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WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) announced today that the final draft of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (H.R. 1) contains important provisions for Louisiana families, teachers, and businesses.  The most significant provision is a two-year boost in the Gulf Coast's share of offshore revenue.

"Louisiana stands to receive millions of dollars in additional revenue for coastal restoration and hurricane protection," said Sen. Kennedy.  "This is a tremendous acknowledgment of the critical role that Louisiana plays in reducing our nation's reliance on foreign oil.  It's also an invaluable gift to our children and grandchildren.  We need to reverse coastal erosion for future generations.  House Majority Whip Steve Scalise and U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy worked tirelessly to ensure this provision was in the bill.  The entire state of Louisiana owes them great gratitude."

The bill also:

  • Creates flexibility for families: Families will receive flexibility in saving money for their children’s education through 529 educational savings accounts.  Traditionally, this money could only be used for college tuition.  Now families will be able to use the savings for primary or secondary school expenses, ensuring that kindergarten all the way through college is covered.
  • Builds families: The Adoption Tax Credit is preserved. This ensures that the adoption process is accessible and affordable.
  • Supports teachers: The Educator Expense Deduction is retained, allowing teachers to claim a deduction for money they spend out of pocket on their classrooms.  This is a modest tax deduction that helps teachers who selflessly spend their own money on school supplies.

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WASHINGTON D.C. – U.S. Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) today sent a letter asking Louisiana Department of Revenue Secretary Kimberly Robinson to collect unpaid state income taxes from former State Police Supt. Mike Edmonson for the fringe benefits he received while serving as a cabinet secretary.

Text of the letter:       

December 13, 2017

 

The Honorable Kimberly Robinson

Secretary

Louisiana Department of Revenue

617 North Third St.

Baton Rouge, Louisiana 70802

 

By email, fax, and U.S. mail

 

Dear Secretary Robinson:

 

I am requesting that you collect unpaid state income taxes from former State Police Supt. Mike Edmonson.  It is clear from the draft of the state Legislative Auditor's Office report obtained by news media that Col. Edmonson received taxpayer-funded perks that constituted taxable income.  The perks included free housing, utilities, cable television, electricity, dry cleaning, and meals.  These are fringe benefits, and Col. Edmonson should have calculated their fair market value and reported them as taxable income.  

Col. Edmonson is not above the law merely because he was a member of Gov. Edwards' cabinet.  In fact, he took on an added responsibility as a public servant to conduct himself with honor and honesty.  He also cannot be allowed to shirk his tax obligations when Louisiana families and businesses are struggling with a higher tax burden.

As you know, the Edwards administration convinced the Legislature to raise well over $1 billion in new taxes and fees last year, and Governor Edwards asked for another tax increase this year, all at a time when our oil and gas industry is in a depression and we have one of the highest unemployment rates in America.  The least you can do is demand that his cabinet appointees pay their taxes.

                                                                       

Sincerely,

 

                                                                        _____________

                                                                        John Kennedy

                                                                        United States Senator

 

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) announced the passage of his resolution asking that all members of Congress spend at least one day a year as a substitute teacher.  The resolution builds upon Sen. Kennedy’s long practice of serving as a teacher several times a year by urging other lawmakers to gain firsthand knowledge of the challenges facing educators and students in the classroom.

“I started substitute teaching 15 years ago when I realized there was a huge disconnect between lawmakers and teachers of secondary and elementary schools.  Teaching is the most difficult job in the world, and very few members of Congress have stood in front of a class of students and taught,” said Sen. Kennedy.   “Teachers not only have to teach, but they’re expected to be psychologists and sociologists and mentors and mommies and daddies.  You have to get in there and experience it to really know what’s going on in the classroom these days.  I’m proud to see my resolution pass the U.S. Senate.  I hope many of my colleagues take the initiative to experience the challenges and rewards of the classroom.”

Click here to read the full text of Sen. Kennedy’s resolution. 

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sens. John Kennedy and Bill Cassidy, M.D. today met with President Trump, top administration officials, and a group of fellow Senators at the White House to advocate for Louisiana oil refining jobs while discussing potential changes to the nation’s biofuels policy.  

“Louisiana is one of the nation’s largest energy refining states.  As such, we have 17 refineries with thousands of workers who depend on maintaining a reasonable proportion of biofuels for the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).   It’s imperative that we ensure our nation’s refineries have a seat at the table as we continue to debate a potential legislative overhaul of the RFS,” said Sen. Kennedy. 

