On Election Day, Louisianans will be faced with many tough choices to decide the future leadership of our great state. However, arguably just as significant are the four constitutional amendments on the ballot.
A recent article by the Houma Courier on Constitutional Amendment No. 1 ignores the economic reality of thousands of Louisianans who directly or indirectly rely on the oil and gas industry to support their families.
Constitutional Amendment No. 1 provides a clarification of the state tax code related to goods stored in Louisiana warehouses, but are destined for use in the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS). Materials impacted include equipment, tools, and other items that may be used for offshore production.
If approved, the amendment would largely maintain status quo on goods exempted from this tax. Historically, these items have not been taxed, because these types of material fall within United States Constitution’s Commerce Clause’s jurisdiction — since the goods are moving through interstate commerce and regulated by federal law.
Simply put, the United States Constitution does not provide local or state officials with the ability to assess or levy tax on goods that lay within federal jurisdiction.
However, parish tax assessors in coastal parishes have used an ambiguous portion of Louisiana’s tax code to identify and assess, potentially unlawfully, property tax on goods flowing through federal interstate commerce.
Allowing parish tax assessors to freely interpret the state tax code creates a patchwork of inconsistent and unpredictable policies throughout the state that ultimately threaten our jobs, local businesses and state economy.
Undermining our economy with short-sighted policies hurts small businesses owned by hard-working Louisianans. The offshore oil and natural gas industry is backed by hundreds — if not thousands — of local businesses supporting drilling and production; equipment manufacturing, servicing and sales; catering; environmental services; boat rentals; and a myriad of other necessary services.
A tax on these goods not only impacts oil and gas companies — it harms our friends, family, and neighbors who own businesses that rely on the industry for revenue. Opposing this amendment hurts our local restaurants, hotels, grocery stores, and other mom and pop shops that depend on the swell of industry workers in the region.
By voting “NO” on Constitutional Amendment #1, Louisianans would be playing roulette with one of our state’s largest industries and putting our communities at risk. Without clarifying this law, it is likely that this unique interpretation will be challenged in the courts; giving yet another excuse for companies, of all sizes, to look for places other than Louisiana to do business.
When businesses leave, local tax assessors lose revenue lawfully within their taxable jurisdiction.
Providing Louisiana businesses with certainty and clarity of the current law, helps to ensure the proverbial “open for business” sign hangs on Louisiana’s front door.
On Election Day, vote YES on Constitutional Amendment #1 to support fair, common sense tax policies that protect job, locally owned businesses, and the communities that make a strong, competitive, Louisiana.
Tanner Magee is a member of the Louisiana House of Representatives, representing District 53.