Special Session Hits Homestretch

by | Jun 22, 2020 | Legislative Advocacy

The Legislature is hitting the homestretch of the Special Session, which started June 1 and must adjourn by June 30. Bills have been moving quickly through the legislative process, and 1A continues to advocate on issues in line with our standing positions.

Here is some of the priority legislation 1A is engaged on:

Tort Reform to Lower Auto Insurance Rates

    • HB 57 by Speaker Clay Schexnayder – Following the Governor’s veto of Sen. Kirk Talbot’s SB 418 from the Regular Session, an omnibus tort reform bill aimed at lowering auto insurance rates, the Legislature has another chance at the same goal with HB 57 by Speaker Clay Schexnayder. This bill:
    • Reduces the jury trial threshold from $50,000 to $10,000
    • Repeals the seat belt gag rule
    • Limits the recovery of medical expenses to those actually paid, not billed
    • HB 57 passed the House 78-22 and was reported favorably by the Senate Judiciary A Committee. It is scheduled to be heard on the Senate floor today (Monday). Join 1A in responding to LABI’s call to action to urge Senators to vote YES.

Economic Development Incentives

    • HB 4 by Rep. Tanner Magee – Louisiana’s State Commercial Tax Credit helps encourage the redevelopment of income-producing historic buildings in Downtown Development Districts and Cultural Districts. The program is set to sunset on January 1, 2022, and the original bill would have extended the sunset to January 1, 2028. However, the bill was heavily amended in the Senate Revenue & Fiscal Affairs Committee, including shortening the extension to July 1, 2023. It is expected that a compromise will be sought to ensure the viability of the program while limiting the fiscal impact to the State.
    • SB 4 by Sen. Franklin Foil – Louisiana’s Research and Development (R&D) Tax Credit encourages Louisiana-based businesses to establish or continue research and development activities within the state. It provides an income or franchise tax credit on qualified research expenditures incurred in Louisiana of up to 30 percent based on the size of the company. It has been used effectively by Acadiana-based companies like Noble Plastics to pioneer new products and to mitigate the risk of longer-term research and development activities. Extending the sunset of the R&D tax credit from 2021 to 2025 will provide the fiscal certainty needed to allow these multi-year projects to continue. The bill passed both the Senate and House unanimously.
  • SB 24 by Sen. Jimmy Harris – This bill enhances the State’s Angel Investor Tax Credit program for investments made in federally designated Opportunity Zones (OZs). The OZ program was established by Congress in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 to spur long-term private sector investments in distressed areas. 1A is working to promote investment in Acadiana’s 25 OZ census tracts through our Invest Acadiana initiative, and supports measures like SB 24 that align state and local incentives with the federal OZ incentive, in order to make Acadiana’s OZs more competitive for investment.

COVID-19 Workforce Training Response

    • HB 65 by Rep. Mark Wright – This bill requires short-term COVID-19 occupational forecasts to identify time-sensitive workforce training and education needs. 1A and other regional economic development organizations would provide input, along with quantitative data from various sources and surveys and information from the La. Workforce Commission and LED. The first forecast would be due by Sept. 30, 2020.
  • HCR 12 by Rep. Ray Garofalo – This joint resolution directs the Workforce Investment Council and relevant state agencies to compile information on workforce training funds and programs available to support Louisiana workers unemployed due to COVID-19. The study is due to the Legislature by Sept. 30, 2020 and requires at least three public meetings to solicit ideas and suggestions from employers, agency personnel, educators and trainers, economic development organizations, and other stakeholders.

Centralized Sales Tax Collection

    • HB 14 by Speaker Clay Schexnayder – This bill proposed to amend Louisiana’s Constitution to allow the Legislature to pass laws that would govern a centralized sales tax collection system. Due to concerns from local government stakeholders, Speaker Schexnayder withdrew this bill to allow more time to study the issue.
    • HR 31 by Speaker Clay Schexnayder – In lieu of HB 14, this resolution calls for a study group to make recommendations to the Legislature on the creation of a centralized sales tax collection system, due by Nov. 1, 2020. It passed the House unanimously 97-0.
  • SCR 19 by Sen. Stewart Cathey – With a broader scope than HR 31, this concurrent resolution would create the Louisiana Sales Tax Simplification Task Force to make recommendations for changes to state and local sales tax laws in an effort to modernize and simplify the sales tax code and enhance the efficiency of sales tax policies for taxing authorities, tax collectors, and businesses. An interim report would be due by March 1, 2021, with a final report due by Feb. 1, 2022. It passed the Senate unanimously 33-0 and is awaiting introduction in the House.