PUBLISHED: 3:54 PM on Wednesday, March 19, 2008
Realtors push three legislative bills
The Southeast Alaska Board of REALTORS held a general membership meeting at the Prospector Hotel's Douglas Room March 12 to discuss current issues facing realtors and legislative bills being discussed.

The guest speaker, Industry Issues chairman Dave Feeken, of RE/MAX of the Peninsula, discussed one of the house bills at length aimed to reduce frivolous lawsuits against realtors and business owners, alike.

HB 349, sponsored by Rep. Mike Chenault, would allow judges to stop frivolous lawsuits and order the lawyer bringing about the lawsuit to pay the defense attorney's fees. The bill, Feeken said, has met stiff opposition from attorneys across the state.

"It's frivolous - just people passing out money," he said of current lawsuits, adding that while major corporations can afford to keep "vexatious lawsuits" out of court its small businesses that become helpless.

Feeken said the frivolous lawsuits that are becoming more apparent in courtrooms are increasing the cost of doing business.

Other bills being pushed by the Alaska Association of REALTORS (AAR) are:

HB 175 - limitation on eminent domain regarding recreational structures (sponsored by Rep. Craig Johnson). HB 175 would strengthen an individual's property rights by protecting privately owned recreational structures from the exercise of eminent domain for recreational purposes. The bill would limit the government's authority to exercise eminent domain and seize personal residences for economic development or generation of revenue.

HB 357 - Mandatory (E&O) insurance bill (sponsored by the House Labor and Commerce Committee). HB 357 would upgrade and modernize the current Surety Fund system of consumer protection. The bill would change the current Surety Fund to a Recovery Fund and would make errors and omissions insurance mandatory for all real estate licensees.

Feeken urged realtors and business owners to contact their legislator and to write letters endorsing the bills.