Last Modified: Wednesday, June 06, 2012 11:37 AM
BATON ROUGE — Two bills affecting Southwest Louisiana were approved in the waning hours of the legislative session Monday.
One measure, if signed by the governor, will provide funding for Lake Charles Regional Airport. It would allow Calcasieu Parish to impose a 3 percent excise tax on vehicle rentals if voters approve.
It wouldn’t be a new tax. Gov. Bobby Jindal doesn’t want to renew a 3 percent state auto rental tax, and a number of parishes could benefit if their voters decide to continue the tax locally.
Rep. Mike Danahay, D-Sulphur, worked with Sen. Edwin Murray, D-New Orleans, to have Calcasieu added to two Murray measures that originally affected only Jefferson and Orleans parishes.
The Calcasieu Parish Police Jury gets one-sixth of the existing auto rental tax, which serves other agencies. It would continue to get that one-sixth if voters approve the tax. The other five-sixths instead of going to the state would be used by Lake Charles Regional Airport.
Danahay said the total funds amount to less than $200,000 a year. He said this was an opportunity to benefit from a tax that is already on the books and wouldn’t mean a tax increase for voters.
Voters would still have the last word on whether they want to continue the tax, he said.
The other measure is a Senate bill by Sen. Dan “Blade” Morrish, R-Jennings. It would protect local dealers who sell recreational vehicles at trade shows.
Local dealers would have first choice to participate in a show within their territory. However, other in-state dealers outside that territory could participate if local dealers decline.
If no in-state dealers participate, the show’s organizers could search for out-of-state vendors, who would have to pay a $100 fee. Some Louisiana dealers opposed that part of the bill, but Morrish was able to overcome that hurdle and others to get the bill approved.
Morrish said these shows are major events in Southwest Louisiana and the bill is also important to events like the annual Bassmasters Classic on the Red River.