Legislative briefs: Lafayette land swap; tax exemption for feminine hygiene products

Photo by Julie O'Donoghue

Senate OKs bill to let city, UL swap fire station for land

The Senate on Tuesday unanimously approved HB335 by Rep. Jean-Paul Coussan, R-Lafayette, which would allow the University of Louisiana at Lafayette to swap a tract of land along Cajundome Boulevard to the City of Lafayette in exchange for Fire Station No. 5 on Johnston Street.

Sen. Bob Hensgens, R-Abbeville, ushered the bill through the Senate, which approved it 37-0. The House approved it on a 93-11 vote on May 4.

The university wants to develop the fire station property for possible residential housing, while the city wants to build a new, larger Fire Station No. 5 on the Cajundome Boulevard tract, which has a 400-foot frontage.

It would take effect immediately upon being signed by the governor, or in 10 days without his signature.

House OKs sales tax exemption for diapers, feminine hygiene products, extending Medicaid for postpartum depression, but kills tax credit for dependent children

After two weeks of postponements, a bill to give a statewide sales tax exemption to feminine hygiene products and diapers, including adult diapers, received House passage Tuesday.

HB7 by Rep. Aimee Adatto Freeman, D-New Orleans, was approved 62-32. According to the fiscal note from the Legislative Fiscal Office, the bill would cost the state $10.2 million in lost revenue the next fiscal year and $53.5 million over five years.

Freeman reminded the House that a bill last year allowed local governments to suspend sales taxes on such products and this would apply statewide.

Among the Lafayette representatives, Republican Stuart Bishop and Democrats Marcus Bryant and Vincent Pierre voted for the bill, Republicans Beau Beaullieu, Julie Emerson and Jonathan Goudeau voted against it, and Republican Jean-Paul Coussan was recorded as absent. 

Moments later, the House voted 95-0 to approve HB468 by Rep. Mandie Landry, D-New Orleans, which would extend the current 60-day limit for Medicaid coverage for postpartum depression to one year. 

A floor amendment specified that the Louisiana Department of Health could not implement the coverage “until sufficient funds are appropriated.” But according to the Legislative Fiscal Office, those “sufficient funds” would amount to $2.9 million the first year and $85.5 million over five years.

The House was less generous when it came to HB659 by Rep. Matthew Willard, D-New Orleans, which would have granted an income tax credit, in addition to the existing deduction, for dependents under the age of 18 on a sliding scale.

It was defeated after some lively questioning, 32-57. Willard’s plan would have given credits of up to $500 for children under 6 whose parents or guardians make less than $51,000. Lower amounts would have been granted for dependents between 6 and 18 or whose parents or guardians made between $51,000 and $100,000. It would have cost the treasury $60.6 million next fiscal year and $303 million over five years.

In the Lafayette delegation, only Democrats Bryant and Pierre voted for it, Republicans Beaullieu, Emerson and Goudeau voted against it and Bishop and Coussan did not vote.