As Louisiana lawmakers seek to make our state more inviting to job creators and seekers, there are two areas in desperate need of addressing – Louisiana’s abysmal legal and regulatory structures. From overreaching occupational licensing laws to predatory state-sanctioned litigation against the state’s largest job creators, legal and regulatory issues continue to stifle hard-working Louisiana families’ access to quality jobs and opportunity.

With an already-heavy tax burden, Louisiana’s elected leaders must do more to change the state’s perception as a regulatory and lawsuit-heavy swampland.

While they may seem like large, insurmountable issues driven by the entrenched status quo of ambitious trial attorneys and the leaders beholden to them, the Pelican Institute is here with thoughtful, policy-based solutions to both of these areas. This newly released comprehensive reform plan, which is part of “A Jobs and Opportunity Agenda for Louisiana,”  addresses the key problems with Louisiana’s legal and regulatory systems and offers solutions to dramatically improve the state’s ability to offer quality jobs and opportunity to its citizens. The issues covered in the new plan are particularly pertinent today, as the legislature grapples with important measures related to legal reform, regulatory reform and occupational licensure during the session.

We start with examining the legal system. Louisiana lawsuit costs are among the highest in the nation. Families and businesses around the state pay nearly $7 billion in annual expenses related to tort litigation, which translates to an average of $4,000 per household per year. In addition, excessive civil litigation costs Louisiana more than 15,000 jobs every year, making it one of the root causes of job and revenue loss for the state.

Exacerbating these issues is a perceived lack of fairness, abusive and excessive litigation practices by some plaintiffs’ attorneys and ongoing concerns about judicial integrity Louisiana state courts. Louisiana ranked 50th out of 50 states in a biennial assessment of state liability systems published by the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform. Louisiana has also ranked as one of the nation’s worst “judicial hellholes” nine years in a row, according to annual reports published by the American Tort Reform Association.

On the regulatory side, Louisiana’s licensing laws are also directly contributing to diminished opportunity for those seeking work. Louisiana is the only state in the country that requires florists to obtain an occupational license before they are allowed to arrange flowers for consumers. The state also requires government permission slips for interior designers, hair braiders, and many other occupations that pose no risk to public health and safety.

Similarly, outdated laws are negatively impacting growth in the craft beer brewing industry, which is thriving across the country but lags in Louisiana. When compared to other states and the District of Columbia, Louisiana ranks 40 out of 51 for the number of breweries per capita of adults 21 and older. We must have regulatory reforms that limit strict government mandates and save businesses time and money, thus allowing more jobs and opportunity to come here rather than run away.

All of this and more is addressed in the Pelican Institute’s plan to improve Louisiana’s business climate. Among the key components of the reform package are the following:

  • Eliminate the jury trial threshold
  • Enact venue reform
  • Increase judicial transparency
  • End predatory state-sponsored litigation
  • Restore the Right to Earn a Living in Louisiana
  • Rein in the authority of government bureaucrats
  • Improve financial and economic impact assessments
  • Establish a sunset date for regulations

So, the answer is clear: if Louisiana wants to be competitive nationwide or even in our region, we must make transformational reforms to our legal and regulatory structures to eliminate overregulation and ensure impartiality in the legal system.

We can make Louisiana a great place to find quality jobs, but we have to do it together. Join the Pelican Institute in promoting its plan to turn around Louisiana’s struggling economy and bring jobs and opportunity to the Pelican State.