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Gun rights amendment, most others approved

Louisiana voters have approved a constitutional amendment to strengthen already strong gun possession rights in the state.

The amendment eliminates language in the Louisiana Constitution that allows passage of laws prohibiting concealed weapons. It also includes a requirement that any gun restriction laws be held to a tough judicial standard.

It was among eight constitutional amendments approved Tuesday. Among them was one that allows the state Board of Commerce and Industry to grant 10-year local property tax breaks — such as those currently given to manufacturers — to certain digital media businesses, data centers, corporate headquarters, and research and development firms.

An amendment that would have allowed New Iberia to grant city property tax exemptions to any property owner annexed into the city after Jan. 1was defeated.

Other amendments on the ballot:

— Voters approved an amendment allowing a judge to strip a public official's retirement benefits if the person was convicted of a felony related to his office. The forfeiture would apply only to someone employed or elected after Jan. 1, 2013, and to benefits earned after that time. Current elected officials would not be covered by the law unless they are re-elected after that date, according to the research council.

— An amendment prohibiting the Legislature or governor from taking money from the Medicaid Trust Fund for the Elderly to help balance the state operating budget was approved. An analysis by the Public Affairs Research Council of Louisiana said the trust fund was established with federal money in 2000 to provide a permanent source of support for health care. Backers of the amendment, including the Louisiana Nursing Home Association, said it was needed to safeguard care for the elderly when the state has a hard time balancing its budget. Opponents included CARE Inc., a provider of in-home care, which argued that too much of the money in the fund goes to nursing homes.

— A change was approved requiring that bills affecting the state's public retirement systems be filed a month earlier than other types of legislation submitted before a legislative session.

— Voters approved an amendment that affecting the value of homestead property tax exemptions that the spouses of some deceased veterans can claim. The constitution already allows the $75,000 homestead exemption to be doubled for veterans with a 100 percent service-connected disability. The amendment was proposed to let spouses of qualified deceased veterans claim such an exemption even if the exemption was not in effect when the veteran died.

— Voters approved a change allowing adjustments in the membership selection process for constitutionally created boards and commissions that have members selected based on the state's congressional districts. The amendment was proposed to address the state's loss of a congressional district, dropping from seven to six, after the 2010 census.

— Voters approved an amendment to increase the number of times that bills to create crime prevention and security districts must be advertised and require that the notices of intent state whether a property fee would be imposed and collected; whether the fee could be imposed or increased without an election; and the maximum amount of the fee.

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