With the 2021 regular session of the Louisiana Legislature just around the corner, the Baton Rouge Area Chamber has prioritized modernizing the state’s tax code and investing in transportation infrastructure as two of its key issues this year.
BRAC unveiled its legislative agenda at its Annual Meeting this morning, which was presented by Humana in a virtual format. In a prepared statement, BRAC President and CEO Adam Knapp said the chamber’s 2021 legislative priorities reflect both the “urgent issues facing our business community” and the “structural change needed for long-term success.”
“We are approaching a fiscal session unlike any other,” said Nial Patel, 2021 chair of BRAC’s legislative committee, during his remarks. “With massive amounts of federal funding at play and the critical need to position the region and state as competitively as possible for future business development, we simply can’t afford to get this wrong.”
In an effort to modernize the tax code to streamline the process for businesses and individuals, BRAC will push to eliminate federal deductions, the franchise tax and the inventory tax. The chamber also wants to centralize sales tax collections to simplify the process and reduce barriers to doing business in Louisiana for small and midsize companies without the resources or staff to navigate the complicated process.
Addressing the Capital Region’s transportation crisis will mark another main priority, with BRAC supporting a new Mississippi River crossing and connectors, as well as fully funding the I-10 widening through the core of Baton Rouge. Additionally, BRAC will continue advocating for a commuter rail between Baton Rouge and New Orleans.
BRAC’s other 2021 legislative priorities include:
- Protect employee salaries, identities and personal information by extending to LED the same confidentiality provisions for employee data as are offered for employee data disclosed to other state agencies.
- Prioritize Capital Outlay for the Capital Region, specifically in support of the LSU lakes revitalization project, Capital Area Groundwater Conservation Commission’s request for proper monitoring and maintenance of the Southern Hills Aquifer, and talent development at regional higher education institutions.
- Accelerate north Baton Rouge economic development through the creation of Economic Development Districts along Plank Road to incentivize investment.
- Support talent development initiatives being led by LCTCS to expand financial assistance to adult learners in credit and non-credit programs in target industry sectors through the MJ Foster Promise Program. BRAC will also advocate on behalf of legislation to allow for data sharing between workforce and education agencies to track the effectiveness of career and technical education programs in successfully placing students in high-growth, high-wage jobs.
- Expand access to capital for small and minority-owned businesses by using federal funding to enhance capital opportunities for early stage and high-growth-potential businesses.
- Responsibly allocate federal funds by bolstering the Unemployment Trust Fund to avoid reduction in benefits to the unemployed and a corresponding tax increase on businesses.
The Legislature is set to convene Monday, April 12.