Current Legislative Activity
Please see below and click here for this week’s legislative update and your bill track.
The Enhanced Nurse Compact bill (SB202 Peacock) is headed to the Governor’s desk for signature
The start of this week marked the beginning of the end, as it turns out. Leading up to this week, we all expected we would be in a second special session to raise state revenue and on Monday evening the Governor issued the call for the that second special session. We’ve attached that call with this email.
This marks the sixth special session that Governor John Bel Edwards has called during his tenure; all to resolve the constant state budget issues. In 2016 the legislature passed and the Governor enacted several temporary tax measures that raised one billion dollars-plus to fix the budget shortfall when he came into office. That cow has now come home.
To begin this year, the projected budget shortfall was again $1 billion plus for Fiscal Year 18 due to the 2016 temporary taxes expiring. Because of federal tax reform, the state is going to realize a more than $300 million windfall that has helped to decrease the state budget deficit to its current projected shortfall of $648 million.
This is the target number the legislature is aiming to get to when they meet in the second special session to raise additional revenue. There has been much political posturing on both sides of the debate, and we’ll leave that for the reporters to write about, but what we can say is that without these monies, and as the budget was concurred in by the House, each branch of government in Louisiana and each government department or function that receives state general fund dollars would take a twenty-five percent cut and the state would cease to offer many crucial services, across the board.
Both the House and Senate are working as fast as they can to finish up the work of the regular session, passing senate and house bills back and forth, and concurring in or conferencing bills. As the legislature is still convened at the time of this update being sent we are working to make sure that your bills finish the process, and that no one tries to amend a bill to your determent.
The current regular session was scheduled to end no later than midnight June 4th, but because the first special session did not provide any benefit to the state the Governor asked the House and the Senate to work on an abbreviated schedule so that the legislature could adjourn the regular session early, and could reconvene for a second special session as to not cost tax payers any additional dollars outside of the already appropriated legislative expenditures given the regular was supposed to last until June 4th.
As to the Governor’s call for the second special session, the second special is set to convene Tuesday, May 22nd, at 4:00pm, and adjourn no later than midnight Monday, June 4th, giving the legislature two weeks to address the state’s financial woes. The call is broad enough that it allows legislators numerous avenues to consider in option to raise additional revenue though we do know at this time which will take the lead. It has been expressed by several members from the House that the majority in the House do not fully support adjusting the state’s individual tax brackets, rather opting for staying half of the extra one-cent sales tax and stay several of the suspended tax exemptions to raise the revenue needed to relieve the state budget shortfall.
As always should you have any questions or concerns please do not hesitate to contact me or my staff.
Randal Johnson, Southern Strategy Group
Throughout the year, LSNA networks with stakeholders, partners, and elected leaders to ensure our voice is heard at the policy table. LSNA engages the services of the Southern Strategy Group in Baton Rouge.
LSNA will take positions on issues related to nursing and the health of Louisiana’s citizens. Check back here for position statements as they are developed. All position statements will be shared here.