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Concordia voters will help decide the fate of four Constitutional amendments during the Oct. 9 primary election.

Voters will choose whether to allow a streamlined collection of sales and use taxes commission proposed in Amendment No. 1.

In Amendment No. 2, voters will decide whether to lower the maximum allowable rate of individual income tax and authorize the legislature to provide by law for a deduction for federal income taxes paid.

This amendment would decrease the maximum individual income tax rate from six percent to 4.75 percent for tax years beginning in 2022. 

The tax brackets for an individual would be two percent on the first $12,500 of net income, four percent on the next $37,500 of net income up to $50,000, and 4.75 percent on income above $50,000. 

Gov. John Bel Edwards signed HB 278, which provides for changes to individual income taxes if the amendment is approved. HB 278 removes the ability to deduct federal income taxes paid from the state income taxes owed and provides for an income tax rate reduction trigger on April 1 from 2024 through 2034. This would reduce the individual income tax rates the following January if the state met revenue growth goals and if the Budget Stabilization Fund's balance is at least 2.5 percent of the state's total revenue from the previous fiscal year.

If passed, Amendment No. 3 would allow levee districts created after Jan. 1, 2006, and before Oct. 9, 2021, to assess an annual tax no more than five mills for the purpose of constructing and maintaining levees, levee drainage, flood protection and hurricane flood protection.

Amendment No. 4 would allow an increase deficit reductions to statuary dedications and constitutionally protected funds by 10 percent, up from five percent. 

According to the state constitution, appropriations from the state general fund and other dedicated funds may not exceed the official forecast. The state legislature may provide by law a process for adjusting appropriations if a budget deficit is forecasted. 

Under state law, the governor may unilaterally reduce state general fund allocations or appropriations by a total of seven-tenths of one percent for the fiscal year. If a deficit still exists, the governor can take further action with a majority vote of the Joint Legislative Committee on the Budget (JLCB) to eliminate the deficit. 

The governor and JLCB can reduce constitutionally protected or mandated allocations and appropriations. When preparing for a budget deficit in the next fiscal year, if revenues are projected to be at least one percent less than the current fiscal year, appropriations or allocations from any fund established by state law or mandated by the state constitution may be dedicated to a purpose other than what was originally provided for by law or in the constitution. 

Currently, reductions to such appropriations may not exceed five percent of the total appropriation. This measure would amend the constitution to increase the allowable reduction to 10 percent of the total appropriation.

Meanwhile, Louisiana Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin said August 25 he would not be seeking to expand absentee-by-mail voting, increase the early voting period or enact a coronavirus emergency plan for the fall elections, amid the state’s latest COVID-19 surge. 

Since the pandemic began, Louisiana has offered more ways for people to absentee vote in a half-dozen elections — including last year’s presidential and congressional elections — and boosted the number of early voting days for some of those elections because of the risks of the coronavirus.

But, Ardoin said he does not intend to submit an emergency plan for the Oct. 9 and Nov. 13 elections to lawmakers and Gov. John Bel Edwards for consideration. 

According to Ardoin, only a small percentage of voters used the prior COVID-19 emergency rules to submit absentee ballots, and he said vaccines are widely available for those interested.

Additionally, to cast a ballot in the upcoming October 9 election, the last day to register to vote in-person or by mail is September 8.

September 18 is the last day to register to vote online through the website. Early Voting will be held September 25 through October 2.

Applicants registering to vote in person should bring valid identification with your name, age and where you live. You must submit your current Louisiana driver’s license, if you have one, or your birth certificate or other documentation.

If you don’t have a picture ID, you may bring a utility bill, payroll check, or government document that includes your name and address.

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