative session in which the bill passed and to authorize the legislature, if it is in session, to reconsider vetoed bills without convening a separate veto session?”

To become a law, a bill has to be approved by the legislature, sent to the Governor, and the Governor has to sign the bill. If the Governor does not sign the bill, they can veto the bill and send it back to the legislature. When this happens, if more than 2/3 of the legislature votes in support of the bill, they can override the Governor’s veto. To override the Governor’s veto, the legislature has to call a special veto session to take the new vote.

A “yes” vote would allow the legislature to take a vote to override a veto during a regular or special session.

A “no” vote would keep the current rules and require the legislature to call a special veto session to take a vote for a veto override.

Proposed Constitutional Amendment 2

“Do you support an amendment to remove provisions of the Constitution of Louisiana which created the following inactive special funds within the state treasury: Atchafalaya Basin Conservation Fund, Higher Education Louisiana Partnership Fund, Millennium Leverage Fund, Agricultural and Seafood Products Support Fund, First Use Tax Trust Fund, Louisiana Investment Fund for Enhancement and to provide for the transfer of any remaining monies in such funds to the state general fund?”

The listed funds were created in the Louisiana constitution. They are no longer active funds though there is remaining money in some accounts.

A “yes” vote would remove these inactive funds from the Constitution and transfer any remaining money back to the state general fund for use on ongoing projects.

Proposed Constitutional Amendment 3

“Do you support an amendment to authorize the local governing authority of a parish to provide an ad valorem tax exemption for qualified first responders?”

A “yes” vote would allow local governments to allow an additional property tax exemption for first responders. This would not require local governments to allow this property tax exemption.

A “no” vote would not give authority for local governments to create an additional property tax exemption for first responders.

Proposed Constitutional Amendment 4

“Do you support an amendment authorizing the legislature, after securing a two-thirds vote of each house, to use up to two hundred fifty million dollars from the Revenue Stabilization Trust Fund to alleviate a budget deficit subject to conditions set forth by law and allowing the legislature to modify such conditions for accessing the monies in the fund, subject to two-thirds vote?”

Since 2016, Louisiana has deposited higher than expected revenues from corporations into a separate Revenue Stabilization Trust Fund. A ⅔ vote of the legislature allows money to be withdrawn from this account up to the full amount.

A “yes” vote on this amendment would add an additional restriction to only allows the state legislature, through a two-thirds supermajority vote, to use up to $250 million of funds in the Revenue Stabilization Trust Fund to alleviate a budget deficit.

A “no” vote would maintain the current regulations.

Attorney General
The Attorney General serves a four-year term, is the chief legal officer of the state, and is the head of the Louisiana Department of Justice.

The office of the Attorney General manages hundreds of lawyers within the state and provides legal representation to the state. It also enforces state law, ensures that the state itself is following state and federal laws, and is in compliance with federal law, and conducts public education programs.
State Treasurer
The State Treasurer serves as the chief custodian of the state’s Treasury and is the state’s head banker. The Treasurer serves a four-year term.

The Treasurer receives and deposits state monies, manages investments, and keeps track of budget surpluses and deficits, and must ensure that the state has enough money to pay all of its bills on time.

The Treasurer is also the head of the Treasury Department, which serves as the “central bank” of Louisiana and is where public money for state government is deposited and withdrawn. Additional duties include leading the State Bond Commission and overseeing the Unclaimed Property Division of the Treasury, which is responsible for returning lost money to its rightful owner.
Commissioner of Insurance
The Commissioner of Insurance is the head of the Louisiana Department of Insurance (LDI), and is elected every four years. The LDI contains the Office of Consumer Advocacy and the Division of Diversity & Opportunity, and is made up of the following boards and commissions: Louisiana Health Care Commission, Louisiana Property & Casualty Commission, Louisiana Auto Theft & Insurance Fraud Prevention Authority.

The LDI regulates the insurance industry according to state law, educates consumers, and advocates for consumer protections. It also reports to the state legislature, which can affect the insurance industry and, in turn, consumers. Another important role of this agency is running the Senior Health Insurance Information Program, which helps senior citizens better understand Medicare coverage options and benefits to make more informed decisions.

You can go to the LDI website to lodge consumer complaints, and they publish resources and updates for consumers.
Commissioner of Agriculture and Forestry
The Commissioner of Agriculture and Forestry leads the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry. The Commissioner is elected every four years and is not subject to term limits.

The Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry is responsible for administering the programs and enforcing the regulations that impact every aspect of the state’s agriculture and forestry, including agricultural chemistry programs, horticulture programs, pesticide and environmental programs, conservation, seed programs, animal health, food safety, forestry, and medical marijuana.

These programs are intended to ensure food safety in Louisiana and that the environment remains suitable for continued growth of the state’s economy.
BESE--Louisiana State Board of Elementary and Secondary Education
BESE is made up of 11 members, eight are elected from the BESE districts, and the other three are appointed by the Governor and confirmed by the State Senate. BESE members elect a president, vice president, and secretary-treasurer from its membership.

The members are also divided into four separate committees: Administration and Finance, Educator Effectiveness, Academic Goals and Instructional Improvement, School Innovation and Turnaround. Each committee considers issues within its specific subject area and then makes recommendations to the Board as a whole.

Responsibilities BESE has the responsibility for governing all Louisiana elementary and secondary schools; special schools for the deaf, blind, and physically handicapped; and educational units within the state’s correctional institutions and mental facilities. There are also Task Forces/Commissions and Advisory Councils within BESE.

BESE has the authority to create policies that govern the statewide operations of public and non-public schools, to administer the budget for educational programs and services at those schools, and to conduct administrative hearings to resolve any conflict concerning its policies and actions. Some of the many specifically defined duties assigned to this board by law include approval of certification requirements, policies for assessment and evaluation of teachers, administrators and students, approval of textbooks, and administering the state’s charter school program.
State Senator
Your State Senator is elected by voters in your senate district to represent that district in the state legislature. There are 39 senators in the Louisiana legislature, and each senate district contains an average of approximately 116,000 people. Elections to the Senate occur every four years, and senators are limited three four-year terms (12 years).

Responsibilities The primary duties of a state senator are creating, debating, and voting on legislation that either makes new laws or modifies existing ones. Legislation must be approved by the Senate, as well as the House of Representatives, before being signed into law by the Governor.

The laws either created or modified by the state legislature are an important addition to the laws that must be followed at the local level as well as at the federal level.
State Representative
Your State Representative is elected by voters in your district to represent the district in the state legislature. There are 105 representatives in the Louisiana legislature, each of whom represents approximately 42,500 people. Members serve four-year terms with a term limit of three terms (total 12 years).

Primary duties of a State Representative are creating, debating, and voting on legislation that either makes new laws or modifies existing ones. Legislation must be approved by the State House of Representatives, as well as the State Senate, before being signed into law by the Governor of the state.

The laws either created or modified by the state legislature are an important addition to the laws that must be followed at the local level as well as at the federal level.
The Sheriff’s office in your parish provides law enforcement, detention, court security, and homeland security services within that parish. It also enforces state law within the parish and maintains the parish prison.

The Sheriff has an influential role in providing a fair and responsible police force that citizens can rely on to provide equitable justice regardless of our individual characteristics (such as race, religion, sexual orientation, and gender identity).