BATON ROUGE, LA – As the 2022 regular legislative session ended Monday evening, the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry (LABI) noted specific victories for job creators in Louisiana.
“We were proud to be part of a coordinated effort between the legislature and the administration to make the largest infrastructure investment Louisiana has seen in decades,” said Stephen Waguespack, president and chief executive officer. management of LABI. “In addition, the stabilization of the Unemployment Trust Fund to prevent an increase in corporate taxes, the defeat of legislation to enshrine harmful ITEP policy in the constitution, and the prioritization of education and workforce development were the main issues of this session. LABI advocated for the expansion of education options to ensure that every child has access to quality education. Today’s students are tomorrow’s workforce, and we will continue to fight for student-centered education reform.
The Louisiana business community should take note of the following bills passed this session:
Education Savings Accounts (ESA)
- HB 194 by Rep. Rhonda Butler (R-Ville Platte) would authorize AES for students with special needs and difficulties, allowing parents to make the best educational choices for their children by letting them direct the money for their children’s education. WHY IS IT IMPORTANT: “Education is not unique – all children learn differently and need different environments to meet their educational needs,” Waguespack said. “Many parents have children with special needs who are unable to function academically in the public school system. This bill would give these families more options to meet their child’s unique learning needs.
- SB 203 by Senator Sharon Hewitt (R-Slidell) would create the Reading Education Savings Account (RESA) program allowing parents to use their child’s portion of state education money on education-related tools and services for students who read in below the grade level in the second or third year, in addition to allowing them to receive their education in a private school or at home.
- HB 214 by Rep. Richard Nelson (R-Mandeville), would require passing a teaching reading test as a condition of certification for primary school teachers.
- HB 911 by Rep. Jason Hughes (D-New Orleans) would increase the number of literacy assessments for students in kindergarten to grade three and provide interventions and improvement plans for students who are falling behind in literacy. The bill also provides resources for teachers regarding basic literacy and requires literacy coaches to be on-site for teacher training.
WHY THESE INVOICES ARE IMPORTANT: “Louisiana ranks 48e in education, and less than half of Louisiana K-3 students are reading at the grade level,” said LABI Director of Education Lauren Gleason. “These bills are a huge step forward in improving student literacy rates and giving teachers the resources they need to help their students succeed.
Other Education Victories
- The Louisiana Legislature has made a significant investment in education, allocating $40 million in the budget for early childhood education in HB 1.
MAJOR INVESTMENTS IN INFRASTRUCTURES
Investments in transport:
Infrastructure financing has long been one of LABI’s top priorities. In the 2022 legislative session, lawmakers made historic efforts to bring these much-needed projects to fruition. Here is the funding breakdown:
- $300 million to build the Mississippi Bridge in Baton Rouge
- $200 million for the I-10 bridge in Lake Charles
- $12.5 million for the commuter train
- $100 million for I-49 South
- Hundreds of millions of dollars in funding for the repair and construction of local roads and bridges in parishes across the state.
- Megaproject Leverage Fund
- SB 277 by Senate Speaker Page Cortez Direct 75% of Motor Vehicle Sales Tax funds to the Transportation Trust Fund construction sub-fund.
WHY IS IT IMPORTANT: “This session, the Legislative Assembly demonstrated a strong commitment to meeting our state’s infrastructure and transportation needs now and in the years to come,” said Jim Patterson, vice president of government relations for LABI. “Legislation passed this session also put in place the necessary procedures to fund these and other projects in the future.”
- HB 231 by the rep. Ken Brass (D-Vacherie) would allow “reverse transfers” where students who have transferred to a four-year institution seeking a bachelor’s degree – but before meeting the requirements for an associate’s degree at a two-year institution – are granted their associate degree while continuing to work toward a bachelor’s degree. The bill would also allow students to combine credits earned at two- and four-year institutions to earn an associate degree. WHY IS IT IMPORTANT: “This legislation rewards working adults with credentials while they work towards a bachelor’s degree, giving them a jump start in their careers while increasing their value to the workforce,” Gleason said.
- HB 470 by Rep. Scott McKnight (R-Baton Rouge), would allow the collection of certain information on students for the purpose of assessing the alignment between vocational and technical education programs, workforce training and post-secondary employment. WHY IS IT IMPORTANT: According to LABI communications manager Mary Beth Hughes, “Forty million dollars are spent each year on CTE, but we lack the data needed to know if programs are meeting employment needs and if students are staying in their fields.” long-term preference.
- SB 151 by Sen. Rogers Pope (R-Denham Springs) was defeated. This harmful legislation would have installed the Governor’s Amendments to the Industrial Tax Exemption Program (ITEP) into the Louisiana constitution. WHY IS IT IMPORTANT: “Louisiana is looking at a historic opportunity that our neighbors to the south are beginning to capitalize on,” Waguespack said. “Jobs are fleeing from high-tax states like California and New York and heading south, supply chains are being disrupted and returning from overseas. The ITEP is one of the most critical tools we have in the toolbox for attracting these investments. »
Investments in the workforce:
- $500 million appropriate to replenish unemployment trust fund, to avoid higher taxes for Louisiana businesses
- $10 million credit to the Louisiana Community and Technical College System (LCTCS) for broadband workforce training programs.
- $10 million ownership of the LCTCS Reboot LA 2.0 program designed to quickly retrain and certify workers who lost their jobs during the pandemic for high-demand jobs.
- $25 million ownership of LCTCS to develop and expand training programs for health personnel. A portion of the funding will be used by LCTCS to expand public-private workforce training partnerships with healthcare providers. A portion will also be used by LCTCS to partner with the Louisiana Department of Education (LDOE) to expand dual enrollment opportunities for high school students seeking careers in health.
- $4.25 million to the HERO Fund (Healthcare Employment Reinvestment Opportunity) which will be used by the Board of Regents for initiatives to increase the nursing and paramedic workforce. In the past, Regents has used this money to provide grants to two- and four-year campuses to increase their class sizes in nursing and allied health programs.
- $10.5 million to the MJ Foster Promise Program Fund. The program provides financial assistance to eligible students who enroll in a qualified program at a two-year public college or university, or an accredited private school approved by Regents. Health personnel training programs will be eligible under the program.
- TOPS Tech (Fully Funded through TOPS Credits): Free tuition awarded to qualified high school graduates for up to two years of vocational or vocational training at an accredited Louisiana vocational or technical school for a certificate or diploma.
JUDICIAL MODERNIZATION & TRANSPARENCY
- HB 662 by Rep. Zee Zeringue (R-Houma) would require that an annual review of judgeships be conducted by the Judicial Council to determine whether the composition of Louisiana’s district courts and appeals courts – as well as the number of judges in each district – accurately reflects the population of the state. WHY IS IT IMPORTANT: “LABI has worked tirelessly to improve the transparency and modernization of our justice system,” said LABI Civil Justice Director Lauren Hadden. “This process is critical to creating a justice system that more accurately reflects the needs of the state, prioritizing population and workload for fairness and the efficient delivery of justice.”
In addition to HB 662several key priorities and recommendations of the LABI Judicial Modernization Project were adopted.
- Commitment by the Louisiana Supreme Court to require uniform budget and expenditure documents be developed and made available to the public
- Creation of a task force to study the funding and workload of the district and circuit courts and to determine the necessary changes to the current structure of the courts
- Authorization to hold certain legal proceedings remotely via technology
LABI’s Legislative Scorecard, a publication detailing how members of the House and Senate voted on issues important to Louisiana business and industry, will be revealed in late summer.