Report: 'House backs 15-cent charge on Internet access'

The Louisiana House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly to impose a 15-cent monthly fee on Internet access.

Rep. Mack “Bodi” White, R-Denham Springs, said he sponsored the bill for Attorney General Buddy Caldwell, to raise money to finance a division in Caldwell’s office that investigates Internet crimes, particularly online sex crimes against children.

The measure would raise $2.4 million a year for Caldwell’s department, according to a financial analysis.

“I don’t think that 15 cents per month is too much to ask for our children’s protection,” said Rep. Simone Champagne, D-Jeanerette.

While White called it a usage fee, opponents called the charge a tax on Internet access. They also have questioned whether it would violate a federal law that prohibits states from taxing Internet services and would be challenged in court.

“Today it’s Internet access. Tomorrow, what’s it going to be? A subscription to DirecTV?” said Rep. Austin Badon, D-New Orleans.

“I don’t think we should start instituting a revenue stream for every criminal element that’s out there,” he added.

The bill heads next to the Senate for debate.

Governor Jindal’s office issued a statement opposing the measure, labeling it a tax increase.

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