Author

Jackie Mitchell

Jackie Mitchell is a state ballot measures staff writer at Ballotpedia. Contact us at editor@ballotpedia.org.

Campaigns for three Colorado initiatives submit signatures by August 2 deadline

Campaigns for three initiatives in Colorado faced a signature deadline of August 2. To qualify for the ballot, 124,632 valid signatures are required.

Learning Enrichment and Academic Progress Program and Marijuana Sales Tax Increase Initiative (#25):

This initiative would amend state law to create the Learning Enrichment and Academic Progress Program to provide out-of-school learning opportunities for children aged 5 to 17 in subjects including math, science, reading, writing, music, art, career education, and specialized support for those with special needs. The measure would increase the marijuana retail sales tax by 5% to partially fund the program. The initiative would result in a state revenue increase of $137,600,000 annually.

Learning Opportunities for Colorado’s Kids (LEAP 4 Co) is leading the campaign in support of the initiative. The committee reported $948,270 in contributions, with all but $20 coming from Gary Community Investment Company. The committee reported spending $609,012 on signature gathering through June 26. The committee’s August 2 campaign finance report covering data through July 28 was not yet filed at the time of this article. LEAP 4 Co reported submitting over 200,000 signatures on July 30.

Coloradans Against School Vouchers registered as an issue committee to oppose the initiative but has not yet reported campaign finance activity.

Custodial Fund Appropriations Initiative (#19):

This initiative, which would amend the state constitution and state law, would transfer the power to appropriate custodial funds (state revenue not generated through taxes) from the state treasurer to the state legislature. Examples of such funds include pension funds and court-approved settlement funds. The measure defines custodial money as money received by the state that (1) originated from a source other than the State of Colorado, (b) was awarded or provided to the state for a particular purpose, and (c) that the state is acting as a custodian or trustee to carry out the purpose for which the funds were provided.

The Committee for Spending Transparency is leading the campaign in support of the initiative. According to the August 2 campaign finance report covering information through July 28, the committee had received $1.275 million in contributions, all from Unite for Colorado, and had spent $1.13 million on signature gathering.

Constitutional amendments in Colorado require a 55% supermajority vote to be ratified and added to the state constitution. This requirement was added by Amendment 71 of 2016.

Reduce Property Tax Rates and Retain $25 Million in TABOR Surplus Revenue Initiative (#27):

This initiative would amend state law to reduce the residential and non-residential property tax rates and authorize the state to retain and spend $25 million in revenue above the state’s TABOR spending cap, which it would otherwise be required to refund to taxpayers.

Cut Property Taxes is leading the campaign in support of the initiative. According to the August 2 campaign finance report covering information through July 28, the committee had received $875,000, all from Unite for Colorado, and had spent $868,728 on signature gathering.

Sponsor of initiatives #19 and #27 Michael Fields, Executive Director of Colorado Rising Action, said that around 200,000 signatures were gathered for each measure and that signatures would be submitted on August 2.

A fourth initiative, Initiative #31, which would amend state law to decrease the state income tax rate from 4.55% to 4.40%, faces a signature deadline of October 29, 2021, to qualify for the November 2022 ballot. The measure was sponsored by Jon Caldara of the Independence Institute. A committee— Colorado Character— registered to support the initiative on July 20, 2021.

From 2016 through 2020, successful initiative petition drives cost an average of about $850,000, ranging from volunteer efforts to $2.2 million.

Measures that can go on the statewide ballot in Colorado during odd years are limited to topics that concern taxes or state fiscal matters arising under TABOR, the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights (Section 20 of Article X of the Colorado Constitution). This requirement was added to state statute in 1994.

Measures that can go on odd-year election ballots include measures proposing new taxes, tax increases, an extension of taxes, tax policy changes resulting in a net tax revenue gain, changes to revenue or fiscal obligations, delays in voting on ballot issues, and approval for the state to retain and spend state revenues that otherwise would be refunded for exceeding an estimate included in the ballot information booklet.

The last time an initiative appeared on an odd-year ballot in Colorado was 2013. The measure, which was defeated, would have changed Colorado’s flat personal income tax rate to a graduated income rate with increased rates. At least $10.4 million was raised in support of the initiative.

