Capitol Views: Bills to start moving Wednesday, ‘We have got to get this done’

Lawmaking committees will begin voting on proposals to extend an expiring penny in state sales tax on Wednesday. The full House of Representatives plans to start voting Thursday on those proposals.

The Legislature has less than 10 days to parse through at least six different revenue bills on the table to mitigate next fiscal year’s budget cuts that would go into effect in less than two weeks.

But the anticipated centerpiece legislation of this session, the seventh of its kind this gubernatorial term, has not yet been filed. It’s a bill by Rep. Paula Davis, R-Baton Rouge, which extends two-fifths of the expiring penny in sales taxes until 2025.

Davis’ bill would also create a 2% business utility sales tax while leaving current exemptions on machines, manufacturing and equipment untouched. Both provisions are accepted by major business organizations in the state, including the Louisiana Chemical Association and the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry.
Davis’ bill, buttressed by at least 15 Republican co-authors, is the conservative counterpart to a handful of proposals brought forth by members of both parties that would extend half of the expiring fifth penny to 2025. (This is one-tenth more of a penny than Davis is proposing.)

Other bills proposing to extend half of a penny in sales taxes include: HB 8 by Rep. Walt Leger, D-New Orleans; HB 2 Rep. Terry Landry, D-New Iberia; and HB 3 by Rep. Kenny Havard, R-Jackson. Like Davis’ bill, they would also tax business utilities at 2% and spare MM&E.

Landry’s HB 2 in particular is backed by Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards’ administration.

“One-third did not pass last session, one-half did not pass last session,” said Davis, who voted against both proposals when they came to the floor earlier this month. “I see this as a compromise. We have got to get this done.”

Other sales tax bills include HB 9 by Rep. Neil Abramson, D-New Orleans, which extends a portion of the fifth penny in sales taxes to 2021.

The other outlier is HB 4 by Rep. Stuart Bishop, R-Lafayette, which leaves all tax exemptions untouched. It would also begin the extended portion of the penny at one half, gradually decreasing it to two-fifths and then one-quarter of a penny. The tax would end by 2025.  

Jeremy Alford will publish a daily update throughout the legislative session on Daily Report PM. Alford reports on Louisiana politics at LaPolitics.com.  Follow him on Twitter, or on Facebook. He can be reached at JJA@LaPolitics.com.

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