2004 Regular Session Highlights
by: Tom Tyler
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
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.
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
(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
(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
(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
(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
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.
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