In 2020, eight initiatives appeared on the ballot in Colorado. Campaigns supporting the measures received an average of $3.36 million in support contributions and $2.49 million in opposition contributions. Campaigns supporting and opposing the eight initiatives on the 2020 ballot reported a combined total of $46.8 million in contributions.



Georgia’s suspended insurance commissioner found guilty on 37 charges of fraud; voters to decide in 2022 on suspending pay for indicted officials

On July 22, a jury found former Georgia Insurance Commissioner Jim Beck (R) guilty on 37 counts of fraud, including mail fraud, wire fraud, money laundering, and tax fraud.

Beck was elected to the office on November 6, 2018, and was suspended from the office by Governor Brian Kemp (R) on May 16, 2019.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported in late January that Beck had been receiving pay and benefits since being indicted for federal wire fraud, mail fraud, and money laundering charges in May 2019. The charges included allegations that Beck stole over $2 million from his former employer, the Georgia Underwriting Association, and used those funds to pay for his 2018 campaign. Because Beck was suspended and did not resign, the state had been compensating him as well as John King, Kemp’s appointment to fill the position during Beck’s suspension.

Following the verdict, insurance commissioner John King said, “The state of Georgia is no longer paying for two commissioners. We took him off the payroll within hours of the jury coming back.”

Beck was placed on house arrest until sentencing, which was set for October 8, 2021.

Voters in Georgia will decide in 2022 whether to amend the state constitution to suspend compensation for the following public officials while suspended from office due to a felony indictment:

1. any member of the General Assembly;

2. Governor;

3. Lieutenant Governor;

4. Secretary of State;

5. Attorney General;

6. State School Superintendent;

7. Commissioner of Insurance;

8. Commissioner of Agriculture; or

9. Commissioner of Labor

Currently, under the state’s constitution, assembly members and public officials who are suspended from office due to the indictment for a felony still receive compensation until they are convicted. Officials that are reinstated to their position would receive pay that was withheld under the amendment.



Signature deadlines approaching for Colorado 2021 initiatives

Four initiatives targeting the November 2 ballot in Colorado were approved for signature gathering. The deadline for signature submission to qualify for the 2021 ballot is August 2. Colorado also has deadlines specific to each initiative since initiatives can be circulated for no more than six months. Details about the four initiatives are below:

Custodial Fund Appropriations Initiative:

This initiative, which would amend the state constitution and state law, would transfer the power to appropriate custodial funds (state revenue not generated through taxes) from the state treasurer to the state legislature. Examples of such funds include pension funds and court-approved settlement funds. The measure defines custodial money as money received by the state that (1) originated from a source other than the State of Colorado, (b) was awarded or provided to the state for a particular purpose, and (c) that the state is acting as a custodian or trustee to carry out the purpose for which the funds were provided.

The Committee for Spending Transparency is leading the campaign in support of the initiative and reported $1 million in contributions from Unite for Colorado.

To qualify for the ballot, 124,632 valid signatures must be submitted by August 2, 2021. Constitutional amendments in Colorado require a 55% supermajority vote to be ratified and added to the state constitution. This requirement was added by Amendment 71 of 2016.

Learning Enrichment and Academic Progress Program and Marijuana Sales Tax Increase Initiative:

This initiative would amend state law to create the Learning Enrichment and Academic Progress Program to provide out-of-school learning opportunities for children aged 5 to 17 in subjects including math, science, reading, writing, music, art, career education, and specialized support for those with special needs. The measure would increase the marijuana retail sales tax by 5% to partially fund the program. The initiative would result in a state revenue increase of $137,600,000 annually.

Learning Opportunities for Colorado’s Kids (LEAP 4 Co) is leading the campaign in support of the initiative. The committee reported $948,270 in contributions, with all but $20 coming from Gary Community Investment Company.

Coloradans Against School Vouchers registered as an issue committee to oppose the initiative. The committee had not yet reported campaign finance activity. To qualify for the ballot, 124,632 valid signatures must be submitted by August 2, 2021.

Reduce Property Tax Rates and Retain $25 Million in TABOR Surplus Revenue Initiative:

This initiative would amend state law to reduce the residential and non-residential property tax rates and authorize the state to retain and spend $25 million in revenue above the state’s TABOR spending cap, which it would otherwise be required to refund to taxpayers. Each version differs regarding how the $25 million in retained revenue could be spent. Suzanne Taheri and Michael Fields of Colorado Rising Action filed the initiative.

