Written by Kim Callaway, Director of Legal & Governmental Affairs

The 2019 Legislative Session is about at its midway point where negotiations over proposed legislation are wrapping up and legislation is either going forward or not.  It is unlikely that a bill still sitting in a committee in its house of origin will move at all, but not impossible.  The two major non-real estate related stories of the week include House Bill No. 372 getting hung up in Senate Judiciary A and the state budget moving to the Senate.  House Bill No. 372 is the bill that seeks to institute civil court procedure reforms in an effort to reduce insurance rates.   In what many believe was a stall tactic, Senate Judiciary Committee A decided the bill needed a fiscal note to determine the possible costs to the state if the bill becomes law.  The bill may be heard in committee again next week, but it is highly likely that the bill will die in committee even if it receives another hearing.   In other news, the state budget left the House and is headed to the Senate.  Leaders of both parties have stated that this year’s budget process has so far been less difficult than in year’s past.  However, it is expected that the Senate will make significant changes to the House version of the budget as they have in years past.  Serious budget negotiations will begin in earnest once the Senate sends the budget back to the House.

BUT HOW DOES THIS AFFECT YOU AS A REALTOR®? 

Senate Bill No. 28, Senator Price

What:  The bill would have mandated residential landlords to wait five days after the failure of payment of rent on the due date to institute eviction proceedings.

Position:  Against

Status:  Failed to move out of Senate Committee

Why:  A mandated delay would have been onerous on landlords.  Each day a rental property is vacant, or a nonpaying tenant is residing in the property is a day the landlord is not producing income from the property.  This should be a contractual issue between a landlord and tenant.

Senate Bill No. 218, Senator Barrow

What:  This bill originally was filed to create a mechanism to address private property operated as group homes for members of the population who may be vulnerable.  The concept of the bill came about following the discovery of a group home in Baton Rouge where residents appeared to be severely neglected and showed signs of abuse.

However, the bill was amended in the Senate Committee on Health and Welfare and is now a bill that would require a property owner to register “a residential dwelling from which the property owner receives payment from the occupants in return for occupying or using the property” with local government. 

The bill would require each property owner to pay a registration fee of up to $500 to the local governing authority registering the property and if the owner failed to register the property then he or she would be assessed up to $150 per week by the local governing entity. 

 In effect, this bill would now require local governments to establish rental registries.

Position:  Against in current form

Status:  Pending action on the Senate Floor

Why:  Louisiana REALTORS® opposes the bill in its current form for the following reasons:

·       Thousands of good landlords should not be punished for the actions of those who do not properly maintain their property or value their tenants.

·       A rental registry for all residential rental property is another layer of burdensome government overreach that is not necessary. 

·       This could drive up rental rates and result in fewer affordable housing units.

·       The fees proposed by this bill are excessive.

OTHER ITEMS OF INTEREST IN WEEK SIX:

House Bill No. 299, Representative Carmody

What:  A continuing education vendor would be able to bypass the standard continuing education course approval process and instead go directly to the Executive Director of the Louisiana Real Estate Commission to request approval for the class to be offered for continuing education credit if the course is:

(1)    A live course offered once a year in any one location and in conjunction with a conference, meeting, forum, or similar event held or sponsored by a state or local real estate trade association, or any affiliated Institute, Society, or Council.

(2)   Offered to obtain certifications or designations awarded by the National Association of REALTORS® or its affiliated institutes, societies, and councils.

A state entity could also use this simplified process in seeking approval of any course it would like to offer to real estate licensees for continuing education approval.

Position:  For

Status:  Passed the House Floor; Pending Referral to Senate Committee

Why:  The hope is that this fast track process will assist your state and local real estate associations in offering timely and interesting courses for you to attend to meet your continuing education requirements.

House Bill No. 419, Representative Ivey

What:  Buried deep in a 102-page bill, there was a proposed a constitutional amendment to allow parishes the option of setting their own homestead exemption rather than the current $75,000 homestead exemption that is the same statewide.

Position:  Against

Status:  Failed in the House Ways and Means Committee.

Why:  On Tuesday, April 23rd over 200 REALTORS® appeared at the Louisiana State Capitol and informed legislators that any change to the homestead exemption should meet at least these three standards:

• Be part and parcel of changing Louisiana’s outdated system of how local governments

are funded

o   The state's funding of vital services and projects sets a significant number of

roadblocks for local governments. Changing the homestead exemption does not address

this issue in its entirety.

• Provide predictability for the homeowner

o   Property owners deserve to know their homestead exemption will remain the same

for a long period of time if changed from the current statewide exemption.

• Provide for stability in the real estate market

o   In order to maintain a stable real estate market for our communities, home buyers need a predictable tax climate when making decisions on a home purchase.

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.

Status:  Passed Senate Committee, Pending on the Senate floor

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.

Senate Bill No. 191, Senator Norby Chabert

What:  Proposes time limitations in which appraisers can be sued for their work.  With the Amendments adopted in the House Committee on Civil Law and Procedure, the limitation would not apply to any action filed prior to January 1, 2020 and the change would not be effective until January 1, 2020.

Status:  Passed House Committee on Civil Law and Procedure, Pending House Floor

Position:  For

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

House Bill No. 372, Representative Kirk Talbot

What:  House Bill No. 372 contains changes laws that govern many aspects of personal injury lawsuits in the hopes that, if implemented, lead to better auto insurance rates for Louisiana individuals, families and businesses.

Status:  Deferred one week pending a fiscal note requested by Senate Judiciary A; scheduled for hearing on May 14, 2019.  However, it is likely to die in this committee.

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. If this bill become law, the hope is that your potential for litigation will be reduced and your insurance costs will go down. 

House Bill No.  317, Representative Howard

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

House Bill No. 317 was reported out of in the Senate Committee on Transportation, Highways and Public Works on Thursday, May 9th. 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.

Status:  Passed Senate Transportation, Highways, and Public Works; Pending Senate Floor

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.