The House Committee on Ways and Means advanced legislation on Tuesday to reign in the more than $7 billion Louisiana gives away each year through various tax exemptions, exclusions and other tax breaks. An Advocate editorial applauds Chairman Stuart Bishop’s scrutiny into whether the state should be giving away billions of dollars in tax revenue that could be used to support public schools, police, parks and many other needs across the state. But not all tax credits are ineffective.  

One that [Bishop] he calls to reassess is the Earned Income Tax Credit, one of the best breaks to encourage work among poorer families. We think it ought to be expanded, not eliminated. Yet ultimately supporters of the EITC and all exemptions and credits against the Treasury ought to be able to make a valid case. For many other breaks, it will be difficult to justify a state subsidy: “In a number of cases, we’d get their activity even without the tax break,” noted Jim Richardson, a retired LSU economist and expert on the tax system. We may not always agree with Bishop’s definition of a “giveaway,” but we do agree that the huge list of breaks won’t be trimmed unless the Legislature is forced to take a real look at them. Bishop’s bill is a good place to start.

House passes ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill
The Louisiana House last week refused to give public school teachers a raise. On Tuesday, the same group of lawmakers voted to muzzle teachers by restricting how they can communicate with students. Rep. Dodie Horton’s House Bill 466 would ban the discussion of personal sexual orientation or gender identity at public schools. While a similar “Don’t Say Gay” bill died in the House Education Committee last year, Horton’s legislation, and others that would negatively affect LGBTQ+ people, are having more success as America’s culture wars infiltrate the Louisiana Legislature. The Advocate’s James Finn reports: 

On Monday, the House approved House Bill 81, which would restrict the use of certain pronouns in schools. Another bill, House Bill 463, would outlaw gender-affirming care for transgender youth; that bill is awaiting a House floor vote. And another bill awaiting a full Senate hearing, Senate Bill 7, would require libraries to set up guardrails on checking out material that contains sexually explicit themes. Supporters have mostly cited books with LGBTQ+ themes as examples of content that should be restricted.  The House Committee on Labor and Industrial Relations last week also killed House Bill 40, which would have banned workplace discrimination on the basis of sexual or gender identity. 

Reality check: Louisiana is marred by endemic poverty, crumbling infrastructure and a coast that is slowly being swallowed by the Gulf of Mexico. Attacking LGBTQ+ people does nothing to address these issues, and will not make Louisiana a better place to live for residents or a more attractive place for people to move.

Banning slavery and involuntary servitude
Louisiana voters overwhelmingly rejected a constitutional amendment last November to ban slavery and involuntary servitude. The vote came after the amendment’s legislative sponsor, Rep. Edmond Jordan, publicly stated that he planned to vote against the measure because of confusing ballot language and come back with a different version in 2023. As the Lafayette Daily Advertiser’s Greg Hilburn reports, the House Civil Law Committee advanced Jordan’s version for the current legislative session, but not without some of the same controversy that surrounded last year’s amendment. 

“Hopefully we’ll get it right this time,” Jordan said. “We need to send a message that we’re trying to look toward the future and that we correct a historical wrong.” Those who supported the amendment to alter Jordan’s bill – all white – said they believe it’s important to include language specifically preserving the legality of forced convict labor, though Jordan said it would not make hard labor sentences illegal for inmates. Republican Shreveport Rep. Alan Seabaugh accused Jordan of purposely trying to end forced inmate labor in last year’s effort, calling Jordan “disingenuous.” “The historical wrong was corrected a very long time ago,” Seabaugh said. Jordan fired back: “I’m not going to let you impugn my character.”

Air pollution monitoring bill blocked
The powerful chair of the Senate Finance Committee blocked a proposal to require industrial plants to install systems that measure and record pollution and alert nearby residents when leaks occur. While Senate Bill 35 advanced out of the  Senate Committee on Environmental Quality last month, Sen. Bodi White shelved the proposal after it reached his committee because of the increased costs it would incur on the highly profitable and well subsidized plants.’s Tristan Baurick reports: 

“I’m asking you to think about protecting people and not the costs to the plants,” said Russel Honoré, a retired Army lieutenant general who now leads the Green Army environmental group. “These plants are doing well. That’s why they keep coming to Louisiana.” [retired Army lieutenant general Russel] Honoré noted that Louisiana gives plants “beaucoup tax breaks” to draw them to the state. The Louisiana Industrial Tax Exemption Program, or ITEP, has been “extraordinarily generous to industry compared to other states,” according an Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis report. ITEP granted $23 billion in subsidies to 1,400 companies over a 20-year period, a 2017 study by Together Louisiana found.

Number of the Day
– Number of women, infants, and children who would lose vital nutrition assistance through the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), if the GOP debt-ceiling bill becomes law. (Source: The White House)