By Tina Montgomery
Louisiana voters will decide the fate of three more changes to the state constitution on December 10.
While the proposed amendments for the December 10 election seem more straightforward, the Webster Parish Journal is providing explanations for each one using the PAR Guide to the 2022 Constitutional Amendments along with comments given by District 10 State Representative Wayne McMahen.
One amendment could impact who is eligible to vote and the other two would reduce the governor’s power on some commission appointments.
Amendment 1: Do you support an amendment to provide that no person who is not a citizen of the United States shall be allowed to register and vote in this state?
What it does: Louisiana’s constitution currently says voting is open to anyone who is at least 18 years old and a citizen of the state. Federal law, meanwhile, says only U.S. citizens are allowed to vote. This amendment would bring the constitution in line with federal law by requiring American citizenship to vote in state and local elections.
Some municipalities in other states have allowed non-U.S. citizens to vote in their local elections. This has not been the case thus far in Louisiana. As McMahen explains,” This is a redundancy of federal law. You have to be a U.S. citizen to be able to vote. This just closes the loophole in the state constitution where it says you just have to be a state citizen. This probably should be passed to ensure election integrity.”
A vote for would: Ban people who aren’t United States citizens from registering to vote or casting ballots in Louisiana elections.
A vote against would: Keep current language governing voting rights, which requires a person to be a Louisiana citizen to register to vote or cast ballots in elections.
Amendment 2: Do you support an amendment to make appointed members of the State Civil Service Commission subject to confirmation by the Louisiana Senate?
What it does: The governor currently appoints the members of the state Civil Service Commission, which is a seven member board that enforces the rules that govern rank-and-file civil servants and adjudicates personnel disputes. This amendment would require that these appointments receive confirmation by the state Senate.
The governor appoints six of the seven members of the State Civil Service Commission. Presidents of the state’s universities nominate members for the Civil Service Commission with no additional vetting beyond the governor’s consideration. Amendment 2 would subject the governor’s picks to a review of the Louisiana Senate. Members of other state boards also require Senate approval but some opponents of this proposal say senators could let politics, rather than qualifications, influence their decisions.
“Higher commission appointments already have to have Senate approval,” McMahen said. “This would require the Senate to look closer at the nominees to pass them forward.”
A vote for would: Require Louisiana Senate confirmation of the governor’s appointees to the State Civil Service Commission.
A vote against would: Continue to let the governor appoint members to the State Civil Service Commission without needing confirmation of those choices from the Louisiana Senate.
Amendment 3: Do you support an amendment to make appointed members of the State Police Commission subject to confirmation by the Louisiana Senate?
What it does: The State Police Commission is a seven-member board that enforces the rules and personnel policies governing the Louisiana State Police. This amendment would require state Senate confirmation of the governor’s appointees commission.
According to the Louisiana Budget Project, an organization that serves to make Louisiana government transparent and accountable for all Louisiana citizens, this is similar to Amendment 2 in that it calls for additional scrutiny especially after some recent controversial incidents. One such incident includes the in-custody death of black motorist Ronald Greene after being pulled over by white members of the State Police. However, there is also the concern that adding the Senate to the review process for the State Police Commission would insert politics and backroom negotiations without public input.
“There’s always some political twist into it [the commission appointments],” said McMahen. “Adding more oversight should get away from that. Other commissions require Senate approval, like I said, so this should be no different.”
A vote for would: Require Louisiana Senate confirmation of the governor’s appointees to the State Police Commission.
A vote against would: Continue to let the governor appoint members to the State Police Commission without needing confirmation of those choices from the Louisiana Senate.
The Webster Parish Journal encourages voters to form their own opinions on these proposals by researching various sources of information. Early voting is currently underway for the December 10 election.
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