This week brought a lot of news, as the final weeks of Session often do. The wrongful death bill, SB 5163, was passed by the House and is expected to be signed into law by the Governor shortly. Despite coming close, we were unable to get any changes to the bill to limit liability to only the amount for which actors such as counties are responsible. Projected additional costs to local governments are estimated at over $7 million annually.
WSAC was successful in limiting the reach of HB 1105, relating to homeowner foreclosure, which was amended at the last minute to remove delinquent tax penalties. WSAC worked to help those truly needy homeowners who get into financial trouble while not affecting counties’ bottom line by removing penalty income.
In the end, the compromise bill requires treasurers to waive all outstanding interest and penalties on delinquent taxes for one time only, if the property is subject to foreclosure, and the taxpayer is a qualifying low income (under the $40,000) person, a senior citizen, or a service-connected disabled veteran, and the taxpayer occupies the property as their principal place of residence.
In other bad news, out public records assistance bill, HB 1667, died at the last minute simply because the Senate ran out of time. The bill did make it onto the final day’s run list, but major fights over other unrelated bills in the afternoon killed that bill and everything else on those run lists. The bill would provide grants and assistance to local governments, particularly smaller jurisdictions, helping them to learn best practices and better serve the public in providing records.
The bill can be considered next year, but it is very disappointing to lose it after coming so close this year. As we enter the final week of Session, we will continue to monitor budgets and issues to make sure that county interests are considered and there are no bad surprises in the final days.