“The current Renewable Fuel Standard is harming Louisiana refiners, families, fishers and workers,” said Dr. Cassidy.  “The status quo is unacceptable, so today’s meeting with President Trump was a positive step in the right direction.  I look forward to finding answers for this issue.”

The Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) sets the amount of ethanol and biodiesel that must be blended into transportation fuel.  The mandated minimum amount of biofuel increases each year, decided by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).  To make sure that companies are compliant, the EPA uses a credit trading system called the Renewable Identification Number (RIN).  The refiners are the obligated party and must submit these “RIN” credits.  If the refiners can’t blend the fuel themselves, then they purchase these RINs from rivals that do.  Each gallon of renewable fuel has its own RIN.

The RFS was designed to reduce our reliance on foreign oil and increase agriculture production.  Just a few years after the RFS started, the shale boom happened and changed the playing field.  The RFS is a government program that is costing refiners billions and ultimately placing the cost on the consumer at the pump.

The meeting was attended by EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, Energy Secretary Rick Perry, and National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn.  Also in attendance were Senators John Barrasso (R-WY), Bill Cassidy (R-LA), John Cornyn (R-TX), Ted Cruz (R-TX), Mike Enzi (R-WY), James Inhofe (R-OK), James Lankford (R-OK), Mike Lee (R-UT), and Pat Toomey (R-PA).  

 

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA) sent a letter today to the Republican members of the conference committee that is working on delivering robust tax reform to American families and businesses.  Sen. Kennedy highlighted the importance of three key amendments to teachers, parents, grandparents, the energy industry and coastal communities in Louisiana.

“Congress has made tremendous progress toward delivering meaningful tax cuts to middle-class families and small businesses.  Our conferees are working on smoothing out the differences in order to put a final bill on the President’s desk by Christmas,” said Sen. Kennedy.  “All I ask is that the conferees preserve amendments important to our teachers, our kids and our coastal communities.  Louisiana needs tax cuts, and we also need to educate our kids and stop our coastline from disappearing.”

The full text of the letter is below.  Sen. Kennedy highlighted:

Supporting schoolteachers: The Educator Expense Deduction allows teachers to claim a $500 deduction for money they spend out of pocket on their classrooms.  This is a modest tax deduction that helps teachers who selflessly spend their own money on school supplies.

Creating flexibility for families: An amendment was introduced that creates much-needed flexibility for families who save money for their children’s education through 529 educational savings accounts.  Traditionally, this money could only be used for college tuition.  The amendment gives families more freedom by allowing the savings to be used for primary or secondary school expenses, ensuring that kindergarten all the way through college is covered.

Increasing coastal restoration funding: Louisiana is critical to the nation’s energy industry and reducing the reliance on foreign oil.  Our state is home to a fifth of the nation’s refining capacity and is a major contributor to natural gas production.  Unfortunately, we’re losing our coast at an alarming rate.  A bill passed by the Senate would increase Louisiana’s share of offshore revenue in order to address this growing problem.  We have to sustain our infrastructure, coastal communities and wetlands in order to continue to be an energy powerhouse. 

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Sen. Kennedy: ‘Working together, we were able to craft legislation that will protect consumers without stifling economic growth in our local communities.  This is meaningful reform desperately needed by our smaller financial institutions.’

 

WASHINGTON, D.C. –Today, U.S. Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA) applauded the Senate Banking Committee’s passage of a bipartisan bill, the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief and Consumer Protection Act, that removes unfair regulatory burdens put in place by Dodd-Frank.  This bill right-sizes regulation for community banks and credit unions and includes important consumer protections for veterans, senior citizens, and victims of fraud. 

“It does not take an expert to see that our community banks, local credit unions, and smaller financial institutions did not cause the 2008 financial crisis,” said Sen. Kennedy.  “Yet, under Dodd-Frank, these businesses have had to unfairly bear the full regulatory brunt of the law.  After months of negotiation between Republicans and Democrats, we put together a bill that will improve our nation’s financial regulatory framework for Main Street banks while encouraging economic growth in our local communities.  We’re protecting consumers without unfairly penalizing community banks and credit unions.”

The Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief and Consumer Protection Act will:

Redefine what constitutes a ‘big bank’:

  • Defines a “systemically important financial institution” as a bank with $250 billion or more in assets.  It is widely agreed upon that systemically important financial institutions caused the 2008 financial crisis.
  • Immediately exempts all banks with less than $100 million in assets from prudential standards.
    • Banks with assets between $100-250 million would see regulatory relief after 18 months, but the bill leaves the authority to the Federal Reserve to increase oversight, accelerate the exemption timeline, and/or periodically stress test these banks.

