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  1. Deal reached between state, OLOL to create north Baton Rouge emergency room
  2. I post the whole article because its a great article. I copy and paste and I will continue doing that.
  3. I grew up in Scotlandville its not as bad as it use to be that's the same for lot of NBR neighborhoods. I think what some people don't get if more opportunity comes to NBR a lot of the crime that exist will start to decline. A lot of outsiders don't think change can happen, but whats different its not just the parents are grandparents that want change its also the young people that want change.
  4. I like this statement because its so true.
  5. Political attention turning toward underdeveloped north Baton Rouge, but challenges abound for sustainable economic development Dezmion Barrow grew up with his grandmother in Holiday Acres, a subdivision of low-slung, primarily Section 8 rental houses in Scotlandville. No one in his family went to college, and in high school he wasn’t interested in higher education. A trip with a friend to orientation at Southeastern Louisiana University—including a look at all the pretty girls on campus and the thrice-daily buffets in the dining hall—changed his mind. He majored in finance, hoping to transcend his own financial circumstances. Instead, he got a crash course in student loan debt, and after a couple years at SLU and a short stint at Southern University, he dropped out. Now 26 years old, he works night jobs at Sam’s Club and a group home to finance his lawn care and party rental businesses. “This is what an average individual would see,” Barrow says while driving south on Scotland Avenue on a recent grey, drizzly morning in Scotlandville. “Blighted properties over there. You’ve got a rundown car wash right here. … Another closed-down business. See the conditions of those houses over there? Waking up in something like that does something to your psyche.” Barrow knows firsthand that living in uninspiring circumstances leads to more than a negative impression of your own neighborhood. It creates “a hopeless mentality” about what’s possible in your own life, he says. But Barrow isn’t hopeless. As he nears the intersection of Scotland and the ironically named Scenic Highway, he points out public spaces that could be made more inviting with better landscaping and several buildings that would have serious commercial potential if renovated. “You’ve got Southern University coming up the street,” he says. “You’ve got people coming [through here] from Zachary and Baker if they don’t get on the interstate. This is a main entry point. Everybody’s going to see it.”
  6. Delgado wants council to vote on economic opportunity zone, stop deferring item Baton Rouge Metro Councilman John Delgado says he plans to call for a vote on his proposed economic opportunity zone in north Baton Rouge—which the council has twice deferred—when it comes back up on the April 13 meeting agenda. The zone would allow for developers in north Baton Rouge to ask the council for property tax abatements for 10 years on redevelopment projects within the zone’s boundaries, which is everything north of Florida Boulevard in the city limits, excluding the Downtown Development District and the Baton Rouge Metro Airport. The item was deferred first for 30 days in January, and then for another 60 days in February, to allow parties to discuss the boundaries of the zone. But Delgado says the zone’s borders are basically the same as what he first proposed. He says it’s a disservice to the public that the council keeps putting off a vote on the matter, adding if his fellow council members do not want to pass it they can explain that decision to their constituents. One issue that may hamper the actual vote concerns how the proposed zone coincides with the proposed hospital service district being proposed by Together Baton Rouge. Hospital Service District No. 2, if created, would include residents living in the 70801, 70802, 70805, 70806, 70807, 70811, 70812 and 70814 ZIP codes. Per Louisiana law, a hospital service district allows a public entity to own and operate a hospital. Hospital Service District No. 1 is in Zachary for Lane Memorial Hospital. The designation allows for tax-exempt financing for construction and the hospital to make tax-exempt purchases. Voters in the district also can vote whether to approve a property tax of up to 5 mills. On the flip side, Delgado’s proposal for the economic opportunity zone allows for property tax abatements for up to 10 years. Delgado says he’s not against the health service district, but he is worried about sending a mixed message to businesses: that there could be extra property taxes levied in a district where you could also get property tax abatements to help redevelop an area. He says it de-incentivizes the reason for businesses would want to locate in north Baton Rouge. Ashley Beck, a special assistant parish attorney, says if both districts are created and the Metro Council grants a property tax abatement to a new property owner for land that lies in both districts, then the property owner would pay the millage for the hospital service district at the assessed value before construction begins. “It would be based on pre-restoration valuations,” Beck says of the value that the millage would be based off. For that example, Beck used the Restoration Tax Credit available from Louisiana Economic Development. Delgado says the abatement in the economic opportunity zone is very similar to the Restoration Tax Credit. “It can get confusing and we really just need to flesh all these things out together,” Delgado says. Metro Councilwoman Tara Wicker, who has tried to meet with all the groups working to help north Baton Rouge, once again says that all parties involved need to sit down and discuss each person or group’s role in the redevelopment of north Baton Rouge to avoid these types of conflicting moves.
