The Louisiana State Legislature gave final approval to two constitutional amendments on Sunday, sending them to the October 2019 primary election ballot. Both amendments concern exemptions for ad valorem property taxes. In Louisiana, the state legislature can refer constitutional amendments to the ballot with a two-thirds (66.67 percent) vote of all members in each chamber.
One amendment would authorize the city of New Orleans to exempt properties with no more than 15 residential units from taxes for the purpose of, according to the amendment, promoting and encouraging affordable housing. The ballot measure would allow New Orleans to (a) exempt a portion of assessed values of properties, (b) exempt the full assessed value of properties, or (c) keep assessed values at the level for the year prior to the exemption going into effect. The ballot measure would prohibit properties used as short-term rentals (less than 30 days) from receiving the exemption. State Sen. Troy Carter (D-7) introduced the constitutional amendment. The state Senate approved it 28-9 on May 7. At least 26 votes were needed to pass SB 79 in the Senate. On June 2, 2019, the state house approved the amendment 92-2.
The other amendment would exempt goods and other property stored in Louisiana in transit to the Outer Continental Shelf from ad valorem property taxes. State Sen. Blake Miguez (R-49) introduced the constitutional amendment as House Bill 234 (HB 234). On May 22, the Louisiana House of Representatives approved the constitutional amendment, with 83 representatives supporting the amendment, 12 representatives opposing the amendment, and 10 members absent or not voting. In the Senate, a change to the proposed amendment was adopted amending the definition to which the property tax exemption would apply from “stored in Louisiana for maintenance or with a destination to the Outer Continental Shelf” to “stored in Louisiana for maintenance with a destination to the Outer Continental Shelf” (emphasis added). As amended, it passed unanimously in the Senate. The House, concurred with the Senate changes on June 2, 2019, with 91 representatives supporting the amendment, four opposing it, and 10 not voting. An exemption exists for property stored in Louisiana before being exported out of the U.S. or transported to another state. This amendment would extend that exemption to property destined to the Outer Continental Shelf.
The legislature is considering other constitutional amendments for the 2019 ballot before it adjourns later this week. Amendments that have been approved in one chamber include measures concerning abortion, taxes, and education.
From 1995 through 2018, Louisiana voters decided 185 constitutional amendments. An average of five measures appeared on odd-year statewide ballots, with a range from zero to 16. Voters approved 75 percent (139 of 185) and rejected 25 percent (46 of 185) of the constitutional amendments.
So far, 17 statewide ballot measures have certified for 2019 election ballots in five states. By this time in the year, an average of 16 statewide measures had been certified for the ballot in the last four odd-numbered years. An average of 30 statewide measures ultimately appeared on the ballot during odd-numbered years since 2011.