LA House Rejects Tax Bill As Special Session Wanes

Mar 1, 2018

LA. House of Representatives Vote Board
Credit Courtesy: The Advocate

TAX BILL FAILS--With only days remaining in Louisiana's special session, House lawmakers Wednesday voted down a sales tax bill that was the favored approach of Republican leaders, continuing the disarray that has defined the session and throwing the ability to reach a budget fix into serious doubt.  Rep. Stephen Dwight, a Lake Charles Republican had implored the house to get behind his bill to address the fiscal cliff.  " I'm in a conservative district in southwest Louisiana, this is a  difficult vote for me to make but it's the right vote." ​ Rep. Dwight's bill would've added  1/4 of a penny to the state sales tax. And would last only three years and also lose some business tax breaks.  Now his bill would've raised some $300 million towards the  looming $1 billion dollar deficit. But the bill had quite a few amendments added to if from the house floor. Rep. Kenny Havard, (R-St. 

LA House Speaker Taylor Barras (R-New Iberia) presents bill to the house floor.
Credit Courtesy: The Advocate

Francisville)  pointed out that the more amendments a bill has added to it the less money it will raise. "I'm not sure which one this is now because we've basically whittled it down to nothing, adding all these exemptions on it..." ​ The house Democrats don't support relying only on  a sales tax increase to solve the budget gap. Especially, as Rep. Walt Leger (D-New Orleans) said  " ...not if  it doesn't address the entire $900 million dollar plus  'fiscal cliff';  this bill does not get us on the way to a solution." ​ Now some GOP members  say they won't support any tax increase during this special session. Even so GOP leadership is behind the increase in temporary  sales taxes.  Chairman of the Louisiana Republican  legislative delegation,  Rep. Lance Harris (R-Alexandria)says a vote for Rep. Dwight's bill  would've been a vote to keep the special session moving. He said " Let's try to salvage where we are, get this over to the senate, work with the rest of the bills we have!" Dwight's bill need 70 votes to pass in the house but when it went to the floor for a vote, it got less than half of that and so it failed.  Louisiana's House of Representatives reconvenes this afternoon.