Cut Property Taxes registered as an issue committee to support the initiative and reported $750,000.00 in contributions from Unite for Colorado. To qualify for the ballot, 124,632 valid signatures must be submitted by August 2, 2021.

State Income Tax Rate Reduction Initiative:

This initiative, sponsored by Jon Caldara of the Independence Institute, would amend state law to decrease the state income tax rate from 4.55% to 4.40%. Ballotpedia did not identify issue committees registered to support or oppose the measure. To qualify for the ballot, 124,632 valid signatures must be submitted by October 29, 2021.

The initiative campaign committees with campaign finance activity surrounding the three measures with contributions reported a combined total of $2.7 million in contributions from two donors. The committees reported a combined total of $2.14 million in expenditures.

From 2016 through 2020, successful initiative petition drives cost an average of about $850,000, ranging from volunteer efforts to $2.2 million.

Measures that can go on the statewide ballot in Colorado during odd years are limited to topics that concern taxes or state fiscal matters arising under TABOR, the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights (Section 20 of Article X of the Colorado Constitution). This requirement was added to state statute in 1994. Measures that can go on odd-year election ballots include measures proposing new taxes, tax increases, an extension of taxes, tax policy changes resulting in a net tax revenue gain, changes to revenue or fiscal obligations, delays in voting on ballot issues, and approval for the state to retain and spend state revenues that otherwise would be refunded for exceeding an estimate included in the ballot information booklet.

The last time an initiative appeared on an odd-year ballot in Colorado was 2013. The measure, which was defeated, would have changed Colorado’s flat personal income tax rate to a graduated income rate with increased rates. At least $10.4 million was raised in support of the initiative.

In 2020, eight initiatives appeared on the ballot in Colorado. Campaigns supporting the measures received an average of $3.36 million in support contributions and $2.49 million in opposition contributions. Campaigns supporting and opposing the eight initiatives on the 2020 ballot reported a combined total of $46.8 million in contributions.



Washington initiative signature deadline passes with no campaigns submitting signatures

The signature submission deadline for Initiatives to the People (ITP)—which is the name of direct ballot initiatives in Washington—passed on July 2, 2021. No campaigns submitted signatures. To qualify for the ballot, proponents would have needed to submit 324,516 valid signatures. A total of 136 ITPs were filed by five sponsors. The filed initiatives concerned a range of topics, including taxes, affirmative action, drug policy, marijuana, civil rights, and time standards.

Citizens of Washington may initiate legislation as either a direct state statute—called Initiative to the People (ITP) in Washington—or indirect state statute—called Initiative to the Legislature (ITL) in Washington. In Washington, citizens also have the power to repeal legislation through veto referendums. Citizens may not initiate constitutional amendments.

This year will be the third consecutive year that no ITPs appeared on the statewide ballot in Washington. The 2020 election was the first presidential election year since 1928 in which the Washington ballot did not feature an Initiative to the People (ITP).

The last ITPs on the ballot were decided in the 2018 general election. In the ten-year period from 2009 to 2019, six ITPs were on the ballot in odd-numbered years: one in 2009, three in 2011, and two in 2015.

The signature deadline for 2021 Washington Initiatives to the Legislature (ITL) was December 31, 2020. A total of 216 ITLs were filed by 14 sponsors. None of the campaigns submitted signatures by the deadline. Thirty-four Initiatives to the Legislature have been on the ballot since the first ITL in 1916; 18 were approved. The most recent ITL, Initiative 976, was on the ballot in 2019 where it was approved and later invalidated by the Washington State Supreme Court.

Two veto referendum measures filed by Tim Eyman have a signature deadline of July 24, 2021. A veto referendum is a type of citizen-initiated ballot measure that asks voters whether to uphold or repeal a law recently passed by the state legislature. Opponents of the law collect signatures for the veto referendum petition hoping that voters will repeal it at the ballot. Referendum 92 would ask voters to approve or repeal House Bill 1091, which would create the Clean Fuels Program overseen by the Department of Ecology to limit transportation fuel energy greenhouse gas emissions. Referendum 93 would ask voters to approve or repeal Senate Bill 5126, which was designed to create a cap-and-trade program for greenhouse gas emissions overseen by the Department. of Ecology. Ballotpedia is not aware of an active signature-gathering campaign for either measure.