  7. Edwards says state will find a way to bring emergency room back to north Baton Rouge Gov. John Bel Edwards said today he has asked Baton Rouge General Health System administrators to consider reopening their Mid City campus’ emergency room, because he feels the hospital’s business model will be different with Medicaid expansion. “I believe the Medicaid expansion affords them an opportunity to do that because they will have fewer people accessing services in the emergency room without reimbursement associated with that,” Edwards told reporters after his speech at the Louisiana Health Summit held at Pennington Biomedical Research Center. Edwards said he had discussions with General administrators when they were talking to Ochsner Health System, of New Orleans, about a partnership involving both medical institutions. The governor said he was working to get an emergency room in north Baton Rouge. If General Health System is unable to reopen the Mid City emergency room, Edwards said, “we’re going to find some other way.” Talk about the closure of the Mid City ER surfaced when Edwards told the more than 250 health care advocates, workers and insurers, present during the Medicaid expansion session, that rural hospitals were closing in Southern states that turned down federal Medicaid expansion dollars. “Don’t think that wouldn’t happen in Louisiana had we not expanded Medicaid, because it would,” Edwards said. “And in fact, we have a hospital—it’s not a rural hospital—right here in Baton Rouge, the Mid City campus of Baton Rouge General, closed its emergency room because too many people were visiting that emergency room without reimbursement dollars going to the hospital.” Edwards added that situation would play out repeatedly in the state without the federal Medicaid expansion dollars. General Health System closed the Mid City ER nearly one year ago, on March 31, in response to mounting financial losses. The system plans to convert the hospital to a specialty care facility. In an interview with Daily Report last week, General Health System/Baton Rouge General President and CEO Mark Slyter says hospital officials have a study that showed emergency medical care was not a top priority for that area of north Baton Rouge. “There is no question there are some additional services we can continue to work on, particularly for that north Baton Rouge area; however, some of the things being proposed may not have the impact that folks are talking about,” Slyter says. He also noted the proliferation of urgent care clinics popping up in Mid City. He says the clinics provide the more appropriate level of care needed for many of the maladies for which people previously sought care at the Mid City facility. During his 20-minute speech, Edwards outlined the need for Medicaid expansion in Louisiana. He said it is estimated that more than 300,000 people will be enrolled in Medicaid when the expansion goes into effect July 1. Among those 300,000 eligible residents, about 30,000 would be restaurant workers and 15,000 would work in construction, Edwards said, highlighting that many who would be covered are working-class residents. Those residents, he said, often are caught in the trap of making too much to be covered under Medicaid but not enough to afford insurance on their own. Edwards signed an executive order on Jan. 12, his second day in office, to expand Medicaid after his predecessor, former Gov. Bobby Jindal, refused to grant the expansion through the Affordable Care Act.
  8. You said they trying to move it that's not true. They was against the medical district because there tax dollars are be used in that area.
  9. That's not what article was about, it wasn't about moving the health district. It was about creating medical options including a hospital with a ER in area's that need it most.
