The House Committee on Municipal, Parochial and Cultural Affairs was set to consider HB41 by Rep. Stuart Bishop when it convened at 8 a.m. on Wednesday, but Bishop pulled the proposed constitutional amendment at the request of Secretary of State Tom Schedler.
The bill would have tightened limitations on the ability of local governments to call tax elections in the wake of the failure of a proposition. Article 6, Section 30(B) of the Louisiana Constitution states that local governments cannot bring a tax issue up for voter consideration less than six months after a prior attempt to pass the tax failed. It provides an exception to that rule "in the case of an emergency as determined by the governing authority of the political subdivision."
Bishop's bill would have eliminated that exception. Because it is a constitutional amendment, it would need approval by two-thirds of both the House and the Senate before it would go to voters for approval.
Bishop says there was no connection between the pulling of HB41 from consideration and the failure of two parish wide property tax measures last Saturday that provide funding for maintenance and operation of Lafayette's jail and courthouse.
"Those elections had absolutely zero impact on this bill," according to Bishop. "I did not speak to any local officials about this bill."
In a telephone interview with The Independent following the committee hearing, Bishop says he was carrying out the wishes of Secretary Schedler.
"I introduced the bill at his request and I pulled it at his request," Bishop says.
He says Schedler contacted him prior to the committee meeting to say that he had reconsidered the need for the bill based on the work of a team in his office.
"The secretary told me he might want to come back with this bill or a version of it next year," Bishop adds.
Bishop's HB98 to impose a small feel on oil and gas produced in Louisiana to fund the state's Oilfield Site Restoration program won easy approval on the House floor on Tuesday. The bill, which would impose fees ranging from 1.5 cents to 4.5 center per gallon of oil and its natural gas equivalent based on market prices, was approved 98-0. It now moves to the Senate for committee assignment.
In response to a question of whether he expects smooth sailing there, as well, Bishop's joking reply was, "You never know what can happen when things reach the other chamber.