Monday, June 24, 2024

Louisiana lawmakers scuttle most ‘pro-family’ tax credits proposed in wake of abortion ban

by BIZ Magazine

By Julie O’Donoghue, Louisiana Illuminator

Louisiana lawmakers have quietly scuttled three of the four tax credits proposed to help pregnant people and adoptive parents in wake of the state’s strict abortion ban.

A bill creating a tax deduction for parents who have miscarriages or are expected to give birth to a baby – referred to as the “unborn” child tax credit – was held up Monday in a Senate committee that oversees state tax policy.

Legislation that would have provided tax breaks to families who adopt children and those who donate money to organizations that assist parents stalled in a similar Louisiana House committee last month.

That leaves just one tax bill in play aimed at supporting struggling pregnant people and young parents in the aftermath of most abortions becoming illegal in the state.

A proposal to provide a tax break for controversial anti-abortion crisis pregnancy centers continues to move forward in the lawmaking process. It’s expected to come up for a vote on the Senate floor in the next couple of weeks. 

Senate Bill 41, sponsored by Sen. Beth Mizell, R-Franklinton, would allow individuals and corporations to claim an income tax credit of up to $5,000 per individual or business to cover 50% of a donation made to an anti-abortion crisis pregnancy center. 

The tax break would be capped at $5 million statewide annually and given out on a first-come, first-served basis. The state would also limit tax credits that benefit a single pregnancy crisis center to $1 million annually, though unclaimed tax credits could also be rolled into future state budget cycles. 

Donations made between Jan. 1, 2025, and Dec. 31, 2030, would be eligible.

Mizell’s bill explicitly prohibits any maternal wellness centers that favor abortion services or refer clients to abortion providers from benefiting from the tax credit. 

The Senate Finance Committee also removed a requirement that the Louisiana Department of Health vet the anti-abortion centers before they qualify for the tax credit incentives. Instead, the committee added language into the bill that declares the health department has “no regulatory authority over eligible maternal wellness centers.”

Anti-abortion crisis pregnancy centers have several critics. The organizations are faith-based and have falsely claimed abortion increases a person’s risk for breast cancer and infertility and equated emergency contraception to abortion, according to Lift Louisiana, an abortion rights advocacy organization. 

Lift Louisiana also says the centers suggest they are akin to medical facilities, though they often don’t employ nurses or doctors. Many refuse to administer or promote birth control.

“[The centers] do not provide health care and they are not regulated,” Michelle Erenberg, executive director of Lift Louisiana, said at a legislative hearing last month. 

Pregnancy crisis centers already receive direct support from the state. Louisiana has transferred federal money earmarked for low-income families — through the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program — to the centers for years. In the current budget cycle, the state has allocated more than $2 million to these organizations.

Mizell, who opposes abortion, has attempted to address some of the concerns from Lift Louisiana and others in her proposal. Under her legislation, the centers would be obligated to provide pregnancy and postpartum services such as infant care, breastfeeding, parental education classes, counseling and pregnancy tests administered by a nurse. 

Mizell’s bill also mandates the centers provide an annual report to the state explaining how they spend their donations and what types of programs they offer.

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