  10. North Baton Rouge residents hopeful, and a bit skeptical, that latest crime-fighting initiatives will work After spending two years studying the roots of crime in a handful of north Baton Rouge neighborhoods, East Baton Rouge Parish officials are rolling out a number of community programs they hope will help. As dozens of children shot hoops Monday evening with police officers and jumped rope at BREC’s Saia Park on Donmoor Avenue, Gail Grover, East Baton Rouge Parish Mayor-President Kip Holden’s assistant chief administrator, explained the six programs being launched in the Istrouma, Midtown, Eden Park, Greenville Extension, Smiley Heights and Melrose East neighborhoods. A series of four-week employment preparedness seminars, a pair of after-school programs, a free legal clinic addressing run-down properties and blight, and programs designed to boost residents’ ability to lobby with city leaders are among the initiatives being funded by a roughly $1 million U.S. Department of Justice grant, Grover said. The city-parish received the grant in 2014 but spent the first two years studying and canvassing the neighborhoods and holding study groups to get residents’ views on what’s driving high crime rates in the area. The answer researchers heard? High levels of unemployment, a lack of programming for children, and a need for stronger community organizations, Grover said, leading those working on the grant to propose six strategies to address some of the issues challenging the neighborhoods. City-parish officials are holding a series of three family fun nights at parks in the targeted neighborhoods to explain the programs. The third and final event is at 4 p.m. Wednesday in BREC’s Gus Young Park. Grover said the programs focus on many of the same impoverished areas targeted by other grants, including a federal Department of Housing and Urban Development Choice Neighborhood planning grant, and programs like Baton Rouge Area Violence Elimination , an anti-crime initiative. Taken together, Grover said, the grants should offer a “holistic approach” to tackling the roots of crime and poverty in the neighborhoods, which largely lie in the 70802 and 70805 ZIP code areas. But several of the roughly 30 residents at Monday’s presentation expressed initial skepticism at the latest initiatives. “I’m tired of the money coming through here and us ending up worse off,” said Pearl Porter, who lives in the Istrouma neighborhood. Porter said she’s seen lots of revitalization efforts during her 43 years in the neighborhood, only to watch as local public schools closed and crime climbed. “And look where we’re at,” Porter said. “We’ve heard this so many times. At the end of this grant, we need to see some changes.” Hazel Bradley Averhart, who lives around the corner from Porter, said she’s hoping the latest grant might offer a chance to connect residents with some of the programs designed to help them. Margo Wilson and Anthony Wright, who own a construction and janitorial services company near Saia Park, both said they’re hopeful the latest set of initiatives could have a positive effect on the area. “The fact that they’re starting to come over this way is great,” said Wilson. “But now that they’ve talked about it, we want to see it.” Grover said the first round of programs — including after-school courses focused on black history and empowering youth at New Hope Baptist Church and Friendship Capitol High School — started earlier this month. A summer program for children still is in its planning stages, but Grover said other programs — like seminars led by Employ BR offering help on landing a job — are scheduled to launch soon. The roughly $800,000 in remaining grant funding should cover the cost of programs for about two years, Grover said.
  11. Ducote to bring Louisiana-style tacos to White Star Market in Mid City When Clark Gaines and his wife began developing the concept for White Star Market—which is expected to open early next year in Mid City—one of the first people they consulted was local chef Jay Ducote. Gaines wanted to discuss the food hall concept with Ducote and see if the former Food Network Star finalist would be interested in helping to promote it. Ducote’s initial reaction was that it sounded like a very cool concept and a good way for people to get into the culinary business at a reasonable startup cost. But Ducote says he soon realized that the concept would be a good way for him to test out his gourmet taco concept, dubbed Gov’t Taco, and he’s now signed on to be one of the 10 vendors in the market. “Tacos are certainly something I love,” Ducote says. “I think a lot of people have a lot of affection for tacos.” Gaines and his wife are opening their food hall concept—which has found success across the country, including at the St. Roch Market in New Orleans—in the mixed-use Square 46 development in Mid City along Government Street. “This gourmet food hall concept is pretty trendy around the country right now, but something I feel has some staying power,” Ducote says. Gaines says getting Ducote to sign on with the market is significant because of Ducote’s local celebrity status, which he’s cultivated over several years through his Bite and Booze blog, his social media following, a radio show on 107.3 WBRP-FM and, most recently, his run on Food Network Star. “It’s a great get,” Gaines says. Ducote says his menu will be different from the traditional Mexican taco offerings, and will be an amalgamation of his signature dishes, his favorite flavor profiles and food he has tried in his culinary travels. “Every ingredient on every taco is going to be there on purpose and it’s going to be designed to compliment those flavors,” Ducote says. The menu will be small, featuring a handful of signature tacos—like a BBQ taco with his Jay D’s Louisiana Barbecue Sauce—and rotating daily specials. He says people can follow his recipe testing and development on social media in the next 10 months before White Star Market opens. At White Star Market, each vendor will serve a different delicacy, all being made in the communal kitchen in the back of the 5,900-square-foot space. Gaines is leasing the space from Square 46 developer Joshua Hoffpauir, and the 10 vendors will sublease from Gaines. Gaines says he has still has three food vendor spots left. He has more than 40 applications for those final spots, but says he is still hearing pitches for the spaces. Read a recent Business Report feature on Ducote.