The Washington State Legislature may refer constitutional amendments to the ballot with a two-thirds (66.67%) supermajority vote. No constitutional amendments or other referrals were passed in the legislature before it adjourned its 2021 session on April 25, 2021. Advisory questions on bills increasing tax revenue could appear on the 2021 ballot.

A total of 61 measures appeared on the statewide ballot in Washington during odd years from the 20-year period between 1999 and 2019. 56% (34) were approved, and 44% (27) were defeated.



Judge blocks $3,000 limit on contributions to Florida initiative campaigns during signature gathering

On July 1, U.S. District Judge Allen Winsor issued a preliminary injunction blocking the enforcement of Florida Senate Bill 1890. SB 1890 was designed to set $3,000 limits on campaign contributions to committees in support of or opposition to ballot initiatives during signature gathering. The bill was designed to lift the contribution limits after a measure is put on the ballot. It would have taken effect on July 1 without the injunction.

Winsor wrote that the state “bears the burden of justifying restrictions on political expression by advancing at least ‘a significantly important interest’ that is ‘closely drawn to avoid unnecessary abridgment of associational freedoms.’ […] Binding decisions from the U.S. Supreme Court and the 5th Circuit (Court of Appeals) applied those principles and concluded that the First Amendment forbids limitations like those SB 1890 imposes.”

Florida House Speaker Chris Sprowls (R) responded to the ruling, “The citizen initiative system was designed to be a mechanism for grassroots expression not a shortcut for billionaires to bypass the political process. SB 1890 contained limited and narrowly tailored measures to protect the integrity of the signature-gathering process.”

The Senate passed the bill 23-17 on April 14. Twenty-three Republicans were in favor, and 16 Democrats and one Republican were opposed. The House passed it 75-40 on April 26. All 75 voting Republicans were in favor, and all 40 voting Democrats were opposed. Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) signed the bill on May 7.

On May 8, the ACLU of Florida along with three initiative petition campaigns filed the lawsuit seeking a preliminary injunction. The lawsuit cited previous rulings that overturned limitations on campaign contributions for ballot measure committees, including Citizens Against Rent Control v. City of Berkeley (1981), First National Bank of Boston v. Bellotti (1978), and Buckley v. Valeo (1976). The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled in previous cases that political contributions constitute freedom of speech and cannot be limited without a compelling state interest, such as to prevent corruption and bribery. The court has also ruled that “referenda are held on issues, not candidates for public office. The risk of corruption perceived in cases involving candidate elections simply is not present in a popular vote on a public issue.”

In Florida, initiative proponents must collect signatures equal to 8% of votes cast at the previous presidential election. The requirement to put an initiative on the 2022 ballot is 891,589 valid signatures. Florida also has a signature distribution requirement, which requires that signatures equaling at least 8% of the district-wide vote in the last presidential election be collected from at least half (14) of the state’s 27 congressional districts. Signatures remain valid until February 1 of even-numbered years and must be verified by February 1 of the targeted general election year.

In 2020, four initiatives qualified for the ballot in Florida. The petition drives to put those measures on the ballot cost an average of $6.7 million each, ranging from $4 million to $8.8 million. From 2016 through 2020, the average total cost of an initiative petition drive that successfully qualified an initiative for the ballot in Florida was $5.1 million. Nationwide, the average total cost of a successful initiative petition drive was $2.1 million in 2020. It was $1.2 million in 2018. In Florida, the petition drives that put the four initiatives that were on the ballot in 2020 were each funded by one donor or entities that were all associated.

Additional reading:



Florida sports betting legalization initiative filed with support from FanDuel and DraftKings

Florida Initiative 21-13, sponsored by Florida Education Champions, was cleared for signature gathering on June 23, 2021.

The measure would authorize sports betting at sports venues, pari-mutuel facilities, and online in Florida. The Florida State Legislature would need to pass legislation to implement the constitutional amendment such as providing for licensing, regulation, consumer protection, and taxation. Under the amendment, all online sports betting tax revenue would be dedicated to the Educational Enhancement Trust Fund of the Department of Education.

Online sports betting could be conducted by (a) Native American tribes and (b) entities that have existed for at least one year and that have conducted sports betting in at least 10 other states under the amendment. Such entities could begin conducting sports betting no later than eight months after the amendment is effective. Other entities or organizations could conduct sports betting no sooner than 20 months after the amendment is effective if authorized by state law.

