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Inventory tax repeal to be first bill heard in committee

Advocate Staff Photo by Travis Spradling. State Sen. Neil Riser, right, R-Columbia, accepts congratulations Wednesday from bill opponent state Rep. Roy Burrell, left, D-Shreveport, after Riser's  Senate Bill 303 advanced out of the Louisiana House Committee on the Administration by a 9-5 vote.  The bill would call for a tougher legal hurdle, in order  to restrict the right to keep and bear arms in Louisiana. 'To me, this is the most honorable bill I h’ve handled,'  Riser said.    At right is committee member Rep. Mickey Guillory, D-Eunice.

Advocate Staff Photo by Travis Spradling. Republican State Sen. Neil Riser, right, chairs the Senate Revenue & Fiscal Affairs Committee. He is shaking hands with state Rep. Roy Burrell.

By TYLER BRIDGES

A bill that would repeal the Louisiana’s business inventory tax is the first and only tax measure that the state Senate tax-writing committee will hear on Monday.

State Sen. Neil Riser, R-Columbia, who chairs the Senate Revenue and Fiscal Affairs Committee, said he was acceding to a request by the bill’s sponsor, state Sen. Robert Adley, R-Benton, to hear the measure, Senate Bill 85. It would have to be approved by the state Legislature and the state’s voters as a constitutional amendment.

Eliminating the inventory tax would save the state treasury $452 million because businesses actually receive far more in refunds than they pay in tax liability.

But under a complicated mechanism, the money paid by businesses actually goes to local governments so they would be out $452 million. Adley’s bill will undoubtedly produce great angst among local government officials.

In choosing to repeal the inventory tax, Adley decided not to push – at least for now – an alternative bill sought by Gov. Bobby Jindal that would eliminate the tax refunds that businesses receive for paying the tax. They add up to $376 million per year.

“I know there are some legislators who want to repeal the inventory tax all together. I think that’s a discussion that needs to be had,” Jindal told reporters during a press briefing Thursday.

 

 

 

Bobby Jindal dings Hillary Clinton over immigrant flap

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal is again taking aim at Hillary Clinton.

In an email this morning from an AmericanFutureProject.com address, Jindal slammed the Democratic candidate for president over inaccurate claims she made about her family ancestry.

bobby jindal hillary clinton

Bobby Jindal, Hillary Clinton

“You may have seen in the news that Hillary Clinton just got caught making up another story to try to be ‘relatable’ to everyday Americans,” Jindal wrote in the email. “This time she tried to claim her grandparents were immigrants when it turns out all but one were not.”

Clinton, appearing in Iowa, claimed all of her grandparents are immigrants. After Buzzfeed countered the remark with records that showed the claim was inaccurate, a Clinton spokesperson said she had been mistaken about her family’s heritage.

In the email, which was sent with the subject line “A special prayer,” Jindal notes that his parents ARE immigrants — they came to Baton Rouge from India shortly before his birth.

“When I was a boy, my father would make my brother and I say a prayer,” Jindal writes. “He would tell us: ‘Get on your knees and thank God almighty that you were blessed to be born in the greatest country in the history of the world.'”

Jindal was raised Hindu. He has repeatedly told the story of his conversion to Catholicism in high school, often telling audiences that he even hid in a closet so his parents would not see him reading the Bible.

The Jindal email twice asks for donations to the American Future Project, a 527 organization that is expected to be the framework for an eventual presidential run, if Jindal decides to seek the 2016 nomination. AFP has recently been scooping up campaign operatives, including ones that have been placed in Iowa and New Hampshire — home of the first presidential caucuses and primary, respectively.

The Rundown: April 17, 2015

The Advocate The Rundown Louisiana Politics

Welcome to The Rundown, your go-to source for Louisiana political news, brought to you by The Advocate. Get The Rundown in your inbox by filling out the form here.

