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Session Information

2004 Regular Session Highlights

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Constitutional Amendments

by: Tom Tyler
(225) 342-6156

MARRIAGE

The Louisiana Civil Code provides that "[M]arriage is a legal relationship between a man and a woman that is created by civil contract." This concept will be placed in the Constitution of Louisiana under House Bill 61 by Representative Scalise and Senator Hainkel (Act 926) (Duplicate of Senate Bill 166 by Senator Hainkel). The specific language to be placed in our constitution is that "[M]arriage in the state of Louisiana shall consist only of the union of one man and one woman."

The proposed constitutional amendment further prohibits any official or court of the state from construing the state constitution or any state law to require that marriage or its legal incidents be conferred upon any member of a union other than the union of one man and one woman and also prohibits any official or court from recognizing a marriage contracted in any other jurisdiction that is not the union of one man and one woman.

In addition, the constitutional provision also provides that a legal status identical, or substantially similar, to that of marriage for unmarried individuals is not valid or recognized in our state.

HOMESTEAD EXEMPTION

Provisions regarding the homestead exemption available to homeowners are clarified and adjusted under Senate Bill 806 by Senator Dupre (Act 929). The homestead exemption applies to state, parish, and special ad valorem taxes to the extent of $7,500 of assessed valuation. The basic changes are reflected as follows:

(1) The exemption applies to the bona fide homestead which is meets the following criteria:

(a) It applies to a tract of land or two or more tracts of land, even if the land is assessed at use value, and there is a residence on one tract and a field with or without timber on it, pasture or a garden on the other tract or tracts.

(b) It cannot exceed 160 acres.

(c) It applies to buildings and appurtenances, whether rural or urban, owned and occupied by any person or persons owning the property in indivision.

(d) It applies to the primary residence, including a mobile home, that serves as a bona fide home that is owned an occupied by any person or persons owning the property in indivision regardless of whether the homeowner owns the land upon which it is sited.

The exemption does not apply to land upon which a primary residence is sited if the homeowner does not own the land.

(2) The exemption extends to and fully applies to a surviving spouse or a former spouse when the homestead is occupied by the surviving spouse or former spouse and title is in the name of (a) the surviving spouse as owner of any interest or either or both of the former spouses; (b) the surviving spouse as usufructuary; or (c) a testamentary trust established for the benefit of the surviving spouse and the descendants of the deceased spouse or surviving spouse,

This exemption does not extend to more than one homestead owned by either the husband or wife, or both.

(3) Adds provisions that the exemption extends to property owned by an irrevocable trust when the principal beneficiary or beneficiaries of the trust are the settlor or settlors of the trust and were the immediate prior owners of the homestead, and the homestead is occupied as such by a principal beneficiary.

This applies only to property which immediately qualified for the exemption immediately prior to transfer, conveyance, or donation in trust, or which would have qualified for the exemption if the property were not owned in trust.

(4) Adds provisions that the exemption extends to property where the usufruct of the property has been granted to no more than two usufructuaries who were the immediate prior owners of the homestead and the homestead is occupied as such by a usufructuary.

This applies only to property which qualified for the exemption immediately prior to the granting of such usufruct, or which would have qualified for the exemption if the usufruct had not been granted.

(5) Adds provisions that the exemption extends only to a natural person or persons and to an irrevocable trust created by a natural person or persons, in which the beneficiaries of the trust are a natural person or persons provided that the other provisions in the constitution regarding homeowners are satisfied.

(6) Adds provisions that the exemption extend to property owned in indivision, but it is limited to the pro rata ownership interest of the person or persons occupying the homestead.

(7) Adds provision prohibiting granting a homestead exemption on bond for deed property.

Makes an exception for exemptions granted prior to June 20, 2003 on property occupied by a buyer under a bond for deed contract as long as the circumstances giving rise to the exemption at the time the exemption was granted remain applicable.

(8) Adds provisions that prohibit extending or apply more than one exemption to any person in the state.

(9) Retains the provision that the homestead exemption does not extend to municipal taxes but that the exemption applies (a) in Orleans Parish, to state, general city, school, levee, and levee district taxes and (b) to any municipal taxes levied for school purposes.

FISHING & HUNTING

The freedom to hunt, fish and trap wildlife will be protected in our constitution under Senate Bill 2 by Senator McPherson (Act 927).

This proposal to the constitution states that the freedom to hunt, fish and trap wildlife, including all aquatic life, traditionally taken by hunters, trappers and anglers is a valued natural heritage of the people and requires that it be forever preserved for the people. The management and regulation of this right by the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission is retained to protect, conserve and replenish the natural resources of the state.

The amendment stipulates that it will not alter the burden of proof for any challenge to a law or regulation pertaining to hunting, fishing, or trapping wildlife, including aquatic life. Private property will be protected in that the proposed amendment is not to be construed to authorize the use of private property to hunt, fish or trap without the consent of the property owner.

CIVIL SERVICE

A five-point preference is allowed to certain veteranís applying for civil service positions. Under House Bill 261 by Representative Futrell and Senator Dardenne (Act 930) this preference is available in the state and city civil service to persons honorably discharged in the armed forces of the United States who served for at least ninety days after September 11, 2001 for reasons other than training.

In addition, a five-point preference is available to persons in the state police civil service who were honorably discharged, or discharged under honorable conditions, from the armed forces who served during a war declared by the Congress; or for at least ninety days after September 11, 2001, for reasons other than training; or during war period dates or dates of armed conflicts provided by law enacted by 2/3 vote of the elected members of each house of the legislature.

AGRICULTURAL AND SEAFOOD PRODUCTS SUPPORT FUND

Funds may be available to Louisiana farmers and fishermen to assist them with support and expansion of their industries in the state of Louisiana from the Agricultural and Seafood Products Support Fund (Senate Bill 44 by Senator Nevers and Representative Strain, Act 928).

Monies received by the state from licensing of trademarks or labels for use in promoting Louisiana agricultural and seafood products as well as grants, gifts, and donations received by the state for such purposes are to be deposited into this Fund. The monies in this fund would be subject to appropriation by the legislature solely for programs and purposes as required by the Department of Economic Development in providing assistance to Louisiana farmers and fishermen for the support and expansion of the farming and fishing industries.



Questions and comments may be directed to websen@legis.la.gov
Baton Rouge, Louisiana.