Legislators tackled several 1A priority bills early in week five of the 2022 Regular Session before adjourning for the Easter holiday. Acadiana partners also took to the Capitol to celebrate the Carnegie Research 1 (R1) designation of the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. Below is a full rundown of last week’s action and a look at the week ahead.
Streamlined Sales Tax Collection
A top 1A legislative 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 government 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 scheduled to be considered by the full House on 4/12 but was deferred to allow additional time for discussions with local government stakeholders.
1A is opposing SB 151 by Sen. Pope, a Constitutional Amendment that would enshrine Governor Edwards’ executive orders modifying the Industrial Tax Exemption Program (ITEP) into the State Constitution. ITEP is one of the most effective economic development tools at Louisiana’s disposal, supporting direct and indirect job creation in our state for the last 60 years. SB 151 would weaken ITEP by locking cumbersome rules for the program into the State Constitution. The bill was reported favorably by the Senate Revenue and Fiscal Affairs Committee last week and is awaiting debate in the full Senate.
Another of 1A’s priority bills is SB 190 by Sen. Hewitt, also known as the Computer Science Education Act. This legislation creates a commission to develop a state action plan for increasing the availability of K-12 computer science education. Currently Louisiana lags behind our southern neighbors, with only 29% of high schools offering computer science courses. Computer science is changing every industry, and computing jobs are among the highest-wage and highest-demand careers nationally. Developing a state action plan will ensure that Louisiana’s students are prepared to enter the current and future workforce.
SB 190 cleared the Senate Education Committee on 4/14 and now heads to the full Senate.
Last week, the House Education Committee considered HB 231 by Rep. Ken Brass, which provides for the transfer of academic credit from public postsecondary education institutions that grant bachelor's degrees to institutions that grant associate degrees. 1A supports the measure as part of our 55 by 25 initiative, which aims to increase the proportion of working-age adults in Acadiana with postsecondary degrees, certificates, or other high-value credentials to 55 percent by 2025. HB 231 passed the House unanimously on 4/12 and now heads to Senate Education.
Reemployment of Retirees
1A also supported SB 434 by Sen. Fields on the Senate floor last week. This measure provides for reemployment of retired educators to help address Louisiana’s workforce needs. 1A supported an amendment to SB 434, offered by Sen. Peacock, which applies the provisions of the bill to retired postsecondary nursing educators as well, in effort to address the critical shortage of nurses in the healthcare workforce. SB 434 passed the Senate last week, with Sen. Peacock’s amendment included, and now heads to the House.
Louisiana Watershed Initiative
Last Thursday, SB 414 by Sen. Fred Mills was heard in the Senate Transportation, Highways, and Public Works Committee. This legislation 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 414 would authorize LWI under state law as an entity within the Division of Administration, allowing for a permanent statutory framework to carry out program initiatives.
SB 414 was reported favorably by the Senate Transportation, Highways and Public Works Committee on 4/14 and now heads to the full Senate.
Acadiana Red and White Day at the State Capitol
On Tuesday, April 12, community partners celebrated Acadiana Red and White Day at the State Capitol. 1A joined the Acadiana Planning Commission (APC), the Lafayette Airport Commission, Lafayette Consolidated Government, Lafayette Economic Development Authority (LEDA), the Lafayette Convention and Visitors Commission (LCVC), and the UL Lafayette Alumni Association to spend the day celebrating the Carnegie Research 1 (R1) Designation of the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. The R1 designation has been earned by only 146 higher education institutions in the United States, and it places UL Lafayette among the top-tier of the nation’s public and private research universities.
More than 150 regional and state stakeholders, including University leadership, community organizations, legislators, and Governor John Bel Edwards attended the celebrations and recognized UL Lafayette’s extraordinary achievements. To view the formal remarks in the House and Senate, check out the footage below. Geaux Cajuns!