Last week’s biggest news was that the Legislature passed the state’s $38 billion operating budget two weeks ahead of schedule. Passing the budget early is a dramatic shift from recent years, when special sessions were needed to pass the budget after budget negotiations failed during the regular legislative session. Attention now turns to the numerous other issues still outstanding, including both centralized sales tax collection and income tax reform efforts. House and Senate Committees will be working hard this week; next Monday is the last day a bill can receive final passage without a rules suspension, making votes much more difficult.
In another surprise last week, Senator Ward amended HB 514 (Magee), which levies a state tax on raw or crude marijuana recommended for therapeutic use and provides for the disposition of the collections of the tax, to remove the sunset of the temporary .45 sales tax and dedicating it to infrastructure. BRAC is very interested to see how this moves forward, as improving infrastructure remains a top priority for the region. This bill heads to Senate Finance for a hearing.
The Senate Revenue and Fiscal Affairs Committee met briefly late yesterday afternoon to hear parts of the income tax reform package. The committee moved all the measures forward and amended them to align with the other bills to ensure the measures are unified. The overall effort aims to remove the federal income tax deduction from personal and corporate income taxes and lower the rates. These measures will all require a vote on a Constitutional Amendment, which will be on the ballot next year. After passing the committee today, they still will need a hearing in the Senate Finance Committee before heading to the Senate for final passage.
The week ahead will see a number of bills moving as the Monday deadline looms. The following BRAC priority bills are all waiting for a Senate Committee hearing before heading to the Senate floor for final passage.
- HB 563 (Garofalo), which allows the Board of Regents and Department of Education to share data.
- HB 459 (Freiberg), which provides for data sharing between the workforce commission and the Board of Regents.
- HB 456 (Edmonds), which extends confidentiality provisions for employee data to Louisiana Economic Development.
- HB 85 (McKnight), which creates a literacy program for certain public school students.
While those await the Senate Committee others are awaiting House final passage:
- SB 10 (Fields), which requires Kindergarten attendance.
- SB 173 (Hewitt), which extends the sunset on the Motion Picture Production Tax Credit.
While the budget is out of the way there is still much to finish in the next nine days.
BRAC investor businesses are invited to further engage in this work by joining BRAC’s Legislative Committee, which develops and supports issues that promote a positive, proactive economic environment for the Capital Region. Reach out to staff lead David Zoller at email@example.com for details. View BRAC’s 2021 legislative priorities here.
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.