The Plot Thickens…

By CB Forgotston

Can she fix her problem?
 
If Bobby Jindal did not know of the controversial alternative fuels tax credit passed in 2009, he is one of the few in his administration.
 
Today, Jindal’s top lege lobbyist, Scott Angelle, was outed by Melinda Deslatte of the Associated Press.   See story here.
 
Angelle was informed by the Department of Revenue of the new rules for the credit on May 1.
 
Apparently, the only people Angelle told were some of his lege buddies like House Appropriation Committee Chairman, Jim Fannin.
 
Fannin quickly filed an amended tax return to claim the two vehicles he purchased in 2010 which netted him a quick $6,000.
 
After the lege session ended, Fannin announced that if others followed his lead it would create a $100 Million cash problem for the state budget. There is no report of Fannin offering to forego his six grand.
 
Killing the messenger
 
In a fit of irony, Bobby Jindal fired the only person in his administration that bothered to read the 2009 law, Cynthia Bridges his then-Secretary of Revenue. 
 
Jindal replaced Bridges with the person most responsible for the tax credit fiasco, former state representative Jane Smith. Smith authored the credit, but clearly never read her legislation.
 
Smith’s dilemma
 
Smith has been assigned the job of cleaning up her own mess with limited options.
 
— Smith can promulgate a new rule restricting the clear wording of the tax credit.  Any first year law student can have that overturned in court.
 
— Smith can ask Jindal to call a Special Session to address the issue. However, changing the law without requiring Fannin and others to repay to the state their rebates will have serious constitutional issues.
 
— Smith can wait until the 2013 Regular Session to amend her legislation. By the then more people will have filed for their tax credits on qualifying vehicles purchased since 2009. That will bring more pressure on the leges to keep the credit as written by Smith.
 
Two-thirds vote required
 
An additional problem for Smith is that a repeal or reduction of the tax credit requires a two-thirds vote of both lege bodies.
 
It is reported that Albert Einstein said: “Significant problems we face cannot be solved at the same level of thinking we were at when we created them.”
 
That poses quite a problem for Smith.
 
C.B.

Follow me on Twitter: @CBForgot