A bill that would let counties be sued for certain police misconduct appears to be stalled again this year. WSAC opposes HB 1202 based on its expansive tort liability costs and our belief that court orders are a poor way to set policy and get at underlying reform. One estimate based on risk pool data shows that costs could go up by 475% if this bill is enacted.
Most of the election bills introduced this year have not made it out of policy committees in time for cutoff, but we are still following the ones that did to ensure that any enacted will work together. The Voting Rights Act, SB 5597, is an omnibus bill modeled on pending federal legislation. We continue to work with other stakeholders (chiefly, AWC) to ensure that the provisions of the bill can work and not unduly burden local government. In particular, we want to ensure that we are not stuck with an unworkable set of new mandates. There are also election bills that would implement discretionary ranked-choice voting (SB 5584), and eliminate odd-year elections (HB 1727). WSAC is monitoring these, and expressing concerns over the logistics of both bills, which would require major changes at the county level election process.
Both WSAC and some assessors have had concerns with HB 1819, which would raise the personal property tax exemption from $15,000 to $100,000. Counties are heavily dependent on property tax revenue, and we closely follow any potential shift or revenue loss. These are complex matters to calculate, and the sponsor has decided to hold the bill for this year and study it over the interim so that it is ready next year. HB 1982 is a follow-up to the delinquent property tax interest and penalty reform bill from last year (HB 1410). The bill would make changes to rates, applications, and time periods to ensure consistency and mitigate any lost revenue that could have come from the earlier change. There are aspects to the policy that WSAC disfavors, but much of this was already passed in the compromise last year, and all that is under discussion presently are technical changes. This bill was passed out of the House this week and should be heard in a Senate policy committee shortly.