As in 2012, my office will provide brief recaps of the progress and discussions happening in Baton Rouge during this legislative session. You are encouraged to stay engaged, follow along, and submit your opinions and concerns by email during this very important time for our state.
News for Tax Swap & Budget Reform
This year's session began with big news from Governor Jindal: He will not pursue his tax swap plan. This was not completely unexpected, as there was very little support for the package. There were just too many unknowns and problems that would still exist if a new plan should come to the forefront.
The predominant idea is to deal with the budget reform bills first; and then look at any potential for income tax elimination next. We need to have budget reform to be able to move money around as needed for basic services.
Bills to Watch For
The first bill I am proposing for the session came through the Transportation Committee last week. It is a bill that designates Exit 49 (Minden/Dubberly at US 531) as the Sergeant Joshua Tomlinson interchange. I see no problems with this bill moving quickly through the House; and Senator Adley will handle the bill as it comes before the Senate.
Coming up in committee this week are several other bills to watch for:
HB 271 would phase out income tax over a 10 year period; but with no language on how to make up the lost revenue. It would rely on cuts to balance the budget and was heard by the House Ways and Means Committee on Monday. More to come on this one.
There are companion bills that would also phase out income tax (HB 609) and corporate tax (HB 626); but would replace the lost revenue with increased sales and tobacco taxes (HB 537 & 623). This will also be heard in Committee this week. Both bills are likely to face strong opposition.
Several education bills will go to Committee this next week including another bill I am proposing from District 10. HB 206 is a constitutional amendment bill that would allow for the creation of Independent School Districts with a local vote rather than the state-wide vote that is currently required.
Another of the bills I am proposing, HB 160, proposes making this past year a pilot year for the Compass Evaluation of Teachers. This bill will go before the Education Committee this week. I expect this bill to change as it moves forward so the outcome is still unclear; but I am optimistic that it will be passed.
This current week involves many interesting discussions. I encourage you to watch via the Internet and email any questions or comments.
Your emails and letters are very helpful when voting on these important issues.
Please keep all of your legislators in your thoughts and prayers as we try to do our best for our state and respective districts.