In 2017, the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments in a case, Murphy v. NCAA (originally Christie v. NCAA), regarding the legality of a law implementing New Jersey Public Question 1 (2011). On May 14, 2018, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 7-2 that the federal government could not require states to prohibit sports betting, thereby overturning the federal ban on sports betting. The ruling allowed states to legalize sports betting if they wish. As of June 2021, sports betting was legal, or laws to legalize had been approved, in 30 states and D.C.

In 2018, Florida voters approved Amendment 3, which gave voters the “exclusive right to decide whether to authorize casino gambling in the State of Florida.” Amendment 3 made the citizen initiative process “the exclusive method of authorizing casino gambling,” meaning the Florida State Legislature is not permitted to authorize casino gambling through statute or through referring a constitutional amendment to the ballot. The amendment is not applicable to compacts between the state and Native American tribes under the Federal Indian Gaming Regulatory Act that authorize gaming on tribal lands.

Florida made a compact with the Seminole Tribe in April 2021 that gave the Tribe the exclusive ability to conduct sports betting in the state. Under the compact, the tribe would conduct sports betting and would be required to give a minimum of $400 million per year to the state of Florida for the next 30 years, until 2051. Under the compact, sports betting would be available online and at pari-mutuel facilities to anyone in the state and would be “deemed at all times to be exclusively conducted by the tribe at its facilities” where the sportsbooks and servers are located.

The Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA) of 1988 requires that any gaming activities provided for through gaming compacts between Indian tribes and state governments occur only on Indian lands, defined as “all lands within the limits of any Indian reservation.” Florida’s 2021 compact with the Seminole Tribe contains a severability clause, providing that, “[i]f at any time the Tribe is not legally permitted to offer Sports Betting to Patrons physically located in the State but not on Indian lands,” then the rest of the compact would remain in effect, meaning sports betting would then be available only on tribal lands.

Florida Education Champions said, “Our amendment will allow more competition and enable Floridians to use their favorite sports betting platform. [It] will bring competitive sports betting to Florida and allow fans to use their favorite online sports betting platforms, such as DraftKings or FanDuel. That means no monopolies or limited options.” Florida Education Champions spokesperson Christina Johnson said the amendment would “generate substantial revenue that can be directed to Florida’s public education system — without raising taxes.”

Seminole Tribe spokesperson Gary Bitner said, “This is a political Hail Mary from out-of-state corporations trying to interfere with the business of the people of Florida. They couldn’t stop Florida’s new gaming compact, which passed by an overwhelming 88 percent ‘yes’ vote from Florida’s elected legislators and enjoys 3-to-1 support from Floridians and guarantees $2.5 billion in revenue sharing. The guarantee is the largest commitment by any gaming company in U.S. history.”

To qualify for the 2022 ballot, proponents must submit 891,589 valid signatures. The deadline for signature verification is February 1, 2022. As election officials have 30 days to check signatures, petitions should be submitted at least one month before the verification deadline. Proposed measures are reviewed by the state attorney general and state supreme court after proponents collect 25% of the required signatures across the state in each of one-half of the state’s congressional districts (222,898 signatures for 2022 ballot measures). After these preliminary signatures have been collected, the secretary of state must submit the proposal to the Florida Attorney General and the Financial Impact Estimating Conference (FIEC). The attorney general is required to petition the Florida Supreme Court for an advisory opinion on the measure’s compliance with the single-subject rule, the appropriateness of the title and summary, and whether or not the measure “is facially valid under the United States Constitution.”

Last month, an initiative was certified for the California 2022 ballot that would legalize sports betting at American Indian gaming casinos and licensed racetracks in California.

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Colorado governor signs transportation bill removing 2021 bond issue from ballot

On June 17, Colorado Governor Jared Polis signed Senate Bill 260, thereby removing a bond issue that was set to appear on the state’s 2021 general election ballot.

The Colorado State Legislature passed Senate Bill 260 on June 2, 2021. It included a provision to remove the bond issue that was set to appear on the 2021 ballot. The bill was passed largely along party lines with Democrats in favor and Republicans opposed.

The bond measure was designed to issue $1.337 billion in bonds to fund statewide transportation projects with a maximum repayment cost of $1.865 billion over 20 years. The measure was originally passed in the state legislature as Senate Bill 1 in 2018. It was placed on the 2019 ballot after two 2018 citizen initiatives designed to authorize bonds for transportation projects—Proposition 109 (“Fix Our Damn Roads”) and Proposition 110 (“Let’s Go Colorado”)—were defeated.

