Here are some key takeaways from this year’s legislative session
BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - It wasn’t the type of session we’re used to seeing here in Louisiana since typically there’s a lot of debate over money.
It was a relatively calm final day at the Capitol after a long 9-week session that spent a large amount of coronavirus recovery money, re-figured the state’s tax structure, and had almost all the debates on financial issues shoved aside as lawmakers found themselves arguing over social issues more than anything else.
“Man, it’s been a tough session but I’m glad we can kinda put it behind us, but I think when the dust settles and we look at it, it’s going to be one of the most productive sessions we’ve ever had in the history of Louisiana,” said Representative Tanner Magee of Houma.
Among the social issues, lawmakers sent bills to expand the use of Louisiana’s medical marijuana program and no jail time for possession of small amounts for recreational use to the governor. But they fell short of legalizing pot all together.
And if the governor agrees, beginning next year, women will no longer pay state sales taxes on feminine hygiene products or diapers. The House and Senate also agreed to continue the “Earned Income Tax Credit”, a tax break that helps low-income families.
“I’m so proud of this legislature behind us. Both sides did a great job, they worked hard to get this done and this is something that’s great for the state of Louisiana,” said House Speaker Clay Schexnayder of Gonzales.
In the final hours of session, lawmakers passed a bill that would prohibit government agencies from refusing to issue licenses, permits, and degrees or barring access to public facilities to someone who hasn’t received a covid-19 vaccine until any of the vaccines have been officially approved by the FDA.
Voters will also have a chance to decide on a big tax proposal that would eliminate personal income tax and corporate tax deductions for federal income taxes in exchange for lowering the states income tax rates. It would also do away with the corporate franchise tax for small businesses and lower the tax rate for others.
“And I have every expectation that a year from now we’re gonna be in a much, much better place than we are tonight,” said Governor John Bel Edwards.
To keep it simple, there was a lot of ground covered this year in efforts to move Louisiana even further.
Over the coming weeks, the governor will be making decisions to either sign or veto a long list of bills.
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