Lawmakers worked through the weekend as House and Senate leadership spent their energy working toward a budget agreement. Senate Finance convened on Saturday to advance the budget bills, including HB1 and HB 560, both heavily amended by the upper chamber.
Relatively few measures moved until late Sunday, when the Senate considered nearly 100 House bills, but some legislation – including a few 1A priority bills – is still stalled as the House and Senate continue to spar over spending and time on the legislative clock winds down. This evening is host to an important deadline for measures still making their way to the finish line – after 6:00 PM Monday, bills require a two-thirds authorization to be considered on final passage.
Read on for a recap of week eight and a look ahead at week nine.
While the budget bills moved a step further in the legislative process last week, House and Senate members still have not reached a spending agreement.
On 5/29, the Senate voted unanimously in favor of SCR 3 by Senate President Page Cortez, which would allow the Legislature to exceed the State’s constitutionally mandated spending cap. Late last week, House Appropriations heard testimony on the measure, but ultimately declined to vote on it as several House members expressed concerns that they would prefer to review the Senate’s version of the budget prior to voting on whether to bust the cap.
Senate Finance obliged on Saturday, passing Chairman Zeringue’s budget bills, including HB 1 and HB 560. The Committee approved substantial amendments appropriating millions of dollars in funding for teacher pay raises, local infrastructure projects, and more, which can only be allocated if the House joins the Senate in voting to raise the spending cap. After having the remainder of the weekend to review the Senate amendments, House Appropriations meets this morning, 6/5, to consider SCR 3.
Lawmakers are under pressure to come to an agreement by June 8, or they will have to enter a special session to pass a budget by the beginning of the State’s fiscal year on July 1.
Economic Development Toolkit
1A is supporting measures to protect and enhance Louisiana’s economic development toolkit, and one key measure advanced last week, HB 408 by Rep. Willard. The legislation would allow R&D recipients to also access grants from the state’s Small Business Innovation Retention Fund and Small Business Innovation Recruitment Fund, which were created in 2022 to bolster applications for the federal Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (SBTT) grant programs.
HB 408 passed the Senate on 6/4 and will return to the House for concurrence with the Senate amendment.
Insurance Market Stability
Legislators are eyeing solutions to stabilize Louisiana’s property insurance market. More than 30 related measures have been filed this session, and 1A is supporting bills that increase availability, affordability, and reliability of property insurance, and help mitigate future storm damage. Related bills continue to move through the Legislature with strong support, including:
- HB 110 by Rep. Firment – requires insurers to offer an endorsement to upgrade to a fortified roof in the event of roof damage that requires a replacement
- SB 113 by Sen. Hewitt – require insurers to provide premium discounts to insureds who build or retrofit structures in compliance with fortified home or commercial standards
HB 110 was signed by the Governor and became Act 12 of the 2023 Regular Session.
SB 113 was signed by the Governor and became Act 45 of the 2023 Regular Session.
Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS)
HB 571 by Speaker Schexnayder was passed by the Senate over the weekend. This legislation creates a comprehensive legal framework for carbon capture projects in Louisiana, including provisions for permitting, revenue sharing, public notice and reporting requirements, and more. HB 571 now heads back to the House for concurrence in the Senate amendments.
Legislators in both chambers also approved resolutions – HR 229 by Chairman Coussan and SR 123 by Senate President Cortez – requesting the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) review and grant Louisiana’s application for primacy in the administration of Class VI injection well permitting. Louisiana’s Department of Natural Resources (DNR) submitted the State’s primacy application in 2021, and the EPA recently published a proposed rule to grant Louisiana’s request, which would give DNR’s Office of Conservation jurisdiction and oversight of carbon capture and sequestration permitting within the State.
Louisiana has long been a global energy leader and granting primacy will allow continued stewardship and innovation by Louisiana’s geologic and industry experts to grow the economy in an environmentally responsible manner. 1A President & CEO Troy Wayman will speak at a public hearing in June to urge the EPA to grant Louisiana’s primacy application.
All eyes are on the budget – legislators have until 6:00 PM this Thursday, June 8 to come to a spending agreement on a budget for the fiscal year beginning July 1. Without consensus, the Legislature will need to enter into a special session to craft a budget before the July deadline.
Several measures 1A is supporting or monitoring are still pending legislative action:
Pending in the Senate…
- HB 558 by Rep. Beaullieu – would transfer management and supervision authority for the electronic local return and remittance system from the Department of Revenue to the Uniform Local Sales Tax Board (ULSTB) and require the ULSTB to design and implement a single remittance system
Pending in the House…
- SB 42 by Sen. Fred Mills – would establish a statutory framework for the Louisiana Watershed Initiative (LWI), launched by Governor Edwards in 2018 to coordinate floodplain management responsibilities across all levels of government and develop long-term solutions for sustainability and resilience
- SB 69 by Sen. Foil – would extend the sunset of the Research and Development (R&D) Tax Credit, which is designed to encourage existing businesses with operating facilities in Louisiana to establish or continue research and development activities within the state
- SB 102 by Sen. Fred Mills – would establish the Acadiana Watershed District within the LWI and provide for its governance authorities and duties. This legislation would provide for the Acadiana Watershed District to lead efforts to promote drainage and flood-risk reduction within the bounds of its 15-parish region
- SB 108 by Sen. Jimmy Harris – would extend the sunset of the Angel Investor Tax Credit, which encourages investment in early stage, small wealth-creating Louisiana businesses that are seeking startup and expansion capital
- SB 204 by Sen. Hewitt – makes eligibility changes to the MJ Foster Promise Program to make the program accessible to more students by tweaking some of the provisions, including the requirement that students complete the FAFSA, which was not designed with adult learners in mind
- SB 205 by Senate President Cortez – would create the Louisiana Foundational Integrated Research System for Transformation (LA FIRST) program, to be housed at the Blanco Public Policy Center at UL Lafayette. This legislation enables data-sharing agreements with several state agencies so that career readiness and criminal justice programs can be better evaluated for their effectiveness and return on public investment
Click here to view 1A’s 2023 Legislative Priorities, which cover the following issue areas:
- Tax competitiveness
- Industry growth
- Insurance market stability
- Infrastructure investment
- Talent development
Be on the lookout for 1A legislative updates on these issues, and more, every Monday morning during the session.