In 2019, the measure was delayed to the 2020 ballot. Legislators had concerns that the bond issue appearing on the 2019 ballot alongside Proposition CC, which was designed to allow the state to retain revenue for transportation purposes, could cause both measures to fail. In 2020, the measure was delayed again to the 2021 ballot due to the economic concerns surrounding the Coronavirus pandemic.

The new transportation bill provides for $5.4 billion in transportation spending over 10 years. About $3.8 billion of the funds will come from new fees set to take effect in July 2022, including fees on gasoline and diesel purchases, retail deliveries, Uber and Lyft rides, electric vehicle registrations, and car rentals.

The bill was also designed to create four new state enterprises: the Nonattainment Area Air Pollution Mitigation Enterprise, the Clean Transit Enterprise, the Clean Fleet Enterprise, and the Community Access Enterprise.

Enterprises were established through the Colorado Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights (TABOR) amendment of 1992. Enterprises are government-owned businesses that provide goods or services for a fee or surcharge that is paid for by the individuals or entities that are purchasing the goods or services. This is in contrast to government agencies or programs that provide goods or services that are paid for by tax revenue. Enterprise revenue does not count toward the TABOR limit. TABOR limits the amount of money the state of Colorado can take in and spend. Any money collected above the TABOR limit is refunded to taxpayers unless the voters allow the state to spend it.

Proposition 117 of 2020, which was approved by voters, was designed to require statewide voter approval of new state enterprises if the enterprises’ projected or actual revenue from fees and surcharges is greater than $100 million within their first five years. Under Proposition 117, revenue collected for enterprises that were created at the same time or that serve substantially the same purpose is aggregated when calculating the application of this restriction. The four enterprises are expected to collect below the $100 million five-year limit.



Louisiana legislature adjourns 2021 session on June 11 referring two constitutional amendments to the 2021 ballot, seven to the 2022 ballot

The Louisiana State Legislature adjourned its 2021 session on June 10, 2021. It referred two constitutional amendments to the 2021 ballot and seven to the 2022 ballot.

The Louisiana Constitution limits legislation and constitutional amendments in odd-numbered years to matters concerning the state’s budget, government finance, and taxation.

2021 amendments:

The two 2021 constitutional amendments will be on the statewide ballot on October 9, 2021. In odd-numbered years from 1999 to 2019, 52 constitutional amendments appeared on the statewide ballot in Louisiana, of which, 36 (69.23%) were approved and 16 (30.77%) were defeated. There was an average of 4.7 amendments on odd-year ballots from 1999 through 2019.

Louisiana Changes to Taxing Authority of Levee Districts Amendment (2021):

The Louisiana Constitution authorizes levee districts, with district voter approval, to impose a tax of up to five mills ($5 per $1,000 of assessed value) for the purpose of constructing and maintaining levees. This amendment would remove the voter approval requirement for levee districts created between January 1, 2006, and October 9, 2021, and that vote in favor of this amendment in October. Levee districts created after October 9, 2021, would require voter approval to levy a tax.

The Board of Levee Commissioners of the Orleans Levee District may impose a tax of up to two and a half mills ($2.50 per $1,000 of assessed value). Voter approval is not required in this district. This constitutional amendment would not affect the Orleans Levee District.

Louisiana Increase Limit on Funding Reductions and Redirections During Budget Deficits Amendment (2021):

The amendment would increase from 5% to 10% the funds that can be redirected to a purpose other than what was originally provided for by law or as stated in the constitution during a projected budget deficit.

2022 amendments:

During the 2021 legislative session, the Louisiana Legislature referred seven constitutional amendments to November 8, 2022 ballot. In even-numbered years from 2000 to 2020, 96 constitutional amendments appeared on the statewide ballot in Louisiana, of which, 69 (71.88%) were approved and 27 (28.13%) were defeated. There was an average of 8.7 amendments on even-year ballots from 2000 through 2020. The legislature can refer additional amendments to the ballot in 2022.

