Legislative task force targets reforms lawmakers

Legislators managed to pass tax increases and budget cuts during the first, and maybe last, special session of the year but they admittedly fell short of making any structural changes.

The shortened time-frame and Gov. John Bel Edwards’ special call, or agenda, were both culprits, but members of the House and Senate didn’t ignore the issue completely.

They adopted HCR 11 by Rep. John Schroder, R-Covington, which creates a review panel that will make recommendations on budget and tax reforms that will be turned into legislation for the next applicable session — probably the 2017 regular session.

Schroder said the goal is to modernize and enhance the efficiency and fairness of the state’s tax policies for individuals and businesses. His resolution charges the panel, known as the Task Force on Structural Change in Budget and Tax Policy, with reporting its findings to the Legislature by Sept. 1.

Spending reforms and overhauling the tax code were major sticking points for Republicans during the special session. They asked the governor on different occasions to agree to future negotiations on such reforms that target the state’s pension systems, sentencing guidelines, Medicaid program and other areas.

Schroder’s resolution, which was co-authored by House Speaker Taylor Barras, R-New Iberia, and Senate President John Alario, R-Westwego, stacks the panel with academics, tax professionals and representatives from business and civic organizations.

It will not be a study group, Schroder said, but rather a policy recommendation panel that will sift through recently-completed studies in order to produce a legislative package. That would give lawmakers time to draft bills and meet with other stakeholders ahead of the next applicable session where such matters can be introduced.

Bills that increase taxes and make certain fiscal changes can only be introduced in regular sessions held in odd-numbered years.

For those involved in tax policy and those who were playing offense or defense during the special session, the formation and membership of the panel is of great interest — as will be its work.

Angelle makes it official in the 3rdAs first reported by LaPolitics last month, Public Service Commissioner Scott Angelle is running in the open 3rd Congressional District. He made it official last week and immediately became one of the lead candidates to watch. After making a strong third place finish in last year’s race for governor, Angelle enters the fray with enviable name recognition and a fundraising base that will be more than competitive.

A lingering question is whether Louisiana Rising, the super PAC that supported Angelle’s race for governor, will make a return. It’s still active and had about $7,000 in the bank as of Jan. 12.

Another question that’s already percolating is who might run for the PSC’s District 2 seat should Angelle be successful. Rep. Stuart Bishop, R-Lafayette, would be a strong contender and could find favor with business interests. On the eastern side of the district, there has already been a push to get Baton Rouge Metro Councilman Joel Boe, who is not seeking re-election, to look at the PSC race.

Angelle is definitely not alone in the 3rd Congressional District. Former state Rep. Brett Geymann formally announced this week and has been working his way around the district for nearly a year.

Also in the field are Grover Joseph Rees, a former U.S. ambassador to East Timor; Gus Rantz, president of Acadiana Management Group; Derek Landry; Lafayette Parish School Board Member Erick Knezek; and retired Army Lt. Col. Greg Ellison, the general manager of Kitty Hawk Energy.Tauzin ramps up Baton Rouge officeThe political and business consulting firm run by former Congressman Billy Tauzin is further expanding its operations in Louisiana and will be establishing an office in Baton Rouge.

Through that new structure Tauzin Consultants, launched in Washington in 2011, will seek to brand itself as a connector between Baton Rouge and Washington, D.C.

Matt Gresham is joining the newly-formed Tauzin Louisiana Strategies as the lead in-state consultant. But Tauzin said he’ll be spending more time in Baton Rouge as well.

“You can count on that,” he said.

Firm partner Thomas N. Tauzin said business acceleration services will be a focus as well.

Clinton relying heavily on Landrieu

New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu spent a weekend last month in South Carolina campaigning, speaking at African-American churches and giving television interviews.

No, he’s not running for governor of South Carolina. He’s hitting the campaign trail with Hillary Clinton and her presidential campaign.

Landrieu voted early in Louisiana’s presidential primary for her and turned it into a minor media event, but it won’t be the mayor’s last gift to the Clinton campaign.

Landrieu is expected to be traveling around the country more for Clinton in the near future and he has already offered up assistance with fundraising.

Speculation continues as to whether Landrieu could end up in Washington working for Clinton, should she win. He’s certainly becoming an out-front national surrogate.

There are some connections between the campaign and Landrieu aside from on-the-surface political support. Fabien Levy and Hyma Moore are running Clinton’s Louisiana operations and both previously worked for Mayor Landrieu. Levy also worked on the 2014 campaign of and former U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu.They Said It“It hasn’t gotten special enough for me to shave it yet.”—Sen. Dan Claitor, on why he hadn’t shaved his beard during the special session“It’s like a dog chasing its tail and if we bite it we might not like what we catch.”—Rep. Jim Morris, on the ongoing questions over legislative fiscal notes

 

About Jeremy Alford 205 Articles
Jeremy Alford is an independent journalist and the co-author of LONG SHOT, which recounts Louisiana's 2015 race for governor. His bylines appear regularly in The New York Times and he has served as an on-camera analyst for CNN, FOX News, MSNBC and C-SPAN.

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