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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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Special election primary to be held June 12 in Louisiana Senate district

A special election primary is being held on June 12 for District 7 of the Louisiana State Senate. Joanna Cappiello-Leopold (D), Gary Carter Jr. (D), Mack Cormier (D), and Patricia McCarty (R) are running in the primary. Louisiana elections use the majority-vote system. All candidates compete in the same primary, and a candidate can win the election outright by receiving more than 50% of the vote. If no candidate does, the top two vote recipients from the primary advance to the general election, regardless of their partisan affiliation.

The District 7 seat became vacant after Troy Carter (D) won a special election for Louisiana’s 2nd Congressional District on April 24. Carter had represented District 7 since 2016. He resigned on May 10, a day prior to his swearing-in as a member of Congress.

Heading into the special election, Republicans have a 27-11 majority in the Louisiana Senate with one vacancy. Louisiana has a divided government, and no political party holds a state government trifecta. A trifecta exists when one political party simultaneously holds the governor’s office and majorities in both state legislative chambers.

As of June, 38 state legislative special elections have been scheduled for 2021 in 16 states. Between 2011 and 2020, an average of 75 special elections took place each year. Louisiana held 36 state legislative special elections from 2011 to 2020.

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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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Here’s a round-up of this week’s redistricting news: May 5, 2021

Last week, the U.S. Census Bureau released apportionment counts for the U.S. House of Representatives, kicking off the 2021-2022 redistricting cycle. Throughout this year and next, policymakers (including state legislators, governors, and special redistricting commissions) will draft and implement new state legislative and congressional district maps, which will remain in force for the next 10 years. Beginning today, we will provide weekly updates on major redistricting events across all 50 states.

Oklahoma lawmakers unveil draft maps for state legislature: On April 21, Oklahoma lawmakers released their proposed district maps for the state senate and house of representatives, making Oklahoma the first state in the 2021-2022 cycle to produce draft maps. In lieu of final 2020 census data, which has not yet been made available to the states, lawmakers used the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey data for 2015 through 2019 to draft their proposals.

Release of apportionment counts triggers lawsuits in Louisiana, Minnesota, and Pennsylvania: On April 26, Democracy Docket filed three separate lawsuits on behalf of registered voters in three states, asking courts in Louisiana, Minnesota, and Pennsylvania to intervene and set up timelines for enacting court-drawn maps for the 2022 election cycle “in the near-certain event” that governors and legislatures in each state fail to do so. The substantive language used in the three suits is similar. All three allege that “there is no reasonable prospect that … political branches will reach consensus to enact” lawful district maps in a timely manner because the three states operate under divided governments (i.e., both the Democratic and Republican parties control at least one of the following: the governorship, the upper chamber of the state legislature, and the lower chamber).

New York Gov. Cuomo mulls legal challenge over loss of congressional seat: On April 27, Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) told reporters that he was considering the state’s “legal options” with respect to New York’s loss of one congressional seat to reapportionment. According to estimates by the U.S. Census Bureau, the state could have kept the seat if 89 additional New York residents had been counted. Cuomo said, “Do I think it was accurate within 89? No. And we’re looking at legal options. Because when you’re talking about 89, that could be a minor mistake in counting.” According to Janna Johnson, an assistant professor at the University of Minnesota Humphrey School of Public Affairs, no state has ever succeeded in challenging apportionment counts in court.

Pennsylvania Supreme Court appoints chairman of state legislative redistricting commission: On May 3, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court announced the appointment of Mark Nordenberg as chairman of the Pennsylvania Legislative Reapportionment Commission. Nordenberg, Chair of the University of Pittsburgh’s Institute of Politics, joins Sen. Majority Leader Kim Ward (R), Sen. Minority Leader Jay Costa (D), House Majority Leader Kerry Benninghoff (R), and House Minority Leader Joanna McClinton (D). The state supreme court appointed Nordenberg as chairman after the four other members of the commission failed to agree on an appointment. The commission has the sole authority to draft and implement new state legislative district maps.

