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Louisiana tax rewrite drawing business resistance – Greater Baton Rouge Business Report

Republican state lawmakers trying to muscle through a wide-ranging rewrite of Louisiana’s tax laws today ran into the same problem that has bedeviled previous legislative efforts, opposition from special interest groups trying to protect tax breaks given to industry.

The House Ways and Means Committee, which handles tax measures, delayed votes on two bills aimed at paring back myriad tax breaks that Louisiana has on the books. Neither one had an analysis yet from the nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Office of how much money would be saved from cutting the tax breaks.

But a bigger hurdle to passage looms.

Rep. Stuart Bishop, R-Lafayette, who chairs the House committee, acknowledges the opposition to his 100-page proposal to eliminate an array of tax exemptions, credits, deductions and rebates. He calls it “the most controversial bill I’ve ever handled.”

Lined up to testify against the idea were lobbyists representing many of the businesses that would lose the tax breaks: banking, the chemical industry, oil and gas companies, insurance firms and more.

Bishop is among the Republican legislative leaders trying to overhaul the state’s tax structure, to lower the overall tax rates charged businesses and individuals in exchange for getting rid of many of the loopholes on the books.

“We have credits on there that make zero sense,” he says.

Good government groups, tax experts and economists suggest Louisiana needs to simplify its exemption-riddled set of tax laws to make the state more attractive to businesses.

But efforts to rewrite the laws have repeatedly run into opposition from special interest groups that claim to support tax restructuring until it involves removing tax breaks that benefit their businesses and members.

Despite the opposition, several members of the Ways and Means Committee suggest they would support Bishop’s legislation if he brings it up for debate later in the two-month legislative session. Read the full story from The Associated Press.