American Oil and Gas Reporter - April 2018 - 154

ConventionCoverage: Louisiana Oil & Gas Association

Industry Regaining Strength
As State Ponders Reform
By Danny Boyd
Special Correspondent
LAKE CHARLES, LA.-Members of
the Louisiana Oil & Gas Association
gathered for their annual meeting, March
7-9 at the Golden Nugget resort in Lake
Charles, to assess the impact of a favorable
federal regulatory and tax climate and
hear the latest news on problems at home
that include a sizeable state budget deficit
and lawsuits that blame oil and gas companies for coastal erosion.
With the state's economy growing at
1.5 percent and job market participation
drooping to levels unseen since 1977,
Louisianans need a sense of urgency to
attract business and compete with surrounding states, advised Stephen Waguespack, president and chief executive officer
of the Louisiana Association of Business
and Industry.
"There is a time where we say 'Enough
is enough,'" Waguespack said.
State government and the accompanying deficit angst, which is worsened
by a dysfunctional tax code, are major
impediments to business recruitment and
retention, he said. Businesses pay 49 percent of Louisiana's taxes, which stands
near the top among the region's states in
per-person spending, he pointed out.
Meanwhile, he noted, southern states near
the bottom of the list, including Texas,
Tennessee, Florida and Georgia, are the
most economically prosperous.
"That shows you don't have to try to
spend your way into economic prosperity
in the south," he reasoned.
A constitutional convention is needed
to alter the structure of the state's government and bring needed reform, Waguespack held.

long under an antiquated tax code," asserted Senator Norbert "Norby" Chabert,
R-Houma, chairman of the Senate Natural
Resources Committee. With regard to the
possibility of constitutional revisions, the
state must decide whether to "pop the
hood" and tinker with small adjustments
or opt for an overhaul, he advised. Senator
Mack "Bodi" White, R-Baton Rouge,
told LOGA he supported a limited call
for constitutional revision.
Speaker of the Louisiana House of
Representatives Taylor Barras, R-New
Iberia, said lawmakers were constrained
because income and sales taxes offered
the only adjustable sources of revenue.
"We hear arguments about lowering one
and raising the other, but that doesn't fix
the tax code," Barras related.
LOGA also heard from members of
its congressional delegation. "We need
to understand why it's important for your
industry to survive," said Representative
Ralph Abraham, R-La., "It's a national

Federal And State Perspectives
At a state lawmaker panel, legislative
leaders pondered the possibility of revising
the Louisiana constitution and tax code
as long-term solutions to chronic budget
deficits. An initial special session failed
to fill this year's budget deficit, lawmakers
noted.
"Louisiana has suffered for way too
154 THE AMERICAN OIL & GAS REPORTER

Congressman Clay Higgins, R-La., suggests that improving U.S. economic
growth largely is attributable to the Trump
administration's repeal of many Obama
administration regulations. During his
remarks at LOGA's annual convention,
held March 7-9 in Lake Charles, La., he
predicted that the tax reform Congress
passed a few months ago would accelerate that growth.

security issue."
He said U.S. oil and gas will help liberate other countries, including landlocked Serbia, which favors U.S.-style
democracy but is forced to buy oil and
gas from Russia.
"If Putin doesn't like the way the
Serbs vote, he turns the knob," Abraham
said. "If we can get into Serbia with
LNG, that will make a difference."
Senator John Kennedy, R-La., touted
beneficial federal developments, including
regulatory relief, expanded offshore access,
and favorable provisions in the Tax Cut
and Jobs Act of 2017. Regulatory relief
is diminishing the power of the federal
bureaucracy, Kennedy considered, insisting
that it had become a fourth branch of
government.
Trump's move to impose tariffs on
imported steel and aluminum includes
exceptions and is aimed chiefly at China,
Kennedy said, reporting the tariffs had
been a hot topic on Capitol Hill. He acknowledged concern about the harms the
tariffs may impose on U.S. industry.
Representative Clay Higgins, R-La.,
said the Trump administration had repealed
22 Obama-era regulations for every new
one it enacted. U.S. gross domestic product
has grown more than 3 percent for five
straight quarters, he pointed out. The growth
rate used by the Congressional Budget
Office to predict the impact of the tax bill
was 1.9 percent, Higgins said, although he
suggested that estimate may have been
conservative because it must rely on a
long-term average.
Real economic growth provides additional funding that allows for higher military spending, as well as smarter spending
on social programs that was necessary to
win sufficient Democratic support for
passage, he said.
Cooperative Federalism
David Blackmon, editor of Shale magazine and a Forbes contributor, reviewed
the tide of the industry's regulatory successes under the Trump administration.
The Congressional Review Act has
been used to annul 14 Obama-era regulations, Blackmon said. Trump also pulled



American Oil and Gas Reporter - April 2018

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