Legislation that would allow local government entities to negotiate with industry in an effort to fund much-needed capital projects won approval by state senators on Wednesday.

Senate Bill 396 by Sen. Mark Abraham, R-Lake Charles, was approved with a 36-1 vote, sending it to the House for consideration. The statewide constitutional amendment would let local entities enter into a cooperative endeavor agreement with an industry that has a property tax exemption. The entity can receive money from industry and later reduce the industry's property tax millage once the 10-year tax exemption ends.

Abraham said the bill does not set any restrictions or a formula on how much money can be given. He said industry can choose to give money up front or over the duration of a project.

"No one is forcing anyone to do this agreement," he said. "It's another tool in the tool chest for local governments if they have a badly-needed project. If local government and industry can agree, then it can happen."

Abraham said the legislation is especially important during the COVID-19 outbreak, including instances where there may be a large revenue loss.

The legislation also calls for the local tax assessor and the Louisiana Economic Development to have a seat at the table during negotiations for the agreement. A public hearing would also be required before the agreement is finalized.

Abraham said the Louisiana Sheriffs' Association, Police Jury Association of Louisiana and Louisiana School Boards Association all support the bill.

If approved by the Legislature, it would require approval by voters statewide.

Sen. Regina Barrow, D-Baton Rouge, was the only one to oppose the legislation.

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