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Opinion: Lou Gehrig Burnett – Political Issues

Political Issues

Voters in a giving mood

Voters in Bossier and Caddo parishes – at least the few who went to the polls on Saturday – were in a  giving mood.  They gave a thumbs up to more than $52 million in annual property taxes for two entities.

The Caddo-Bossier Port Commission got its 2.5 mills property tax renewal and the Caddo Parish School District got all three of its property tax propositions approved.

To be sure, the two entities were a bit nervous because of all the hullabaloo coming out of Baton  Rouge about tax increases. And there was local opposition from some government watchers and anti-tax advocates.

But apparently those voters who supported the Port and Caddo schools made the effort to vote, while other voters found other things to do. That’s just what the two entities were hoping for by having the propositions on the ballot in April.

Only 20,626 or 12.5% of Caddo’s 164,359 registered voters cast ballots.  In Bossier, only 4,148 or 5.9% of 69,764 registered voters bothered to vote.

The Caddo-Bossier Port Commission got approval of the renewal of a 2.5 mills property tax for 25 years from both parishes.  It is estimated to bring in $6.8 million annually.
The income stream will allow the Port to purchase land for prospective new tenants and pay for continuing infrastructure needs.

Voters in Caddo were a bit more enthusiastic in their support of the proposition than voters in Bossier.  It received 61% approval from Caddo voters and 56% from Bossier.
Benton Fire District No. 4

Voters in this Fire District gave 71% support to a 20 mills property tax for 10 years.  Only 6.7% of the registered voters in the Fire District cast ballots.
The property tax is expected to bring in nearly $3 million a year for capital improvements, equipment purchases and operation and maintenance of fire protection facilities.

Term limits for Congress

It is a never-ending topic of discussion.  Should term limits be set on members of Congress?  To be sure, there has been a lot of talk about it, but no action.

Now comes a poll of Louisiana voters which reveals that 83% are in favor of limiting congressional terms with 66% strongly supporting such limits

The poll was conducted recently by McLaughlin & Associates for the U.S. Term Limits organization and has a margin of error of +/-4.9%.

The support for term limits among Louisianians crosses party and demographic lines, according to the poll. Republican voters favor term limits by 93%, Democrats by 79%, and Independents by 77%.

Also, 76% said they were more likely to vote for a candidate who favors term limits.  By the same token, 61% said they would be less likely to vote for a term-limit opponent.

A majority of voters in every category – an average of 87% – also said they think it is unfair that while Louisiana state officeholders were subject to term limits, that the state’s members of Congress are exempt from the current law.

However, as we have seen in the past, some candidates for Congress espouse term limits and state they will only serve a certain number of terms.

But when they reach that threshold, they contend their experience and seniority supersede their pledge.

Clout in Congress: Poof!

Once upon a time – not too long ago – little ole Louisiana had great clout in Congress.  In 2013 in the 113th Congress, the Bayou State was ranked No. 4 of all the states by Roll Call, the newspaper of Capitol Hill. Here is what Roll Call said at the time: “The Louisiana story is more illustrative of how a relatively small state can throw considerable weight around the Capitol if the delegation plays the internal politics right. “Having a lopsidedly Republican delegation in the GOP House has helped four of the state’s six congressmen secure seats on the most influential committees, the ones that have the most to do with helping the state’s oil and gas economy: Appropriations, Ways and Means, and Energy and Commerce.“It’s little surprise the delegation has entered the ranks of those with the most built-in clout.

Lou Gehrig Burnett is a seasoned veteran of national and local politics. He publishes Fax-Net Update, a weekly political newsletter.

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