A collective plea for Amendment No. 4

Dear editor:On Nov. 4, the voters of Louisiana will have their opportunity to vote on House Bill 420 (ACT 932), which will be Constitutional Amendment No. 4 on the ballot. It is very important that the voters approve this amendment next month. It is also very important that voters know it does not increase taxes, only the allocation amount to their parishes.

The present Constitution provides that 20 percent of severance tax collected goes directly to the producing parish, not to exceed the cap of $850,000 per year. House Bill 420, by Rep. Rick Gallot increased the cap to $1,850,000, effective July 1, 2009, and then to $2,850,000 beginning on July 1, 2010. The constitutional amendment requires that 50 percent of the additional revenues received above $850,000 must be used for improvements to the parish road system.

This legislation presents an opportunity for local governments across this great state to receive additional revenue for continuing to contribute to the energy needs of Louisiana and the entire nation. These local governments have to deal with damage to their parish transportation infrastructure that is affected by the production of oil and gas that generates the severance tax to the state.

Additionally, the amendment requires 50 percent of the severance tax collected on state-owned lands in the Atchafalaya Basin, not to exceed $10 million, must be deposited into the Atchafalaya Basin Conservation Fund. It would require that 85 percent of these funds are used to restore, enhance and protect the natural resources of the Atchafalaya Basin through water management and access.

We would ask that you join us in educating our citizens about this constitutional amendment to improve our state’s natural resources, roads and communities. With your help, we can pass Constitutional Amendment No. 4.

Rep. Karen St. Germain

Sen. Rob Marionneaux

Rep. Rick Gallot