13 May 2013

Committee action, May 13: SB 215, HB 693, HB 268

SB 215 by Sen. Francis Heitmeier would force funding for Mississippi River ferries by transferring operations to metropolitan New Orleans’ Regional Transit Authority. The House Transportation, Highways, and Public Works Committee was told that they would collect fees, but then also take money from license plate fees in the area. This was in response to the state defunding their operations.

It attracted no substantial questions or opposition, and therefore was approved without objection.

HB 693 by Rep. Walt Leger would allow the motion picture investor tax credit to be used against corporate franchise taxes. He asked the House Ways and Means Committee for an amendment that would change it to make it identical to HB 696, the vehicle that was trimming the benefits for the program that he said were needed for it to survive and is part of a budget deal that would produce additional dollars for spending elsewhere. The amendment removed other options except the franchise tax which made it differ to HB 696; it was offered up and agreed to by consent.

Chris Stelly, who oversees administration of the credit, said he had concerns about more limited rule-making authority and that there wouldn’t be substantial savings until 2016. But that did not mean they wanted to see them come sooner. Leger said he didn’t really agree with their conclusions and said even if the effect was delayed it tightened up program regulations in the interim that should save money. He said it did the same things as HB 696 but in a different way, and said he hadn’t figured there would be a delay. Another difference he noted was these changes were permanent while HB 696 made them temporary.

Still, Leger said he would prefer this to act as a backup to HB 696, although he would like to have that bill modified to fit this one. But Chariman Rep. Joel Robideaux said he thought this bill could allow corporations to snap up all the credits from individuals; Leger said if he had to move it he would work on a mechanism to prevent that.

With that, a motion was made to pass amended, and it did without objection.

HB 268 by Rep. Franklin Foil would provide incentives for hiring the developmentally disabled by a tax deduction on wages paid. It is like one that the federal government and many states have. The deduction would go down after four months but not go away. It might even increase revenues to the state because those earning money would pay taxes, and reduce expenditures because it could get people off of Medicaid waiver programs by earning income.
Foil then said the uncertainty behind actually figuring out the fiscal impact meant perhaps it was better suited for study. Thus, he decided to defer.

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