It’s official. Louisiana Governor Jon Bel Edwards has now released his Call for a special legislative session to begin February 13th at 6:30 PM and conclude February 22nd at midnight. The Call, released today, February 3, 2017, is intended to allow the Louisiana Legislature to plug a $304 million budget hole in the state’s FY 2017 budget.
The Call does not provide the Legislature with the power to legislate with regard to any taxes during the special session; thus, tax increases will not be on the table.
The Call, however, does provide the Legislature with the power to legislate with regard to fees. The Governor has noted that he will not be proposing any new fees during the special session; however, other legislators will be allowed to do so if they wish. As a result, it is possible (and likely) that legislation will be proposed providing for new, or increased, fees as a means of raising revenue and closing the state’s current short-term budget gap.
The central focus of the Call and the upcoming special session appears to be on state spending cuts, changes to statutory dedications, and the utilization of reserve funds.
A copy of the Governor’s Call can be found here.
Following the special session, a regular fiscal session of the Legislature will convene at noon on Monday, April 10, 2017. Tax issues will be germane during the regular session, and long-term tax reform will likely be the goal of the Governor and many legislators. Thus, despite the fact that tax hikes were left off the Call for the special session, taxes will again be front and center at the Legislature in no time.
The Louisiana and multistate business community should follow the upcoming special session (and subsequent regular session) carefully and be prepared to act with regard to any new legislation proposed this year by the Legislature.
The Jones Walker SALT Team will continue to closely follow – and report on – these legislative developments as they occur.