State senator open to compromise over his ITEP proposal


State Sen. Rogers Pope, a Denham Springs Republican and former Livingston Parish Public Schools superintendent, says he’s open to compromise on his proposal to enshrine the current Industrial Tax Exemption Program rules in the state constitution.

But there are limits to how much change would be acceptable for supporters of Senate Bill 151.

“We’re not interested in a whole lot of amendments,” Pope says. “There’s always room for compromise. We’re not closing anything out.”

Gov. John Bel Edwards gave local officials a say in whether to grant the local property tax breaks for the first time in the manufacturing incentive program’s history, but the next governor could overturn his order. Pope says they want to maintain their voice, and he thinks it’s good for the companies to meet with local officials and residents.

The vast majority of ITEP requests have been approved under the current system, which demonstrates local officials want industry in their districts, Pope says. He says supporters considered pursuing a statute rather than a constitutional amendment but preferred the greater security of the latter.

The Louisiana Association of Business and Industry, which opposes SB151, has put forth recommendations that its leaders say could preserve local input while making the system easier for businesses to use, including:

  • Establish a single point of contact in each parish, instead of making companies seek separate approvals from the sheriff, school board, parish government and municipality where applicable.
  • Provide a standard policy and process across all local entities within a parish.
  • Develop rubrics and criteria to show a project’s value and publicize the information.
  • Let local authorities grant a 100% abatement, rather than capping the benefit at 80% as under the current rules.