Countdown…
Days until session ends: 55
Days until the 2015 primary election day: 190
Days until the runoff (as needed): 219

The News

No taxes: Gov. Bobby Jindal says people shouldn’t be surprised that, even as the state faces a potentially devastating budget crisis, he won’t consider revenue-generating proposals he sees as tax hikes. http://bit.ly/1OLeUT9

Sweeps: State regulators promised Thursday to refund to the state’s utilities customers money the Louisiana Legislature has swept to help balance the state budget should they win a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the practice. http://bit.ly/1OLkqFx

Charter schools: Fearful of setting a precedent that would put state government on the hook for years to come, the State Budget Commission Thursday delayed approving a loan for a Baton Rouge charter school targeting at-risk youth. http://bit.ly/1NVoJRF

Attorney General: A federal court should block the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency from issuing its proposed rule to limit carbon emissions, lawyers for a coalition of Louisiana and other states and for the coal industry told judges Thursday — but even the challengers to the rule acknowledged the court would be breaking new legal ground if it honored their request to intervene in midstream. http://bit.ly/1OLm5Lh

Taxes: The chairwoman of the House Transportation Committee said Thursday she is sponsoring a one-cent state sales tax hike for roads and bridges that would raise $675 million per year. http://bit.ly/1NVnbqH

Hospitals: The Jindal administration’s proposed state budget is $15 million shy of funding required as part of its LSU hospital privatization deal in Baton Rouge, Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center chief Scott Wester said Thursday. http://bit.ly/1DNlOUi

Budget Crunch: SU’s medical schools in New Orleans and Shreveport are struggling to pay millions of dollars in insurance, retiree and maintenance costs left to them from the privatization of the state’s charity hospitals, state senators were told Thursday.  http://bit.ly/1OLhPeB

Cigarette tax: Louisiana’s health advocacy groups see an opportunity this legislative session to get a long-sought cigarette tax hike in a state that has one of the lowest tobacco taxes in the country.  http://bit.ly/1OLhPeB

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Tips, comments or suggestions? Send your feedback to ecrisp@theadvocate.com or @elizabethcrisp on Twitter.

Bobby Jindal defends marriage bill, says he expects support will grow

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal said Thursday that he believes support will grow for legislation that has drawn comparisons to controversial “religious freedom” measures in Arkansas and Indiana.

“I think this bill will get the support it needs to get out of committee and pass on the floor,” he said during a meeting with reporters at the Capitol. “A lot of legislators, once they understand what the bill does and doesn’t do will come out in support of the bill.”

The “Marriage and Conscience Act” seeks to bar the state from revoking the licenses of or refusing to contract with businesses or people because they oppose same-sex marriage. It also would protect tax statuses of groups that only support marriage between a man and a woman.

House Bill 707, from Bossier City Republican Rep. Mike Johnson, has faced a backlash in recent weeks as critics slammed it as being “anti-gay.” They argued that, similar to the initial Arkansas and Indiana proposals, it could encourage discrimination against gays and lesbians.

Equality Louisiana and other groups in support of gay rights have launched a “Not My Louisiana” campaign against Johnson’s legislation.

Meanwhile, New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu and the head of the city’s Convention and Visitors Bureau also have come out against the legislation.

“We should always search for common ground and ensure Louisiana is a state where religious liberty and freedoms are protected and discrimination is prohibited,” Landrieu said in a statement on the bill. “As we move forward on this important debate, I encourage our state Legislature to embrace both the principles of religious freedom and fair and equal treatment under the law.”

Johnson has offered up several amendments to the bill, which he says clarifies that its intent is not to promote discrimination.

But gay rights proponents have said the changes make the bill worse.

“None of the changes actually change the fact that the bill is authorizing discrimination against gay and transgender people” Matthew Patterson of Equality Louisiana said in a statement.

Echoing remarks that Johnson made on the House floor earlier this week, Jindal said he believes opposition has been based on “misperceptions or misunderstandings.”

“I think as folks see what the bill does, how it’s been narrowly drafted … I think there is more and more support,” Jindal said.

The proposal comes as the U.S. Supreme Court could rule on same-sex marriage. Louisiana voters in 2004 adopted a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage and the recognition of same-sex marriages that have taken place in states where it’s legal.

“I hope the United States Supreme Court doesn’t overturn state laws,” Jindal said Thursday of the possibility that same-sex marriage could become legal in Louisiana through court action.

