SMITH: Isn’t It Time To Repeal Pensions, License Tax Breaks For Confederate Veterans & Widows?

Editor’s Note: A guest post by William J. Smith, who’s taking a look at duplicative, outdated and otherwise unnecessary items which appear in Louisiana’s state statutes and are good candidates for repeal. This is the third in a series; see the first two here and here

The Louisiana Legislature does a good job each year in passing a lot of bills, whether such bills are needed or not. However, the Legislature does a poor job in repealing State laws and regulations that are no longer required or needed.

In some cases, programs and state laws remain on the books years or even decades after they should be repealed. Two such state laws which should be repealed by the Legislature deal with pensions and license tax breaks…for Confederate veterans and their widows.

The State started granted pensions to Confederate veterans and their widows back in 1898. I’m not sure when the license tax break was passed by the Louisiana Legislature, but I would guess that the tax break became state law around the same time as the pension program.

However, the pension program and the license tax break for Confederate veterans and their widows remain in the Revised Statutes even after the last confirmed and verified Confederate veteran Pleasant Crump died in 1951 and the last identified surviving Confederate widow Maudie Hopkins died in 2008.

Louisiana Revised Statutes 11:1391-1397 states that the State of Louisiana would pay a pension to Confederate veterans and their widows. These statutes also explain which part of the State government would be responsible for paying out the pensions, keeping up with the pension roll, and covering pension program expenses.

Like a lot of sections of the Revised Statutes and like many acts passed by the Louisiana Legislature, terms and conditions apply. Widows of Confederate veterans could only receive a pension from the state if their husband served from the date of his enlistment until the end of the Civil War or until honorably discharged. The widow had to be a legal resident of the State of Louisiana at least five years before applying for a pension. Her marriage had to be contracted prior to December 31, 1905.

In some cases, the widow could not be remarried and had to be at least sixty years old to receive a State pension. Also, if the widow remarried, the pension from the state stopped.

Louisiana Revised Statute 29:431 states that any honorably discharged Confederate veteran, or his wife or widow, may engage in certain kinds of businesses without paying a license tax.

Just like before, caveats apply to the license tax break. The Confederate veteran or his wife/widow could not engage in any business dealing with liquor, tobacco, deadly weapons, or gambling devices – basically anything involving some sort of sin. The business had to be “operated exclusively for the support of the veteran or his family.” Also, the veteran or his wife/widow could not own more than $2,000 of taxable property in the husband’s name.

Since there are no more living Confederate veterans or widows, it is time to repeal the state laws which authorized the pension programs and license tax breaks for the Confederate vets and widows. These programs and tax breaks are not needed anymore and should be eliminated from the Revised Statutes.

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