Last week was busy at the Capitol, with small steps forward being the news of the week. The House chamber spent long nights in session each day as tensions within the body remained high, limiting what could be accomplished. On the other hand, the Senate completed its agendas with ease and has moved on to hearing House bills that have already made it more than halfway through the process. House committees last week started on the Senate bills that passed the Senate.
Tax Reform efforts remain stalled on the House floor with SB 159 (Allain), a constitutional amendment reducing the top personal income tax rate to 5% and removing the required federal income tax deduction, and SB 161 (Allain), which extends the sunset for four years on the corporate franchise tax for the first $300,000 of taxable capital, joining the logjam after passing the House Ways and Means Committee. The one bill that has made it past the logjam in both chambers is HB 199 (Schexnayder), a constitutional amendment aimed at streamlining and centralizing sales tax collection, which is up for concurrence by the House this afternoon.
While the Tax Reform bills are bogged down, education and workforce issues are moving relatively smoothly through the process. SB 10 (Fields), requiring kindergarten attendance, passed the Senate with ease. SB 148 (Cortez), establishing the MJ Foster Promise Program, made it through the House Education Committee, and HB 459 (Freiberg), providing for data sharing between the workforce commission and the Board of Regents, passed the House.
Also, SB 227 (Barrow), establishing the Plank Road Economic Development District, passed the Senate and is on its way to the House Committee on Thursday morning. HB 650 (Pressly), which provides a business voice on the board of the river and steamboat pilots, passed the House by the narrowest of margins, and heads to the Senate.
This week we will see more traction on transportation needs as efforts to find new funding to improve infrastructure are discussed. On other matters, only three bills from BRAC’s agenda have hearing dates so far. HB 85 (McKnight), which creates a literacy program for certain public school students, is on House final passage this afternoon. SB 227 and HB 199, mentioned above, are also scheduled. The Senate committees will be scheduling hearings on the bills that have passed the House.
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.