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We've collected a stories about the 2015 Louisiana Legislative Session. What new bill is coming up for a vote? How are lawmakers doing in protecting higher education and health care from cuts? What other initiatives are in the works for Louisiana? Find them here.

New Revenue Generating Laws Take Effect Today

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Changes to a number of state laws go into effect today.  The items were passed in the legislative session to help create revenue in addressing a $1.6 billion shortfall.  

Among the changes, drivers will only have to renew their licenses every six years, but they'll pay more in fees when buying a car or seeking a copy of their driving record.  The change creates an additional $50 for a vehicle title, while an official copy of a driving record rises by $10.

A tax hike on cigarette smokers hits their pocket.  Lawmakers passed a 50-cent-per-pack increase in the session.  It pushes the tax up to 86-cents.

Meanwhile, residents who file extension returns for state taxes are subject to a new penalty.  "It'll affect mostly business people who get to the deadline and have so much paperwork, they automatically file for the extra time," says Sen. Mike Walsworth (R-West Monroe).

The tax benefit is still allowed, but paid in equal one-third amounts.  "Let's say after the extension, you have a $300 refund.  After three years, you'd receive $100, after the fourth, another $100, and the rest after the fifth year," explained Walsworth.

Lawmakers created the changes in the spring session to avoid deep cuts to the state's higher education system and health care services.  The entire package of bills is expected to generate about $700 million in revenue.

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