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"We Have A Duty To Know What We Are Voting On"

House video screenshot

A bill to change the way multi-state corporations calculate their profits for Louisiana tax purposes picked up a mystery amendment on the House floor Thursday. At least, it was a mystery to its author, Oil City Rep. Jim Morris.

“If I was to be honest and tell you I had to explain it, I’d be a dead person,” Morris told the House.

House Speaker Taylor Barras then called on Franklin Rep. Sam Jones, for a question.

“Rep. Morris, would you please explain the amendment?” Jones asked, to laughter from the floor.

“I can’t explain it,” Morris said.

“Do you have even a rough idea what it does?” Jones urged.

After a moment of thought, Morris replied, “Okay, it helps oil and gas.”

“Who does it hurt?” Jones pressed.

“It doesn’t hurt anybody.”

“Are you sure?”

“Well, evidently it’s hurting you, Mr. Jones.”

“It’s hurting me that I don’t know what I’m voting on,” Jones responded, with exasperation.

The Monroe Rep. Jay Morris had a question.

“Do we know what companies this is going to affect, particularly?”

“I would say large companies,” Jim Morris replied.

Marrero Rep. Patrick Connick asked about the money side.

“Rep. Morris, how does this amendment affect the fiscal note?”

“I’m not sure that it does,” Morris responded.

“Well, it appears we’re giving some tax breaks, and if we are giving some kind of tax breaks to these folks, we need to know the value of that,” Connick said, then added, “I think that we have a duty to our constituents and the state to know what we are voting on.”

Jim Morris gave up, and Kenner Rep. Julie Stokes tried to answer the next round of questions.

“One of these companies is Exxon-Mobil, is that right?” Amite Rep. Robby Carter inquired.

“That would be one of them, yes,” Stokes replied.

“And they make approximately $12,500 per second, 365 days a year, yet they don’t want to pay their fair share of our taxes?” Carter asked.

“They’re very big employers in our state, and we don’t want to lose them,” Stokes responded.

The amendment was adopted, and the bill now passes to the Senate.