Put in place new consumer protections:

  • Requires credit bureaus to provide customers with one free credit freeze and one free unfreeze per year and creates new protections for minors.
  • Allows Veterans to exclude certain medical debt from their credit reports. 
  • Applies consumer protections to real property retrofit loans.
  • Extends protections to whistleblowers who disclose the exploitation of a senior citizen.

Provide regulatory relief:

  • Adjusts community bank leverage ratio to between 8-10%.
  • Reduces short-form call reporting requirements for banks with assets under $5 billion.
  • Exempts certain reciprocal deposits from being considered as funds obtained by or through a deposit broker.
  • Allows federal savings associations with less than $15 billion in assets to elect to operate like national banks without being required to convert their charter.
  • Streamlines requirements for small public housing authorities in rural areas.
  • Creates parity among the national securities exchanges by amending the Securities Act of 1933.

Improve consumer access to mortgage credit:

  • Exempts small banks ($10 billion and less) from the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act reporting requirements.
  • Expands the definition of a qualified mortgage to include those issued by banks or credit unions with less than $10 billion in assets.
  • Creates lending parity between credit unions and banks for certain types of loans.
  • Ensures the tax deductibility of donated services, like appraisals, to charitable organizations like Habitat for Humanity.
  • Eliminates barriers for jobs for registered loan originators moving between states.

The Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief and Consumer Protection Act was introduced by Senators Crapo (R-ID), Kennedy (R-LA), Corker (R-TN), Cotton (R-AR), Scott (R-SC), Rounds (R-ND), Perdue (R-GA), Tillis (R-NC), Risch (R-ID), Moran (R-KS), Donnelly (D-IN), Heitkamp (D-ND), Tester (D-MT), Warner (D-VA), McCaskill (D-MO), Manchin (D-WV), King (I-ME), Kaine (D-VA), Peters (D-MI), and Bennet (D-CO).

 

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA) today voted for H.R. 1, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.  According to the non-partisan group the Tax Foundation, under the Senate tax bill, Louisiana will see an increase of 12,611 new jobs and the average family will gain $1,857 in after-tax income.

“This bill is about three things: tax cuts, jobs, and more jobs,” said Sen. John Kennedy.  “It doesn’t take an expert to see what’s stalling the American economy: middle-class families need to see more of their hard-earned dollars in their bank accounts.  This bill gives them that while allowing American job creators the freedom and flexibility they need to increase wages and create jobs.”

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act will:

  • Double the Standard Deduction: For an individual, the standard deduction goes from $6,350 to $12,000. For a married couple, it goes from $12,700 to $24,000.
  • Double the Child Tax Credit: The child tax credit is doubled from the current $1,000 to $2,000, and more parents are allowed to claim the credit.
  • Lower Tax Rates: Individual tax rates for middle-income Americans are reduced from 22.5% to 22%, 25% to 24%, and 32.5% to 32%, which will help taxpayers keep even more of their hard-earned money.
  • Repeal Obamacare’s Individual Mandate: Repealing this unpopular tax will help provide additional relief to low- and middle-income families.
  • 135,510 people in Louisiana paid the individual mandate tax penalty in 2014 rather than purchase insurance.
  • 83.5% of those people had incomes under $50,000.

 

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) voiced concerns today about the Louisiana Justice Reinvestment Act.  Those concerns include the Louisiana Department of Public Safety and Correction’s ability to competently administer it.  Under the act, Louisiana began releasing inmates in November in order to lower populations at prisons across the state.  Included in the release were career criminals who have already committed additional crimes and are back in jail. 

“Regardless of what you think about the Louisiana Justice Reinvestment Act, I have zero confidence in the ability of the Louisiana Department of Public Safety and Corrections to administer it in a way that protects the people of Louisiana from violent criminals,” said Sen. Kennedy.  “With its numerous scandals over the past couple of years, the Louisiana Department of Public Safety and Corrections’ leadership has repeatedly shown that it is unfit to administer such a program, especially one that puts career criminals back on the streets.  Gov. Edwards needs to give serious consideration to suspending the inmate releases and fixing the problems at Public Safety and Corrections first instead of emptying out the prisons.”

Click here to watch the video.

