Bossier Chamber: Legislative Roundup as session is halfway over

BUDGET: On Thursday, the House easily passed HB105, a spending plan where the biggest source of controversy was how much extra money the state should spend on public schools, and how large of a raise teachers should get.

The $30 billion budget passed 100-1, sending it to a Senate that is almost certain to make its own round of changes. The plan would give teachers a $1,200 pay raise and support staff a $600 raise. That’s higher than the $1,000 and $500 respective raises outlined by the governor and endorsed by the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education. It would fully fund TOPS, deliver an extra $36 million in state money to higher education and boost spending on corrections, among other departments.

However, it does not include a $39 million block grant to public schools that proponents, including the governor and BESE, have deemed crucial.

ITEP: Greater Baton Rouge Business Report checked into the number of Industrial Tax Exemption Program requests denied by local entities since the governor’s 2016 executive order and reported 13 tax breaks were rejected by one or more local bodies out of the 88 total approved by the state and subject to local approval. 

But just because ITEP requests are rejected by one local entity doesn’t mean they don’t receive any tax breaks at all. The exemptions are subject to approval of several local bodies—the sheriff, school board, parish and/or municipality. If one denies a request and the others approve, the project still receives exemptions from those entities. All 14 ITEP denials were by only one or two entities. 

Caddo Parish, so far, has had the most ITEP denials—three. Meanwhile, Lafayette, St. Bernard and Lafourche parishes have each had two rejected requests. Beauregard, Bossier, Livingston and Orleans parishes each had one request denial. East Baton Rouge also only had one ITEP-denial instance.

Meanwhile, there is a House resolution and two statutory measures on the ITEP process with SB214 passing through the Senate and scheduled to be heard on the house floor on Monday. 

Northern Exposure: We joined our partners at the Monroe Chamber of Commerce as well as the Greater Shreveport Chamber of Commerce to participate in the annual Northern Exposure – a time where North Louisiana spends a day at the Capitol to let our collective voice be heard.

We joined business leaders across the top of the state to hear from some of our local delegration – including Senator Barrow Peacock, Senator Ryan Gatti and Representative Dodie Horton – in addition to others in the North Louisiana delegation, members of the Cabinet and department heads and Governor John Bel Edwards himself. This event is a great time for those at the Capitol to see the great engagement of those in North Louisiana.