Legislators got down to business in week two, tackling key economic and workforce development measures in both the House and Senate. Several 1A-supported measures advanced through the process, including efforts to extend LED’s Quality Jobs (QJ) program and make it easier for students to transfer college credits toward completion of associate and four-year degrees.
Below is a full rundown of last week’s action.
Economic Development Toolkit
As always, 1A is monitoring measures related to Louisiana’s economic development toolkit. Of particular interest this session is the extension of the Quality Jobs (QJ) program, which offers payroll rebates of up to 6% to companies that create high-quality, full-time jobs. To qualify for the program, jobs created must pay at least $18 per hour and offer health benefits.
HB 230 by House Ways and Means Chairman Stuart Bishop and SB 41 by Sen. Mike Reese would extend the QJ program through 2026. 1A is supporting both measures, which were passed unanimously last week by the full House and Senate, respectively. Each measure now heads across the Capitol for consideration in the opposite chamber.
Legislation to extend another valuable LED program, the Competitive Projects Payroll Incentive (CPPI), also advanced in the Senate last week. SB 12 would extend the CPPIthrough 2026. The program provides payroll and capital expenditure rebates for businesses that create new net jobs in Louisiana while demonstrating significant out-of-state sales. SB 12 passed the Senate unanimously last week and now heads to the House for consideration.
Centralized Sales Tax Collection
Another 1A priority is HB 681 by Speaker Clay Schexnayder. This Constitutional Amendment establishes the State and Local Streamlined Sales and Use Tax Commission to modernize and simplify our tax system for Louisiana’s small businesses. This new 8-member Commission will have equal representation from state and local governments and will administer sales tax collection, auditing, and dispute resolution. This common-sense reform puts Louisiana’s businesses on a level playing field with online retailers like Amazon and Wayfair.
HB 681 was voluntarily deferred in House Ways and Means Committee last week to allow time for additional discussions with local government stakeholders, but the amendment is back on the Committee agenda this Tuesday, 3/29.
One of 1A’s top workforce development priorities this session is SB 261 by Sen. Cleo Fields.Dubbed the “Universal Transferability” bill, it would provide an easier pathway for students to earn college credits that are guaranteed to count toward an associate or four-year degree.
Today’s students are more likely to attend more than one college or university, or to bring with them postsecondary learning acquired outside of a traditional higher education setting, including through dual enrollment, Advanced Placement (AP) courses, and military training. However, many students are finding out after they’ve taken a course that it doesn’t count toward their degree completion. SB 261 would establish 60-hour “transfer pathways” for each major discipline in the public post-secondary system so there is a clear understanding of which credits can be applied toward a degree, no matter where those credits are earned.
SB 261 was reported favorably out of the Senate Education Committee, as amended, and is scheduled for full Senate consideration on Monday, 3/28.
On Wednesday, the House Education Committee approved HB 333 by Rep. Ken Brass, which would require the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) to provide information on dual enrollment, Advanced Placement (AP) courses, and more to counselors who are advising parents and students about early college opportunities. HB 333 was unanimously approved in House Education on 3/23 and now awaits consideration by the full House.
Major debates are on tap in the coming weeks, including how to spend $2.8 billion in one-time money from federal pandemic aid and state budget surpluses. Later this week, expect a showdown over the Governor’s veto of a new congressional district map passed by the Legislature in February.