State Legislature

'Extreme deadlock': La. House rejects sales tax bill, scrambles for a deal

BATON ROUGE, La. (WVLA / WGMB) - Louisiana lawmakers will reconsider sales tax bills Friday, after Thursday's negotiations yielded little movement.

House members failed to pass a proposal widely billed as a centerpiece of this third special session of 2018. The amended measure would have extended half of the expiring penny of sales tax, raising more than $500 million for state government.

Lawmakers voted 60-40 for the bill, though it needed 70 votes to pass onto the Senate.

"I think we've pretty much wasted an entire day," said Rep. C. Denise Marcelle (D-Baton Rouge).

The debate over renewing the tax remains largely split down party lines. House Democrats generally support extending a half-penny, while House Republicans have recently huddled behind renewing four-tenths of the cent. The two proposals differ by 10 cents per $100 purchase.

"We are at an extreme deadlock," House Speaker Taylor Barras told the chamber Thursday night. "What we need is movement from the two corners. No one has budged in the past three days."

Legislators began their session Monday, after they failed to broker revenue deals during the year's first two special sessions. Special sessions roughly cost the state between $50,000 and $60,000 a day.

The special session must end June 27. The fifth penny of sales tax expires July 1.

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