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Amendment #5 on Nov. 6 ballot: Aims to reduce corruption

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MONROE, La. (KNOE 8 News) - Come November 6th, the presidential race won't be the only thing on the ballot. A constitutional amendment is also on the ballot, that would strip state leaders of retirement benefits,  if they're charged as a felon.

State law makers say the amendment is designed to discourage corruption. Although one opponent is saying it's purely a political move. Several legislative efforts to discourage public leaders from using their jobs to break the law, failed until now. "This one was so narrowly tailored to fit the deterrence of what we were trying to accomplish the goal that it received unanimous support." said democrat state representative Katrina Jackson.

State Representative Katrina Jackson is talking about amendment number five. It allows courts to strip retirement benefits from politicians and public employees who commit a felony relating to their job. "We're very hopeful that public officials, public employees will think twice before committing a crime" said Jackson.

The proposal applies to those taking their jobs after January 1 2013, exempting current employees. Attorney Charles Kincade, who has defended both public servants and elected officials charged with felonies, is speaking out against the amendment.

"It's unfair basically, improper, to forfeit a vested right or a property interest that someone has earned, that somebody has accrued, based on a conviction of a felony." said Kincade and says courts already have enough sentencing tools for public corruption cases and calls the amendment a political feel good measure. "It has no real need, no real ethicacy, it's improper, so I think it's a politician pushing the case for political purposes" said Kincade.

But Jackson disagrees saying those who violate public trust shouldn't get public retirement benefits, paid for with public dollars. "Those are the same people who elect you and those are the same people who pay taxes and pay your salary. I think the people should be in control of what happens to their money" said Jackson.

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