By Elise Henry
The 2015 Louisiana Legislative Session, which began on April 13, 2015 and closed on June 11, 2015, resulted in the House filing 847 bills and the Senate filing 285. Associate Elise M. Henry has reviewed the legislation to see which bills will affect our clients and their business. Following are the highlights of the legislation that was passed and will become law.
LEASE AGREEMENTS FOR CERTAIN RESIDENTIAL DWELLINGS, DOMESTIC ABUSE VICTIMS
SB 174 – Act 456 provides certain protections to domestic abuse victims who are lessees of a residential dwelling or who wish to enter into, modify, or terminate a lease agreement, provided that certain documentation is provided. The bill affects lease agreements for a residential dwelling within a building or structure with six or more separate residential dwellings, and its application is limited to domestic abuse committed on the leased premises. The bill renders null and unenforceable any provision in a lease agreement that limits a lessee’s right to contact police or other emergency assistance or assesses monetary penalties for calling police or other emergency assistance following an incident of domestic abuse. The bill also prohibits a lessor from refusing to enter into a lease agreement solely on the basis that an applicant or an applicant’s household member is or has been the victim of domestic abuse, or on the basis of activity directly related to domestic abuse. The lessor is also prohibited from terminating or failing to renew a lease agreement and from issuing an eviction notice or notice to vacate because of domestic abuse that has occurred on the leased premises. The bill includes a provision that allows a lessee who is a victim of domestic abuse, or whose household member is a victim of domestic abuse, to terminate the lease early, as long as certain steps outlined in the bill are followed. Effective 8/1/2015.
Upshot: The Act protects tenants who are victims of domestic abuse or who have household members who are victims of domestic abuse from provisions in lease agreements limiting their right to contact police or other emergency assistance or assessing monetary penalties for calling police or other emergency assistance following an incident of domestic abuse. The Act also prohibits landlords from refusing to enter into a lease agreement, failing to renew a lease agreement, or terminating a lease agreement because of domestic abuse.
EFFECTIVE PERIOD FOR RECORDATION OF SAVINGS AND LOAN MORTGAGES
HB 496 – Act 336 removes the 41 year effective time period for mortgages or vendor’s privileges granted in favor of a savings and loan association, and instead applies the rules and prescriptive periods specified in Louisiana Civil Code articles 3354-3411, which govern all other mortgages. However, if the newly instituted effective period would cause the effect of recordation of a mortgage or vendor’s privilege in favor of a savings and loan institution to cease before January 1, 2019, the effect of recordation will continue until January 1, 2019, or until the date on which filing of a notice of reinscription would have been required by the law in effect immediately before the Act became effective, whichever occurs first. Effective 1/1/2016.
Upshot: The Act changes the effective time period for the recordation of mortgages or vendor’s privileges granted in favor of a savings and loan association to ten years after the date of the instrument.
CORPORATIONS – REGISTERED AGENT
HB 743 – Act 356 makes changes to Title 12 of the Revised Statutes, which deals with corporations. In addition to defining and clarifying certain terms, the bill requires corporations or other eligible entities that serve as registered agents of a corporation must file with the secretary of state a statement setting forth the names of at least two individuals who are authorized to receive any process served on that agent. The same requirement applies when a corporation changes its registered office or the identity or address of its registered agent and that registered agent is a corporation or eligible entity. The bill also specifies that service of process may be made on those individuals identified as authorized to receive service for the registered agent. The bill also removes the requirement that the secretary of state serve a copy of a certificate of termination on the corporation whose existence was terminated.
Upshot: The Act requires a registered agent that is a corporation or other eligible entity to file with the secretary of state a statement setting forth the names of at least two individuals who are authorized to receive any process served on that agent.
SHREVEPORT IMPLEMENTATION AND REDEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY
HB 769 – Act 432 creates the Shreveport Implementation and Redevelopment Authority for the purpose of eliminating and preventing the development or spread of slum, blighted, and distressed areas, and to provide for the conversion of blighted or underused property into habitable residential dwellings.
Upshot: The Act allows for the creation of programs that encourage the redevelopment of blighted properties in Shreveport.
TAX CREDITS FOR THE REHABILITATION OF NONRESIDENTIAL HISTORIC STRUCTURES
HB 387 – Act 108 extends the tax credits for the eligible costs and expenses incurred during the rehabilitation of a nonresidential historic structure located in a downtown development or cultural district to January 1, 2022. The bill preserves the credits at 25 percent for expenses incurred prior to Jan. 1, 2018 and lowers the credit to 20 percent for expenses incurred after Jan. 1, 2018. Effective 6/19/2015.
Upshot: The Act extends the tax credits for the rehabilitation of nonresidential historic structures to January 1, 2022, but lowers the credit to 20 percent for expenses incurred after January 1, 2018.
SOLAR ENERGY SYSTEMS TAX CREDITS
HB 779 – Act 131 changes the law regarding solar energy systems tax credits. The bill repeals the credit for solar thermal systems, reduces the amount of credit allowed for solar electric systems, and sets annual caps for the tax credits that diminish from $10 million dollars a year in 2015 and 2016 to $5 million dollars in 2017 before the credits are completely phased out on January 1, 2018. Credits will be granted on a first come, first served basis until the annual cap is reached. The new addition to the law also provide more detail with regard to the information that must be submitted by a taxpayer claiming the credit, including a form for a sworn statement to be issued by the dealer and installer. Effective 6/19/2015.
Upshot: The Act phases out the solar energy systems tax credit on January 1, 2018 and sets annual caps to reduce the amount of funds available for the tax credit until the 2018 phase out.
INVENTORY TAX CREDITS
HB 805 – Act 103 affects the tax credit structure for ad valorem taxes paid on certain inventory held by manufacturers, distributors, and retailers and on natural gas held or consumed in providing natural gas storage services or operating natural gas storage facilities. As a result of the bill, taxpayers will no longer be entitled to a 100% credit of the taxes paid with a complete refund for any allowable credit which exceeds their aggregate tax liability. Going forward, 75% of the excess credit will be refundable and the remaining 25% will be carried forward and may be applied against subsequent income tax liability for up to five years.
Upshot: The Act reduces the refund of inventory taxes to 75% of the excess credit and the remaining 25% will be carried forward and may be applied against subsequent income tax liability for up to five years.
URBAN AGRICULTURE INCENTIVE ZONE
HB 761 – Act 429 enacts Chapter 31 of Title 3 of the Louisiana Revised Statutes. The new law allows a political subdivision, after a public hearing, to establish by ordinance an urban agriculture incentive zone within its boundaries for the purpose of entering into enforceable contracts with landowners, on a voluntary basis, for the use of vacant, unimproved, or blighted lands for agricultural use. Effective 8/1/2015.
Upshot: The Act allows a political subdivision to establish an urban agricultural incentive zone where vacant, unimproved, or blighted lands can be turned over to agricultural use.
PROPOSED CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENTS
HB 360 – Act 470 proposes to amend Article VII, Section 21(A) of the Constitution of Louisiana to specify that the ad valorem tax exemption for public lands and property does not apply to land or property owned by another state or by a political subdivision of another state.
Upshot: If approved by voters, the amendment will require other states and political subdivisions of other states that own land or property in Louisiana to pay ad valorem taxes on that property.