Business lobby head talks session wins, losses

Will Green, president and CEO of LABI, speaks at the Press Club of Baton Rouge

Jun 11, 2024

Will Green, president and CEO of the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry, touted mostly successes when discussing the regular session with the Press Club of Baton Rouge on Monday. 

But some of the exceptions he noted highlight disconnects between the state’s formidable business lobby and powerful Republican governor on how to address the state’s legal climate.

He described HB 423 by Rep. Michael Melerine, which deals with recoverable medical expenses, as “one of the pivotal pieces of our legal reform package.” Legislators sent the bill to the governor’s desk at the end of May; Gov. Jeff Landry had not signed it yet by Monday evening, and supporters fear he will side with the trial bar and veto the legislation. 

While Landry has not commented on HB 423, he publicly supported HB 315 by Speaker Pro Tem Mike Johnson, which extends the time a plaintiff has to file suit from one year to two. That bill passed and was signed over LABI’s objections. 

Green also noted the failure of HB 24, which would have required plaintiffs to prove the accident in question caused their injuries. 

“In Louisiana, we really don’t have that much of a [lawsuit] frequency problem,” Green said. “We have a severity problem.”

But on most issues important to the business lobby, Landry and LABI were on the same team, including the failed constitutional convention proposal. Green noted the possibility of lawmakers returning in August to address the Constitution.

“I think there will be a lot of discussion over this summer on our state’s Constitution, combined with a lot of tax policy talk,” he said, adding that several states in the region either don’t have an income tax or are in the process of repealing theirs. 

“I think we have to start that discussion now,” Green said. 

Some of the LABI-backed bills legislators passed that Green discussed include:

HB 611: Phases out the rule that prevents home insurers from dropping customers after three years. 

SB 295: Ends requirement for insurers to seek prior approval for their rates. 

SB 323: Clarifies rules for claims processing.

HB 337: Eliminates the ability in most cases to sue an insurance company directly. 

SB 313: Creates the framework for an education savings account program. 

HB 78: Cuts “red tape” to authorize charter schools. 

HB 244: Expands the Steve Carter Literacy Program to include math education. 

HB 93 and 94: Addresses access to birth certificates and state identification for young offenders leaving prison, in hopes of helping them find work. 

SB 251: Requires the Department of Public Safety and Corrections to offer GED preparation and at least one vocational training program to inmates. 

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