BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - A grassroots effort that formed five years ago to help bring citizens' concerns to state lawmakers revealed its agenda for this legislative session.
Together Louisiana leaders called on members from around the state to answer their call at the Louisiana State Capitol. The group is taking aim at ten tax-related bills and several constitutional amendments that address criminal justice reform.
Together Louisiana leaders, Broderick Bagert and Edgar Cage, revealed a list called "The Top 10 Taxpayer Giveaways of 2018." Its primary focus is on a proposed constitutional amendment that would allow industrial corporations to negotiate what they pay in taxes. The second is a bill that would allow those talks to happen behind closed doors in executive session. Another would allow local entities to establish different rates on property taxes.
"We exempt industry on sales taxes, on their equipment purchases, exempt them from the property taxes, so all of it ends up on the shoulders of people least able to pay and what you end up with is not just an unfairness, but also broken bridges, poor streets, bad schools, all the things we need in this state have been available to us if we just apply the tax rolls across the board," Bagert said.
The group is also lobbying support for a handful of bills aimed at criminal justice reform. The big one, leaders say, is a bill that would make the jobs of police chiefs and deputy police chiefs unclassified. Another bill, if passed, would make possession of an ounce or less of marijuana a civil penalty with a $100 fine. Another proposal in the group's aim is a bill that calls for the early release of non-violent inmates.
"That has a direct impact on the fiscal cliff, because the amount of money we pay to incarcerate people and keep them incarcerated is a great burden to the state," Cage said.
Together Louisiana has called on its members to take turns standing watch at the state capitol each day. Leaders believe if they change the discussions had this legislative session, it could lead to better solutions for our state.
Click here to find the complete list of tax and criminal justice bills highlighted by Together Louisiana.