Bill to keep one-third of the extra penny sales tax makes it out of La. House on second try

BATON ROUGE, LA (WVUE) - A bill to retain a portion of the temporary extra one-cent state sales makes it out of the House on a second try.

With a lack of a budget for the new fiscal year which starts July 1 the State House was called to order on Memorial Day and all eyes were on Rep. Lance Harris, who chairs the House Republican Caucus.

Harris' HB 27 which would keep .33 percent of the expiring extra penny sales tax in place until 2023 failed to win House approval on Friday.

In bringing the bill up for reconsideration on Memorial Day Harris told his colleagues he took some heat on Facebook over the weekend over his proposal.

"I saw me being referred to as some very interesting names over the weekend and I hate to tell my folks that are printing those kinds of things to me it actually invigorates me, so keep it up," said Rep. Harris.

The bill to keep a portion of the expiring extra penny sales tax on the books required 70 votes in favor to get out of the state House.

"Our job as legislators are to work through the problems, the issues, and the opportunities that the state faces," Harris said to House members before the vote.

The first time it was voted on it failed 63 to 38.

But the second try worked in Harris' favor.

"76 yays, 26 nays, the bill is finally passed," said House Speaker Taylor Barras in announcing final passage.

State government has a nearly $700 million shortfall for the budget year that begins at the start of July.

Harris' bill generates some $360 million for the state.

"I didn't support that the first time," said Rep. Cameron Henry, a Republican who chairs the House Appropriation Committee.

Henry said if the bill wins full legislature approval and is signed into law by Governor John Bel Edwards the process is not over.

"We can't appropriate money that has not been recognized by the Revenue Estimating Committee," said Rep. Henry.

The Revenue Estimating Conference is made up of the House Speaker, Senate President, the governor's Commissioner of Administration and an independent economist.

"The Revenue Estimating Committee meets to determine the exact dollar amount whether it's $300, $400 [million] or whatever the legislature decides whatever that dollar amount is then we can start a House Bill 1 and appropriate any new money comes in," said Henry.

He said a new budget containing any additional revenues may not be in place until mid-June.

"No one wants to be in Baton Rouge past June 4th, I can assure that I'm one of them, but the law is very clear, the state Constitution is very clear on how, when we can appropriate dollars," he said.

Copyright 2018 WVUE. All rights reserved.