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Troy Carter wins special election in Louisiana’s 2nd Congressional District

Troy Carter (D) won the special election for Louisiana’s 2nd Congressional District on Saturday, April 24. Carter received 55.2% of the vote, and fellow Democrat Karen Peterson received 44.8%. The two advanced to the general election from the March 20 all-party primary. Carter was elected to the state Senate in 2015 and has previously served in the Louisiana House of Representatives and the New Orleans City Council.

Former incumbent Cedric Richmond (D) and several U.S. House members endorsed Carter, a state senator. Peterson, who is also a state senator, had endorsements from 2018 Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams (D) and Gary Chambers (D), who finished third in the primary. 

Richmond resigned in January to become a senior adviser to President Joe Biden (D) and director of the White House Office of Public Engagement. He was first elected in 2010 and won re-election last year with 63.9% of the vote. Since 2000, the seat has been occupied by a Democrat in all years except 2009-2011, when it was occupied by Joseph Cao (R).

Carter and Peterson both expressed support for legalizing marijuana, ending cash bail, forgiving student debt loans for up to $50,000, and a moratorium on new oil and gas leases on federal land and waters. Both candidates supported increasing the federal minimum wage but disagreed on what it should be raised to. Carter supported a $15 per hour minimum wage, while Peterson said she would support raising it to $20 per hour. The candidates also differed on healthcare policy, with Carter supporting a public option and Peterson supporting a Medicare for All plan.

This is the second special election to be decided for the 117th Congress. On March 20th, voters in Louisiana’s 5th Congressional District elected Julia Letlow (R) in a special election to fill the vacancy left by Luke Letlow (R), who died before being seated in the 117th Congress from complications related to COVID-19.

Additional reading:

https://ballotpedia.org/Louisiana%27s_2nd_Congressional_District

https://ballotpedia.org/Troy_Carter

https://ballotpedia.org/Karen_Peterson_(Louisiana)



Louisiana’s 2nd Congressional District special election to be held April 24

Troy Carter (D) and Karen Peterson (D) are running in a special runoff election to represent Louisiana’s 2nd Congressional District in the U.S. House on April 24, 2021. Carter and Peterson received the most votes in March 20 special primary election. They advanced to the general runoff under Louisiana’s majority-vote system, which stipulates that if no candidate receives more than 50% of the vote in the primary, the top two vote recipients from the primary advance to the general election.

Carter and Peterson have both emphasized their experience and careers as lawmakers during the campaign. “Throughout my career I’ve remained laser focused on the simple ways to improve people’s day to day lives – like guaranteeing access to COVID-19 vaccine, equality pay for women, criminal justice reform and fighting for a living wage,” said Carter. Peterson said “After Katrina hit, I told the truth, held people accountable, and fought to help our families and our businesses rebuild. And that’s what I’ll do in Congress to lead us out of this pandemic.”

Both candidates support legalizing recreational marijuana, ending cash bail, forgiving student debt loans for up to $50,000, and a moratorium on new oil and gas leases on federal land and water. Both support increasing the federal minimum wage, but disagree on how high. Carter supports raising the minimum wage to $15 per hour, while Peterson said she would support raising it to $20 per hour. The candidates also differ on health care policy, with Carter supporting a public option allowing people to choose between a government-funded plan and private insurance and Peterson supporting a Medicare for All universal health care plan.

Carter raised $610,000 in the period from March 1 to April 4 compared to Peterson’s $362,000. Both candidates garnered noteworthy endorsements in recent weeks, with New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell (D) endorsing Peterson and Orleans Parish District Attorney Jason Williams (D) endorsing Carter.

The special election will fill the vacancy left by Cedric Richmond (D). On November 17, 2020, then President-elect Joe Biden (D) announced that Richmond would join his administration as a senior adviser to the president and director of the White House Office of Public Engagement. Richmond was first elected in 2010, and in the November 3, 2020 elections, he won with 63.9% of the vote. Since 2000, the seat has been occupied by a Democrat in all years except 2008-2010, when it was occupied by Joseph Cao (R).

