Buddy Caldwell (D)

BATON ROUGE, La. (Legal Newsline) - Louisiana House members have approved an Internet use tax to help raise money for Attorney General Buddy Caldwell's office.

The proposal, which would levy a 15 cent monthly charge on Internet access, would help bankroll the attorney general's efforts to fight cyber-crime. It cleared the House 81-9 on Thursday.

The measure, now headed to the state Senate, is opposed by Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal. The bill was sponsored by Rep. Mack "Bodi" White, R-Denham Springs.

Critics have questioned whether the legislation would violate the federal Tax Freedom Act, enacted in 1998 and extended in 2007 for seven years.

The measure is estimated to raise about $2.4 million annually for the attorney general's office to combat Internet crimes, including those against children in the Bayou State.

The Internet access surcharge would begin in 2010. The fee would be charged to users on their monthly bill, and would be placed in the attorney general's Internet Crimes Investigation Fund. Public libraries and public schools would be exempt from the tax.

From Legal Newsline: Reach staff reporter Chris Rizo at chrisrizo@legalnewsline.com.

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