Legislative Session Update
May 2, 2016
Week seven of the regular session wrapped last Friday and session continues to be a little different than usual
; much of that is due to straining relationships between the new governor's administration between many new and veteran House members. Things over in the Senate are a little smoother, which is to be expected due to the considerable amount of veteran lawmakers on that side of Memorial Hall. Still though, fewer than 40 percent of the 1,625 bills filed have made it out of their chamber of origin and legislators don't appear overly enthusiastic about moving rapidly on the limited bills that have actually gotten some traction. There appears to be even less legislative enthusiasm for being called into a second special session (time, date and duration are still a point of contention even as Gov. John Bel Edwards says he needs second special session sooner than later to close a forecasted budget gap for next fiscal year).
On the matter of budget gaps for FY 2016-2017 (which begins July 1), Commissioner of Administration Jay Dardenne this week announced the budget shortfall is now more in the ballpark of $600 million instead of the $750 million or so we've heard about the past few weeks. Apparently the administration is banking on revenues from expanding Medicaid and a few other items. Many legislators and business leaders believe that delaying a second special session to later this fall (if one is even necessary at all) is critical because all of the tax measures passed earlier this year and last year could end up generating much more revenue than necessary. A second special session would be likely to tackle tax exemptions, credits, etc. rather than directly increase taxes (obviously eliminating tax credits or exemptions will be a tax increase for those that currently use them, but some legislators don't see it that way).