LBP guide to the 2022 constitutional amendments

LBP guide to the 2022 constitutional amendments

Critics of Louisiana’s constitution have long complained that the state’s foundational document is too long, and larded up with amendments that can often seem trivial. This year is no exception, as the fall statewide ballot includes 11 proposed amendments – eight on the Nov. 8 primary elections, and another three on the Dec. 10 runoff ballot. The Louisiana Budget Project has assembled its guide to help voters understand what they will be voting on and the potential impacts of these amendments.

They deal with weighty issues such as slavery, property taxes and voting rights, and less consequential ones such as which gubernatorial appointees should require confirmation by the state Senate. Few, if any, of the amendments will have any effect on most voters. … The Legislature has a long track record of making permanent and complex changes to our state constitution by placing amendments on ballots in very low-turnout elections. In 2021, for example, voters were asked to consider four amendments, for which a whopping 14% of registered voters weighed in. This should raise some serious questions about the legitimacy of the way in which we change our constitution.

Food insecurity in southwest Louisiana
It’s been more than two years since dueling hurricanes devastated southwest Louisiana. But rising costs due to inflation and supply chain issues has kept food insecurity high in this region of the state. The Advocate’s Alena Maschke explains how a region whose recovery was already hampered by the slow-arrival of federal aid is struggling to keep the most vulnerable people from going hungry. 

“This community really went through some extraordinarily tough times over the past couple of years,” Jayroe noted. “There is a long-term impact and it’s exacerbated by inflation.” … The increase in food prices is straining household budgets across income sectors, but it’s especially difficult for those on fixed incomes like Social Security or disability. While these programs offer annual cost-of-living adjustments, they don’t respond as quickly as market conditions change.

Oil and gas industry helped decimate our coast
While climate change is a serious contributor to the threat that rising sea
levels pose on Louisiana, so is the damage that oil and gas companies have done to the state’s precious wetlands. For decades the industry, with the blessings of local governments, dredged hundreds of miles of pipelines, turning pristine marsh into polluted, open water. And for decades these companies have denied and skirted any accountability. But as The Advocate’s Bob Marshall explains, a new website leaves no doubt about the oil and gas industry’s responsibility for our state’s historical land loss. 

Along the way visitors find out how the wetlands were eviscerated; see which companies were drilling where and how much money they sucked from the marshes as they killed them; and learn how governments permitted these actions even while admitting how many acres would be destroyed. Perhaps best of all, the project includes a program that gives residents a way to find out what was done to their parishes in southeast Louisiana by whom and how much money they made from those actions. “We wanted to show the vast scale of the destruction, the utter chaos that has been left behind and the fact the damage to the land and to its people is still going on,” said Brown.

Housing the homeless in a pandemic
A lack of affordable housing is a problem nationwide, including in Minnesota, where a minimum-wage worker would need to work 70 hours per week to afford a one-bedroom home. But Hennepin County, which makes up the greater Minneapolis area and is the place where George Floyd was murdered by police, decided to use a large portion of its federal pandemic relief funds to tackle its affordable housing issue. CNN’s Katie Lobosco explains how this has resulted in a massive increase in housing among the homeless. 

One reason the county has been able to move so fast is that officials decided to allocate more than $90 million – representing roughly 40% of the pandemic funding it received from the federal government since March 2020 – to address homelessness and affordable housing. It also already had an extensive plan in place. Not all of those dollars being spent are directly from the aid packages passed by Congress, due to restrictions on how the money can be used. But county officials say having that influx of dollars to fill in budget gaps elsewhere freed up the money for tackling homelessness and housing. “We would have never bought four buildings at one time without the federal funding,” said Julia Welle Ayres, Hennepin County’s director of housing development and finance.

Number of the Day
55% – How much more water, as a percentage, that Cleco would need to use to implement its proposed carbon capture plan at one of its facilities. This unintended consequence isn’t unique to the Louisiana utility company. (Source: Louisiana Illuminator)