HB707 was the only bill Jindal individually referenced during Monday’s State of the State speech, and the governor’s office sent a news release of 650-something words to media in defense of the legislation late Tuesday.

Asked whether he sees parallels between businesses refusing to serve someone who is gay and discrimination that African Americans have historically faced, Jindal said the two are unrelated.

“I personally think it’s offensive to compare Catholics, Evangelical Christians — others who are trying to obey their teachings, their churches’ teachings, their consciences — to racists and bigots,” he said. “Obviously, it is wrong to treat people differently based on the color of their skin. I don’t think that is ever acceptable.”

Bobby Jindal defends out-of-state travel

It’s not unusual for Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal to be somewhere other than Louisiana.

Jindal, who has been weighing a run for president, has spent at least 37 days out of the state so far this year. A recent analysis from The Advocate found he spent nearly half of 2014 outside of Louisiana.

bobby jindal 2016

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal 

When asked Thursday how much he’ll be around for this year’s legislative session, Jindal didn’t have a specific answer but he defended his frequent trips to other states.

“If it’s an opportunity to talk about what we have done here in Louisiana, I think that’s a good thing for the people of Louisiana,” Jindal said during a meeting with Louisiana reporters in his Capitol office. “We get more invitations than we can accept, and we consider those individually.”

This weekend, Jindal will travel to New Hampshire, where he’s slated to speak at the #FITN Republican Leadership Summit along with announced presidential candidates U.S. Sens. Rand Paul of Kentucky and Marco Rubio of Florida and several others who are likely to jump in the race for the GOP nomination. (The name of the event is a nod to New Hampshire’s “first-in-the-nation” presidential primary.)

Jindal’s slated to be in Iowa the following weekend for the Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition’s Spring Kick Off. Jindal is listed on the event announcement as one of the “presidential aspirants” who will be speaking.

Jindal has said he won’t announce his intentions for 2016 until after the legislative session ends June 11.

Bobby Jindal continues to build potential 2016 team

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal’s American Future Project has hired two new staffers that could become a part of a 2016 presidential campaign team.

Politico.com reported this morning reported that Team Jindal has scooped up Bradley Engle, who has worked on campaigns for Florida Gov. Rick Scott and the Republican Governors Association, and Blaise Hazelwood, a GOP digital veteran.

bobby jindal

Gov. Bobby Jindal (Advocate photo)

American Future Project spokeswoman Gail Gitcho told Politico that both could “easily transition to the campaign should Gov. Jindal decide to run.”

Jindal’s chief political strategist, Timmy Teepell, blasted the Politico item to media this morning.

Last week, Jindal’s first hire in New Hampshire was reported and the week before, two of the governor’s top aides were transferred from the governor’s office to Iowa to work for the American Future Project.

Jindal has said he won’t announce whether he will seek the Republican presidential nomination until after the state legislative session ends in June.

The Rundown: April 16, 2015

The Advocate The Rundown Louisiana Politics

Welcome to The Rundown, your go-to source for Louisiana political news, brought to you by The Advocate. Get The Rundown in your inbox by filling out the form here.

Today is the fourth day of the 2015 legislative session.

The House is gone until 3 p.m. Monday, the Senate 4:30 p.m. Monday.

Countdown…
Days until session ends: 56
Days until the 2015 primary election day: 191
Days until the runoff (as needed): 220

Where in the world is Gov. Bobby Jindal? Jindal does not have scheduled appearances outside of Louisiana.  He’s expected to talk to local media about the session in the morning.