Louisiana Adjustment of Ad Valorem Tax Rates Amendment (2022):

Currently, the state constitution provides for the adjustment of ad valorem tax rates up to the maximum authorized rate in effect the prior year. The maximum authorized rate is adjusted every four years in a statewide reassessment and may also be adjusted if the homestead exemption change.

The amendment would provide that ad valorem tax rates can be increased by a two-thirds vote of a taxing authority up to the maximum rate allowed by the constitution until the authorized rate expires.

Louisiana Reduction of the Maximum Individual Income Tax Rate Amendment (2022):

The amendment would decrease the maximum individual income tax rate from 6% to 4.75% for tax years beginning in 2022. The tax brackets for an individual would be 2% on the first $12,500 of net income, 4% on the next net income up to $37,500, and 4.75% on income above $50,000. The amendment would permit, (instead of require) a deduction for federal income taxes paid.

Louisiana Waiving Water Charges Amendment (2022):

The Louisiana Constitution currently prohibits the state or any local government from “loaning, pledging, or donating its funds, credit, property, or things of value,” though it provides certain exceptions. The amendment would add a new exception to this requirement in order to allow local governments to waive water charges for customers if water is lost due to water delivery infrastructure damages if such damages are not caused by the customer’s actions or the customer’s failure to act.

Louisiana Limit on Assessed Value Increase of Reappraised Property in Orleans Parish Amendment (2022):

The amendment would limit the increase in the assessed value of residential property in Orleans Parish to 10% of the property’s assessed value from the prior year. The effective date of the amendment is January 1, 2023.

Louisiana Increase Maximum Amount Invested in Equities for Certain State Funds Amendment (2022):

The amendment would increase the portion of money in certain state funds that could be invested in equities (stocks) from 35% to 65%. The increase would apply to the following funds:

1. Louisiana Education Quality Trust Fund;

2. Artificial Reef Development Fund;

3. Lifetime License Endowment Trust Fund;

4. Rockefeller Wildlife Refuge Trust and Protection Fund; and

5. Russell Sage or Marsh Island Refuge Fund.

The amendment would also remove a provision in the constitution that limits the legislature’s ability to increase the amount of money in the Millennium Trust that may be invested in stock and instead allows the legislature to provide for investments by general law.

Louisiana Creation of the State and Local Streamlined Sales and Use Tax Commission Amendment (2022):

The amendment would create the State and Local Streamlined Sales and Use Tax Commission. The commission would have eight members. The role of the commission would be to provide streamlined electronic filing and remittance of all sales and use taxes. It would also be responsible for promulgating rules related to all sales and use taxes levied by any taxing authority in the state. The administration of the commission would be funded by sales and use tax revenue. The amendment would require the state legislature to enact any laws related to the duties and funding of the commission. The commission would replace the Louisiana Sales and Use Tax Commission for Remote Sellers and the Louisiana Uniform Local Sales Tax Board after one year with all employees transferred to the new commission.

Louisiana Classified Civil Service Employee Public Support of Family Members’ Campaigns Amendment (2022):

The amendment would allow civil service employees to publicly support the election campaigns of individuals in their immediate family when off duty.

Click here for vote totals for each amendment broken down by political party.

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Louisiana legislature refers two more amendments to the 2022 ballot concerning waiving certain water charges and limiting increases in assessed value for Orleans Parish properties

The Louisiana Legislature voted on Sunday and Monday to refer two more amendments to the Nov. 2022 ballot, bringing to total to four. A two-thirds vote is needed in each chamber of the Louisiana Legislature to refer a constitutional amendment to the ballot for voter consideration.

Last week, the legislature referred two amendments to the 2022 ballot concerning investing state money in stocks and electronic filing and remittance of sales taxes.

Louisiana Waiving Water Charges Amendment

This measure would allow local governments to waive water charges for water lost because of damage to infrastructure if damages are not caused by the customer.

This amendment was introduced as House Bill 59 (HB 59) by Rep. Jeremy LaCombe (D) on March 4, 2021. On May 19, the House passed HB 59 in a vote of 102-0. The Senate approved the amendment in a vote of 36-1 on June 6. The “no” vote came from Democratic Senator Karen Carter.

Louisiana Limit on Assessed Value Increase of Reappraised Property in Orleans Parish Amendment

The amendment would limit the increase in the assessed value of residential property in Orleans Parish to 10% of the property’s assessed value from the prior year. The effective date of the amendment is January 1, 2023.

