The legislature is entering into the heart of the session. If bills do not start to move, their timing will be short after this week. The legislature debated several important BRAC-supported instruments this past week. HB199 (Schexnayder), establishing the State and Local Streamlined Sales and Use Tax Commission, which would comprise representatives designated by local and state entities, passed the House and is heading to the Senate. Meanwhile, SB 159 (Allain), which eliminates federal personal income tax deduction and sets the maximum rate at 5%, passed the Senate and heads to the House. The MJ Foster Promise Program SB148 (Cortez) cleared its first hurdle in the Senate Education Committee. This past week saw things move quickly, and we are likely to see the pace only accelerate in the coming week.The week will kick off this afternoon with tax reform measures heard on the House floor:
- HB 292 & 293 (Riser) eliminates the federal corporate income tax deduction and sets the rate at a flat rate of 6%.
- HB 278 (Bishop) lowers the individual income tax brackets and removes federal deductibility.
- HB 171 (Zeringue) creates an individual flat tax while removing the federal income tax deduction and the film incentive program.
Zeringue’s bill concerns BRAC as it would harm the film industry in the state. Conversely, SB 173 (Hewitt), extending the film incentive program, is on the Senate’s debate calendar this week. BRAC is monitoring these measures closely.
The action will pick up even more on Tuesday evening with the House Ways and Means Committee meeting on adjournment of the House Chamber. The committee has an extensive agenda on Monday and Tuesday, with over 50 bills scheduled. Several bills scheduled impact incentive programs used to attract business and keep Louisiana competitive. One of the most concerning bills is HB 454 (Devillier), which reduces income tax exclusions, exemptions, deductions, and credits by 50 percent. Stepping away from the incentive bills, the committee will also hear HB 693 (Davis & Ward), phasing in a share of the current .45 state sales and use tax, directing it towards the Transportation Trust Fund and extending a portion of .45 sales tax’s sunset date until 2031. This bill would provide funding to a new Mississippi River Bridge in the region, among other significant projects across the state. The dedication of a portion of the sales tax appears to be the most likely avenue for additional transportation funding this session, in addition to federal stimulus dollars.
BRAC is also preparing for the anticipated hearing in Senate Local and Municipal Affairs committee of SB 227 (Barrow), a BRAC-backed bill to create the Plank Road Economic Development District (EDD). This bill is part of the effort to revitalize the Plank Road corridor by keeping some of the newly generated tax revenue in the area. The EDD is part of larger efforts to bring investment and revitalization to North Baton Rouge.
As BRAC’s Manager of Governmental Affairs, David Zoller is responsible for the organization’s governmental relations and advocacy efforts and managing other projects related to economic competitiveness and quality of life.