The Louisiana Association of Business and Industry is considered to be one of the most influential lobbies at the state capitol. But this year, with a looming $1.6 billion budget shortfall, business interests are on shakier ground than usual.

Stephen Waguespack, President of LABI, says there's been no appetite for pension or spending reform. Instead lawmakers have focused on reducing tax breaks that benefit business.

A bill that would require the House Ways and Means and Senate Revenue and Fiscal Affairs committees to get together and find fixes for the state’s tax credit system advanced Thursday.

“They will take the first bite at the apple and come out with a recommendation as to whether or not we will continue those tax credits, revise them, sunset or repeal them,” explained the bill’s author, Rep. Roy Burrell of Shreveport. “That’s a determination that will actually be made, and will be brought back to this body.”

Today the full House considers HB 2, the Capital Outlay bill. That’s the list of state and local construction projects authorized for the next fiscal year.

“We had about 1500 requests this year, representing about $4.6 billion,” Mark Moses with the Office of Facility Planning and Control told the House Ways and Means committee Tuesday. He also said the projects listed in HB 2 already exceed the money available.

“This year’s over-appropriation amount is $258-million.”

Then Wednesday, Moses told the House and Governmental Affairs committee their peers had added more projects to the list.


A bill to increase a tax credit program by $47-million dollars found favor with the House Ways and Means Committee Tuesday. Speaker Pro Tem Walt Leger’s HB 70 would double Louisiana’s current Earned Income Tax Credit.

“This allows about 30-percent of the state of Louisiana to keep more of their earned money,” Leger told the committee.

There were the kind of arguments for the bill that you’d expect.

“I see this bill as a response to consistent criticism that I hear – in this building and in the community at large – about people ‘getting something for nothing’,” Leger explained. “This program is one that rewards people for working.”

Louisiana’s Senate worked Monday, forgoing the holiday barbeque. The Senate Finance Committee did do some grilling however, as Commissioner of Administration Kristy Nichols gave them a rundown of HB 1, as approved by the House.

“They did include $31.1 million for LSU Medical School in Shreveport,” Nichols said of the House “priority list” – a wish list if more revenue is found.

Pennington Experiments with House Calls for Nutrition

May 25, 2015

Researchers at Pennington Biomedical know that in order to get kids eating well, they’ve got to get to the parents. As part of a new study, Pennington Interventionist, Allison Davis, is experimenting with going into the homes of families with young children -- ages two to six. She’s showing parents and their kids how to eat better and move more.

We Remember

May 25, 2015

Louisiana remembers, and honors service members who have made the ultimate sacrifice on this Memorial Day.

The state’s full House of Representatives, with help from the Marine Corps Band, held a “Ceremony of Remembrance” before breaking for the long holiday weekend.

New Orleans Rep. Nick LoRusso, who also serves as a Lt. Col. with the Army’s Judge Advocate General Office, served as host, “To honor all of our fallen dead.”

As a teacher of teachers at LSU, Steve Bickmore is focused on getting teachers to expand reading lists to include more books like that reflect their students’ lives, like Jaqueline Woodson's Brown Girl Dreaming, Coe Booth's Tyrell, and Kwame Alexander's Crossover. And he’ll be highlighting that at LSU’s upcoming conference on the theme of African-American cultures in young adult literature, May 31-June 5. 


They took every penny they could find.

“The House efforts have solved 850-million of the one billion dollar problem,” Appropriations chairman Jim Fannin announced.

They even decided what to do with some money they’ve not yet found.

“This 31-million for the medical school in Shreveport would be put in a priority line if that funding is available,” Shreveport Rep. Thomas Carmody said, in support of Rep. Bubba Chaney’s amendment to HB 1.

It took six hours of debate, but he full House passed a 24-billion dollar budget for the fiscal year that starts July 1, resolving over half the $1.6-billion dollar shortfall.

House and Senate committees worked on numerous bills Wednesday, while awaiting today’s main event: the House floor debate on the budget. Several of those bills were previously featured here on Capitol Access.

Jack Donahue’s Senate-approved bill to uncouple TOPS from college tuition found favor with the House Education committee, helped along by the widow of the program’s founder, Phyllis Taylor.

“I would never stand here and support anything that limited the TOPS program,” Taylor told the committee. “We are seeking certainty, not limitations.”