Edited by Eric Veram
As their 2013 session came to a close, the Louisiana State Legislature successfully passed a number of referrals out of the capitol and on to voters. Three measures, all of which are legislatively-referred constitutional amendments, have been identified so far, and although they all mention appearing in the 2014 general election, at least two have the potential to be decided by voters even earlier.
16 measures for 2013
Those two measures are the Hospital Stabilization Fund Amendment and the Medical Assistance Trust Fund Amendment, known in the legislature as HB 532 and HB 533, respectively, and differ from other proposals in that they both have a clause built into their language stating they will be submitted to voters at the first statewide election following their approval by the legislature. Their similarities do not end there, however, as they both share a common primary sponsor, Rep. Charles Kleckley (R-36), and a common purpose of securing federal Medicaid funds. Combined, the measures allow hospitals, nursing homes, pharmacies, and intermediate care facilities to assess a tax on themselves which would then go into the newly created "stabilization funds." This fund would then be used to garner more federal money from the Medicaid expansion in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Opponents argue that making these funds constitutional provisions will tie the hands of future legislatures who may need to tap them to make up for budget shortfalls.
The other measure heading to voters in Louisiana is the Louisiana Redemption of Blighted Property Amendment, also known as HB 265, which aims to reduce the number of blighted properties lying around the state. The amendment seeks to do this by reducing to eighteen months the current three-year tax delinquency period allotted to property owners for the redemption of blighted or abandoned property sold at a tax sale. Supporters argue that if owners can't pay to redeem their property with eighteen months, it is unlikely they will be able to with another eighteen months, especially when considering the additional penalties that are tacked on over time.
We also have a retroactive change to report this week: the passage of a legislatively-referred constitutional amendment in North Dakota. The North Dakota Commission of Higher Education Amendment was actually passed by the state's legislature on April 23 as House Concurrent Resolution 3047. If approved by voters in 2014, the amendment would abolish the current elected State Board of Higher Education and replace it with the Commission of Higher Education, which would consist of members appointed by the governor. Interestingly, the measure bears a striking similarity to the bill that the failed Wyoming Education Department Director Referendum sought to overturn.
Despite the fact that Michigan's legislature approved Senate Bill 288 in May, the Keep Michigan Wolves Protected campaign is pushing ahead with efforts to oppose wolf hunting in the state. The Natural Resources Commission has already established an Upper Peninsula hunt for November 15 to December 31. According to reports, the group, which successfully placed the Wolf Hunting Referendum on the 2014 ballot, is going to focus on discussing the environmental and cultural value of wolves and educating the public about the upcoming hunt.
In an interesting development out west, some counties in Colorado are discussing a possible statewide ballot measure asking voters to approve their secession and the formulation of a new state called "North Colorado." According to reports, the northern counties' reasons for wanting to separate themselves comes from a growing feeling of isolation from the rest of the state over recently passed legislation. Supporters of the movement cited regulation of the petroleum industry, increases in renewable energy standards, lessening of school funding and background checks on gun sales as reasons for dissatisfaction in the state's more rural regions.
The passing of the proposed ballot measure isn't enough to secure statehood, however. That requires the Colorado State Legislature to seek authorization from Congress for the creation of a new state, followed by an actual congressional act doing so. According to reports, county boards and commissioners will continue to discuss the idea and will decide on a plan by August 1.
- ↑ Times Picayune, "Louisiana House sends second health care stabilization amendment to voters," June 2, 2013
- ↑ Times Picayune, "Louisiana Senate approves possibility of health care providers assessing a fee on themselves," May 28, 2013
- ↑ Associated Press, "Terrebonne Parish owns hundreds of abandoned lots," June 9, 2013
- ↑ INFORUM, "Due to amendment on ballot, next chancellor may not start until 2015", June 3, 2013
- ↑ Associated Press, "Coalition still battling against Michigan wolf hunt," June 11, 2013
- ↑ Julesburg Advocate, "'North Colorado' statehood movement could grow," June 11, 2013
- ↑ New York Daily News, "Eight Colorado counties want to secede from rest of state over gun control, energy laws," June 10, 2013