BATON ROUGE—Lawmakers passed the final pieces Thursday to create sports gambling in the state, and it could start before the upcoming football season.
Gov. John Bel Edwards signed the first of the three bills last week, and the other two bills faced last-minute adjustments on the final day of the legislative session Thursday.
“We’re simply putting in place the rules and regulations for something that our constituents have told us they wanted,” Sen. Rick Ward, R-Lake Charles, said earlier in the debates.
Last fall, 55 of 64 parishes voted in favor of some form of sports betting, and over 64% of voters in the state approved the measure.
Ward and three other Republicans spearheaded the writing of how Louisiana would welcome legal wagering on sports events. Sen. Ronnie Johns, R-Lake Charles, and Senate President Page Cortez, R-Lafayette, authored the bills along with Rep. John Stefanski, R-Crowley, authored the bills and co-sponsored other measures.
Before the session, the looming decision for the state was to either mimic Mississippi’s approach and limit sports wagering to in-person bets placed in casinos or allow betting over the internet. States that have allowed online betting have seen more lucrative tax collections.
Louisiana chose to allow betting in-person or online and to allow bars and restaurants to have kiosks similar to video poker machines. The nine parishes that did not favor sports gambling will be “geofenced” out from participating in online wagering.
By: Adrian Dubose, LSU Manship School News Service
BATON ROUGE — Lawmakers gave final approval Wednesday to a bill that would make kindergarten mandatory in Louisiana.
Senate Bill 10 by Sen. Cleo Fields, D-Baton Rouge, requires parents to send their children to kindergarten at age 5 or offer a home-school equivalent in Louisiana.
The final version of the bill passed the House 70-32 and the Senate 38-0.
SB 10 will now go to the governor’s desk. Gov. John Bel Edwards has said he will sign it into law.
Under the bill, a child who is five years old on or before September 30 must be enrolled in kindergarten unless a parent feels they are ready. In that, the parent may put the child in pre-k or home-school.
Rep. Jason Hughes, D-New Orleans brought the bill back to the House floor after a House-Senate conference committee made amendments.
Some lawmakers raised concerns about compulsory attendance laws and options for if a child is not ready for kindergarten in the parents’ opinion.
By: Matthew Bennett and Adrian Dubose | LSU Manship School News Service
BATON ROUGE–The Legislature gave final approval Thursday to a bill to streamline sales tax collections, while the House refused to extend $180 million in tax credits for the movie industry, at least for now.
The Senate also voted to extend the suspension of the corporation franchise tax on the first $300,000 of capital for small business corporations with taxable income of $1 million or less. The measure could cost the state $313.5 million in revenue over five years.
The push to streamline sales tax collections was led by House Speaker Clay Schexnayder, R-Gonzalez. The goal was to create one body to collect both the state and local portions of the sales tax, simplifying the payment process for businesses, and then distribute the money to the various jurisdictions.
Schexnayder’s bill, HB 199, would require a constitutional amendment approved by state voters. It would then create the State and Local Streamlined Sales and Use Tax Commission, comprised of eight members, to oversee the effort and make the collection process as simple for businesses as it is in many other states.
“We’ve been trying to get this done for nearly 40 years and today we did it,” Schexnayder said in a statement. “Removing this roadblock is the critical first step in turning our state around and bringing good, high-quality jobs for our people. Today was a big day for Louisiana.”
Also on Thursday, the House voted 45-37 against extending the sunset date for the movie industry tax credit.
By: Adrian Dubose, LSU Manship School News Service
BATON ROUGE, La. – A bill that would let Louisiana college athletes cash in on the use of their names, images or other likenesses passed the Legislature and is on the way to the governor’s desk.
The Senate voted 35-0 Tuesday to approve the bill with amendments that had been added in the House. The bill, SB 60, passed 88-7 in the House on Monday.
The bill would allow college athletes to profit off their names and likenesses once the National Collegiate Athletic Association gives guidance on how athletes can profit off themselves.
The bill comes shortly before the U.S. Supreme Court is expected to decide on the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s case about its limits on eligibility and compensation. A number of states have passed similar bills to overcome the NCAA’s reluctance to loosen its rules when athletes’ names and images are used in video games or for other commercial reasons.
“I think this is important, and I think this is where our country is headed, and I think this is important for the schools in Louisiana,” said Rep. John Stefanski, R-Crowley. “Fifteen other states have passed legislation on this matter, so if Louisiana does not pass this, they will be left behind.”
By: Adrian Dubose, LSU Manship School News Service
BATON ROUGE, La. (LSU Manship School News Wire) – The Senate gave final legislative approval Tuesday to two bills relating to horse racing, including one that would benefit a close friend of Senate President Page Cortez.