This amendment was introduced as House Bill 143 (HB 143) by Rep. Matthew Willard (D) on April 12, 2021. On May 10, the House passed HB 143 in a vote of 97-3. The bill was amended and passed in the Senate on June 2 in a vote of 26-6. The House concurred with the Senate’s amendments and approved the amendment on June 7, in a vote of 94-1.

Potential 2021 and 2022 Louisiana ballot measures

There are six other constitutional amendments for the 2022 ballot and three amendments for the 2021 ballot that have passed one chamber of the Louisiana Legislature. They would appear on the statewide ballot if passed in the second chamber. The state legislature is set to adjourn its 2021 session on June 10, 2021.

Louisiana historical ballot measure statistics

From 2000 to 2020, 132 constitutional amendments appeared on the statewide ballot in Louisiana. Of the total, 96 amendments appeared on the ballot during even-numbered years, and 36 amendments appeared on the ballot during odd-numbered years.

The average number of amendments appearing on the statewide ballot was 10 in even-numbered years and 4 in odd-numbered years.

Voters approved 71.88% (69 of 96) and rejected 28.13% (27 of 96) of the amendments during even years. Voters approved 69.44% (25 of 36) and rejected 30.56% (11 of 36) of the amendments during odd years.

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Louisiana legislature refers two amendments to 2022 ballot concerning investing state money in stocks and electronic filing and remittance of sales taxes

The Louisiana Legislature voted to put two amendments on the Nov. 2022 ballot last week.

Louisiana Increase Maximum Amount Invested in Equities for Certain State Funds Amendment (2022)

This amendment would increase the portion of money in certain state funds that could be invested in equities (stocks) from 35% to 65%. The increase would apply to the following funds:

  • Louisiana Education Quality Trust Fund;
  • Artificial Reef Development Fund;
  • Lifetime License Endowment Trust Fund;
  • Rockefeller Wildlife Refuge Trust and Protection Fund; and
  • Russell Sage or Marsh Island Refuge Fund.

The amendment would also remove a provision in the constitution that limits the legislature’s ability to increase the amount of money in the Millennium Trust that may be invested in stock and instead allows the legislature to provide for investments by general law.

The legislature passed House Bill 154 on June 2 by a vote of 36-0 in the Senate and 100-0 in the House. In Louisiana, a two-thirds vote is needed in each chamber of the Louisiana State Legislature to refer an amendment to the ballot.

Louisiana Creation of the State and Local Streamlined Sales and Use Tax Commission Amendment (2022)

This amendment would create the State and Local Streamlined Sales and Use Tax Commission. The commission would be comprised of eight members. The purpose of the commission would be to provide streamlined electronic filing and remittance of all sales and use taxes. It would also be responsible for promulgating rules related to all sales and use taxes levied by any taxing authority in the state. The administration of the commission would be funded by sales and use tax revenue. The amendment would require a two-thirds (66.67 percent) supermajority vote by the state legislature to enact any laws related to the duties and funding of the commission. The commission would replace the Louisiana Sales and Use Tax Commission for Remote Sellers and the Louisiana Uniform Local Sales Tax Board after one year with all employees transferred to the new commission.

This amendment was introduced as House Bill 199 (HB 199) on March 26, 2021. On April 21, 2021, the House passed HB 199 in a vote of 97-4 with three absent. The Senate unanimously passed the bill with amendments on May 12, 2021. The House rejected the Senate’s amendments and a conference committee was called. Both houses adopted the conference committee’s version of the bill unanimously on June 3, 2021.

Potential 2021 and 2022 Louisiana ballot measures

There are eight other constitutional amendments for the 2022 ballot and three amendments for the 2021 ballot that have passed one chamber of the Louisiana Legislature. They would appear on the statewide ballot if passed in the second chamber.

Louisiana historical ballot measure statistics

From 2000 to 2020, a total of 132 constitutional amendments appeared on the statewide ballot in Louisiana. A total of 96 amendments appeared on the ballot during even-numbered years, and 36 amendments appeared on the ballot during odd-numbered years. The average number of amendments appearing on the statewide ballot was 10 in even-numbered years and 4 in odd-numbered years. Voters approved 71.88% (69 of 96) and rejected 28.13% (27 of 96) of the amendments during even years. Voters approved 69.44% (25 of 36) and rejected 30.56% (11 of 36) of the amendments during odd years.

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