The newly ascendant GOP majority in the U.S. House of Representatives wants to repeal the federal income tax and replace it with a 30% national sales tax. While the income tax repeal is doomed to fail at the federal level, state lawmakers across the country – including in Louisiana – are foolishly toying with similar ideas as tax receipts come in above expectations. Eliminating income taxes would likely lead to severe budget cuts, and shift the responsibility for paying taxes from wealthy people and corporations to low-income residents. The Advocate’s Mark Ballard recalls that then-Gov. Bobby Jindal floated an income-for-sales tax plan in 2013, which he quickly abandoned due to lack of support: 

 Jan Moller, (LBP’s) executive director, says arguments from the business community, which buys a lot of stuff, likely caused then-Gov. Bobby Jindal to abandon in April 2013 his plan to replace income taxes with sales taxes. “I wish I could say it was progressive arguments of fairness, but it was the businesses,” Moller said Thursday. “There’s always been factions on the hard right that have dreamed of getting rid of the IRS and income taxes for a national sales tax. But it’s a faction within a faction.”

The Washington Post’s Catherine Rampell explains how states are sabotaging their own finance as a possible recession looms: 

Additionally, there’s no guarantee the strong revenue growth of recent years will continue. States enjoyed this windfall partly because consumers had been spending with a vengeance, after having been cooped up for months with comfortable savings (thanks partly to government transfer payments). More recently, their spending has begun to slow.Congress also allocated upward of $1 trillion in aid to state and local governments through multiple covid relief bills, according to the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget. This, too, gave states plenty of cash to play with — but only temporarily.

Edwards announces special session for homeowners insurance crisis
As insurers flee the state and homeowners face massive increases in their premiums, Gov. John Bel Edwards has called the Legislature into a special session next week to address the issue. The seven-day session, which begins on Jan. 30, will focus specifically on Insurance Commissioner Jim Donelon’s plan to create a new incentive fund to lure insurers into the state’s risky market. USA Today Network’s Greg Hilburn reports: 

Donelon has conceded the incentive program is a short-term solution to the immediate crisis, but more must be done during the Regular Session when there is more flexibility and time. “While Commissioner Donelon says we must do this now, this is just a first step in addressing Louisiana’s ongoing insurance issues after the devastating hurricane seasons of 2020 and 2021,” Edwards said. “We will continue to work on this issue during the Regular Session beginning in April.”

A post-Roe reality check for legislators
While Sunday marked the 50th anniversary of the landmark Roe v. Wade decision, this year was the first since the Supreme Court took away a woman’s right to control her own reproductive health. Louisiana lawmakers were ready for last summer’s reversal by having “trigger” laws on the books that meant abortion services in the state became illegal the moment the federal government overturned Roe. Predictably, state lawmakers were less prepared, or concerned, about the consequences of forcing women to carry unwanted pregnancies to term. The Advocate’s Stephanie Grace provides the insight. 

Of course, we’ll never know the names of most people struggling under the new laws. For every Nancy Davis, who went defiantly public, think of the women who miscarry and have to worry about being able to get routine treatment to head off dangerous complications. And think of the women — and girls — who are victims of rape or incest, being told by politicians that they must carry a resulting pregnancy to term. And then think of those forced into what’s often a hardship of traveling to a far-off state where their rights over their own reproduction have not been suddenly stripped away. And of those who will choose not to move to a state where they have to worry about such things, and what that means for Louisiana’s desire to reverse chronic out-migration and build a 21st-century economy.

Legislating through the federal budget
The $1.7 trillion budget bill that Congress sent to President Joe Biden’s desk right before Christmas includes several important health-care measures designed to expand access to care and protect Medicaid beneficiaries from losing coverage when the pandemic’s emergency measures end. The New York Times’ Margot Sanger-Katz reports that most of the provisions had bipartisan support on Capitol Hill, and their passage makes it likely that the next two years of divided government will be fairly quiet when it comes to federal health policy. 

The legislation included major policy areas that committees had been hammering away at all year behind the scenes — like a big package designed to improve the nation’s readiness for the next big pandemic. It also included items that Republicans had been championing during the election season — like an extension of telemedicine coverage in Medicare. And it included small policy measures that some legislators have wanted to pass for years, like requiring Medicare to cover compression garments for patients with lymphedema. … The bill requires states to keep children signed up for at least a year at a time, and extends funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program. It also sets up a series of policies meant to discourage states from automatically dumping large numbers of adult enrollees after the end of an emergency policy that protected enrollments during the pandemic.

Number of the Day
$155.7 million –
Louisiana’s share in 2020 from offshore oil revenue under existing federal law. Louisiana lawmakers are seeking changes that could enable the state to reap $1.9 billion per year, by one estimate. (Source: The Advocate)