  12. Congressman calls for overhaul of CATS, says system isn’t working With ridership on the Capital Area Transit System’s rebranded Red Stick Trolley—formerly the Garden District Trolley—continuing to dwindle, Congressman Garret Graves, R-Baton Rouge, is calling for the agency to do away with the route and reevaluate just about every aspect of its operations. “The CATS system is a disaster,” Graves says. “It should be blown up and we should start over again.” Graves, who has made addressing the area’s transportation infrastructure issues and chronic gridlock one of his main priorities, says CATS is part of the problem not the solution. He says the Red Stick Trolley is an example of a failed idea that is wasting taxpayer dollars. “If they’re dead set on having people drive empty vehicles around, give them scooters,” he says. “It’s beyond a demonstrated failure. Stop bleeding the money and let’s put it in other things.” Graves lives in the Garden District, which the trolley was created to serve in early 2015, and says he is frustrated on visits home to the district to see the trolley cruising up and down neighborhood streets—almost always without passengers. Statistics back up Graves’ anecdotal observations, which have been shared by many. In the first two months of 2016, ridership averaged just 176 passengers per month, or about six per day. That’s fewer passengers than the lowest month of 2015, which had 182 passengers. On average, the trolley had about 15 riders per day last year. “We agree with Congressman Graves that we don’t want empty buses on our routes,” says CATS CEO Bob Mirabito in a written response to Graves’ comments. “That’s why we are working both to improve the marketing of our services and to make it easier, through House Bill 159, for CATS to change and delete its routes based on ridership.” HB 159 would allow the CATS board to make route changes and fare increases without having to first seek Metro Council approval. CATS board president Jim Brandt says while the agency has tried marketing the Red Stick Trolley somewhat more aggressively in recent months, the lack of ridership is getting to the point where a decision on the route is forthcoming. At its meeting in April, the board will discuss the trolley’s fate. “It’s a timely question and one that we, as a board, are getting ready to address,” he says. “If we can make a success of the service that would be great but if it doesn’t work we can’t carry it forever.”