Sen. Kennedy notes that:

The Louisiana Legislative Auditor’s Office found that the Louisiana Department of Public Safety and Corrections violated public bid laws by embarking on a $6.3 million building renovation for Prison Enterprises without seeking bids.  The work went to department head Jimmy

 

  • LeBlanc’s colleagues and his niece’s husband. Read More.
  • WBRZ-TV in Baton Rouge caught the department allowing inmates convicted of violent crimes and sex offenses to repeatedly leave prison to play music at nursing homes and interact with children at a park.  When confronted, the department said it made a mistake.  Read More
  • Allegations of nepotism, fraud, and theft have been leveled against numerous wardens and senior administrators. Read More.
  • Former Louisiana State Police Supt. Col. Mike Edmonson was caught sneaking an unconstitutional, $300,000 retirement boost for himself and a colleague through the Louisiana Legislature.  Read More.
  • State troopers took an unauthorized road trip to Las Vegas and the Grand Canyon on Louisiana taxpayers’ dime.  They spent thousands of taxpayer dollars and kept their jobs.  Read More.
  • State Police insisted that a motorcycle patrolman making $147,000 a year in overtime worked every single hour he claimed.  WVUE-TV had to conduct surveillance that caught the trooper at home when he was supposed to be working before any action was taken.  Read More.

The Louisiana Justice Reinvestment Act calls for DOC to review Louisiana’s prison population for early release opportunities in order to cut costs.  The savings will allow Louisiana officials to continue their spending sprees. Already, 1,900 inmates have been released with more due to be freed every month.

The releases are happening even though:

  • The Louisiana Legislative Auditor’s Office found that DOC can’t keep proper tabs on where inmates are located even when they’re under lock and key at a parish prison.  DOC also often calculates release dates incorrectly.  Read More.
  • DOC blew $3.6 million on an updated inmate tracking system.  The department used the new system for six weeks before abandoning it.  Read More.
  • Released inmates already are being rearrested, including:
    • A 24-year-old man who has been arrested more than 60 times and walked out of prison early last month because of the Louisiana Justice Reinvestment Act.  He promptly robbed two roofers at gunpoint.  Police tracked him down after residents saw him pulling on car door handles in Kenner. Read More.
    • A Winn Parish man who was out for a week before he was rearrested.  His own mother turned him in, saying he’s a career criminal who refuses to get a job.  Winn Parish Sheriff Cranford Jordan said the release program has no structure.  Read More.

 

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) announced his opposition today to the Fix National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) Act.  Under the bill, federal agencies and states would be asked to do a better job of reporting criminal offenses and other information into the National Instant Criminal Background Check System database, designed to control who can purchase a gun.  The bill would threaten federal agencies with loss of bonus pay for shoddy compliance and offer states greater access to federal grants in exchange for full compliance.

“I abhor the tragedy that occurred in Sutherland Springs, Texas, and the bureaucratic incompetence that contributed to it.  That doesn’t mean we need to put yet another law on the books,” said Sen. Kennedy.  “State and federal workers already get an incentive for loading records into the National Instant Criminal Background Check System.  It’s called a paycheck.  If they don’t want to do their job, then fire a few of them.  The rest will fall into line.  One of the main problems in making government more efficient is that nobody ever gets fired.  The simple truth is that we should be firing government bureaucrats if they are not doing their job, not telling them ‘pretty please with sugar on top’ and giving them more taxpayer money.”   

 

 

 

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) announced today that FEMA is granting $7.2 million to East Baton Rouge School Board, Baker Schools System, West Feliciana Parish, and Ouachita Parish to repair damage caused by the 2016 March and August flooding.

“I would like to thank FEMA for continuing to help Louisiana during the rebuilding process,” said Sen. Kennedy. “Every bit of funding counts, and this money will restore a pump station, levees, a bridge and schools.”

A summary of the grants is listed below:

Ouachita Parish

  • $1,108,093.66 in federal funding to Ouachita Parish for permanent repairs to a pump station and two levees that flooded during the 2016 March and August flooding. 

West Feliciana Parish

  • $1,155,670.20 in federal funding to West Feliciana Parish Island Road Bridge for permanent repairs to the bridge that washed-out during the 2016 March and August flooding.  

Baker School System

  • $1,475,961.30 in federal funding to Baker Schools System for permanent repairs to their Aertker Building that flooded during the 2016 March and August flooding. 

East Baton Rouge School Board

  • $2,457,185.76 in federal funding to East Baton Rouge School Board (Brookstown Magnet Middle School) for permanent repairs to six buildings that flooded during the 2016 March and August flooding.
  • $1,015,877.25 in federal funding to East Baton Rouge School Board for permanent repairs to the Wilma C. Montgomery Center.  The Center flooded and was damaged during the 2016 March and August flooding.