Gov. Bobby Jindal's tax reform proposals may include raising the tobacco excise tax. Health officials have suggested raising the tax by a dollar per pack. A study shows raising the tax by that much would raise $223 million a year – that’s almost enough to have closed this year’s $240 million budget gap.
Jindal has said his tax reforms would be revenue neutral, replacing the income tax with higher sales tax.
Legislators have begun filing their bills for the upcoming session. The first three take up gun regulation.
Because this is an odd-numbered year, legislators will concentrate on tax and appropriation bills. But each legislator is allowed to file five bills on other topics. Gun regulation is likely to be a recurring theme.
A coalition of state representatives is pushing a slew of bills and amendments to reform Louisiana’s budget process. The lawmakers are fed up with rushed legislation, cutting higher education and healthcare year after year, and procedural tomfoolery.
The state employee retirement reforms Gov. Bobby Jindal pushed last session were overturned in court last week. Monday, a state committee heard testimony about changes to the firefighters' retirement system that could be considered by the legislature this spring.
On Tuesday, Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman approved an adjusted route for the Keystone XL Pipeline that avoids that state’s fragile Sand Hills. Soon after, 53 senators – including both from Louisiana – wrote a letter to President Obama supporting the project.