Written by Kim Callaway, Director of Legal and Governmental Affairs, Louisiana REALTORS®

The 2019 Louisiana Legislative Session started Monday, April 8th with much less fanfare than it has started with in previous years.  This is likely because it is a fiscal session during which each legislator may file only five (5) bills of a general nature and an unlimited number of bills of a tax or local nature.  However, there are still 140 fewer bills filed this year than in 2017, the last fiscal session.  This decline in bills is likely because it is an election year and legislators generally prefer a low-key session in these years.

Despite the low bill count, your Louisiana REALTORS® Bill Review Team, which is made up of members from across the state, met and identified 103 bills that Louisiana REALTORS® will support, oppose, or monitor on your behalf. An interactive Bill Tracking Report contains the position of Louisiana REALTORS® on each of these bills and the status of each bill.  Any bill on the list can be accessed and viewed in its entirety by clicking on the number of the bill on the left of the page. A few of these bills that are likely to be of interest to you are highlighted and explained below.


REAL ESTATE LICENSE RENEWAL DATE

House Bill No.  353, Representative Julie Emerson

What:  This bill would require a real estate licensee to renew his or her real estate license on or before October 31st of each year instead of December 31st. 

Position:  For

Why:  Louisiana REALTORS® believes the passage of this bill will address potential issues that may arise when agents or brokers may be practicing with expired licenses for failure to timely renew. 

Currently, a real estate license is required to be renewed prior to January 1st of each year.  If a licensee misses the renewal date, his or her license is considered expired immediately.

This bill would instead require a licensee to renew his or her real estate license on or before October 31st of each year.  A license would not be immediately expired if a licensee fails to meet the proposed October 31st deadline to renew.  He or she would be considered to have a delinquent renewal and would still be able to renew his or her license prior to its expiration upon payment of the renewal fee and a delinquent fee. 

Louisiana REALTORS® believes the passage of this bill will address the issue of agents or brokers practicing with expired licenses for failure to timely renew.  It would potentially give the Louisiana Real Estate Commission time to process renewals prior the license expiration date and to notify a licensee that he or she has a delinquent renewal.  This processing period and notice hopefully would allow for a delinquent licensee to remedy his or her failure to renew prior to his or her license expiring.


HOMESTEAD EXEMPTION

The Louisiana State Constitution currently includes an exemption from state, parish, and special ad valorem property taxes for the bona fide homestead of a property owner for the first $7,500 of assessed valuation ($75,000 of the fair market value).  There are a few bills filed this year that propose to make changes to this exemption.

House Bill No. 12, Representative Steve Carter

What:  This is a constitutional amendment that would allow each parish to set their homestead exemption lower than the current homestead exemption that is the same statewide.

Position:  Against

Why:  Louisiana REALTORS® believes that allowing each parish to set their own homestead exemption could lead to unpredictability for your clients and somewhat destabilize the real estate market.

HB No. 12 by Representative Steve Carter proposes a constitutional amendment that would allow each parish to reduce the amount of the homestead exemption if the voters in the parish approved.  However, no parish would be able to set the homestead exemption higher than the current exemption.

if this bill passes the Legislature and voters approve the change in October, then each parish could then vote to reduce their homestead exemption if the parish governing authority puts the issue on the ballot.

Louisiana REALTORS® believes that allowing each parish to set their own homestead exemption could lead to unpredictability for your clients and somewhat destabilize the real estate market.

Buyers would not be able to predict their potential property tax bill with any certainty from year to year; therefore, potentially prohibiting them from purchasing a home or buying a smaller home to compensate for a possible spike in property taxes.  The real estate market may not be stable unless buyers know when they are negotiating home purchases that the homestead exemption will remain the same for a long period in the parish where they are contemplating purchasing a home. 

House Bill No. 439, Representative Barry Ivey

What:  This bill proposes a constitutional amendment that would allow each parish to adjust the amount of the homestead exemption – higher or lower than the current exemption - if the voters in the parish approved of doing so. 

Position:  Against

Why:  The same reasons House Bill No. 12 is opposed.

HB No. 439 by Representative Ivey proposes a constitutional amendment that would allow each parish to adjust the amount of the homestead exemption if the voters in the parish approved of doing so.  This bill is similar to House Bill No.12, but differs in that it would allow the homestead exemption to be set higher or lower in any parish.

Louisiana REALTORS® opposes this bill for the same reasons it opposes House Bill No. 12.

House Bill No. 136, Representative Steve Pylant

What:  The homestead exemption would only apply after taxes were paid on the first $1,000 of assessed value of a homestead.

Position:  For

Why:  The proposed change in the homestead exemption would be less likely to affect the predictability of property tax bills for your clients and stability in the real estate market. 

House Bill No. 136 by Representative Steve Pylant would keep the homestead exemption the same, but  proposes a constitutional amendment to apply that exemption only after the first $1,000 of assessed valuation ($10,000 of fair market value) of a homestead is taxed.

If this bill passes the Legislature and voters approve the change in October, then homeowners would pay property taxes for the first $1,000 of assessed value on their home beginning in 2020.

Louisiana REALTORS® is in favor of this bill as the change proposed is less likely to affect the predictability of property tax bills for your clients and stability in the real estate market.  The proposition is a fair way to change the homestead exemption if the Legislature and voters have the will to do so.


APPRAISALS

House Bill No. 340, Representative Paul Hollis

What:  This bill would allow an appraiser to perform an evaluation on property for a federally insured depository institution if federal law or rule permits them to do so.

Position:  For

Why:  The proposed change would allow appraisers to perform services that they are currently prohibited from offering.

State law currently prohibits a licensed real estate appraiser from performing an evaluation on property for a federally insured depository institution.  This bill would change that and allow an appraiser to perform an evaluation for these institutions if federal law or rule permits them to do so.

Louisiana REALTORS® is in favor of this legislation because it would allow appraisers to perform services that they are currently prohibited from offering.

House Bill No. 344, Representative Paula Davis

Senate Bill No. 191, Senator Norby Chabert

What:  Both bills proposed time limitations in which appraisers can be sued for their work.

Position:  For

Why:  The passage of these bills would allow for appraisers a to have some certainty that they will not be sued for their work after a certain period of time.

Currently there is no time limit on when an appraiser can be sued for issues arising from an appraisal he conducts.  These bills would limit the time in which an appraisal professional could be sued for issues arising from an appraisal.

Louisiana REALTORS® is in favor of these bills because their passage would allow for appraisers to have some certainty that they will not be sued for their work after a certain period of time.