Senators advance bills regarding internet sales taxes, contract oversight

By David Jacobs | The Center Square

Louisiana state senators on Tuesday approved without objection a bill that would force companies that maintain internet marketplaces to collect sales taxes on third-party sellers that use their platform.

“This may be the only bill that generates real dollars this year,” said Sen. Bret Allain, the Franklin Republican who sponsored Senate Bill 138.

This year’s regular session is not a fiscal session, so lawmakers will not consider new taxes. Allain’s bill doesn’t create a new tax, but it establishes the responsibility for collecting sales taxes that consumers already owe under current law.

Allain said he was motivated to bring the bill by a recent Louisiana Supreme Court ruling that Walmart didn’t have to collect taxes on third-party sales on its online platform unless Louisiana required it by law. Many large facilitators already are voluntarily collecting sales taxes, but the new law could increase compliance and lead to more money being collected, officials said.

Senators also unanimously approved Senate Bill 132 by Sen. Cameron Henry, R-Metairie, which requires any state agency to get approval from the Joint Legislative Committee on the Budget before entering any contract worth $25 million or more. Henry said during the bill’s committee hearing that he would rather the threshold be lower but figured $25 million was a good place to start.

Senate Bill 79, also approved Tuesday, would create the Louisiana Cybersecurity Initiative Fund to pay for degree and certificate programs in the growing cybersecurity field. The bill does not initially appropriate any money for the fund and would require a 25 percent match by a private entity.

The Senate on Tuesday focused on bills that could be advanced quickly without objection. The bills next head to the state House of Representatives.