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A vote for would
Allow donations of the use of public equipment and personnel from one political subdivision to another under the Constitution.
The state Constitution prohibits donations or loans by state or local government entities except in cases of emergency. The Louisiana Supreme Court has recognized that governmental entities may make agreements to share with each other but has ruled that this authority does not relieve entities of the requirement to receive at least equivalent value in exchange for services or assets provided.**
The proposed amendment would allow local governments or other political subdivisions to donate equipment and personnel to other local entities as long as they have a written agreement without a requirement for receiving comparable value. This amendment would not allow borrowing between the state and local entities.
Donations between governments provide for great efficiency. For example, if a fire district needs to borrow a bulldozer from a city, it can save the cost of purchasing a bulldozer. The constitutional prohibition against donations is an important law that prevents governments from just giving away taxpayer dollars. But it was not meant to stop local governments from sharing resources and coping with urgent needs.
The amendment is not needed. Where one entity has an unmet need, and another entity could satisfy it, the agencies could enter into a written cooperative endeavor agreement for renting or leasing needed personal and equipment. The Constitution’s Article VII Section 14 (C) clearly allows for cooperative endeavor agreements between public bodies as long as there is a public purpose and comparable values are exchanged.
Legal Citation: Act 717 (Senate Bill 263 by Sen. Erdey) of the 2018 Regular Session amending Article VII, Section 14 (B).
**The Louisiana Legislature passed Act 191 in the 2017 regular session to create a statute allowing public entities to share equipment provided that both entities enter into a contract known as a cooperative endeavor agreement. However, Article VII, Section 14, of the Constitution prohibits donations or loans by state or local government entities except in cases of emergency. Although the Constitution allows cooperative endeavor agreements for some types of transactions, questions have been raised about whether Act 191 provided a sufficient exception from the constitutional provision. In particular, the issue arose when the Legislative Auditor noted in a routine report that the city of Denham Springs had loaned some equipment to the city of Walker.
The Public Affairs Research Council of Louisiana (PAR) is an independent voice, offering solutions to public issues in Louisiana through accurate, objective research and focusing public attention on those solutions. PAR is a private, nonprofit research organization founded in 1950 and supported by membership contributions, foundation and corporate grants and special events.
For more information, media interviews or public presentation requests regarding this constitutional amendment guide, please contact PAR President Robert Travis Scott at RobertScott@parlouisiana.org.