The News

Budget Crunch: Students protested the potential cuts to higher ed funding. Stories of increased costs, faculty leaving, other hardships. http://bit.ly/1yseQn9

UNICORNS:  Using stuffed pink unicorns to dispel what they call myths about Common Core, officials of a group that backs the standards said Wednesday that they are launching a marketing campaign to defeat legislative efforts to repeal the overhaul.  http://bit.ly/1NNojN6

Taxes: Measures that would raise more revenue to help plug the state’s $1.6 billion projected budget deficit will get their first hearing in the Louisiana Legislature on Monday before the Senate tax-writing panel. http://bit.ly/1NNow2O

LA Gov: Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne was the latest to make his pitch for higher office at Southern University. http://bit.ly/1NNp8W7

Highways: The Louisiana highway department got its money but not before a handful of legislators forced a vote to protest the routine raiding of the state’s chief transportation fund. http://bit.ly/1NNpufn

Ronald Williams: Baton Rouge political and religious leaders Wednesday mourned the death of the Rev. Ronald Williams, known for his leadership of Mount Carmel Baptist Church and as one of the founders of Together Baton Rouge. http://bit.ly/1NNpKLs

Lite Gov Race: Two candidates for Louisiana’s next lieutenant governor said Wednesday that private partnerships are key to efforts to promote the state’s cultural enterprise. http://bit.ly/1NNnNP7

Security Snafus: Another problem cropped up Wednesday with the new $4.8 million State Capitol security upgrade… http://bit.ly/1ywkepM

Mixed Messages: Two polls on the GOP 2016 race came out this week — one from New Hampshire and one from South Carolina. But they had different messages for Jindal. http://bit.ly/1NNkG9M

Washington Watch:  The federal government will continue to help low-income students cover the cost of certain high-level academic tests under an amendment by U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy that won approval from a Senate committee on Wednesday. http://bit.ly/1GMHqCF

Sea Turtles: An estimated 53,000 sea turtles are killed each year by shrimp fisheries in the United States and that could be too many if four main protected species are to survive, according to a lawsuit filed Wednesday. http://bit.ly/1NNq2BZ

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Tips, comments or suggestions? Send your feedback to ecrisp@theadvocate.com or @elizabethcrisp on Twitter.

 

Bobby Jindal gets mixed bag in latest presidential polls

Two new polls out this week on the race for the Republican Party’s 2016 presidential nomination offer a mixed bag for Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal.

In New Hampshire, a Public Policy Polling survey found Jindal had one of the best favorability ratings of all the possible candidates that respondents were asked about.

“He may be someone to keep a closer eye on moving forward,” PPP concludes.

But in South Carolina … Jindal is still not very well known, even among the tea party and evangelical sets that he’s attempted to woo on recent issues. The South Carolina poll was conducted by Winthrop University. Among those who are familiar with him, voter are closely split on whether they would or would not even consider voting for him.

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker leads the crowded field of potential candidates in both polls.

U.S. Senate committee approves proposal by Bill Cassidy, R-La., to renew federal aid to cover costs of AP, IB tests for low-income students

Washington – The federal government will continue to help low-income students cover the cost of certain high-level academic tests under an amendment by U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La., that won approval from a Senate committee Wednesday.

Cassidy’s proposal applies to such tests as Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate exams, which are offered by private academic organizations to high school students. Success on the tests may give a student college course credit.

The amendment was added by the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee to the Every Child Achieves Act of 2015, a bill designed to update the 2002 No Child Left Behind law.

In 2014, low-income students in Louisiana took 6,670 AP exams, more than four times the number in 2009, Cassidy’s office said. The state received more than $280,000 through the federal AP Test Fee program in the 2014-15 school year.

A second Cassidy amendment, focusing on teaching students with dyslexia, was voted down by the committee. Opponents argued that it improperly singled out one group of disabled students.

If ultimately approved by the committee, the Every Child Achieves legislation would head to the full Senate.

Glitch crops up in Capitol security

Another problem cropped up Wednesday with the new $4.8 million State Capitol security upgrade.

One set of bollards used to control exit and entry to parking at the front of the Capitol malfunctioned. Bollards are vertical metal barriers that stop the passage of vehicles into off-limits areas.

Capitol personnel were waiting for a repair crew to arrive at the noon hour as security officers monitored comings and goings.

The problem apparently cropped up late Tuesday when the bollards  could no longer go up and down electronically.

On Monday, state Rep. Paul Hollis, R-Covington, had a jolting encounter with a set of bollards  which came up when he was driving his Audi off another parking lot. Hollis broke his hand and got a mild concussion in the wreck which did major damage to his car.