Comprehensive Carbon Capture Legislation Advances to Senate

by | May 15, 2023 | Uncategorized

Legislators met for long hours again last week, including 7 hours of floor debate in the House on Thursday, more than two hours of which were spent on Speaker Schexnayder’s comprehensive carbon capture legislation that ultimately passed 98-1. Several of 1A’s priority bills progressed through the process this week as well, including measures related to critical state economic development programs, including the Angel Investor Tax Credit and Research and Development Tax Credit programs, career readiness data-sharing, and establishing an Acadiana Watershed District to lead efforts promoting drainage and flood-risk reduction projects in our region.

Read on for a recap of week five and a look ahead at week six.

Economic Development Toolkit
1A is supporting measures to protect Louisiana’s economic development toolkit. One key bill, SB 108 by Sen. Jimmy Harris, would extend the Angel Investor Tax Credit, which encourages investment in early stage, small wealth-creating Louisiana businesses that are seeking startup and expansion capital. SB 108 passed the Senate 34-1 last week and is now pending consideration in House Ways and Means.

Another 1A priority measure, HB 408 by Rep. Willard, relates to 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. HB 408 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. The bill would have also extended the R&D program though 2029; however, before reporting the bill favorably, the Committee amended the extension out of the bill, arguing that the program’s current sunset aligns with the sunset of the state’s temporary .45 cent sales tax in 2025.

HB 408 is scheduled for consideration in the full House on Wednesday, 5/17.

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. Several related bills continue to move through the Legislature with strong support:

  • 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
  • HB 294 by Rep. Willard and 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 cleared the Legislative Bureau and is pending consideration in the full Senate today, 5/15. HB 294 passed the Senate without opposition on 5/10 and soon heads to the Governor’s desk. SB 113 cleared the Legislative Bureau and is pending consideration in the full House.

Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS)
HB 571 by Speaker Schexnayder would create a comprehensive legal framework for carbon capture projects in Louisiana, including provisions for permitting, revenue sharing, public notice and reporting requirements, and more. The legislation was considered in the full House last week, kicking off with the Speaker offering an amendment to remove provisions that would have enacted a carbon dioxide extraction tax, something that raised concerns with several members. After more than two hours of debate, HB 571 passed the House 98-1 and now heads to Senate Natural Resources.

1A also opposed bills put forward by Rep. Robby Carter in House Natural Resources last week that could have had a chilling effect on carbon capture projects in Louisiana, including:

  • HB 10 – to remove eminent domain authority of carbon dioxide storage facility operators
  • HB 35 – to prohibit carbon dioxide sequestration projects in St. Helena Parish
  • HB 312 – to provide for cause of action from alleged liability and damages resulting from carbon sequestration

HB 10 and HB 35 were rejected by the Committee and HB 312 was amended and recommitted to House Civil Law and Procedure, where it has not yet been scheduled for a hearing.

Career Readiness Data Sharing
Another 1A-supported bill is SB 205 by Senate President Page Cortez. This legislation 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 the Blanco Center to enter into 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.

SB 205 passed unanimously in the Senate on 5/10 and now heads to House Education.

Louisiana Watershed Initiative
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. Since 2018, the program has been operating under an Executive Order. SB 42 would authorize LWI under state law as an entity within the Division of Administration, creating a permanent statutory framework to carry out program initiatives. SB 42 was reported favorably by House Transportation, Highways, and Public Works on 5/9 and is pending consideration in the full House.

1A is supporting related legislation by Sen. Fred Mills, SB 102, which 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 102 was also reported favorably by House Transportation, Highways, and Public Works on 5/9 and could be scheduled for a vote in the full House as early as today, 5/15.

Acadiana Red and White Day at the State Capitol
On Wednesday, May 9, One Acadiana came together with the University of Louisiana at Lafayette and the UL Lafayette Alumni Association for Acadiana Red and White Day at the State Capitol. More than 60 leaders from around the region painted the Capitol red and white to celebrate Acadiana’s successes and discuss important policy issues affecting our region. Senator Gerald Boudreaux and Acadiana Delegation Chairman, Rep. Mike Huval, led recognition of the group in the Senate and the House. Geaux Acadiana and Geaux Cajuns!

LOOKING AHEAD
With less than a month to the finish line, bills that have not yet been scheduled for their initial committee hearings are effectively dead for the Session. House members are beginning to focus on measures that have been passed and sent across the hall from the Senate, and likewise, Senators are starting to dig into a large number of House bills. Expect the budget debate between the House and Senate to take center stage in the coming weeks.

One bill 1A is supporting on the Senate floor this week is SB 204 by Sen. Hewitt. The bill makes eligibility changes to the MJ Foster Promise Program, which provides financial support for Louisiana adults to earn credentials that align with high-demand jobs. Currently, only about 10% of program funds have been utilized, and SB 204 would make the scholarships more accessible to students. SB 204 is scheduled for consideration in the full Senate later today, 5/15.

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.