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 Committee 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.