BATON ROUGE, LA (June 10, 2021) – As the 2021 Regular Legislative Session wrapped up Thursday, the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry (LABI) singled out its list of landmark bills passed by the legislature that can truly change the Louisiana business climate for the better.
“This has been an extremely collaborative session where legislators worked together to develop innovative solutions for the good of the people of Louisiana,” said Stephen Waguespack, President of LABI. “We were proud to assist their efforts, from streamlining our sales tax collections to demanding transparency in education spending to funding critical infrastructure. The bills passed this session—with great bi-partisan support—will untangle Louisiana’s confusing tax code and improve the business climate for those in our state as well as those looking to invest here. While tax reform and infrastructure funding were front-and-center in the public’s eye this session, we can’t overlook some of these long-sought solutions to problems plaguing our business community. These are major milestones on the path toward economic opportunity in Louisiana.”
Job creators of Louisiana should take note of the following bills:
• Streamlined Sales Tax Collection. HB 199 by Speaker Clay Schexnayder (R-Gonzales) If approved at the polls this fall, this Constitutional Amendment will create a more streamlined state and local sales tax system in Louisiana by establishing a new statewide political subdivision that will be responsible for streamlining filings, remittance and audits of sales and use taxes. WHY IT MATTERS: This bill—overhauling the cumbersome, archaic system currently in place— will finally put Louisiana’s brick-and-mortar retailers on equal footing with remote sellers such as Wayfair.
• Tax Simplification Package. SB 157, SB 159, SB 160 and SB 161 by Sen. Bret Allain (R-Franklin), HB 278 by Rep. Stuart Bishop (R-Lafayette) and HB 292 by Rep. Neil Riser (R-Columbia) will collectively lower income tax rates, remove the Federal Income Tax (FIT) deduction mandate, reduce the number of tax brackets and simplify state income tax administration. WHY IT MATTERS: Louisiana has one of the most complex and cumbersome tax systems in the country. By simplifying administration and lowering taxes, this tax reform package will make Louisiana more competitive on a national level while improving revenue locally, generating economic growth and vitality.
TRANSPORTATION INFRASTRUCTURE FUNDING
• HB 514 by Speaker Pro Tempore Tanner Magee (R-Houma), as amended, phases in a rededication of proceeds from the state’s current vehicle sales tax to the construction subfund of the Transportation Trust Fund. WHY IT MATTERS: This bill will eventually shift up to $300 million (60 percent) to projects such as replacing the 1-10 Calcasieu River bridge in Lake Charles, building a new Mississippi River bridge in Baton Rouge, creating a new I-49 and I-10 interchange in Lafayette and more.
ENDING ENHANCED UNEMPLOYMENT
• HB 183 by Rep. Chad Brown (D-Plaquemine), would end the federal enhanced unemployment benefits by no later than July 31, 2021. This move would put Louisiana in line with the rest of the states in the South and help get our employees back to work faster. WHY IT MATTERS: Businesses of all sizes have struggled due to a lack of employees returning to work, given that they were receiving greater benefits to stay home. The results of this bill will help fill thousands of vacant jobs throughout the state.
SCHOOL CHOICE APPEALS PROCESS
• HB 211 by Rep. Mark Wright (R-Covington) would allow the families of children in failing “D” or “F” schools to appeal to the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) after being denied enrollment at an “A,” “B,” or “C” school of their choice and asking for reconsideration from their local district. WHY IT MATTERS: This will give families an added option to appeal school enrollment decisions, giving them greater access to educational opportunities for their children.
ENVIRONMENTAL SELF AUDIT
• HB 72 by Rep. Jean-Paul Coussan (Lafayette) requires the secretary of the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) to establish a voluntary self-audit program. WHY IT MATTERS: A version of this bill has been in process since the 1990s. This rendition—liked by both DEQ and industry—incentivizes companies to do monthly, internal inspections of their facilities to identify and manage potential issues before they become violations.
SCHOOL FUNDING TRANSPARENCY
• HB 38 by Rep. Rick Edmonds (R-Baton Rouge) will require public K-12 school systems and public charter schools to join other state-funded agencies and institutions in “Louisiana Checkbook,” the state’s fiscal transparency program. WHY IT MATTERS: School systems have received significant federal funding from Congress in the past year, and this bill will bring more financial accountability over taxpayer dollars sent to Louisiana’s school districts.
• HB 256 by Rep. Phillip Tarver (R-Lake Charles) allows for teachers to form their own groups or associations and to receive payroll deductions for those activities, requiring annual authorization for the deduction of these dues. WHY IT MATTERS: The bill will give teachers more choice in joining organizations and gives them an even greater voice in how they choose to associate and advocate.
BAN ON DECEPTIVE ATTORNEY ADVERTISING
• SB 43 by Sen. Barrow Peacock (R-Bossier City) outlaws deceptive advertising practices used by some plaintiff lawyers in Louisiana. WHY IT MATTERS: This bill will improve our state’s legal climate by ensuring attorneys cannot use advertising that masquerades as independent professional, medical or government advice.
“The tax reform bills passed this session will help improve Louisiana’s national tax-climate rankings, which factor greatly into consideration by large corporations on where to place their business units. Just as importantly, these bills will ease the burden for our local homegrown businesses and help them stay competitive,” said Terry Baugh, board chairman for LABI as well as CFO of D&J Construction in West Monroe. “But we are not finished yet. Two of these bills—HB 199 and SB 159—will be on the ballot on October 9th. We need all of Louisiana to go out and vote “Yes” for Louisiana business this fall.”
Stay tuned for LABI’s Legislative Scorecard, detailing how House and Senate members voted on issues important to Louisiana’s business and industry, which will be revealed at LABI’s Annual Meeting held in Baton Rouge on September 14. Go to labi.org to learn more and register.