Archive for June 23, 2009

Report: 'House advances Chelsea's-friendly bill'

The Louisiana House of Representatives advanced a bill that would loosen state restrictions on restaurants that offer drink specials and late-night entertainment.

The measure came in response to actions by the Bureau of Alcohol & Tobacco Control regarding Chelsea’s Cafe, a restaurant in Baton Rouge.

Senate Bill 136 came in response to a January memo from state Alcohol Tobacco and Control chief Murphy Painter, which indicated that more than 5,000 restaurants could be violating the law.

Painter contends some restaurants turn into bars late at night and do not have the proper license.

Painter’s memo said that businesses operating under restaurant licenses that have bar in their name, offer alcoholic drink specials or implement cover charges for late night entertainment could no longer be considered a restaurant, said state Rep. Jeff Arnold, D-New Orleans.

Arnold said Painter was trying to change the definition of restaurant, which has been “clearly understood by all parties” for many years.

Restaurant licenses are easier to obtain than those that allow bars and entertainment venues to operate.

Chelsea’s Cafe in Baton Rouge ran afoul of Painter, who claimed the restaurant was turning into a bar at night. The restaurant has been fighting a license suspension.

SB136 defines what constitutes a restaurant, including that it must make more than 50 percent of its average monthly revenues in food and non-alcoholic beverage sales. It goes on to say that just because a restaurant has bar in its name, offers alcoholic drink specials or entertainment with a cover charge does not mean they are no longer a restaurant.

The bill has the backing of the Louisiana Restaurant Association. The House voted 68-31 in favor.


Report: 'Bill advances, would raise limit for cuts'

From The Advocate:

Legislation aimed at increasing the amount of cuts lawmakers can make in a deficit year and being able to make those cuts every year passed the Louisiana House on Monday.

Senate Bills 1 and 2, sponsored by Senate President Joel Chaisson II, D-Destrehan, withstood many questions as the Legislature came up against one of the deadlines for bill consideration.

SB1 is a proposed constitutional amendment that would allow up to 10 percent — rather than the current 5 percent — of each state statutory dedication to be cut when there is a budget deficit. Anything in excess of 5 percent would have to be approved by the Legislature.

If approved by a two-thirds vote of the Legislature, the state’s voters would have to concur in an October 2010 election.



Report: 'Tax amnesty expected'

From the Times-Picayune Briefing Book:

Tax amnesty expected

Delinquent taxpayers would have a two-month amnesty period to settle their overdue state tax bills with all the penalties and half the interest costs waived, under a bill backed by both the House and Senate. House Bill 720 is headed back to the House, which is expected to send it to a legislative compromise committee so lawmakers can decide how they want to spend the estimated $150 million or more that could be brought in during the amnesty period. Lawmakers are considering whether to use the money to plug budget holes and are questioning whether that’s possible, and Gov. Bobby Jindal’s administration is hoping to use a slice of the money for state debts related to Hurricanes Gustav and Ike. A similar tax amnesty program generated $193 million several years ago, said Sen. Rob Marionneaux, D-Livonia, who handled the proposal in the Senate. The tax amnesty period would fall sometime in the upcoming fiscal year that begins July 1, in a two-month period chosen by the state Department of Revenue, under the proposal by Rep. Jane Smith, R-Bossier City.