- Associated Press - Monday, June 1, 2015

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - A proposal to sharply raise fees on car buyers and generate $60 million in new revenue for the state each year is heading to the full Senate for consideration.

The bill (House Bill 833) would make drivers pay $50 more than they currently pay.

The proposal would increase from $18.50 to $68.50 the title fee paid when a person buys a new or used car and the salvage title fee when a wrecked vehicle is deemed a total loss and either disassembled or sold. It also would bump from $15 to $65 the permit to sell that allows a towing company or repair facility to sell vehicles abandoned by their owners.

The fee increase wasn’t originally in the proposal by Rep. Cameron Henry, R-Metairie, but was added in a Senate commerce committee amid continuing legislative budget negotiations.

The Senate Revenue and Fiscal Affairs Committee approved the measure without objection. If the full Senate agrees to the fee hike, it would return to the House for consideration of the add-on.

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Senators balked Monday at temporarily suspending Louisiana’s annual sales tax holiday for gun purchases, a proposal aimed at helping close a hefty state budget shortfall.

As approved by the House, legislation by Rep. Jack Montoucet, D-Crowley, the measure would have suspended all of Louisiana’s state sales tax holidays during the upcoming 2015-16 budget year, to save $4.3 million.

Louisiana has three such holidays: one in May for up to $1,500 on the purchase of hurricane preparedness supplies, one in August for general purchases up to $2,500 and one in September for firearms, ammunition and hunting supplies.

The Senate Revenue and Fiscal Affairs Committee refused to suspend the sales tax holiday for gun and hunting supplies, stripping it from the legislation (House Concurrent Resolution 15) before advancing it to the full Senate for consideration.

Committee Chairman Neil Riser, R-Columbia, pushed to remove the gun sales tax holiday, saying businesses have bought hundreds of thousands of dollars in inventory for that weekend.

He said keeping the sales tax holiday in place would cost the state $600,000 next year.

Sen. J.P. Morrell, D-New Orleans, opposed the protection of the gun sales tax holiday, saying he disagreed with giving that preference over a tax holiday to buy hurricane preparedness supplies.

But he couldn’t persuade his colleagues. The committee voted 7-2 to remove the gun sales tax holiday from the suspension legislation.

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Online:

Louisiana Legislature: www.legis.la.gov

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