As a business, you are only one voice in the dark waters of bureaucracy. Your livelihood may be adversely affected by restrictive legislation. As a member, you will have the inside track on legislative pitfalls and political responsibility...the latest building news tips...housing and building trends...a wealth of information available only to members of the Louisiana Home Builders Association! The LHBA provides opportunities to meet with local, state and federal representatives. Plus, LHBA-PAC enables members to join forces and contribute directly to state candidates who support the priorities of the building industry.
Louisiana Home Builders Association (LHBA) had another successful legislative year, below are the top bills LHBA focused its main lobbying efforts. We also monitored hundreds of bills that are of the utmost importance to our members. LHBA is happy to report no harmful amendments were added to lien laws, banking, energy codes, building codes, eviction laws, employment laws and many more.
One of LHBA\\\\\\\'s priority bills in the 2012 session was a successfully passed workers compensation reform bill. Injured workers in Louisiana remain out of work far longer than in other states. There is more litigation in our system than in other states and the result is one of the costliest systems in the country. Keeping these costs down not only helps your bottom line with workers compensation rates but also makes Louisiana more competitive when recruiting companies. The bill balanced the interests of employees and employers under the law. It also eliminated the almost automatic awarding of thousands of dollars in penalties and attorney fees for errors and good faith disputes.
NEW HOME WARRANTY ACT
Insurance market stability is one of LHBA\\\\\\\'s top goals for our members. When there were attempts at changing the definition of a home in the New Home Warranty Act (NHWA,) those insurance costs were a major concern. The proposed language would have created confusion in the court system after 20 years of clear NHWA case law. Keeping the NHWA predictable is critical to our industry for insurance costs and in turn maintaining housing affordability. The bill ultimately did not pass out of committee thanks to our strong lobbying efforts.
Bad appraisals have been a rapidly growing problem and hurt everyone. Consumers lose as their dream of moving into their new home is destroyed. Home builders and their subcontractors lose by not being able to build that new home. When a seller, purchaser, home builder, or lender orders an appraisal, these stakeholders need to have confidence that all parties will have an accurate and quality appraisal. After responding to this emerging issue, LHBA filed and passed sweeping changes to appraisal laws. This new legislation will allow for rules to enforce standards of competency, appraisal review, and assure reasonable appraiser fees within the industry.
One of the fastest growing crimes has been copper theft. Victims include contractors, businesses, utility companies and even churches. A newly passed law supported by LHBA closed a major loophole in copper theft. The current, revised law includes the replacement cost of the damaged equipment such as air conditioners and compressors. The judge will now be able to include the amount the copper is worth but also the thousands of dollars worth of damaged equipment.
Another priority of the LHBA is a level playing field in contractors licensing. A bill was filed that would have allowed an exemption for life safety and property protection contractors from electrical contractor licensing. This would have created an unfairness for properly licensed electrical contractors competing with contractors that typically perform low voltage work. LHBA\\\\\\\'s main concern was the exempted contractors would not have the same requirements as the licensed contractors. LHBA took a strong oppose position and thankfully the bill was not passed out of committee.
The Louisiana Home Builders Association saved the average member tens of thousands of dollars just in the 2012 legislative session.*
Defeated the change in the definition of a home in the New Home Warranty Act.
$4,000 average annually in litigation and insurance savings
Blocked an eviction bill that would have allowed a new trial if a tenant had not been represented by counsel in court.
$1,000 average in savings per eviction
Increased copper theft penalties to also include cost of replacement or repairing property.
Range of $5,000 to $15,000 copper theft with equipment damage.
Prevented new misclassification penalties for employers not classifying an individual as an employee.
$10,000 per employee and $25,000 per audit
Stopped a bill that would not allow closing cost incentives when using your own attorney.
$5,000 average yearly savings
*Key findings based on a 2012 case study conducted by the Louisiana Home Builders Association.
Louisiana Home Builders Association (LHBA) had a highly successful 2014 legislative session. LHBA took positions or monitored approximately 300 bills. The top bills of concern varied highly in subject matter from the plumbing code to creating an unfair trade practice for many of our members.
HB 1048 by Rep. Ponti was signed by Governor Jindal and is now Act 836. This act regarding the new plumbing code is effective January 1, 2016. A review process begins in October of this year and shall be completed by June 15, 2015. The International Plumbing Code and the plumbing chapter of the International Residential Code will replace Part XIV (Plumbing) of the State Sanitary Code. The local governing authority will also now enforce the plumbing code. Another significant change in Act 836 is the Louisiana State Uniform Construction Code Council will promulgate and amend the state plumbing code in lieu of the Department of Health and Hospitals.
Another top priority bill this session was SB 426 which creates a new cause of action for sellers in real estate transactions. SB 426 by Sen. LaFleur creates an unfair trade practice against a seller who offers to real estate consumers a coupon, discount or incentive to use a particular provider of settlement services. SB 426 prevents buyers and sellers from negotiating many aspects of their real estate contract. If SB 426 would have been successful in passage, a seller could not select a closing attorney when paying closing costs for the consumer. LHBA took a lobby oppose position on SB 426 and this bill ultimately failed on the Senate floor with 13 yeas.
Thank you to LHBA board members, senior officers, local presidents and executive officers for participating in our red shirt days this year. The participation made our great efforts successful and is much appreciated!