New Louisiana laws take effect Wednesday

New Louisiana laws take effect Wednesday

NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - Several new laws take effect Wednesday, July 1 in Louisiana. Here are some of the major new laws:

Limits on Louisiana's film tax credits

New limits on the state's film tax credits go into effect Wednesday. It is one solution lawmakers approved to help close the $1.6 billion budget shortfall this session.

Workers in the state's film industry say they may take legal action to challenge the constitutionality of the new tax credit limits.

Governor Bobby Jindal approved the caps earlier this month as part of the $24 billion budget. The new law says no more than $180 million in film tax credits can be cashed in every year, which allows the legislature to budget for it like it does for other expenses.

However, some in the film industry say the new caps could cause productions to move elsewhere.

"They had to destroy the constitution in order to get to the saving that they were looking for," said Will French, President of the Film Production Capital. "Knowing that we are going to challenge it and knowing that we are going to win and that money really isn't going to be there for them at the end of the day."

In past years, the state paid out more than $200 million in film tax credit. Sometimes that number reached $250 million or more.

A hike in the cigarette tax goes into effect

A pack of cigarettes will cost 50 cents more around Louisiana.

The additional charge brings the total tax on cigarettes to 86 cents a pack, the 35th highest rate in the country. The extra money will go to help fund health care in the state.

Owners of e-cigarette shops say people who use those products will also see an increase beginning today.

Changes at the OMV

Drivers in Louisiana will have to spend less time at the Office of Motor Vehicles.

Lawmakers approved the changes earlier this year as a way to reduce lines at the Office of Motor Vehicles locations around the state.

Louisiana drivers only have to renew their licenses every six years now instead of four, though there will be an increased cost to cover the two extra years.

A legislative fiscal office audit last year showed OMV staff dropped 23 percent and the amount of time people waited in OMV lines grew from as little as eight minutes in 2009 to more than an hour by 2013.

"It's a large swish of the complaints about motor vehicles is the wait times that people have to endure, and at least, if you have to do it every 6 years instead of every 4 years that makes the pain a little bit more bearable," said Stephen Campbell of the Louisiana Motor Vehicle Commission.

Also beginning Wednesday, individuals who purchase cars will have to pay $50 more for a vehicle title and $10 more for an official driving record.

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