Tax Tweaks, Driver Training Changes Among New Louisiana Laws
BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — More than 20 new or rewritten Louisiana laws take effect as January begins, adding requirements for drivers-in-training, tweaking tax break programs and affixing other modest adjustments to the books.
Among the new statutes, public high schools are being urged to keep automated external defibrillators on their campuses, but the mandate only kicks in "if funding is available." Business owners in 14 of Louisiana's most populous parishes will be required to file online all their business documents owed to the Secretary of State's office, such as name registrations and annual reports, rather than through paper documents.
The provisions starting Monday were passed by lawmakers during legislative sessions in 2016 and 2017.
Drivers working to get their licenses can expect lessons on how to respond to police during a traffic stop.
A bill by Sen. Ryan Gatti, a Bossier City Republican, adds "appropriate driver conduct when stopped by a law enforcement officer" to content requirements for driver education courses and the driving test required to get a license.
Several other states have passed similar laws, including Illinois, Virginia, Alaska, Arkansas and Texas, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
Supporters said the legislation is aimed at decreasing tensions between officers and motorists to keep encounters from becoming violent or deadly. Louisiana's police chiefs and sheriffs supported the measure.
The law doesn't add any hours to driver instruction and education requirements.
Modest changes to Louisiana's tax laws will take effect.
A new individual income tax check-off will be available for people who want to donate a portion of their refunds to the Louisiana Horse Rescue Association, starting in the 2018 tax year.
A tax credit available to doctors and dentists who work in rural, underserved areas has been broadened slightly , to include primary care nurse practitioners.
And a personal income tax break up to $5,000 is being offered by the state for renovations made to homes of people who have physical disabilities that require "barrier-free design elements" in a residence.
New license plates could soon be available to drivers as the new year begins, including specialty plates touting Acadiana High School, the Louisiana Patriot Guard Riders and the Sabine Pass Lighthouse and signifying a Blue Star Family who has had a family member serve in the military. Varying rules and additional costs apply to the different types of plates, and a certain number of people have to apply for them before they are printed.
-By Melinda Deslatte, Associated Press