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The Louisiana Legislature convened today, Monday, April 10th.  The major focus of the 60-day session will be on the budget deficit facing the state. Tax measures, budget bills, criminal justice reform and TOPS issues will be discussed and debated. Louisiana REALTORS® will be heavily engaged on several tax measures and other bills to ensure the real estate industry and its members are not negatively impacted.

Each week, we will update the membership on legislative activities. This first edition provides a general overview of several bills that have been filed and limited information on the governor’s tax proposals. Most of the tax measures have not been filed yet, so specifics are not available at this time. On April 18, a team of members will review all legislation filed and take positions on these measures.

TAX PROPOSALS BEING DISCUSSED:

Sales Tax on Services Proposal – This proposal would expand the sales tax to include professional services, including services to immovable property. This tax puts an additional sales tax on any services related to the industry, such as appraisals, pest control services, surveying, landscape and lawn maintenance, and extends to the remodeling, renovation and repair of immovable property.

Corporate Tax Proposal – This proposal seeks to eliminate some existing taxes on corporations and creates a new gross receipts tax calculated based on company gross profits. This proposal is being modeled off the state of Ohio model, but the specific details for how it is being proposed in Louisiana have yet to be released. The rate, kinds of receipts to be counted and types of businesses are all important factors. The impact of this tax, while claiming a broad base and low rate, will vary depending on the company and its gross profits. But our early estimates predict an increase in taxes for broker owners and agents.

OTHER BILLS:

Senate Bill 108 by Senator Bodi White

This Louisiana REALTORS®-supported legislation will require out-of-state licensees doing business in Louisiana to either become licensed in the state or co-broke with a Louisiana licensee when conducting business in the state. The legislation provides for a misdemeanor penalty for those who violate this section of the law.

Senate Bill 120 by Senator. Rick Ward

The Louisiana Law Institute is recommending changes to the Louisiana residential leasing laws. The Louisiana REALTORS® legal counsel is reviewing the legislation as are several residential leasing specialists.

House Bill 469 by Representative Reid Falconer

This legislation amends the Louisiana condominium laws and will specifically require all unit owners to carry property and liability insurance on their respective owned units.

Senate Bill 205 by Senator Morrell

This legislation would require the Louisiana Real Estate Commission to refer all investigative complaints to the Division of Administrative Law Judge for final decisions. This legislation would considerably increase costs for the commission with attorney fees and for potential damages should they lose the case. Also, many times these law judges are not experts in immovable property issues.

Senate Bill 236 by Senator Eric LaFleur

This legislation seeks to implement uniform real estate and other document fees filed with the clerks of court.  The Louisiana REALTORS® and many in the land title industry are reviewing the legislation.

For information or clarification on any issues during the legislative session please contact: Norman Morris, CEO