Senate Bill 209, pushed by Cortez, would let off-track betting parlors allow gambling on video replays of horse races that occurred in the past.
The bill was authored by Sen. Gary Smith Jr., and it passed the House 84-11 Monday with amendments that limited the number of establishments that could offer this type of gambling.
The Advocate reported Monday that Cortez, R-Lafayette, lives next door to Joel Robideaux, a former state representative and Lafayette mayor who is the lobbyist for one of the companies expected to offer the betting via devices like slot machines.
BATON ROUGE, La. — With hurricane season having started Tuesday, Gov. John Bel Edwards urged Louisianans to add a COVID vaccination to their prep list and offered incentives for getting the shot.
In a news briefing at the Capitol Thursday, Edwards debuted his “shot for a shot” campaign that allows citizens to show their vaccination cards at participating establishments for a free drink.
“So please kick off the summer with a refreshing beverage while also supporting our local restaurant and bars,” said Edwards.
The offer is good with proof of vaccination taken within the last seven days and lasts through July. Edwards also announced that anyone with a vaccination card has a free day pass to visit the 21 State Parks or 18 Historical Sites until the end of the month.
Dr. Dawn Marcelle of the Louisiana Department of Health announced that the state had 300 new COVID cases and 10 new deaths in the 24 hours through noon Thursday. She said that the state has found variants of the virus from Brazil, United Kingdom and India.
Marcelle also said that out of the more than 3 million people vaccinated in the state, only 23 have died of COVID. The deaths did not occur from an adverse reaction to the vaccination.
Louisiana has vaccinated 32% of its citizens, which is well below the national average of 41.5%. The state has vaccinated 72% of its citizens 65 and older.
By: Adrian Dubose | LSU Manship School News Service
BATON ROUGE–A bill to make kindergarten mandatory in Louisiana passed the House 59-31 Thursday and will go back to the Senate for final consideration.
Senators will need to decide if they concur with a House amendment changing the birthdate for when children would become eligible.
“Education is the mortal enemy to poverty,” said Rep. Jason Hughes, D-Orleans. “It just makes sense because it is good for our children and because it is good for our state.”
In a floor debate that lasted an hour and 10 minutes, opposing arguments were unable to kill the bill and resulted in just that one change.
The original bill would have required children turning five by September 30 to start kindergarten that fall. Amendment 3887 by Rep. Thomas Pressly, R-Shreveport, moved up the eligibility to children with birth dates by March 31.
Pressly’s amendment passed 57-38.
If the Senate passes the bill before the session ends next Thursday, the bill will move to the governor’s desk to sign.
Hughes reported that as of 2019, 160,000 students in Louisiana could not read.
BATON ROUGE, La. (LSU Manship School News Wire) – Sen. Jay Morris, a Republican from West Monroe, attempted to pass a social media regulation bill through the House Commerce Committee Thursday, but his attempt ended before it began.
“Six members, we don’t have a quorum,” said Allie King, the committee’s administrative assistant, after calling attendance for the 16-person committee.
“I’m shocked that there is not a quorum here today,” said Morris. “And it doesn’t look like I’m going to get a vote on this very important bill.”
The bill, which would have allowed users to sue companies like Facebook and Google if their posts were blocked, can no longer move forward in any capacity. Morris trudged forward and gave his prepared opening statement to the five Republican committee members and one Democrat who were present.
Seven Republicans and three Democrats were absent.
The bill would have allowed social media users to seek up to $75,000 in court if their religious or political posts were knowingly deleted or censored by a website.
“The means by which information is being distributed in this nation, and Louisiana, is going through a small handful of companies who decide what we should be able to see,” said Morris.
Conservatives have been upset with social media companies for some time, and their complaints escalated when Twitter and Facebook suspended President Donald Trump’s posts after the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol.
BATON ROUGE—Sports gambling is on its way to Louisiana, and legislators have a plan to divvy up the tax money.
Sen. Rick Ward, a Republican from Port Allen, passed a bill through the Senate with a 33-3 vote. Ward’s measure, Senate Bill 142, will work hand-in-hand with the final legislative rules for sports wagering that are still to be determined.
“I don’t know when the first deposits would happen,” said Ward. “There’s a provisional license to let this start as early as the fall.”
Ward added amendments to the bill during the floor meeting detailing just how the money will be distributed:
20% TO EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION
The bill states that the Education Fund is not to exceed over $10 million in payout from gambling revenue on real sports events. Fantasy sports wagering, a separate type of betting that should be operational in the state before fall, will deposit all of its funds into early education.
10% TO THE PARISHES
The 55 parishes that approved sports wagering in 2020 will see some of the money return to them. Ten percent of what the state collects will be separated and given to parishes proportionately to the taxes pulled in.