Louisiana bill clarifies tax exemption for certain trucks; other bills of note

| 6/25/2007

The Louisiana Senate has approved a bill intended to clarify the sales and use tax exemption for certain trucks and trailers. Other bills also making their way through the statehouse include a bill to repeal a tax on household movers and add more state troopers.

State law now exempts from sales and use tax trailers and trucks with gross weights of at least 26,000 pounds, as long as they are used at least 80 percent of the time in interstate commerce and are subject to the jurisdiction of the U.S. Department of Transportation.

The Senate voted unanimously to approve a bill that would establish a set of criteria for determining eligibility for tax exemption for a subset of the trucks and trailers covered by the current tax exemption. It now heads back to the House for approval of changes before moving to Gov. Kathleen Blanco’s desk for her signature.

Sponsored by Rep. Taylor Townsend, D-Natchitoches, the bill would apply the new criteria to trucks weighing at least 80,000 pounds.

The bill – HB240 – also adds a requirement that the determination of whether a truck is used at least 80 percent of the time in interstate commerce be based solely on the actual mileage of the truck. It would mandate that no truck weighing less than 80,000 pounds have more than 20 percent of its miles run within the state.

Supporters, including the governor, say the changes would keep Louisiana-based trucking companies competitive with neighboring states.

Another bill on the move would remove household goods movers from the state’s definition of “motor freight lines.” The declassification would exempt household movers from paying a 2 percent tax assessed on gross receipts resulting from business within the state.

Sponsored by Sen. Sherri Smith Cheek, R-Keithville, the bill would result in the state’s general fund losing out on about $675,000 during the next five years. The Senate and House have approved the bill – SB108 – clearing the way for it to head to Blanco’s desk.

One other bill of note would increase the number of state troopers patrolling roadways. Sponsored by Rep. Gary Beard, R-Baton Rouge, the bill would require an increase of 399 troopers – one trooper per 3,000 residents by August 2010.

The fiscal analysis on the bill estimates the cost to the state at $13.1 million the first year.

A provision removed from the bill in the Senate sought to transfer 200 troopers from the state’s gaming division to uniform patrol. The gaming division now has 600 troopers.

Beard’s bill – HB616 – is in the Senate Finance Committee with only a couple days remaining in the regular session. Legislators are scheduled to wrap up their work Thursday, June 28.

– By Keith Goble, state legislative editor