Public Information Officer
House committees hit the ground running Tuesday debating such issues as tax breaks, supplemental pay, and the state's building code.
The House Ways and Means Committee heard testimony concerning five similar bills (HB 42, 53, 115, 529, and 665) which seek to repeal the state's gift tax. Chairman Taylor Townsend told the committee that he would hear testimony on these and other tax break bills but would not take a vote on them until there is a clearer picture of the state's "overall fiscal status" and an idea of how much these proposals will affect the state's budget. The Legislative Fiscal Office said the state will lose almost $4 million per year if the gift tax is repealed and although they don't have a firm figure, all tax breaks could add up to several billion dollars.
The committee did pass House Bill 368 which excludes money received from the Louisiana Recovery Authority from calculation of "tax table income." The amount of monies received from the authority for repair or reconstruction of the taxpayer's primary residence due to damages from the 2005 hurricanes would be subtracted from the taxpayer's adjusted gross income unless the monies are already excluded.
Also passing the committee was House Bill 633 which proposes a state sales and use tax exclusion on machinery and equipment purchased by auto manufacturers. The bill will mainly benefit the expansion of the GM truck plant in Shreveport.
House Bill 4, which proposes an increase in supplemental pay for firefighters, deputy sheriffs, police officers and some law enforcement officers employed by the state, was unanimously approved by the House Appropriations Committee. The bill would increase the supplemental pay from $300 per month to $425 per month.
The House Commerce Committee met to hear lawmakers and the public's problems and opinions regarding the state's newly enacted Uniform Construction Code. House Bill 704 has been filed to address some of the concerns with the new law, particularly higher building and inspection costs. No action was taken on the legislation.
For a complete list of House committees meeting today and for the House Order of the Day, a listing of the expected daily business of the House, go to http://www.legis.state.la.us/. You may watch committee committee meetings and House floor sessions in real time by going to http://house.louisiana.gov/ and clicking on "Video Live Webcasts." Archived meetings and sessions are also available at the same Web address. Click on "Video Archives on Demand."