The 2023 Regular Session of the Louisiana Legislature, a 60-day fiscal session, will convene on April 10 with the backdrop of an upcoming governor's race and the end of the legislative term. Annually, with input from its board and investors, BRAC's Board of Directors develops a legislative agenda of bills and issues that the organization will support or oppose during the session. BRAC intends for these legislative measures to improve the economic and regulatory environment of the region, consistent with the mission of leading economic development in the Baton Rouge Area.
BRAC's legislative priorities in 2023 are as follows.
Push to grow and attract life sciences companies to the state. BRAC will advocate for creating a targeted incentive for creating new laboratory spaces with an income tax credit based on the percentage of the cost to acquire, construct, or erect lab facilities during a tax year. Louisiana is well-positioned with world-class biomedical and life sciences companies and assets that could be synergistic with and bolster similar companies expanding to or starting in the state. Pharmaceutical and life sciences research companies are increasing their U.S. presence after the pandemic, including international companies looking for access to the U.S. market. This new incentive can make Louisiana more attractive compared to more mature markets for this industry sector, and help to diversify the state’s economy.
Incentivize work-based learning opportunities for high school students by offering businesses a tax credit for paid internships that earn educational credits. This legislation proposes a credit of up to $2500 per intern, up to 10 interns. Work-based learning programs provide students with practical on-the-job training to augment related classroom instruction. These educational opportunities provide career- and college-bound students with unique educational and skills-building experiences and offer businesses the opportunity to invest in the workforce of tomorrow.
Reduce instances of repeat violent crime by creating strict operating standards for electronic monitoring devices. BRAC, and law enforcement partners, will push legislation establishing minimum standards, licensing, and oversight requirements for Offender Tracking Systems (OTS), electronic monitoring devices that track accused offenders typically employed as a condition of bail. This bill establishes that the Department of Public Safety will oversee OTS companies and enforce the standards by which these devices operate. Recent incidents and media reports have highlighted the inconsistent standards and lack of oversight of companies that administer OTS devices. On multiple occasions, accused offenders who were free on bond evaded tracking and committed violent crimes.
Attract more headline concerts and entertainment acts to Baton Rouge. BRAC, Visit Baton Rouge, and the City of Baton Rouge are proposing legislation to attract more large shows and festivals, expanding the ability for East Baton Rouge Parish to offer a local sales tax rebate on admission to major live music and entertainment events that meet minimum paid attendance requirements, building upon legislation that was created for Bayou Country Superfest. Music and live entertainment are significant aspects of a region's quality of place, but too often, the Capital Region misses out on national concert tours and big-name artists. The local entertainment scene could get a significant boost by incentivizing these major shows.
Continue to improve transportation infrastructure in the region. The legislature has invested significantly in Capital Region transportation projects in the last couple of years, and via the Capital Outlay and Appropriations processes, BRAC will continue to advocate to fully fund the I-10 widening, new Mississippi River South Bridge, and other major regional transportation projects, new direct flights from the Baton Rouge airport, and passenger rail service.
Research ways to attract transitional energy investments by creating a resolution to study and recommend programs and incentives to drive the advancement and deployment of new energy development in Louisiana. Industrial companies are setting ambitious global investment plans to bring new clean energy innovations to market. Louisiana is poised to be at the forefront of the future of energy. Because of Louisiana's unique and advantageous geographical and geological attributes and existing infrastructure, the state is well-positioned to be a first mover and global leader in the growth of renewable and transitional energy projects.
Extend the Angel Investor, Film, and Research and Development incentive programs beyond their 2025 sunset dates. Angel investment is a vital part of the entrepreneurship finance system, providing the opportunity for high-potential businesses to scale quickly. BRAC was instrumental in the re-creation of the Angel Investor Tax Credit, which is one of the few statewide programs aimed at supporting innovation and entrepreneurship across Louisiana.
The Research and Development Tax Credit encourages companies to invest in innovation and new technology in Louisiana. The R&D Credit provides up to a 30% tax credit on qualified research expenditures incurred in Louisiana. Aligned with BRAC’s initiatives in the Life Sciences sector, extending this credit will encourage existing businesses with operating facilities in Louisiana to establish or continue research and development activities within the state.
The Film Tax Credit program provides state-certified motion picture productions with up to a 40% tax credit on eligible in-state expenditures. The Celtic Media Center and the entire Capital Region saw $80 million in production in 2022. Louisiana has become one of the top destinations in the world for motion picture production and has spawned well-trained and experienced Louisiana-based crews and world-class production facilities. In 2020, the film industry accounted for nearly 10,000 jobs, providing $338 million in earnings for Louisiana residents according to the Louisiana Film and Entertainment Association.
Improve Louisiana's economic competitiveness by protecting and renewing Louisiana's tax and incentive policy framework and opposing measures that would negatively impact the state's critical economic development incentive programs. BRAC will work with the Regional Economic Alliance of Louisiana to maintain and increase funding for regional economic development activities, including site readiness initiatives. Also, BRAC will be in opposition to issues that impact economic competitiveness, including employer mandates and burdensome barriers to employment, such as occupational licensing restrictions.
Increase access to allied health professionals by funding the new nursing and allied health education complex at Baton Rouge Community College. Allied health workers are one of the most in-demand positions in the labor force, and the need continues to increase annually. Expanding access to these programs in the Capital Region will help grow the state’s health care economy.