Additional Reading:



Special election results for Louisiana state education board, appeals court

Louisiana held special state-level primary elections on March 20. A general election is scheduled for April 24. Louisiana elections use the majority-vote system. All candidates compete in the same primary, and a candidate can win the election outright by receiving more than 50% of the vote. If no candidate wins outright, the top two vote recipients from the primary advance to the general election, regardless of their partisan affiliation.

On the ballot at the state level were special elections for Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) District 4, Louisiana Circuit Courts of Appeal District 1, and Louisiana House of Representatives District 82. Ballotpedia also covered special elections in Louisiana’s 2nd and 5th Congressional Districts. Louisiana’s 5th Congressional District was the only race decided outright in the primary; the rest advanced to the April general election.

The BESE special election was called after Tony Davis (R) left office in January. He served from 2016 to 2021. Five candidates were on the ballot, including one Democrat, two Republicans, and two independents. Cassie Williams (D) and Michael Melerine (R) advanced to the general election. Williams received 29.3% of the vote, and Melerine received 28.2% of the vote.

Louisiana Circuit Courts of Appeal District 1 became vacant in October when Judge Felicia Toney Williams (D) retired. Williams served on the court from 1993 to 2020. Three candidates competed to replace her, all Democrats. Marcus Hunter (D) received 43.7% of the vote. He faces J. Garland Smith (D), who received 31.9% of the vote, in the general election.

The Louisiana House of Representatives District 82 seat became vacant in January when Charles Henry (R) resigned. Henry served from 2020 to 2021. Three candidates competed to replace him—one Democrat and two Republicans. Edwin Connick (R) faces Laurie Schlegel (R) in the general. Connick received 39.7% of the vote and Schlegel received 35.7% of the vote.

Louisiana has a divided government, and no political party holds a state government trifecta. A trifecta exists when one political party simultaneously holds the governor’s office and majorities in both state legislative chambers. The governor is a member of the Democratic Party and both chambers in the Louisiana State Legislature have Republican majorities.

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Julia Letlow wins Louisiana’s 5th Congressional District special election

Julia Letlow (R) defeated 11 other candidates to win the special election for Louisiana’s 5th Congressional District on March 20. Letlow received 65% of the vote, followed by Candy Christophe (D) with 27% of the vote. Under Louisiana’s majority-vote system, Letlow won the election outright by receiving more than 50% of the vote.

Julia Letlow is the widow of Rep.-elect Luke Letlow (R), who was elected to represent the district on Dec. 5, 2020. Luke Letlow died from complications related to COVID-19 on Dec. 29. Julia Letlow has worked in marketing and as an administrator at the University of Louisiana Monroe and Tulane University.

Before the 2020 general election, Louisiana’s 5th District was represented by Ralph Abraham (R), who did not seek re-election. The district was last represented by a Democrat in 2004 when Rep. Rodney Alexander (R) changed his partisan affiliation from Democratic to Republican. In the 2020 presidential election, Donald Trump (R) defeated Joe Biden (D) 65% to 34% in the district.



Troy Carter, Karen Peterson advance to runoff in Louisiana’s 2nd Congressional District

State Senators Troy Carter (D) and Karen Peterson (D) received the most votes in the March 20 special election for Louisiana’s 2nd Congressional District. Carter received 36% of the vote, and Peterson received 23%. Under Louisiana’s majority-vote system, Carter and Peterson will advance to a runoff election on April 24. Fifteen candidates—8 Democrats, 4 Republicans, 2 Independents, and one Libertarian—ran in the primary.

The 2nd Congressional District became vacant after Cedric Richmond (D) was appointed senior adviser to the president and director of the White House Office of Public Engagement. President Joe Biden (D) announced Richmond’s appointment on November 17, 2020

Richmond was first elected in 2011. Since 2000, the seat has been occupied by a Democrat except from 2008 to 2010, when it was represented by Joseph Cao (R). Richmond was re-elected in 2020 with 63.9% of the vote.