The Louisiana Legislature 2015 fiscal session and the governor's veto period have concluded and all legislation is now final. During this session, new occupancy tax increases were approved for Sabine Parish and Baker in East Baton Rouge Parish.
SB 169 also passed, allowing the Jefferson Parish CVB to levy an optional hotel assessment upon its hotel members for destination marketing, sales and public relations purposes. This is similar to the New Orleans hotel self-assessment, passed in 2013.
The legislature passed HB 829, which provides an annual film industry tax incentive cap of $180 million for the next three fiscal years. No one project can receive more than $30 million during those three years. Gov. Jindal signed the bill into law on June 19. Click here for more information.
Although many were initially removed from HB 1 as it was proposed at the beginning of the session, all pass-throughs were added back in to the Office of Tourism budget, mandating that LOT dedicate about $3.5 million to specific programs or events.
In spite of this unfavorable outcome, we are proud to report more LACVB and LTPA member advocacy participation than ever before! This included a 74 percent increase in VoterVOICE participation, with our members sending 575 messages to legislators encouraging them to support tourism.
Only minutes before the close of session, the legislature passed a tax bill that will benefit LOT. HCR 8 suspended an exemption on business utility sales tax for one year, providing an estimated $107 million to the state general fund, $3.2 million of which is statutorily dedicated to tourism.
As you are likely aware, the gubernatorial, statewide offices and all 144 legislative seats are up for election on Oct. 24. The top two vote getters in each race, regardless of party, make the general election (run off) on Nov. 21.
In January 2016, those elected will be sworn in. Fiscal matters including taxes cannot be addressed during the 2016 general session by constitution which is set for March 14 - June 6, 2016. It is possible that a new governor will call a special fiscal session in mid-January or February 2016 to address revenue shortfalls.