Taxes, TOPS parental rights

<p class="p1">A program called PILOT (payment in lieu of taxes) that failed to pass a year ago resurfaces again today in the state Senate. Sen. Mike Walsworth, R-West Monroe, has two bills on the subject to be heard by the Revenue and Fiscal Affairs Committee.</p><p class="p1">The House this week will be debating bills dealing with recall elections, criminal restitution, indigent defenders, teacher and parental rights, the TOPS scholarship program and occupational licenses.</p><p class="p1">Cameron Parish taxing agencies lost PILOT court battles that would have allowed Cameron LNG to pay a fixed amount now instead of taxes at the end of its 10-year property tax exemption. Cameron officials are expected to testify before the committee.</p><p class="p1">Senate Bill 346 authorizes local governmental subdivisions to enter into cooperative endeavor agreements to receive those early tax payments. S.B. 294 is the proposed constitutional amendment necessary to enact the program. It would be submitted to the voters on Nov. 6.</p><p class="p1">The bill last year was approved by the House, but never came up for a vote in the Senate. The proposed constitutional amendment also passed the House, but wasn’t heard by the Senate Revenue and Fiscal Affairs Committee.</p><p class="p1">House Bill 748 up for debate today creates the Occupational Licensing Review Act. It would annually review approximately 20 percent of the state’s current occupational regulations and submit a report beginning Jan. 1, 2019, to legislative leaders, the governor and the attorney general.</p><p class="p1">The report would recommend the Legislature enact laws that would repeal some regulations and make some less restrictive.</p><p class="p1">The House on Tuesday will debate H.B. 54 that would require different percentages of electors, for voting areas of differing sizes that must sign a petition in order to call an election to recall an official. A similar effort failed last year.</p><p class="p1">H.B. 111 is a revision to a law enacted last year dealing with restitution paid by defendants. The proposed change says restitution due to a victim can’t be waived or forgiven.</p><p class="p1">The state’s public defenders say H.B. 167 up for debate Tuesday could shut down efforts to exonerate people who were sent to prison for a wrongful conviction. The proposal would require the state Public Defender Board to send 70 percent of its funding to local public defender offices.</p><p class="p1">The two teacher rights bills are H.B. 343 and 344. The first says teachers should be free from coercion, harassment and undue influence from school administrators. The second grants teachers the additional right to be free to implement curriculum, instructional materials and resources that are aligned to current state standards and assessments.</p><p class="p1">H.B. 387 is the parental rights bill. Parents would be able to receive records of attendance and discipline, descriptions of uniforms, yearly school calendars and to be informed of a child’s low academic performance.</p><p class="p1">Nursing home residents would be relieved of the requirement that they prove they are disabled in order to vote in the nursing home early voting program under provisions of H.B. 351.</p><p class="p1">H.B. 564 defines mechanical devices, natural hair braiders and braiding and unregulated services within the Louisiana Cosmetology Act.</p><p class="p1">H.B. 413 creates the TOPS Transfer Award up for debate Thursday. It would be available at the TOPS-Tech Award level. H.B. 414 raises the minimum grade point averages for students finishing different credit hours.</p><p class="p1">Restructuring of the hunting and fishing license system by the state Department of Wildlife and Fisheries is to be debated Thursday. H.B. 687 outlines the present and proposed license costs. The resident basic fishing license, for example, would go from $9.50 to $13.50.</p><p class="p1">The Senate Finance Committee on Tuesday will hear S.B. 218 that creates the Evaluation and Drafting Committee that will evaluate and determine if a state constitutional convention is needed. The committee will also hear S.B. 444 that beginning July 1, 2020, would dedicate state sales taxes on the sale, use, lease or rental of motor vehicles to the Transportation Trust Fund. It would begin at a 20 percent increase each year until 100 percent is reached.</p><p class="p1">The Senate Revenue and Fiscal Affairs Committee today will hear S.B. 493 that continues 20 percent rebate reductions to the Enterprise Zone, Louisiana Quality Jobs and Competitive Projects Payroll Incentive programs. It would bring in $19.4 million in 2019-20 and up to $44.1 million in 2022-23.</p><p class="p1">H.B. 132 before the committee would reduce the local match for capital outlay projects for non-state entities that demonstrate their inability to provide for their 25 percent match. The local match would be reduced to 10 percent.</p>