‘LaPolitics’: Sales tax plan coming together

The task force charged with developing policy ideas for centralizing and streamlining sales tax collections in Louisiana should have a plan to present to lawmakers by Nov. 13. Created in June by the Legislature, the task force was originally supposed to wrap up its work by Nov. 1, but was knocked off track by the hurricane season and the complexity of its subject matter. The findings from the Centralized Sales and Use Tax Administration Study Group are expected to be a centerpiece to next year’s regular legislative session, which will be a fiscal session. Particularly, the issue of a centralized sales tax system has been an issue of interest for House Speaker Clay Schexnayder, R-Gonzales. The role that local entities and officials will play and what kind of auditing functions should be used are central to the debate that’s coming to a close. Among the items discussed thus far by the study group, which is chaired by tax guru Jason DeCuir, is a board that would have some kind of oversight of local and state tax collectors. State officials seem reluctant to hand over too much control to the locals and sound more interested in proposals that would add uniformity to local and state rates and bases for sales taxes. Enforcement powers, and who has them, represent another issue of contention.

Election dominoes: In what was the biggest election news of the week for the Legislature, Rep. Stephen Dwight, R-Lake Charles, won a landslide victory over Democrat Christian Chesson to become the next district attorney for Calcasieu Parish. But that will just lead to more contests, starting with who Speaker Clay Schexnayder selects as the next chairman of the House and Governmental Affairs Committee to lead the redistricting process next year. Early speculation has tagged Rep. John Stefanski, R-Crowley, as a possibility. There will also need to be a special election in House District 35. Former Rep. Brett Geymann will be willing and ready to make a run for his old seat and fellow Republican Hal McMillin, a former police juror, is being encouraged to consider running.

They said it: “It’s a whole new ballgame,” State Rep. Lance Harris, R-Alexandria, on making it to the runoff in the 5th Congressional District, in The News-Star.   

Jeremy Alford publishes LaPolitics Weekly, a newsletter on Louisiana politics, at LaPolitics.com. Follow him on Twitter, or on Facebook. He can be reached at JJA@LaPolitics.com.