09 December 2006

Committee action, Dec. 9: HB 21, HB 30, HB 59, HB 69

The biggest issues in front of the House Ways and Means Committee were HB 26, HB 27, and HB 28, and HB 30, all reported favorably by the committee. These bills all addressed new tax credits that represent a partial reversal of their removal three years ago. In essence, the first three are all part of HB 30 but it also would include HB 29 and their author Chairman Rep. Taylor Townsend for whatever reason did not want to move passage on HB 29 as he did with these other bills.

HB 59 by Rep. Yvonne Dorsey would provide a $50 tax credit per child. Because if a filer’s tax liability was less that the amount eligible they would get a refund despite not paying enough in taxes, or any taxes at all. Rep. Cedric Richmond wanted to increase it to 21 if a child still in school, but averred he would wait until later in the process. It then passed favorably without objection.

HB 69 by Taylor essentially was a redo of past legislation authored Rep. Billy Montgomery. Ten years ago, it was supposed give tax breaks for truck purchases, on a temporary basis but renewed several times and made permanent in 2004. But because apparently it was inexpertly written, it did not do what was intended and instead vehicles operating in Louisiana would be purchased and registered in other states, which also spurred building terminals in other states (Oklahoma and Texas, mostly). After some more discussion, mainly Richmond observing some kind of fuel conservation measures might/should be a part of this bill, it was reported favorably without discussion.

HB 21 (amended to make Townsend the author) would give tax credits to sugar cane farmers for transporting their product. This was in response to Gov. Kathleen Blanco’s promise to provide aid to these farmers instead of spending huge amounts of state money to build them a mill a little closer to where the cane is grown. This would cost at least $3 million a year.

Richmond asked about other breaks that sugar farmers got, and was told there were some. He also was concerned that this law would not encourage reduction of transportation costs which would degrade highways and the environment. Rep. Ken Odinet wanted to know if the bill covered raw sugar; it did not.

Rep. Lelon Kenney asked why only sugar farmers were being advantaged this way; why not all people in involved in agriculture? But it was pointed out that the call limited the subject matter to just that commodity. Nonetheless, Rep. Jeff Arnold authored an amendment basically to allow many different products to receive the credit and more of it. Rep. Damon Baldone said this would put perhaps cost the state too much and had germaneness problems. Arnold said it should be passed now and any germaneness question dealt with later. But it failed 6-9.

Baldone then asked for an amendment that would take off the mileage restriction, which was not to pay the credit for the first and last 50 miles. Many were concerned that the costs would escalate dramatically as a result. The amendment was passed without objection, and then the bill was adopted without objection.

“He’d be coming in here to tell us that about right now.”
Townsend, responding to Richmond’s comment that recently elected Shreveport Mayor Cedric Glover, formerly on the committee, had passed along a message to them dealing with a matter about an hour into the meeting, making light of Glover’s penchant for showing up late to committee meetings.

No comments: