Several state constitutional amendments will be up for debate during the next legislative session, including one that would eliminate the ability to deduct federal income taxes from your state tax bill.
House Bill 151 by Rep. Jerome Zeringue, a Houma Republican, would eliminate the popular tax break. However, House Bill 191, a corresponding proposed law by Zeringue, would eliminate the 2 percent state tax on net personal income up to $12,500 and the 6 percent rate on income above $50,000, establishing instead a single 4 percent rate on net income greater than $12,500 and charging no state tax on income below that level.
House Bill 113 by Rep. Walt Leger, D-New Orleans, would amend the constitution to require candidates for governor and lieutenant governor to be elected jointly, like the United States president and vice president, rather than in separate votes as they are now.
When an elected governor is unable to finish his or her term, the lieutenant governor is first in the order of succession, followed by the elected secretary of state. The lieutenant governor’s other duties mostly concern tourism and overseeing state parks, museums and libraries.
Under House Bill 96 by Rep. Steve Pylant, R-Winnsboro, state employees hired after Jan. 1 would be considered unclassified, meaning they would not have civil service protection and could be fired at will. Civil service is meant to ensure that hires are based on merit, not political patronage, though critics say rigid civil service rules can make government less efficient and effective.
Some of the other proposed constitutional amendments include:
House Bill 76: Provides for a property tax exemption for property owners who establish a state-approved cooperative endeavor agreement with local taxing authorities to make other payments in lieu of the taxes. Manufacturers that qualify for the industrial tax exemption program could be eligible, though those with an existing ITEP contract would not be unless they were in the first four years of that contract.
House Bill 136: Imposes property taxes on a home’s first $10,000 of fair market value while retaining the $75,000 homestead exemption above that amount.
House Bill 178: Eliminates mandatory retirement for judges at age 70 and prohibits “denial of the right to hold office or public employment based solely on age.”
Constitutional amendments must be approved by two-thirds of both the state House and Senate and a majority of voters. The legislature’s regular session begins April 8.