Saturday, July 13, 2024

LABI Celebrates Legislative Wins, Acknowledges Setbacks in 2024 Session

by BIZ Magazine

Baton Rouge, LA – The Louisiana Association of Business and Industry (LABI) has announced significant victories for the state’s business community following the governor’s final actions on legislation from the 2024 Regular Session. Despite these wins, LABI also faced challenges as several crucial reform measures aimed at fostering economic growth were blocked.

“LABI entered this session focused on promoting the enactment of elements of our LA Driven agenda surrounding insurance, education, workforce, and economic development to move Louisiana forward,” said LABI President and CEO Will Green. “Through impassioned advocacy work by our team and guided by our LABI members, meaningful bills have been—or will be—signed into law. The work done over the past several months will substantially benefit Louisiana businesses and our state’s citizens.

“That said, there is plenty of work left to be done to overcome the status quo and those standing in the way of creating economic growth and a more competitive Louisiana,” Green added.

LABI managed, tracked, and helped shepherd hundreds of bills that carried implications for businesses and employers. While there were notable successes, resistance to several key measures was evident, impacting efforts to improve Louisiana’s business climate.

Key Legislative Wins

Education

  • SB 313 by Sen. Rick Edmonds: Establishes an Education Savings Account (ESA) program, allowing state education dollars to follow the student. ESAs can be used for various education-related expenses, giving parents more control over their child’s education.
  • HB 78 by Rep. Kim Carver: Simplifies the authorization process for charter schools with corporate partners, enabling direct approval from BESE as a Type II charter.
  • HB 112 by Rep. John Wyble: Strengthens accountability standards for schools by requiring superintendent evaluations to include student achievement in literacy and math.
  • HB 244 by Rep. Jason Hughes: Expands the Steve Carter Literacy Program to include math and increases scholarship amounts.
  • HB 264 by Rep. Jason Hughes: Adds computer science as a high school graduation requirement.
  • HB 267 by Rep. Kim Carver: Mandates yearly assessments of math skills for K-3 students, ensuring they have necessary resources and support.

Workforce Development and Reentry

  • HB 93 & 94 by Rep. Matthew Willard: Provides vital documents like birth certificates to inmates upon release, aiding in job acquisition.
  • HB 494 by Rep. Matthew Willard: Allows children aged 14 and up to obtain special ID cards.
  • HB 553 by Rep. Marcus Bryant: Permits expungement of arrest records for dismissed charges for 17-year-old offenders.
  • HB 728 by Rep. Paula Davis: Lowers the eligibility age for the MJ Foster Promise Program from 21 to 17.
  • HB 961 by Rep. Nick Muscarello: Creates a mental health transition pilot program for probationers and parolees, with annual recidivism reviews.
  • SB 183 by Sen. Gary Carter: Expands academic and vocational plans for children under Department of Public Safety and Corrections supervision.
  • SB 251 by Sen. Regina Barrow: Requires GED and vocational training for inmates.
  • SB 272 by Sen. Rick Edmonds: Brings the MJ Foster Promise Program under the Louisiana Workforce Commission for better alignment with workforce priorities.
  • SB 293 by Sen. Rick Edmonds: Mandates the Workforce Commission secretary to streamline workforce systems and create a cohesive statewide vision.
  • SB 494 by Sen. Beth Mizell: Revamps the Economic Development Department’s operations for greater efficiency and strategic planning.

Legal Reform

  • HB 120 by Rep. Matthew Willard: Repeals the sunset on the Louisiana Fortify Homes Program.
  • HB 337 by Rep. Jack McFarland: Repeals the state’s direct action statute, aligning Louisiana with 47 other states.
  • HB 611 by Rep. Gabe Firment: Phases out the three-year rule for property insurance, easing market entry for carriers.
  • SB 84 by Sen. Alan Seabaugh: Adjusts the Code of Civil Procedure, limiting judgment offers to defendants only.
  • SB 295 by Sen. Heather Cloud: Shifts from “prior approval” to “file in use” for insurance pricing, enhancing flexibility.
  • SB 323 by Sen. Kirk Talbot: Establishes a good faith and fair dealing process in claims, clarifying legal ambiguities.
  • SB 355 by Sen. Jeremy Stine: Requires disclosure of third-party litigation funding agreements, ensuring transparency and ethical clarity.

Blocked Reform Measures

Despite these achievements, several reform measures failed to progress or were diluted:

  • HB 24 by Rep. Michael Melerine: Intended to shift the burden of proof back to plaintiffs in personal injury cases, was blocked in the Senate Judiciary A Committee.
  • HB 423 by Rep. Michael Melerine: Proposed revising the state’s ‘collateral source’ rule to provide juries with comprehensive information on medical expenses, was vetoed by the governor.
  • HB 529 by Rep. Raymond Crews: Aimed at fair calculation of workers’ compensation claimants’ wages, stalled in the Senate.
  • HB 618 by Rep. Beau Beaullieu: Sought efficiency in workers’ compensation claims, stalled in the Senate.
  • HB 703 by Rep. Michael Melerine: Proposed limits on punitive attorney fees, died in the Senate Labor Committee.
  • HB 762 by Rep. Dennis Bamburg: Allowed students to choose WorkKeys or the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery instead of the ACT, conflicting with new BESE standards.
  • HB 800 by Rep. Beau Beaullieu: Aimed at creating a constitutional convention framework, failed to advance.
  • SB 459 by Sen. Alan Seabaugh: Addressed legacy lawsuits for oil and gas investment, stalled in the Senate.

LABI expressed gratitude to its members and legislative champions for their efforts in advocating for these measures. Looking forward, LABI aims to continue promoting free enterprise to enhance economic opportunities and improve the lives of Louisiana citizens.

LABI’s Legislative Scorecard, detailing House and Senate members’ votes on business-related issues, will be released this fall.

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