LABI discusses 2013 legislative issues - KPLC 7 News, Lake Charles, Louisiana

LABI discusses 2013 legislative issues

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LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) -

When the 2013 session of the Louisiana Legislature gets underway, officials with the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry will be in the thick of it. 

Officials with LABI hosted a legislative issues conference at the Lake Charles Civic Center on Tuesday.

They expect to be fighting to defend legislative reforms in education passed last year, according to Jim Patterson, LABI vice president of governmental relations.

"Teacher quality, the tenure bill, that requires that the tenure only goes to the highly effective teachers and not automatically to anybody that happens to be a teacher," said Patterson, is an example of the type of reform they hope to maintain.

But Patterson said the issue "sucking the air out of the room" is the governor's tax reform proposals, though he said it's too soon for LABI to take a position since the bill's not out yet. If state income tax is eliminated, it's likely to be replaced  with sales tax.

"So, the question is what will he do? Well, he is going to go up on the rate, to some degree. That's going to be necessary," said Patterson.

He said the many possibilities the governor is looking at include taxing services such as they do in Texas.

"So, that's going to be services like tickets to movie theaters, sporting events, golf course fees, health club memberships, those sorts of things," said Patterson.

SWLA lawmakers addressed the business group. House speaker Chuck Kleckley said the tax reform is complex and a work in progress.

"Calcasieu is a border parish. If we go up too high on our sales tax we'll be at a competitive disadvantage with Texas and I don't think that does anything for the businesses or people of Southwest Louisiana," said Kleckley.

Kleckley expects a bill to come out within the next seven days. He said look for House Ways and Means to begin hearing the bill March 19.

The session gets underway April 8. For links to LABI's website and session information, check out our Links page.

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