Written by Kim Callaway, Director of Legal and Governmental Affairs

The 2019 Regular Legislative Session must end on Thursday, June 6th so we are in the home stretch now.

Legislators are scurrying to move their bills through the legislative process and the true deal making is at a fever pitch.  House bills have made it to the Senate, but many have not been taken up on the Senate floor and vice versa.  We should start see this happen at lightning speed this week. 

The Senate came in on Memorial Day to report the state budget out of Finance Committee.  Negotiations about funding for early childhood education and mandated higher education costs went late into the night, but the bill eventually made it out of committee.  The entire Senate will likely take it up this week and send it back to the House with their changes.  It is unlikely that the House will accept the Senate’s budget changes and therefore they will probably send the budget to “conference committee” where negotiations will continue. 

A “conference committee” is made up of three members appointed by the House Speaker and three members appointed by the Senate President.  These committees are responsible for working out the differences between the House and Senate on a bill.  If an agreement can be made in the conference committee, a “conference committee report” is produced wherein the agreement is put forth for the House and Senate to vote on whether to accept.  If both houses accept the conference committee report, then the bill will go to the Governor for signature or veto.  If one house rejects the conference committee report, the bill will likely fail (but not always) and not make it to the Governor for signature or veto.  However, the Governor can exercise a line item veto of certain items in the state budget and capital outlay bills which he cannot do with other legislative instruments.

BUT HOW DOES THIS AFFECT YOU AS A REALTOR®? 

Senate Bill No. 218, Senator Barrow - DEFEATED

What:  This bill originally was filed to create a mechanism to address private property owners who operate 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 to be a bill that would have required 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 as amended in committee would have required each property owner to pay a registration fee of up to $500 (reduced by Senate Floor Amendment) 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 (reduced by Senate Floor  Amendment) by the local governing entity. 

 In effect, this bill would have required local governments to establish rental registries.

Position:  Against with amendments

Status:  Senator Barrow stated that she will not bring the bill back up on the Senate floor and would continue to study the issue of group homes in the interim.

Why:  Louisiana REALTORS® opposed the amended bill 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 would have been another layer of burdensome and unnecessary government overreach. 

·        This could have driven up rental rates resulting in fewer affordable housing units.

·        The fees proposed by this bill were excessive.

OTHER ITEMS OF INTEREST IN THE SIXTH & SEVENTH WEEK

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:  As of 05/28/19, it has passed the Senate Committee on Commerce, Consumer Protection and International Affairs; Will be heard on the Senate floor in next few days

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. 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:  Senate Amendments concurred in by House; to be sent to Governor upon signature of the House Speaker and Senate President

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:  Pending Senate concurrence in House Amendments

Position:  For

Why:  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.

Currently there is no time limit on when an appraiser can be sued for issues arising from an appraisal he conducts. 

House Bill No.  317, Representative Howard

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

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 their registration fee, an additional $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:  Pending House concurrence in technical Senate Amendments

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, “Omnibus Premium Reduction Act”, Representative Kirk Talbot

What:  House Bill No. 372 would have changed laws that govern many aspects of personal injury lawsuits in the hopes that the changes would have led to lower auto insurance rates for Louisiana individuals, families and businesses.

Status:  Senate Judiciary A 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 would have become law, the hope was that your potential for litigation would be reduced and your insurance costs would have gone down. 

NEW DEVELOPMENT

Senate Bill No. 212, Senator Conrad Appel

What:  The bill originally would have required insurers to report certain commercial vehicle information.  However, amendments were placed on the bill in the House Insurance Committee that gutted the original bill and inserted Rep. Kirk Talbot’s Omnibus Premium Reduction Act, House Bill No. 372, described above.

Status:  Pending on House floor

Assuming Senate Bill No. 212 passes the House with the committee amendments, it would then return to the Senate for concurrence of House amendments. This means it does not go through any committee, but straight to the Senate floor to either be concurred in or rejected.  If the amendments are rejected, the bill would go to a conference committee made up of three House members and three Senate members to work out language, which would again be voted on in both chambers.