  13. Baton Rouge Health District’s new director getting organized, planning for diabetes center hree weeks into her job as executive director of the newly created Baton Rouge Health District, Suzy Sonnier wants to develop a strategic plan to help guide the implementation of the master plan for the district, which includes health care institutions clustered between Essen Lane and Bluebonnet Boulevard in southeast Baton Rouge. She also wants to move forward with the development of a Diabetes and Obesity Research Center, which was highlighted in the master plan as a centerpiece of the district and a potential catalyst for additional health care and economic development. “It’s exciting because there’s so much potential,” says Sonnier, who served as secretary of the state Department of Children and Family Services during Gov. Bobby Jindal’s second term. “But for me the most important thing is figuring out what we can do first that creates a domino effect for everything else—what will keep driving the growth so it will be self sustaining.” Before she can do anything, however, Sonnier first has to create a governance structure for the nascent district. So far, she is working primarily with the Baton Rouge Area Foundation, which has spearheaded efforts to create the district and funded the master plan, as well as the leaders of the three major hospitals in the market that have committed to help fund the district—Baton Rouge General Medical Center, Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center, and Woman’s Hospital. It’s still not clear what that governance structure will look like, but Sonnier envisions a board of directors that will include the leaders of those three hospitals. It likely will also include the leadership of several other institutions that have played a role in the planning of the district to date, including: Pennington Biomedical Research Center, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana, LSU, the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals, the Baton Rouge Clinic, Baton Rouge Orthopaedic Clinic, the NeuroMedical Center, Our Lady of the Lake College, and the Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center. Other successful health districts around the country have based their board membership on the level of financial commitment the member institutions are willing to make. Sonnier says the Baton Rouge Health District board could have a similar structure with two or more tiers of membership. She also envisions establishing a broader community advisory board, as well as several committees and task forces that can work on a strategic plan to help guide implementation of the master plan. She hopes to have at least the main board in place within 90 days. While a lot of planning and organizational work must be done, Sonnier believes the district can begin to move forward almost immediately with one of its central tenants: the Diabetes and Obesity Center. She says a request for proposals to develop the center has already been drafted and that it could be issued even before the board is selected, though she says the board would necessarily have to be in place before the RFP could be awarded to a planning and development firm or team of firms. The center could be developed relatively quickly—within a couple of years—because it could be located within existing space at the Pennington Biomedical Research Center, rather than in a new, freestanding structure, Sonnier says. According to the master plan for the district, it would cost about $500,000 to do a business plan for the center. The price tag for developing the center is still yet to be determined. “The DOC has tremendous potential quickly because we already have a place and a number of researchers,” Sonnier says. “Now, we need to look at the next steps.”
  14. Glo Airlines toying with city-hopping strategy in Louisiana, could be the ticket to get airline in Baton Rouge Glo Airlines, an upstart regional airline service out of New Orleans, is set to announce soon an expansion into several new markets, but it does not seem Baton Rouge will be on that list. New Orleans attorney Caroline Fayard, who helped start Glo Airlines with her brother Trey Fayard, says the complication with adding the Baton Rouge Metro Airport to Glo’s list of airports is the short driving distance between Baton Rouge and New Orleans. However, she said Glo is toying with the idea of adopting a model used by other smaller airlines in which planes hop from city to city in a given state or region. “We’re open to expanding in Louisiana and trying to see if that model will work the for the current climate, but right now we’re probably focused mainly on direct connections that are an hour-and-a-half, an hour of flying time,” Fayard told members of the Press Club of Baton Rouge today. The issue of the short distance between Baton Rouge and New Orleans has hampered the Baton Rouge Metro Airport’s ability to add more flights and airlines. Many people travel to New Orleans to fly out of Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport because of the added offerings. A report issued late last year identified the so-called “leakage” as one of the main reasons for the Baton Rouge airport’s troubles. The number of travelers flying out of Baton Rouge in 2015 dropped by 4%, which airport officials blamed on a decrease in seating capacity. Glo Airlines started with the premise of connecting Shreveport and New Orleans via a direct flight so businessmen and women traveling back and forth to both cities would not need to spend more than five hours traversing the state’s highways or taking a connecting flight from Houston or Atlanta, Fayard said. Now, Glo Airlines serves New Orleans, Shreveport, Memphis, Little Rock, and Destin-Fort Walton Beach with three Saab 340B airplanes that hold about 26 passengers after Glo workers pulled four seats from each plane to give passengers more leg room. Trey Fayard told Daily Report in February that he sees potential in Baton Rouge but has no immediate plans to expand to the Capital City. Fayard also talked about her work crafting the BP Gulf of Mexico oil spill settlement and her campaign for the U.S. Senate seat currently held by Sen. David Vitter. Fayard says she spent more than 3,000 hours working with a plethora of attorneys on the 1,800-page BP settlement agreement that covers five states, covers a $2.3 billion seafood settlement fund and has paid out $8 billion so far. “I think we did a remarkable job,” Fayard said. “From my standpoint, I am really proud that we were able to get what we were able to get.”
