Legislative News

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Legislative News
Legislative News

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  • House Bill 661 was deferred by it's author this morning and the LNA is not expecting it to come back up again this session! 

    A special thanks to the efforts of our Lobbyist, Scott Kirkpatrick, our Legislative and Governmental Affairs Liaison, Alan Jennings, to all who attended yesterday's Notary Day at the Capitol and a big thank you to those who came to the committee hearing this morning, including:
     
    Pamela Alonso, President
    Lisa McCoy, Vice President
    Angie Corvers, Board Member
    Sharon Toups, Board Member
    Beth Normile, Shop Talk Coordinator
    Samantha Bloemer, Shop Talk Coordinator
    Wendy Hikler, Member
    Scott Wilfong, Member
    Scott Kirkpatrick, Lobbyist

  • Notary Tax bill hearing Tuesday May 9 in House Committee Room 4 at the Capitol. Meeting starts at 9 a.m.
    If you haven't heard about the bill in the legislature to tax notaries to pay lawyer fees (HB661), you need to read this.
    If you have heard about it, you need to be at the Capitol at 9:00 a.m. Tuesday May 9 at House Commitee Room 4 to help the committee members make their decision about the fate of this bill.
    Here's the scoop:
    The chief justice of the La. supreme court, Bernette Johnson, is pushing this bill to add a $25 tax to be collected by the secretary of state with your annual report. She wants the money to go to the La. Bar Foundation, a 501(c)(3) charity, to pay lawyers to represent needy people with civil legal needs. She pressured the Louisiana State Bar Association to adopt a resolution to bring the bill to get the tax from notaries, saying notaries should contribute because they do things that lawyers do in other states. She didn't let on about the behind-the-scenes activities of the state bar association to find ways to compete against notaries and to find a way to tax non-lawyer notaries.
    There is no question that the cause is a noble one, but it is not reasonable to tax non-lawyer notaries to get money to pay lawyers to provide legal advice and representation, something notaries cannot do, to the poor. If this is an appropriate cause for the legislature to fund by a tax, then the legislature should tax everybody and fund the bar association's program with a state budget item. Why just tax notaries? Lawyers will actually be exempt from this tax. They get to choose whether to donate.
    One of the backstory reasons that this bill was filed is that the Louisiana State Bar Association has been working to find a way to help lawyers "efficiently and effectively compete against notaries." The LSBA is pushing this bill with fervor knowing if it passes, it will cause a number of notaries who make little or no money serving their community, to resign their commission. The fewer the non-lawyer notaries, the better for the lawyer notaries.
    Although notaries were successful in getting Rep. Neil Abramson stop advancing his bill (HB453) to create this tax, the bar association was able to find another legislator to author and carry the exact same bill. Rep. Katrina Jackson's HB661 is now the bill that the chief justice and the bar association intend to push through to increase your annual report fee with a $25 tax.
    The committee meeting at which this bill will be considered is scheduled for May 9 at 9:00 a.m. in House committee room 4 at the Capitol.
    Please make your plans to attend this meeting to register your feelings about this bill. Bring your colleagues and others who feel as you do to he meeting.
    You can also send email to the committee members letting them know your position and how you'd like them to vote. Their email addresses are:
    A brief note is sufficient. Make your voice heard. Send your emails and come to the Capitol
    For more information, visit Louisiana Notary's Facebook page.
    Louisiana Notary Legislative Alert May 6, 2017

  • House Bill 129, by Representative Paula Davis, would permit a small succession if the estate's gross value is less than $150,000 instead of the current $75,000. This bill is currently scheduled for a hearing tomorrow morning  by the House Committee on Civil Law and Procedure. Details on the schedule can be found here:

    http://www.legis.la.gov/legis/agenda.aspx?m=17907

    The complete text of the bill can be found here: http://www.legis.la.gov/legis/ViewDocument.aspx?d=1026973




  • Get out your checkbook.
     
