The Legislature will focus on floor action – moving bills from one house to the other – until next Tuesday when they have until 5:00 pm to get it all done. After that, we have just over a week for policy committee hearings and a few more days of fiscal committee hearings. The list of bills on which to focus continues to narrow.
SB 5116, a bill WSAC had significant concerns about, did not make it out of the Senate Ways and Means Committee. It was amended so that local governments would not have been subjected to the mandate that public agencies meet certain requirements when using “Automated Decision Systems,” but local governments would still have been subjected to onerous liability provisions.
HB 1672 would have removed a Conservation Futures District property tax levy from the 1% levy growth limit. Unfortunately, that bill is not moving, but HB 1965, which permits counties to collect the Veterans’ Assistance Levy and the Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities Levy as separate levies outside of the county’s general levy rate, has had more success so far. The bill awaits floor action in House Rules. It passed out of committee with an 11-6 vote.
HB 1921 would have provided an interesting alternative taxation method for counties siting wind or solar electricity facilities. While the bill is still alive, rumor has it that the option to enter into a 10-year agreement with the company to pay a “Payment in Lieu of Taxes” (PILT) rather than the current method for depreciating personal property will be amended out of the bill. Only the provisions directing the Department of Revenue to develop industry-specific tables will remain. The idea is too complicated to accomplish in a short session.
Finally, SB 5796 restructures cannabis revenue appropriations. Among other things, the original bill changed the distribution to cities and counties from the current $20 million per fiscal year to $27.8 million. The distribution formulas for cannabis revenue are complicated – cities and counties share a small percentage of what is left over after a lot of the money is distributed elsewhere – but the bottom line is that the Senate Ways and Means Committee kept the increase to local governments but reduced by just under $1.4 million to $26,427,350. This bill, too, sits in the Rules Committee awaiting floor action.