  15. Major downturn plagues Louisiana's film, TV industry 'Hollywood South' after big changes to tax credit program Rihanna fought off aliens in “Battleship” at Celtic Studios’ Stage 6 in Baton Rouge. Tom Cruise flew in a bubble ship in the hangar-sized space for “Oblivion.” Stage 6 served as Planet Zero, an alternate universe, for “The Fantastic Four.” Today? “It’s a whole lot of nothing,” said Patrick Mulhearn, Celtic’s executive director, as he surveyed the empty facility last week. “It’s dormant. There’s been nothing shot on our stages since August.” Louisiana’s film and television industry — popularly known as Hollywood South because of the large number of movies and shows filmed here over the past decade — has suffered a sharp downturn since mid-2015. Industry officials are blaming a law passed a year ago by the state Legislature and signed into law by Gov. Bobby Jindal — a law that aimed to control ballooning costs for a generous incentive program that independent analysts say has not provided much bang for the buck. Other factors behind the slump include ever-sweeter subsidies offered by California, the industry’s natural home; competition from cap-free Georgia, a regional rival; and a weakening of the Canadian dollar, which has made it cheaper to film in Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal. “The movie tax credit is completely broken,” Sen. J.P. Morrell, D-New Orleans, said in an interview. He added that he will press for modifications when the Legislature next meets to consider changes to the state’s tax code, possibly later this year or during 2017, when tax reform will be a prime topic of debate. During the first nine months of the current fiscal year, Louisiana Economic Development, the state agency that administers the program, received 61 applications from producers for tax credits to offset $225 million of filming costs in Louisiana. During the 12 months of the preceding fiscal year, by comparison, the agency received 138 applications to offset $1.2 billion in filming costs. That suggests a decline in film spending of about 75 percent. As a result, soundstages in New Orleans and Baton Rouge — the metro areas where most of the filming typically takes place — are mostly vacant. FilmWorks, a soundstage in New Orleans East that opened to fanfare in 2014, is actually closing for good next week. “Since July, everything has gone down, down, down,” said George Steiner, FilmWorks’ president. The overall slump means supplier businesses and their employees throughout the state also are taking a hit. “A year ago, everyone was working and then some,” said Cory Parker, the business agent for union workers who handle costumes, build sets and provide special effects. “About 36 percent of our membership was working as of a week ago. The work has obviously slowed down.” Last year, facing a budget crunch, state lawmakers and Jindal set a cap on the amount that the state could spend on film tax credits for each of the next three years. They did it in a way, industry officials say, that has particularly scared off Hollywood producers. “Last year’s legislation turned everyone’s attitude from confidence to uncertainty,” said Herb Gaines, a producer who also owns Big Easy Studios in New Orleans East. “That is causing people to look elsewhere. It’s a global market. There are a lot of choices. From Louisiana being a part of the conversation in nearly every film, it’s often no longer considered.” The law in question limited the amount taxpayers can spend in film tax credits at $180 million per year. That was down from $246 million spent in 2013 and $222 million in 2014. In the first eight months of the current fiscal year, through February, the state awarded $120 million of credits, said Kimberly Robinson, secretary of the Department of Revenue. She expects the $180 million cap will be reached by the end of the fiscal year on June 30 — in part because taxpayers are cashing in unredeemed film credits earned in earlier years. Lawmakers and Jindal imposed the cap amid concerns that the state’s program had become too open-handed at a time when officials were facing further cuts to colleges and universities. Under the program, the state reimburses movie and television producers for 30 percent of their local costs incurred while filming in Louisiana. This means that taxpayers write checks to producers in what critics call “corporate welfare.” Analysts point out that the $200-plus million the state has been spending in recent years to subsidize the filming could instead go to fix roadways, hire more professors and staff at LSU, Southern University of New Orleans and the University of New Orleans, and provide more nurses for the state hospital system. Hover over or tap the graphic below to see changes in film tax credit amounts over the years. In fact, independent economists don’t believe the state has