     
    The La. State Bar Association (LSBA) has decided non-lawyer notaries should be taxed to pay attorney fees to lawyers who provide legal services to needy citizens at no charge.
     
    House Bill 453 by rep. Neil Abramson (D-New Orleans) was filed at the urging of the Louisiana State Bar Association to require non-lawyer notaries to pay money to help fund the bar association's program to pay attorney fees for people too poor to hire a lawyer but who need lawyers to help them with civil legal matters.
     
    For the last two or three years, the bar association has been considering ways to help lawyers "effectively compete against notaries." In 2015, the LSBA president appointed a task force to consider legislation to require notaries to contribute to the Louisiana Bar Foundation. When the task force recommended against the initiative, the president (then Mr. Mark Cunningham) quashed their draft report.
     
    Then, at the bar association's annual meeting in January, the bar adopted a resolution to seek legislation to require non-lawyer notaries to pay into their fund. La. Supreme Court Chief Justice Bernette Johnson signed the resolution, leaving little doubt as to the outcome of the vote.
     
    Interestingly, lawyers are not mandated to contribute to the fund. Instead they are encouraged to voluntarily donate with their annual dues renewal. No other person or public official in this state is mandated to pay into the lawyers' fund. The lawyers argue that they are required to pay dues, and that a portion of the dues go into the fund. They neglect to include in their argument that the decision to contribute to that fund as an association is the voluntary act of the association through their vote to adopt their budget.
     
    If this bill passes, notaries will be adding nearly half a million dollars annually to the bar foundation's coffers to fund lawyers' paychecks for providing free legal services to those they deem needy. The cause may be a worthy one, but the services the bar association is providing under the program are not within the scope of notary functions in Louisiana.
     
    In a meeting with the LSBA last week, the Louisiana Notary Association (LNA) proposed that the notaries' annual report could carry a checkbox to make a voluntary contribution with the annual report, just like the way the bar solicits donations from lawyers.
     
    The LSBA rejected the idea of a voluntary contribution, stating that $25 was not too much to ask. The problem we see is that they are not "asking." They are demanding. They are looking for the legislature to tax notaries to support their cause.
     
    What's next?   Will title and civil lawyers be taxed to pay into the indigent defender board to represent people accused of a crime merely because they don't do criminal law?   Will real estate agents be taxed to support the homeless or those needing rental assistance?  Will grocery bills be taxed to support free lunch programs or meals on wheels despite the fact they do not participate in these programs?  That is not to say that these are all worthwhile programs that should be supported by the government in caring for the common good.  However, it should not be a burden placed upon a specific group of professionals or individuals to shoulder by themselves. 
     
    Whenever a person is compelled to support a program with which they may or may not agree our basic civil rights, such as freedom of speech and freedom of association are implicated.  It is ironic that the guardians of civil rights in our community, the courts and attorneys, are the ones themselves advocating for this tax while exempting themselves from its very provisions.
      
    If you find it hard to support the Louisiana State Bar Association's bill to tax notaries to pay lawyers, then it's time to register your opposition to this bill by contacting your state representatives and senators. To be immediately effective at opposing the legislation, contact the House Committee on Civil Law and Procedure and request to be notified of the date and time this bill will be considered in committee. This is accomplished easily: Contact the committee chairman (Mr. Ray Garofalo, R-Chalmette) via email at GarofaloR@legis.la.gov to request the notification. You can also fax your notification request to the committee's staff at (225) 342-6285. The time is now to make your voice heard.
     
    You should also register your concerns directly with the committee members. It helps to voice your concerns using all three methods: email, letter by snail mail, and phone call.
     
     
     
    Louisiana Notary-The Notary's Newsletter since 1983
    C. Alan Jennings, Managing Editor
    Post Office Box 67041
    Baton Rouge, Louisiana 70896-7041
    LouisianaNotaryNewsletter@gmail.com

    (This article posted with permission of the author)