Written by Kim Callaway, Director of Legal & Governmental Affairs

The theme of the third week of the 2019 Louisiana Legislative Session was “civil justice reform”.  The House Committee on Civil Law and Procedure heard bills seeking to address laws that many believe are focused on high dollar verdicts rather than accident victims obtaining justice.  In turn, these verdicts can act as an incentive for other citizens to file frivolous lawsuits.  Many believe this litigious climate is one cause for our high insurance rates and one of the primary reasons businesses decline to locate here.

In an effort to change the laws that may drive this culture, Representative Kirk Talbot filed House Bill No. 372.  After a lengthy hearing, the bill was reported out of the House Committee on Civil Law and Procedure on April 15th.  This means that the bill will likely be heard on the House Floor on Tuesday, April 23rd. 

LABI explains that House Bill No. 372 contains “numerous common-sense reforms to Louisiana’s broken legal system” that will “that will hopefully lead to better auto insurance rates for Louisiana individuals, families and businesses.”  Click here for more about the bill from LABI.

But how does this affect you as a REALTOR®? 

In a recent survey of members of Louisiana REALTORS®, you told us that keeping up with technology was your biggest operational concern, but the top second and third concerns were the potential for litigation and insurance costs.

House Bill No. 372 and other bills attempting to make changes to Louisiana’s legal system were filed to change aspects of our law that many believe drive our “sue happy” culture which in turn drives up your insurance costs.  If these bills become law, the hope is that your potential for litigation will be reduced and your insurance costs will go down.  However, the passage of a bill cannot guarantee these things will happen, but then again neither can going along with the status quo.

Other items of interest in Week Three:

House Bill No. 83, Representative Jimmy Harris

What:  Would extend the sunset of the tax credit for rehabilitation of nonresidential historic structures to January 1, 2026 

Position:  For

Why:  This program has helped preserve many historic buildings throughout Louisiana. 

House Bill No. 83 was reported out of the House Committee on Ways and Means this week and will soon be heard on the House Floor.  The tax credit for rehabilitation of nonresidential historic tax structures is now set to expire on January 1, 2022.  This bill seeks to extend the tax credit until January 1, 2026.

The Louisiana Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism reports that these credits not only offer an incentive to preserve historic buildings, but also act as a major force in economic development. The use of tax credits encourages private sector rehabilitation of historic buildings and is one of the most successful and cost-effective community revitalization programs. These programs generate jobs and create commercial, residential, and industrial spaces within historic buildings.

House Bill No.  317, Representative Howard

What:  Authorizes the creation of a Louisiana REALTORS® special prestige license plate

Position:  For

Why:  Louisiana REALTORS® asked that this bill be filed so you can show your REALTOR® pride while also helping the Louisiana REALTORS Relief Fund.

House Bill No. 372 was reported out of in the House of Representatives Committee on Transportation, Highways and Public Works on Monday, April 15th. The bill would allow a special prestige license plate to be made available for members of Louisiana REALTORS®.  All members could purchase the plate for their vehicle from the office of motor vehicles upon paying a $10 annual fee that would benefit the Louisiana REALTORS® Relief Fund and a $3.50 production fee.  However, it will likely be a few years before the plate would be available as the office of motor vehicles is undergoing a complete renovation of their motor vehicle registration system.