done well at all on a cost-benefit analysis. A 2015 study for Louisiana Economic Development found that the program generated only 23 cents in tax revenue for every dollar paid out by taxpayers in 2014. Loren Scott, the retired LSU professor who conducted the study, said his analysis included the economic benefit and jobs created by supplier companies hired by the producers. The film industry’s own study paints a rosier picture. “If the purpose from the state’s perspective is to have an activity that generates tax dollars to offset the tax benefit, then it did not work,” said Jim Richardson, an LSU professor who also has studied the tax credit program. “A private business would shut it down. In the process of shutting it down, people who have made investments will say, ‘Hey, it’s not fair to me.’ But nothing in the book says any tax law is forever.” Jeff Galpin is one of those who believes legislators and Jindal made a big mistake last year. Galpin, 47, is a stunt man and stunt coordinator who lives in River Ridge. He said he had been working about 300 days per year. “But now it’s dying,” Galpin said. “I’m worried about having a job. They forget about the guys like me who the tax credit was supposed to help. A lot of us spend every nickel here.” Business is down this year by 25 percent for Andre Champagne, owner of New Orleans-based Hollywood Trucks, which has a fleet of 300 vehicles that serve the film and television industry. Mi Mi Montagnet Bankston, a commercial and residential real estate broker in New Orleans, is seeing a sharp drop in high-end rentals for actors, directors and producers. Silver Screen Group, a New Orleans-based company that rents equipment to filmmakers, has laid off 15 of its 30 employees, said its president, Robert Vosbein. “I know of TV productions that have moved to Atlanta,” said Stephen Perry, president and chief executive officer of the New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau. In all, the Legislature passed 14 bills dealing with the film tax credit program last year, said Christopher Stelly, who administers it as executive director of Louisiana Economic Development. Some of the measures aim to stamp out fraud. Others no longer allow credits for spending that does not materially benefit Louisiana’s economy, such as on airline tickets and bond fees paid to investors. Still others attempt to provide more accurate numbers by having the economic development agency, and not those seeking the tax credits, hire the accounting firm to certify the amount that can be claimed. But the biggest impact has come from Act 134, by then-state Rep. Joel Robideaux, R-Lafayette, which imposed the $180 million cap. Leaders with the Louisiana Film and Entertainment Association fought Robideaux. When it became obvious that they would lose, they pushed for a cap on the amount of credits that the economic development agency certified each year as being eligible — the first step in the process. Instead, in a last-minute decision to help fill the 2015 budget gap, lawmakers capped the amount that the state actually will pay out each year in already certified credits. The Legislature’s decision means that producers can qualify for an unlimited amount of tax credits, but they can cash in only $180 million per year. “The problem is the instability,” said Susan Brennan, owner of Second Line Stages in New Orleans, adding that producers are worrying that the state will take too long to pay them for credits they have qualified for. Brennan said she has lost two TV series filmed at her studios — “American Horror Story” and “Scream Queens” — to California and a movie to Canada. Nonetheless, she said she is confident something will turn up soon. “We have great tax credits,” she said. Adding to the uncertainty is a one-year suspension of the program that allows producers who don’t have a tax liability in the state to sell their credits directly to the state for a check worth 85 cents on the dollar. That suspension ends June 30. Robinson, the revenue secretary, expects a flood of producers cashing in their tax credits to the state beginning July 1 — because only the first $180 million can be paid out for the entire year. In total, producers have qualified for an estimated $500 million in tax credits that they have yet to draw from the state. If that figure is correct — and state officials aren’t entirely sure — then Louisiana owes more than two years’ worth of tax credits before any more movies or films are shot in Louisiana. MORE FILM TAX CREDIT COVERAGE -- The Advocate's 2015 Giving Away Louisiana series: Film tax incentives: State’s program is popular, fast-growing but a major money-loser -- ‘Passion’ broadcast could cost Louisiana taxpayers up to $3 million because of film tax credits -- Hollywood producer Peter Hoffman avoids lengthy prison sentence in Louisiana film tax credit fraud case ***