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La. Gov. Vetoes Competing Virus Relief Bills For Bars, Eateries

By Paul Williams · November 13, 2020, 5:58 PM EST

Louisiana's governor vetoed two bills that sought to provide financial relief amid the COVID-19 pandemic for bars and restaurants through tax credits and fee waivers, saying he already signed similar legislation that created a tax credit for the industry.

Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards vetoed H.B. 37 and S.B. 18 on Wednesday, saying in separate veto messages that the bills overlapped with another measure, S.B. 72, that he previously signed into law. That bill allows restaurants and bars to claim a refundable tax credit for certain annual license or permit fees for months in which they were temporarily closed due to the pandemic.

H.B. 37 would have allowed establishments to claim an income tax credit for the amount spent in 2020 on a license or permit fee to sell alcoholic beverages if their sales from March 1 through Dec. 31, 2020, were less than sales for the same period in 2019. S.B. 18 would have allowed an establishment's permit fees for 2021 to be waived on a pro rata basis if the business was ordered to close due to the pandemic in 2020.

Edwards said the tax credit in H.B. 37, which could have been carried forward for up to three years, could not coexist with the one-time, refundable credit established in S.B. 72. As for the fee waivers contained in S.B. 18, the governor said the bill's language wasn't clear about the scope of businesses that would qualify for the intended relief, and he noted that S.B. 72 would offer a tax credit for establishments that S.B. 18 meant to target.

Rep. Beau Beaullieu, R-New Iberia, was the primary sponsor of H.B. 37, and Sen. Stewart Cathey Jr., R-Monroe, was the primary sponsor of S.B. 18.

--Additional reporting by Jaqueline McCool. Editing by Vincent Sherry. 

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