Louisiana Tax Rebate Debate, Amendment 14 (2014)

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Amendment 14
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Constitution:Constitutional amendment
Referred by:Louisiana State Legislature
Topic:Taxes
Status:On the ballot
2014 measures
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November 4
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Amendment 14
Endorsements

The Louisiana Tax Rebate Debate, Amendment 14 is on the November 4, 2014 ballot in Louisiana as a legislatively-referred constitutional amendment. The measure, upon voter approval, would prohibit legislators from introducing legislation related to tax exemptions, credits, rebates and other tax break programs during legislative sessions in even-numbered years.[1][2]

The bill was sponsored in the legislature by State Representative Edward James (D-101) as House Bill 131.[1]

Text of measure

Ballot title

The official ballot text reads as follows: [1]

Do you support an amendment to provide that legislation relative to tax rebates, tax incentives, and tax abatements may not be introduced or considered by the legislature in a regular session held in an even-numbered year?

(Amends Article III, Section 2(A)(3)(b) and (4)(b)(introductory paragraph))[3]

Constitutional changes

The proposed amendment would amend Section 2(A)(3)(b) and Section 2(4)(b) of Article III of the Constitution of Louisiana:[1]

§2. Sessions
Section 2.(A) Annual Session.

(3)
(b) No measure levying or authorizing a new tax by the state or by any statewide political subdivision whose boundaries are coterminous with the state; increasing an existing tax by the state or by any statewide political subdivision whose boundaries are coterminous with the state; or legislating with regard to tax exemptions, exclusions, deductions, rebates, incentives, abatements, or credits, shall be introduced or enacted during a regular session held in an even-numbered year.
(4)
(b) During any session convening in an odd-numbered year, no matter intended to have the effect of law, including any suspension of law, shall be introduced or considered unless its object is to enact the General Appropriation Bill; enact the comprehensive capital budget; make an appropriation; levy or authorize a new tax; increase an existing tax; levy, authorize, increase, decrease, or repeal a fee; dedicate revenue; legislate with regard to tax exemptions, exclusions, deductions, reductions, repeals, rebates, incentives, abatements, or credits; or legislate with regard to the issuance of bonds. In addition, a matter intended to have the effect of law, including a measure proposing a suspension of law, which is not within the subject matter restrictions provided in this Subparagraph may be considered at any such session if:
(i) It is prefiled no later than the deadline provided in Subparagraph (2) of this Paragraph, provided that the member shall not prefile more than five such matters pursuant to this Subsubparagraph; or
(ii) Its object is to enact a local or special law which is required to be and has been advertised in accordance with Section 13 of this Article and which is not prohibited by the provisions of Section 12 of this Article.[3]


Support

The measure was introduced into the legislature by Rep. Edward James (D-101).[1]

Arguments

The Public Affairs Research Council provided arguments for and against the constitutional amendment. The following is the council's argument in support:

Tax rebates, incentives and abatements are fiscal matters. A loophole in the law allows legislators to introduce bills related to rebates, incentives and abatements in both general and fiscal sessions. Introducing such legislation during general sessions runs counter to what was intended by the split-session system. The goal in establishing the fiscal-only sessions was to give legislators time to closely scrutinize all matters related to the state’s finances. When these bills are introduced in a general session, they do not receive the attention they deserve and are much more likely to be bargained among unrelated bills in the legislative process.

[3]

—Public Affairs Research Council[4]

Opposition

Arguments

The Public Affairs Research Council provided arguments for and against the constitutional amendment. The following is the council's argument against:

Legislators need flexibility to offer economic development incentives to boost jobs and business growth in Louisiana. Legislation for tax rebates, incentives and abatements should be allowed every year, not every two years. Also, fiscal sessions have not produced the in-depth focus on fiscal matters that state leaders and the voters hoped for when this new system was approved years ago.

[3]

—Public Affairs Research Council[4]

Path to the ballot

See also: Amending the Louisiana Constitution

State Representative Edward James (D-101) introduced a bill to the legislature to alter the constitution and put the measure before voters on March 18, 2013. The bill was approved through a two-thirds vote in both legislative chambers. HB 131 was approved by the Louisiana Senate on May 31, 2013. The amendment was approved by the Louisiana House of Representatives on June 6, 2013.[5]

Senate vote

May 31, 2013 Senate vote

Louisiana HB 131 Senate Vote
ResultVotesPercentage
Approveda Yes 36 100.00%
No00.00%

House vote

June 6, 2013 House vote

Louisiana HB 131 House Vote
ResultVotesPercentage
Approveda Yes 88 100.00%
No00.00%

See also

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